India among top 10 countries gaining forest area in the world: FAO

India has ranked third among the top 10 countries that have gained in forest areas in the last decade, the latest Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) brought out by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has said.


FAO has brought out this comprehensive assessment every five years since 1990. This report assesses the state of forests, their conditions and management for all member countries.


The top 10 countries that have recorded the maximum average annual net gains in forest area during 2010-2020 are China, Australia, India, Chile, Vietnam, Turkey, the United States, France, Italy and Romania, according to the FRA 2020. India accounts for two per cent of total global forest area.


The Asian continent reported the highest net gain in forest area in 2010-2020, according to the report. It recorded 1.17 million hectares (ha) per year net increase in forests in the last decade.


However, the South Asia sub-region reported net forest losses during 1990-2020. But, this decline would have been much higher without the net gain in India’s forest during this period, according to FRA 2020.


During the decade under assessment, India reported 0.38 per cent annual gain in forest, or 266,000 ha of forest increase every year at an average. The FRA 2020 has credited the government’s Joint Forest Management programme for the significant increase in community-managed forest areas in the Asian continent.


“The forest area managed by local, tribal and indigenous communities in India increased from zero in 1990 to about 25 million ha in 2015,” the assessment said.


However, the naturally regenerating forest rate is disappointing, according to the assessment. It is also an indicator of the policies that India is pursuing.


India has been taking up massive afforestation and plantation schemes. During 2010-20, the rate of increase in naturally regenerating forest was just 0.38 per cent according to the FRA 2020.


The assessment examined employment in the forestry sector (including logging) with data from 136 countries that represent 91 per cent of the world’s forests. India reported the maximum employment in the forestry sector in the world.


Globally, 12.5 million people were employed in the forestry sector. Out of this, India accounted for 6.23 million, or nearly 50 per cent.