GLOBAL FOREST WATCH (GFW) (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     15th April 2024        
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Context: India has lost 2.33 million hectares of tree cover since 2000, according to the latest data from the Global Forest Watch monitoring project.

Global Forest Watch (GFW)

  • About: It  is an open-source web application developed to monitor global forests in near real-time.
  • Development and Affiliation: It is a project of the Washington-based nonprofit research organization, the World Resources Institute (WRI).
  • Accessibility and Functionality: GFW is free and user-friendly, allowing individuals to create custom maps, analyze forest trends, subscribe to alerts, and download data for specific regions or the entire globe.
  • Monitoring Metric: In assessing forest extent, loss, and gain, GFW primarily utilizes the metric of tree cover. This metric is advantageous as it can be readily measured from space using freely available, medium-resolution satellite imagery.

Highlights of the GFW

  • Decline in Primary Forest:  Loss of primary forests in the tropics decreased by 9% in 2023 compared to 2022.
  • Magnitude of Tropical Forest Loss: Approximately 37,000 square kilometers of tropical primary forest were lost globally in 2023, almost equivalent to the size of Switzerland.
  • Top Countries: Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Bolivia led in tropical countries with the most primary forest losses.
  • Global Deforestation Trend: Deforestation increased by 3.2% worldwide in 2023.
  • Tree Cover Loss in India: India witnessed a loss of 2.33 million hectares of tree cover since 2000, marking a 6% decrease during this period.
  • Loss of Humid Primary Forest in India: India lost 414,000 hectares of humid primary forest from 2002 to 2023, comprising 18% of its total tree cover loss.
  • Carbon Emission and Sequestration: Indian forests emitted 51 million tons of CO2 equivalent annually between 2001 and 2022, while removing 141 million tons annually, indicating a net carbon sink of 89.9 million tons per year.
  • Regional Distribution of Tree Cover Loss in India: Five states accounted for 60% of all tree cover losses between 2001 and 2023, with Assam, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Manipur experiencing significant losses.

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