New Delhi: India`s overall forest cover has increased by 5,871 sq km since 2011 and the maximum rise has been witnessed in West Bengal (3,810 sq km) followed by Odisha (1,444 sq km) and Kerala (622 sq km), a report released Tuesday said.
According to the biennial report "India State of Forest Report 2013" - the 13th in the series - the total forest and tree cover of the country is 78.92 million hectare which is 24.01 percent of its geographical area.
"As compared to the assessment of 2011, there is an increase of 5,871 sq km in the forest cover of the country. The majority of the increase in the forest cover has been observed in open forest category mainly outside forest areas," said the report released by Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar.
The report further said that Madhya Pradesh had the largest forest cover of 77,522 sq km followed by Arunachal Pradesh (67,321 sq km).
"Fifteen states/union territories had more than 33 percent of the geographical area under forest cover while Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura had more than 75 percent forest cover," said the report containing information on forest, tree and mangroves cover as well as growing stock inside and outside the forest areas.
The country`s total carbon stock was estimated to be 6,941 million tonnes - an increase of 278 million tonnes as compared to the year 2004.
Speaking on the occasion, Javadekar said: "Government believes in development without destruction and respect for the environment."
"There was a need to make afforestation a people`s movement," he said.