Mysuru: Of the seven districts in the southern interior region of Karnataka, six have shown an increase in forest cover over the past two years, placing the state at the top of the State of the Forest report this year.
The districts are Mandya (with the largest increase of over 127 sq kms in forest cover), Hassan (34.4 sq kms), Mysuru (23.8 sq kms), Chikkamagaluru (15.7 sq kms), Kodagu (12.4 sq kms) and Chamarajanagar (4.2 sq kms). Shivamogga is the only district to show a fall in forest cover, leading authorities to look into the findings of the report and the reasons behind the fall. It reportedly lost forest cover of 49.2 sq kms.
According to a report by TOI a forest official has speculated that tree harvesting on private and forest land may be the reason behind the fall in green cover. "We will get a clear idea after a study," they said.
They also attributed the rise in green cover in other districts to the free LPG cylinder scheme, as it reduced the need for firewood.
The report found that one-fifth of Karnataka is under green cover, with 60% of these forests being in the Western Ghats. Environmentalists, however, question the validity of the survey as its definition of forests include plantations as there is also no differentiation between old and new forests.
According to the Forest Survey of India, all lands having trees on more than one hectare with a canopy density of over 10% is counted as forest area. It also doesn't account for the age and composition of forests or ownership of the land. According to TOI's report, an environmentalist said that the survey is "a farce" and demanded that the department make a proper representation of the green cover.
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