Forest Land Diverted for Non-Forest Activities

Is deforestation absolutely needed for development? Is destruction a precursor to development? The answer to these questions might be in the official government statistics involving the forest land diversion for non forestry activities.Total number of forest land in hectares that was diverted for non forest activity in the last 3 years:
  • 2012 – 25,218 hectares
  • 2013 – 41,716 hectares
  • 2014 – 32,168 hectares – As on 1st December, 2014

To understand the magnitude of this, remember 1 hectare is as big as  a cricket ground. It is like diverting the forest land equal to 99102 cricket fields.

Forest Area Diverted for Non-Forestry in hectares 2012

Forest Area Diverted for Non-Forestry in hectares 2013

Forest Area Diverted for Non-Forestry in hectares 2014

This is still just scratching the surface. There is more bad news once we dig in deeper into these numbers. They tell a very sad story of the indiscriminate and indifferent of violation of the natural resources. The Forest Survey of India (FSI), Government of India does a ‘State of Forest Report’ every two years. According to FSI, between 1987 and 2013, almost 196126 square kilometers of reduction in forest cover was observed. To add some perspective, 1 square kilometer is equal to 100 hectares and 1 hectare is as big as  a cricket ground. So for every square kilometer, a hundred cricket grounds worth of forest cover is reduced.

The top offenders in terms of the number of square kilometers of forest cover that saw a significant reduction are

StateReduced Forest Cover (in Sq KM)
Madhya Pradesh-58019
Uttar Pradesh-16877
Andhra Pradesh-3457
A&N Islands-890
Dadar & Nagar Haveli-25

There is also some good news. Between 1987 & 2013, the forest cover also saw a significant addition, of almost 97216 square kilometers. The top performers here are in the table below. However, the total area that was reduced is almost twice during the same period.

StateIncreased Forest Cover (in Sq KM)
West Bengal8373
Tamil Nadu6372
Arunachal Pradesh3189
Himachal Pradesh2203

These numbers are telling a story, a very poignant story and when this is put in the context of number of natural disasters that India had seen during the same time, may be the math adds up – the question that it raises is if the cost of development is affordable and if this is the development that we seek?

We would like to hear what you think?
Data Source: Reply to Question No 3710 in Lok Sabha dated 16th December 2014 & Forest Survey of India (FSI)

Featured Image: Srinivas Kompally | Forest


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Suresh is a software professional based in NY and firmly believes in giving back to the society not as charity but as our responsibility.

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