For the first time, the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) has mapped climate change hotspots in our country for three future periods, for the years 2030, 2050, and 2085. The Forest Survey of India did the mapping of forested areas of India, in collaboration with the Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani. This will help the government and policymakers to get an idea about what is going to happen to certain areas, and how they will now form policies to safeguard the biodiversity and environment from any future threats. 

Currently, 21.71% of India is covered by forests, which is approximately 7,13,789 square kilometres. According to the observations in the report, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, West Bengal, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu are projected to witness the least temperature increase, while areas of Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand are projected to see the most increase in temperature over the above listed periods. 

The report also projected rainfall patterns for the mentioned periods. The results showed that northeastern states and the Upper Malabar Coast are going to witness the highest increase in rainfall, whereas almost half of the northeastern states including Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and north-western areas of the nation including Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh will experience the least increase, or sometimes even a decline in rainfall.

The report also contained data on its assessment of carbon stock via an increase or decrease in forest cover in different parts of India. The total carbon inventory in our nation’s forests is estimated to be around 7,204 million tons. Overall, this exhibits a rise of about 79.4 million tons in the carbon inventory of the country compared with the final evaluation in 2019, showing a yearly improvement of 39.7 million tons. 

This shows us that an increase in forest cover will lead to an increase in the carbon sink, which is a very essential natural tool to fight climate change using carbon sequestration.

Pranay Mathur