From: Associated Press
Published July 21, 2005 12:00 AM

Survey Shows India's Forest Cover Has Increased, but Dense Forests Have Shrunk

NEW DELHI — India's total forest and tree cover has shown a slight increase, although the area covered by dense forests has shrunk slightly, a satellite survey conducted by the government's forest authorities has shown.


The Forest Survey of India using satellite imagery was carried out in 2003, but its results were made public on Wednesday. The results compared the 2003 findings with a similar satellite survey conducted in 2001.


The total forest area in the country has increased by 21,219 square kilometers (8,192.66 square miles) between 2001 and 2003, said a statement by the ministry of environment and forests. However, dense forests have declined by 26,245 square. kilometers (10,133.2 square miles).


The government has set an ambitious goal of increasing the total area of the country under forest and tree cover from the present 23.7 percent to 33 percent by 2012, but officials were uncertain whether the goal could be achieved due to lack of funds.


"We may face some hurdles in reaching the goal," said A. Raja, federal minister of environment and forests, was quoting as saying in The Statesman newspaper.


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Experts say at least 80 billion rupees (US$1.8 billion, euro1.49 billion) would be required every year to increase the forest cover through massive reforestation programs.


The government is exploring public-private partnerships and commercial plantations with the proceeds to be shared by the government and the investors as a possible source of raising funds, Raja said.


Mining projects and industrial development were responsible for the thinning of dense forests, while growing urbanization was contributing to the disappearance of scrublands and open forests.


Source: Associated Press


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