The Central Government with an objective to regulate the use of forest land for non-forest purposes enacted the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. As per the Act the use of forest land for non-forestry purposes requires prior permission of the Central Government. The 1980 Act has helped in protecting forest area and tree cover through the years.
According to India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2015, the total forest and tree cover in the country is 7,94,245 sq km constituting 24.16 per cent of the total geographic area. On further bifurcation, out of the total, forest cover is 7,01,693 sq km (21.34 per cent) and tree cover is 92,572 sq.km (2.82 per cent). Table 1 shows ten highest forest cover states in India as per ISFR 2015 Report.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has taken various measures in order to protect as well as expand India’s forest and tree cover. While implementing these policies and programmes, the Ministry of Environment is guided by the principle of sustainable development. The Ministry has attained the following goals:
- There is a net increase of 3775 sq km in the forest cover of the country by 2015 (ISFR) as compared to 2013.
- In order to achieve the target of forest cover under the National Forest Policy, afforestation programmes have been taken up under various centrally sponsored schemes such as National Afforestation Programme (NAP), Green India Mission (GIM), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and ‘Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY)’.
- Also under the National Bamboo Mission (NBM), Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) and different state plan/non-plan schemes including externally aided projects, afforestation is carried out.
—Inputs from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, May, 2016.