In undivided Bihar about 17% of total geographical area was forest amounting to 29.48 lakh hectare. After it's division in 2000, the forest cover in Bihar remained only 6.87% amounting to 6.16 lakh hectare of its total geographical area. By this division 79% of the total forest went to Jharkhand and only 21% remained in Bihar.
India State of Forest Report (ISFR) Reports and Status of Forest in Bihar
According to the ISFR Reports 2017 and 2019 total total forest cover in Bihar is increased from 7299 Sq. Km to 7306 Sq. Km between 2017 and 2019 i.e. an increase of 0.01% from 7.75 % to 7.76% of its total geographical area.
Distribution of Forests in Bihar
The distribution of forests in Bihar is not uniform. Only about 2.3% of the total geographical area of Plains in Bihar have forest cover. Major chunk of forests in Bihar are localised boundary regions such as North-Western, North Eastern, Eastern and Southern Boundaries of the state.
Table-2: Distribution of Forest in Bihar (District-wise)
- The green cover in Plains region is mainly due to plantation of Mango, Jamun, Mahua, Neem, Sisam, Lemon, Litchi, Banana etc.
Carbon Stock in Bihar
The total carbon Stock in Bihar is about 55.24 million tonne. Which is about 0.78% of the total carbon stock in India.
Note:- Carbon stock is the amount of carbon sequestered from the atmosphere and stored in forests system mainly in living Biomass and soils.
Per-capita Forest Cover in Bihar
Per capita forest cover in Bihar is about 0.02 hectare, which is four times lower than India's average per-capita forest coverage, which is about 0.08 hectare. And very much lower when compared with the world's average per capita forest cover which is about 0.5 hectare.
Claims of the Bihar Government
Rejecting the ISFR Reports Forest Department of the Government of Bihar claimed about 15% of green cover in Bihar and aiming to increase it to 17% by 2020. Forest Department argued that the reason behind lower forest cover in Bihar in ISFR Reports of 2017 and 2019 was mainly due to frequently changing survey methodology of ISFR.
Causes of Low Forest Cover in Bihar
- More than 88.7% of the total population of the state are living in rural areas and most of them are engaged in agricultural practices. Which led to Expansion of agricultural land by cutting down forests.
- Illegal cutting of forest trees for the purpose fo using them as fuel for household purposes.
- Decrease in the level of Groundwater (mainly in South Bihar) led to drying of trees.
- Cutting of forests for infrastructural development like roads, railway lines and other amenities in hte state.
- Tribal activities also led to decline in the forest cover in the state, like Slash and Burn method of farming used by the tribes in the state.
- Frequent floods and drought in the state also led to decline in the forest cover in the state.