Forests are the storehouse of the rich biodiversity. They constitute the essential life support system besides being a source of timber, fuel, fodder and medicines etc. They ought to be recognized as water reservoirs, natural source of soil nutrition, soil creators and soil binders. In Himachal unlimited scope exists for intensification and diversification of forest cover.
The total area of Himachal Pradesh is 55,673 sq. km, out of this 66.52% of the area of the state is legally defined as forestland. This already underscores the importance of forest in the lives of people in Himachal Pradesh.
Table 1: Geographical distribution of forests of HP
(Based on the Forest Survey of India Report)
|Forest Area||Area Km²||Percent of Geographical area||Percent of Forest Area|
|Forest Area (Legally defined)||37,033||66.52||100.00|
|Area under tree cover||13,082||23.50||35.3|
|Dense forests (Crown density above 40%)||9,120||16.38||24.6|
|Open Forest (Crown density 10-40%)||3,962||7.12||10.7|
Although legally defined forest area is 66%, as per the National Forest Policy, area under tree cover is only at about 23%, which is far less than the target of 50%3 set by the State Government. A strikingly positive point from Table 1 is that HP has a higher percentage of dense forest compared to open forest, which is not seen in many other states.
Legal classification and the district-wise forest cover in the state are presented in the following two tables.
Table 2: Legal Classification of Forest
|S. No||Management Classification||Area (Km²)||Percentage|
|2||Demarcated Protected Forests||11387||30.75|
|3||Un-demarcated Protected Forests||21656||58.48|
|5||Others (managed by Forest Department)||370||1.00|
|6||Not managed by Forest Department.||748||2.02|
Role of the Forest Department
Item 2 and 3 of table 2 combined together show that about 90% forest area is protected and 98% of the forest cover falls under the forest department. With figures from table 1, almost two-third land of the state, that is forest, falls under the jurisdiction of the forest department.
These figures underline the importance of the role of the Forest Department Officials whose negligence has been largely responsible for the misuse of TD rights in the past.