Nagaland has lost over 2.5 percent of forest area measuring 450 sq km since 2015, India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017 revealed.
The report which was released last month attributes this loss to shifting cultivation patterns, developmental activities and “biotic pressures prevalent in the region.”
It said the maximum decline of green cover in the state pertained to ‘Open Forest’ (OF) which declined by 342 sq km since 2015. The ISFR is a biennial publication of the Forest Survey of India (FSI),
The FSI categorizes Open Forests as all lands with tree cover, including mangrove cover, of canopy density between 10% and 40%.
Medium Dense Forests (MDF) also declined by 103 sq km while Very Dense Forests (VDF) declined by 5 sq km in the state.
MDF pertains to all lands with tree cover (Including mangrove cover) of canopy density between 40 percent and 70 percent above while VDF includes all Lands with tree cover (Including mangrove cover) of canopy density of 70% and above
If the loss of ‘scrub’ land (-114 sq km) is added, the total net loss or forest area increased by 564 sq km from the previous assessment conducted in 2015.
The total classification in forest in the state at present is VDF – 1279, MDF – 4687, OF – 6623, Scrub 503, and Non-Forest – 3587 sq km, totaling to 16,579 sq km. Overall the total forest cover in Nagaland is 12,489 sq km, constituting 75.33 percent of the state’s total geographical area.
Tuensang district registered the maximum decrease of forest cover since the last assessment (99 square kilometers) followed by Mon (59 sq kms), Phek (57 sq kms), Kiphire (53 sq kms), and Kohima (39 sq kms). Dimapur registered zero change in forest cover.
The ISFR 2017 attributed shifting cultivation and developmental activities as the main cause.
The report said nationally, the overall, forest and tree Cover of the country has increased by 8,021 sq km (1 %) as compared to assessment of 2015, according to the report.
The Very Dense Forest (VDF) has increased by 1.36 % compared to the last assessment, the report highlighted noting, “This is very heartening as VDF absorbs maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”
The naturally forest-rich North-East States, which encompass a fourth of the country’s total forest area, are among the biggest losers of forest areas.
The top five Northeastern states where forest cover has decreased include Mizoram (531 sq km), Nagaland (450 sq km), Arunachal Pradesh (190 sq km), Tripura (164 sq km) and Meghalaya (116 sq km).