1. Prologue
    1. Forest Survey Report 2013
    2. Limitations of ResourceSAT in forest survey
  2. [Act 1] Forest cover & Tree Cover
    1. How does India have 21% forest cover?
    2. Ranking: Forest covered area
    3. Ranking altitude wise
    4. Ranking: growth of Forest cover
    5. Forest cover: Misc. factoids
    6. Tree cover
    7. Ranking tree cover
  3. [Act 2] Mangroves and Bamboos
    1. Ranking: Mangrove States/UT
  4. [Act 3] Forest Growth factors
  5. [Act 4] Agroforestry
  6. [Act 5] Urban forestry
  7. [Act 6] Misc. factoids
    1. Growing Stock
    2. Physiographic zones


  • This summary is not for the faint hearted, because contains truckload of factoids and rankings.
  • Only those who’ve finished static environment, geography and aptitude portion should proceed further.
  • As such I was preparing economic survey summary but consider this report to be a “fork” of the Economic survey Ch12 on sustainable Development & climate change.
  • Credit: B.N.S. Viswanath for majority of the compilation.

Forest Survey Report 2013

Who? Forest survey of India
Since when? 1987: using LANDSAT satellite. Since then report every two years.
latest report 2013: using IRS-Resourcesat Satellite
E-green watch Online system to monitor CAMPA activities, doing social audits, tracking progress etc. (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority.)

Limitations of ResourceSAT in forest survey

Forest Survey -ResourceSAT area lost in jhumming

for sci-tech type MCQs

  1. ResourceSAT’s LISS-3 sensor cannot record forest cover less than 23.5m
  2. It analyses “colors”: therefore, it’ll not record young plantations, trees with less chlorophyll content or poor foliage
  3. clouds and shadows obscuring details
  4. Lantana and other large weeds also get recorded as forest cover.
  5. sugarcane, cotton etc. agriculture crops grown near forest areas. ResourceSAT cannot  differentiate them from trees. Have to send men on field for crossverification.

[Act 1] Forest cover & Tree Cover

Official definition of forest cover?

  • All lands more than one hectare in area
  • with a tree canopy of more than 10%,
  • Both public and private land
  • even orchards, bamboo and palm

How does India have 21% forest cover?

Forest types in India

only first 3 counted under “Forest cover”

classification based on tree canopy
Classes Tree Canopy % of Total area
1.Very dense forest 70% or above 2.5
2.Moderately Dense Forest (MDF) 40% or above 9.5
3.Open Forest (OF) 10% or above 9
4.Scrub: degraded forest land Less than 10% 1.5
5.Non-forest land Area not in above classes 77.5
  • Out of them class 1, 2 and 3 = “Forest cover”.
  • Therefore, total forest cover=(2.5+9.5+9)=21% of total geographical area. (Exact number is 21.23%)
  • In absolute figure: forest cover is ~7lakh sq.km out of total ~33 lakh sqkm area.

Ranking: Forest covered area

Area wise % wise
  1. MP
  2. Arunanchal
  3. Chhattisgarh
  4. Maharashtra
  5. Odisha
  1. Mizoram
  2. Lakshadweep
  3. A&N
  4. Arunanchal
  5. Nagaland

Ranking altitude wise

Altitude zone % of Forest cover found
0-500m 52.44
500-1000m 28.14
1000-2000m 10.96
2000-3000m 5.83
3000-4000m 2.49
Above 4000 m 0.14
total 100%

Numbers not important but interpretation is:

  1. Majority of India’s forest cover is witihin 500m above sea level.
  2. There is hardly any forest cover on altitude above 3000m.
  3. both Correct
  4. None correct

Ranking: growth of Forest cover

Highest increase Highest decrease
  1. W.Bengal
  2. Odisha
  3. Kerala
  4. Jharkhand
  5. Bihar
  1. Nagaland (bcoz Jhum cycle shortened)
  2. Andhra (bcoz open cast mining)
  3. Madhya Pradesh
  4. Tripura
  5. Manipur

Main reasons for declined forest cover

  1. biotic pressure
  2. shortening of Jhum cycle (Nagaland)
  3. open cast mining (Andhra Pradesh)
  4. Earthquake induced landslides (Sikkim)

overall, forest cover increased between 2011 to 2013.

Forest cover growth: type wise
Type Sq.km in 2013
1.Very dense forest +31 increased
2.Moderately Dense Forest (MDF) -2000 decreased
3.Open Forest (OF) +8000 increased


Forest classification: species wise
pure forest mixed forest
single tree species is dominant Two or more tree species intermingled in the same canopy .

Area wise, Forest type ranking: Mixed forest >> Sal >> Lowland hardwood >> Teak >> Teak with misc.

Forest cover: Misc. factoids
15 States /UT have above 33% area under forest cover
8 States /UT have above 75% area under forest cover
Hill districts
  • 40% of their Area under forest cover.
  • Hill districts means all districts of Arunanchal Pradesh, Himachal, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand
Tribal district 40% of their Area under forest cover
North East
  • 8% of India’s geographical area but 25% of India’s forest covers.
  • North East is also one of the 18 biodiversity hotspots of world


Forest area
Includes Doesn’t include
wetlands, rivers, riverbeds, creeks in the mangroves, snow-covered areas, glaciers, alpine pastures, cold deserts, grasslands of sholas, etc plantations on community lands, road side, railways and canals, Eucalyptus, rubber, tea and coffee plantations, etc

Tree cover

  • India’s National Forest Policy 1988 wants to have 33% of India under forest and tree cover.
  • mind the words: forest cover + tree cover.
What’s the difference?
Forest cover Tree Cover
All lands more than one hectare in area, >10% tree canopy below 1 ht. area under trees. (especially surrounding villages and woodlands)
satellite can easily measure it. need satellite + manual field verification
~7lakh sq.km ~91,000 sq.km
21.23% of Indian land 2.78% of Indian land

Therefore, total cover =21.23+2.78 = 24.01% of India under forest and tree cover.

Ranking tree cover

Mind the words: “tree cover” and not “forest cover”

Among 14 physiographic regions Areawise %wise
  1. West Coast
  2. Central highland
  3. East Deccan


Lowest tree cover in Eastern Himalayas

  1. Maharashtra
  2. Gujarat
  3. Rajasthan
  4. J&K
  1. Lakshadweep
  2. Goa
  3. Chandigarh
  4. Diu Daman

[Act 2] Mangroves and Bamboos

  • Mangrove is a salt tolerant plant.
  • grows in tropical and sub-tropical inter-tidal region
  • rainfall between 1000-3000 mm
  • Temperature ranging between 26-35oC.
Mangrove adaptations
pneumatophores Aerial roots above ground. Plant can breathe air in waterlogged soil
buttress roots Root grows from directly stem, above ground, to support the tree.
stilt roots below water/land.They uphold the mangrove against tides, strong winds and tropical storms.
Vivipary Instead of germinating externally from a seed, Mangroves reproduce via buds (embryos). Refer to following chart:

Ranking: Mangrove States/UT

Mangrove area in India ranking

Mangrove Areawise ranking Red balloons: bottom 5, Blue squares: top 5

Area wise rank within that,largest in__.
  1. West Bengal
South 24 Paragana
  1. Gujarat
  1. A&N Islands
  1. Andhra Pradesh
East Godawari
  1. Odisha
  1. Maharashtra
  1. Tamil Nadu
  1. Goa
North Goa
  1. Kerala
  1. Karnataka
  1. Puducherry
  1. Daman & Diu
total 4627.63

Mangrove area: Misc. factoids

  • Mangrove=~0.15% of India’s geographical area
  • India has ~3% of world’s mangrove forests
Sundarban (WB) 50% of India’s mangrove forests
34 sq.km
  • Decreased in 2013
  • Reason: better satellite data, higher accuracy in counting.
Highest increase Gujarat
overall decreased Mangrove cover (2013, compared to 2011)


  • Bamboo belongs to the grass family Poaceae ( Gramineae )
  • Therefore, Bamboo is a “non wood” forest resource.
  • India has 125 indigenous, 11 exotic species of bamboo.
  • in terms of Bamboo diversity rank: (1) China, (2) India
  • Bambo is fast growing, wide spread, renewable, versatile, low cost natural resource.
  • Therefore, known as  poor man’ s timber .

[Act 3] Forest Growth factors

#1: Forest fire

Period: 3rd week of Feb to 1st week of May

Most vulnerable Least vulnerable
Dry deciduous forests
  1. Evergreen
  2. semi-evergreen
  3. montane temperate forests
  • Forest survey divides districts into three categories:   highly, moderately and low vulnerable districts
  • Ranking: highest forest fire vulnerability: Madhya Pradesh  (24 districts), Maharashtra (18), Andhra Pradesh (15)

Forest fire: why bad?

  1. Destroys humus, nitrogen and other nutrient elements= soil fertility declined= regeneration difficult.
  2. Destroys grass= less infiltration of water = more runoff of water=regeneration difficult.
  3. As such cattle grazing is considered a threat to forest cover, but “controlled grazing” reduces grass density and thereby reduces forest fire risk.

#2: Forest regeneration

  • Process of replacing old crop/trees with younger ones.
  • either via natural or artificial methods
Assertion Grazing reduction, lopping and plantation can help in forest regeneration.
Reason These activities influences carbon storage through changes in tree biomas both above and below ground.
Correct Answer both right, R explains A

#3: Soil depth

Assertion Soil depth is an important factor for forest growth
Reason Soil holds necessary space, nutrients and water required for plant growth and stability
Correct Answer both right, R explains A

Soil depth: more factoids

  1. climate and topography affect soil depth
  2. Hills have less soil depth than valleys.
  3. Black cotton soil= deepest sedentary soil
  4. Alluvial soil = deepest secondary soil.
  5. Rockiness is related to soil depth. Where rockiness is more, the soil depth is less.
  6. Therefore, in rocky soils, crop density is less and vegetation is sparse.

#4: Humus

Assertion Humus is regarded as the life blood of soil mass.
Reason Humus improves the physical and chemical properties of soil
Correct Answer both right, R explains A
  • Humus=decomposed organic matter in soil.
  • Includes both plant and animal litter, tissues.
  • appearance: amorphous, brownish black

[Act 4] Agroforestry

  • Agroforestry = inclusion of perennial trees within farm.
  • States with max. agroforestry area: Maharashtra > Gujarat > Rajasthan

Benefits of Agroforestry

  1. Bio-fertilizer trees enrich soil and helping in land regeneration.
  2. They provide nutrient recycling, increase organic matter.
  3. They provide fruits, fodder, medicines, non-timber forest produce and shelter.

Steps by Government

  • Planning commission report: we can bring 3 crore people out of Poverty, by implementing Agroforestry in rainfed areas.
  • Therefore, Government spends sizable fund on agroforestry- under MNREGA, watershed Management, Green India mission, horticulture mission etc.
Following emphasized on agro forestry
1952 National Forest Policy
1988 National Forest Policy
2000 National Agriculture Policy
2001 Task Force on Greening India
2002 National Bamboo Mission 2002
2007 National Policy on Farmers

[Act 5] Urban forestry

Population projections
2013: Top 5 2050: Top 5
  1. China
  2. India
  3. USA
  4. Indonesia
  5. Brazil
  1. India
  2. China
  3. Nigeria
  4. USA
  5. Indonesia
  • By 2050: India will have the largest population of world.
  • Ranking: states with maximum urban population- Maharashtra >UP > TN>…..>(lowest) Sikkim

Urban forestry benefits

  1. In India, Urbanization is synonymous with slums, transport congestion, poor sanitation and airpollution.
  2. Urban trees can directly meet basic needs including food, fuel, fodder and timber products  for poor
  3. They improve air quality, energy savings, noise abettment, conversation of soil and water
  4. Ranking: states with max. urban trees: Taminadu > Maharashtra > Karnataka > Kerala

[Act 6] Misc. factoids

Growing Stock

  • It is the volume of all living trees in a given area, above than a certain diameter at breast height.
  • Growing stock measured in m3.

Benefit of finding Growing stock?

  1. provides information on existing wood resources
  2. We can estimate the amount of carbon contained in the area.
  3. REDD+ mechanism requires India to keep this record under National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS)

Ranking as per Growing stock

(cost benefit bad for MCQ, but putting it for public record)

  • Total Growing Stock of wood in the country ~ 5600 m3
  • Max GS within forest areas is found in Western Himalayas > East Deccan > Eastern Himalayas
  • Highest GS in forest area Sal>Teak>Pine>Laurel
  • Highest GS in Trees Outside Forests (TOF) : Mango, Neem, Coconut, Palm
  • Highest GS among states, UTKHND > Arunanchal Pradesh > CHHTSGRH > HP
  • Highest GS in TOF – J&K > MH > GJ > AP

Physiographic zones

India is divided into 14 physiographic zones based on altitude, location, soil, precipitation, temperature, etc

  1. Western Himalayas
  1. Eastern Himalayas
  1. North East
  1. Northern Plains
  1. Eastern Plains
  1. Western Plains
  1. Central Highlands
  1. North Deccan
  1. East Deccan
  1. South Deccan
  1. Western Ghats
  1. Eastern Ghats
  1. West Coast
  1. East Coast