New Delhi: More than 23.8 per cent of the country`s total land area is currently covered by forests, but it has witnessed a marginal decline of 0.05 per cent compared to the 2009 assessment, the Government said today.
"As per the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2011, the forests and tree cover of the country is 23.81 per cent of the geographical area of the country," Minister of Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
However, Natarajan said the forest cover of the country has "registered a marginal decline of 0.05 per cent as compared to the previous assessment published in ISFR 2009".
The Minister also informed the House that of the total forest cover, about 83,471 square km of area is Very Dense Forests with tree canopy density of more than 70 per cent.
Moderately Dense Forests with tree canopy density between 40 and 70 per cent cover an area of 320,736 sqkm, while 287,820 sq km constitute Open Forests, or those with tree canopy density between 10 and 40 per cent.
Replying to another query on degraded forest cover, the Minister said, "As per ISFR 2011, about 4.22 million hectare area is recorded as `Scrub Forest` which is deemed as degraded."
On steps taken towards afforestation and eco-restoration of degraded forests, Natarajan said, "Since the inception of the National Afforestation Programme (NAP) during 10th Plan, an area of about 1.8 million hectare has been targeted till date by incurring an investment of about Rs 2,762 crore."
"An area of about 10 million hectare is envisaged to be tackled under Green India Mission during the 12th and 13th Five Year Plan period," she added.