Delhi’s forest cover sees marginal rise, tree shield shrinks

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Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  Delhi’s green cover has increased to 23.06 per cent from 21.88 per cent of the geographical area over the past two years, the India State of Forest Report 2021, launched by union environment minister Bhupendra Yadav on Thursday said.

As per the report, while the total green cover was 324.44 sq km in 2019, it increased to 342 sq km in 2021. Of this, the tree cover increased from 129 sq km to 147 sqkm while the forest cover reduced from 13.17 per cent (195.44 sq km) to 13.15 per cent (195 sq km).

However, as per forest officials, the reduction in overall forest cover is not necessarily bad, rather they insist that during this period it is only the ‘Open forest’ area (canopy density 105-40 per cent) that has reduced while the ‘moderate dense forest’ area (canopy density 40 per cent-70 per cent) has increased, which is a good sign.

The report highlighted that ‘very dense forest’ (canopy density 70 per cent and above) was 6.72 sqkm two years ago and stayed the same in 2021. ‘Moderate dense forest’ has seen a marginal increase from 56.42 sqkm to 56.60 sqkm, while the ‘Open forest’ reduced to 131.68 sqkm from 132.30 sqkm.

“The ‘Open forest’ area, which has a much lesser canopy, does not spell any bad news, as there has been a qualitative improvement. This is mainly because some of the trees from it grew taller and reached the category of ‘Moderate dense forest’ while some must have been because of tree felling permissions given for major construction projects,” observed a senior forest official.

“Secondly, even a marginal increase in the moderately dense forest is a good sign, as it is much denser and better for carbon sequestration and providing ecological services such as soil and moisture conservation, etc. In a nutshell, the foliage matters, an increase which is a good sign,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai, credited the government for the increase in green cover. “The tree cover in Delhi has increased by 18sqkm, which is mainly because of the massive tree plantation drives carried out by the Delhi government. We plan to plant 33,00,000 saplings by March 2022,” the minister said.

Also, he added, Delhi has become the first city to start a Tree Transplantation Policy where trees will be transplanted and at the same time be replaced by 10 new trees.

‘Only open forest area has reduced’

As per forest officials, reduction in overall forest cover is not necessarily bad, rather they insist that in this period it is only the ‘Open forest’ area (canopy density 105 – 40 per cent) that has reduced while the ‘moderate dense forest’ area (canopy density 40 – 70 per cent) has increased, which is a good sign



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