Excluding the Mangrove cover, around three sq km area of forest cover has been increased.
Mumbai: Mumbai suburban saw an increase of 16 square kilometres (sqkm) in the forest area over last two year as per the Indian State of Forest Report 2017, released in Delhi on Tuesday. This is the first time that the Mumbai suburban area has seen a significant increase. The forest cover has been constant since 2009, following which there was only an increase of one sqkm. The data on forest and mangrove cover highlights that a major part of the increase is due to the rising mangrove cover that has been witnessed in the area and however there is still a need to increase the forest cover separately.
While the total forest cover recorded for the Mumbai suburban area summed up to 140 sq km, it includes 64 sq km of mangrove area. Excluding the Mangrove cover, around three sq km area of forest cover has been increased.
The State Forest Department has attributed the forest cover increase to the afforestation drives, apart from the thriving mangrove cover. “It is a good sign that the Mumbai suburban and Thane region is showing an increase in the forest cover, despite the net increase in the overall forest cover in the state. It is largely due to the mangrove cover that has increased in the area by 16 sqkm in the last two years. Apart from this, there have been constant afforestation drive in the state that could have impacted the forest cover,” said
S.G. Tembhurnikar, additional principal chief conservator of forests (Conservation), Maharashtra. Mean-while, forest cover excluding the mangrove cover in Thane increased by 24 sqkm between 2015 and 2017.
Overall, Maharashtra has seen an increase of 82 square kilometres in mangrove cover, as per the report. “Mangrove cover has remained constant between 2005 and 2012. However it increased to 222 sqkm in 2013, after the Mangrove Cell was set up in 2012. The increase in mangrove cover is due to stricter law enforcement, increased awareness and wider knowledge about legal protection to the mangroves,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forests, Mangrove Cell. Environmentalists said the increase in the forest cover could be due to the increasing forest cover in Aarey Milk Colony, as there has been more increase in the open forest. However, they have claimed that the forest cover estimation could be inaccurate to some extent.