NEW DELHI, Feb 7 � The eight States of the Northeastern region (NER) have witnessed loss of green cover to the extent of 549 square km. Assam has lost 19 square km of forest cover.
Painting a dismal picture of the forest cover in the North East, the India State of Forest Report 2011 released on Tuesday by Union Environment and Forest Secretary Dr P Chatterjee said the main reasons for the decrease is attributed to the biotic pressure and shifting cultivation in the region.
The total forest cover in the region is 173,219 square km, which is 66.07 per cent of its geographical area in comparison to the national forest cover of 21.05 per cent, the Survey report said.
Very dense, moderately dense and open forest constitute 14.73 per cent, 44.29 per cent and 40.98 per cent respectively. After incorporating the changes in previous forest cover assessment, current assessment shows an actual decrease of forest cover.
According to the report, Assam with a geographical area of 78,438 square km has only 1,444 square km of dense forest, 11,404 sq km of moderate forest and 14,825 sq km of open forest, recording 35.28 per cent green area.
Manipur and Nagaland have lost the highest forest cover of 190 sq km and 146 sq km, respectively, while Sikkim has managed to keep its green cover intact.
Arunachal Pradesh has the largest area 80.50 per cent green cover, followed by Mizoram 90.68 per cent, Nagaland 80.33 per cent. Meghalaya which lost 46 sq km of forest cover has 77.02 per cent green area.
The Northeastern region constitutes only 7.98 per cent of the geographical area of the country, but accounts for nearly one-fourth of its forest cover. Because of its biodiversity richness, the North East has been identified as one of the 18 biodiversity hot spots of the world.
The Forest Survey Report is published biennially about the country�s forest cover. According to the current assessment, the forest and tree cover is 23.81 per cent of the country�s geographical area.
In comparison to 2009 assessment, there is a decrease of 367 sq km in country�s forest cover. At least 15 States have registered aggregate increase of 500 sq km of forest cover, with Punjab leading with an increase of 100 sq km.