Experts Dispute Forest Survey of India’s Forest Cover Data

SHIMLA: The Forest Survey of India in its coming biennial state of forests report later this year is once again going to give an over assessed report of green cover in the country, if Mr Ranjit Singh Gill, Incharge of Forest Inventory at the Forest Survey of India, is to be believed. Mr Gill who has done field forest surveys has observed that a massive over -assessment of forest cover is being done in the country after giving camouflaged figures of a superficial bamboo foliage coverage. He maintained that the actual forests are being wiped out and the Forest Survey of India is mistakenly dishing out a rosy picture of the increasing forest coverage.

While talking to this correspondent he said the forest cover assessment is measured through satellite computer images but the filed visits have verified that the green felling on the ground has gone completely undetected in the interpretation of satellite imageries. Some of the past State of Forest Reports (SFRs) have mentioned an impressive increase in the forest cover of some States even when several reserved forests had been completely destroyed. “When a gaping hole on the ground measuring close to 15 sq km had been missed by the Forest Survey of India’s high tech satellite interpretation centre than what to talk of other undetectable smaller holes”, asked Gill, who has himself made various field forest visits in Garo hills of Meghalaya and other States. He along with his team had discovered number of stumps of Teak and Saal trees all over these forests.

The Forest Survey of India’s team of officers have discovered an enormous felling of trees in many square kms of area in Dibru hills of Meghalaya and a uniform regeneration of bamboo shrubbery around the stumps of already cut trees. Surprisingly the Meghalaya Department of Forests got a whopping Rs 168 crore rupees from the Thirteenth Finance Commission in recognition of the increase in its forest cover even when reserved and conventional forests are raised to the ground.

The satellite sensors picked the wild bamboo as forest cover and missed out the trees felled in tens of thousands, observed Mr Gill. The coming SFR would also be a bonanza for the forest mafia, since the ground feeling would not be deducted in the tiny computer screens of Dehradun’s institute and the overall farce forest cover would keep increasing.

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KY Singh is a political observer and a senior journalist with an interest in a diverse set of issues related to Himachal Pradesh and other mountain states. He lives in Shimla.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Vishal Sadyal

    I guess wee in Himachal are doing much better but Government should encourage NGO and give them land on long term lease for afforestation.

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