India is targeting to reduce its projected carbon emissions by 100-crore tonnes by 2030.

The country’s forests can help this effort by segregating and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. The problem is that India’s forests appear to be receding.

India’s tree cover has declined by 5% between 2001 and 2020 (official figures claim otherwise), even as afforestation schemes are going slow.

India has also not signed the global pledge to halt deforestation.

India lost 66,000 hectares or 0.65% of humid primary forests – defined as mature, natural, humid tropical forest cover that has not been completely cleared and regrown in recent history – between 2017 and 2019, per data accessed on November 7 from the Global Forests Watch dashboard, a World Resources Institute platform.

Also, between 2001 and 2020, India lost 19.3-lakh hectares of tree cover (defined as all vegetation taller than 5 metres in height as of 2000), a 5% decline. This is about 14 times the size of Delhi. In 2020 itself, India lost 1,32,000 hectares of natural forests, as per the dashboard.

However, official figures show an increase in India’s forest and tree cover. The Forests Survey 2019 estimated a 5,188 square km or 0.65% increase in India’s forest and tree cover by the geographical area between 2017 and 2019. These figures have been contested by environmentalists for how…

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