For the time ever, the Indian State of Forest Report (ISFR) has mapped what they call “climate-change hotspots” and in terms of periodisation. Towards that end, three future time scenarios have been identified ~ 2030, 2050 and 2085.
Apart from being a long enough timespan, a critical cause for surprise must be that routinely cold places such as Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are projected to experience the highest temperature increase. The study is as scientific as it can be. At another remove, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, West Bengal, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh may experience the least temperature increase during the three milestones mentioned ~ specifically short, medium and long-time spans.
The report indicates that the northeastern states and the Upper Malabar Coast are very likely to experience the highest increase in rainfall. North-eastern states such as Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim together with Ladakh, J & K and Himachal Pradesh are projected to experience what the report calls the “least increase and sometimes even decline in rainfall”.
Mapping of the climate-change hotspots in the forest areas of the country was done by the Forest Survey of India in collaboration with the Birla Institute of Technology and Science. The collaborative study was conducted with the objective to map climatic hotspots over forest cover in India. The survey used computer model-based projections of temperature and rainfall data for the three “future-time periods”, according to the Union environment ministry.
The change in the pattern of climate largely explains why temperatures are set to increase in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Global warming is a contributory phenomenon. No less impressive is the data furnished by the Forest Survey of India, to the effect that the country’s green cover has touched nearly one-fourth of its geographical area. “Forests” and “trees outside the recorded forest areas” recorded an increase of 2261 square m in 2021, compared with the previous assessment in 2019.
The total green (forests and trees) cover has now reached 713,789 sq km of the forest cover. Over the past two years, forest cover increased by 1540 sq km, while that of trees expanded by 721 sq km. While releasing the report on Thursday, the Environment minister, Bhupendra Yadav, has emphasised the government’s priority to focus not merely on increasing and/or conserving forest cover quantitatively but to also strive for qualitative enrichment. He noted that 17 states and Union Territories have almost 33 per cent of the geographical area under forest cover.
The three states with an increase in forest cover are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and predominantly rural Odisha. In terms of area, Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country. More than 75 per cent forest cover has been reported in Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya