Problems of Indian Forestry – UPSC Indian Geography Notes

Nestled within the vast expanse of India’s diverse landscapes lies a critical challenge that resonates with environmental significance – the intricate web of problems plaguing Indian Forestry. This article embarks on a comprehensive exploration of the hurdles that hinder the sustainable management and growth of India’s forests. From uneven forest distribution to the impact of traditional practices, we navigate through the complex terrain of issues influencing the health and productivity of these vital ecosystems. Join us in unraveling the multifaceted problems that demand attention, understanding, and concerted efforts to secure the future of India’s invaluable forestry resources.

The disparity in forest coverage among different states is markedly unequal. The percentage of forest land ranges from 11% in the north-west to approximately 44% in the central region.

Scarce forest resources are particularly evident in areas with high population density and intensive cultivation, such as the Indo-Gangetic Plains. In states facing similar challenges, such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, and Bihar, the utilization of cow-dung as fuel is likely at its peak in India, owing to the limited availability of fuel-wood.

Challenges in the realm of forestry in India

Inadequate and dwindling forest cover

The primary issue plaguing Indian forests is the insufficient and rapidly declining forest cover. As previously noted, the current forest cover constitutes only 20.6 percent of the total area, falling short of the recommended coverage target of 33 percent.

Significant strides in afforestation efforts are often counteracted by the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes, undermining the progress made.

Low productivity

The productivity of Indian forests is notably low in comparison to certain other nations. Specifically, the annual productivity of Indian forests stands at a mere 0.5 cubic meters per hectare, whereas in the USA, it is considerably higher at 1.25 cubic meters per hectare.

Nature of forests and their uneconomical utilization

Forests in various regions of the country are characterized by being dense, inaccessible, slow-growing, and often lacking cohesive stands. In certain areas, the forests are exceptionally thin, consisting primarily of thorny bushes.

These attributes render their economic utilization challenging, as they result in significant wastage and contribute to elevated costs, despite the availability of inexpensive labor in India.

Lack of Transport Facilities

One of the key challenges confronting Indian forests is the absence of adequate transport facilities. Approximately 16 percent of the forest land in India is deemed inaccessible, lacking proper transportation infrastructure.

It is crucial to note that the primary output of forests is timber, a commodity characterized by being inexpensive and voluminous. Consequently, it cannot bear the burden of high freight charges imposed by railways and roadways. Consequently, the economic exploitation of Indian forests necessitates the presence of affordable and efficient transport facilities.

Regrettably, in India, railways primarily cater to densely populated areas and offer limited support to forest regions. The availability of all-weather roads in forested areas is sorely lacking, and water transport has only a restricted scope. Given these circumstances, it is evident that the state of transport infrastructure concerning forests in India is inadequate.

Plant Diseases, Insects, and Pests

Expansive forest areas are afflicted by plant diseases, insects, and pests, resulting in substantial depletion of forest resources. Notably, significant portions of sal forests in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh face a looming threat from the sal borer, with no effective remedial measures implemented thus far.

Forest authorities are resorting to primitive methods, such as employing tribal communities to capture and eliminate the insects, indicating a lack of advanced strategies in addressing the issue.

Obsolete Methods of Lumbering and Sawing

In the majority of Indian forests, outdated techniques in lumbering, sawing, etc., are employed. This approach results in significant wastage and contributes to a diminished level of forest productivity.

Considerable amounts of substandard wood, which could be effectively utilized with proper seasoning and preservation treatment, remain either unused or are wasted. Sawmills operate with antiquated machinery, often facing challenges due to a lack of adequate power supply.

Lack of Commercial Forests

In India, the majority of forests are designated for protective purposes, and there is a notable deficiency in commercial forests.

The increasing awareness of environmental degradation has compelled a shift in perspective, prompting us to view forest wealth as a crucial protective agent for the environment rather than merely considering it as a commercial commodity.

Lack of Scientific Techniques

In India, there is a deficiency in the application of scientific techniques for forest cultivation. Unlike many developed countries where innovative scientific methods are employed to accelerate tree growth, India relies predominantly on natural forest growth.

A significant portion of trees in India exhibits deformities or belongs to species that are slow-growing and have low yielding capabilities.

Undue Concessions to Tribal and Local People

Across extensive forest expanses, customary rights and concessions for free grazing and the extraction of timber, fuel, and minor forest products have been accorded to tribal and local communities. Additionally, these communities are permitted to persist with age-old shifting cultivation. Unfortunately, these practices have contributed to a decline in forest yield. Moreover, there has been encroachment on these forests by the village residents dwelling in the peripheral areas.

Effects of dams on forests and tribal people

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru characterized dam and valley projects as the “Temples of modern India,” highlighting their multi-purpose functions. Despite their various uses, these dams play a role in the destruction of forests. They contribute to the degradation of catchment areas, loss of flora and fauna, heightened prevalence of water-borne diseases, disruption in forest ecosystems, and necessitate the rehabilitation and resettlement of tribal communities.


Mining operations differ based on deposit depth, with surface mining for shallow deposits and sub-surface mining for deeper ones. However, both methods contribute to land degradation and the loss of topsoil. Approximately 80,000 hectares of land in India are estimated to be under the stress of mining activities.

Mining activities also result in the drying up of perennial water sources like springs and streams in mountainous regions. The removal of vegetation and underlying soil mantle during mining operations leads to the destruction of topography and landscape in the area. Widespread deforestation has been observed in Mussorie and Dehradun valley due to indiscriminate mining, with the forested area declining at an average rate of 33%. The expansion of non-forest areas due to mining has created relatively unstable zones prone to landslides.

In Goa, since 1961, indiscriminate mining has destroyed over 50,000 hectares of forest land. Coal mining in Jharia, Raniganj, and Singrauli areas has resulted in extensive deforestation in Jharkhand. Mining of magnetite and soapstone has devastated 14 hectares of forest on the hilly slopes of Khirakot, Kosi valley, and Almora.

Mining of radioactive minerals in Kerala, Tamilnadu, and Karnataka poses similar threats of deforestation. The rich forests of the Western Ghats are also under threat due to mining projects for the excavation of copper, chromites, bauxite, and magnetite.


In conclusion, the extensive scope of mining activities in India, ranging from surface to sub-surface mining, presents a multifaceted threat to the environment. The widespread impact includes land degradation, loss of topsoil, disruption of water sources, destruction of landscapes, and alarming rates of deforestation. From the Western Ghats to the regions of Goa, Jharkhand, and beyond, the ecological consequences of mining are evident in the destabilization of once-forested areas and the heightened risk of landslides. Urgent and comprehensive measures are imperative to strike a balance between economic interests and environmental preservation, ensuring sustainable practices that safeguard the diverse ecosystems and forested landscapes crucial for the well-being of both present and future generations.

FAQs on Problems of Indian Forestry

Q. What are the environmental impacts of mining in India?

Explore the varied ecological consequences, including land degradation, deforestation, and disruption of water sources, arising from mining activities across different regions of India.

Q. How has mining contributed to deforestation in Goa and Jharkhand?

Learn about the specific instances of extensive deforestation in regions like Goa and Jharkhand due to indiscriminate mining, highlighting the scale of environmental damage.

Q. What are the consequences of mining on water sources in mountainous areas?

Understand the adverse effects of mining on perennial water sources such as springs and streams in mountainous terrains, exploring the implications for local ecosystems and communities.

Q. Which minerals and regions pose a significant threat to forested areas in India?

Gain insights into the specific minerals, such as copper, chromites, bauxite, and magnetite, and the regions like the Western Ghats that face imminent threats due to mining projects, contributing to deforestation.

Q. What measures can be taken to address the environmental challenges posed by mining in India?

Explore potential solutions and preventive measures that can be implemented to strike a balance between economic interests and environmental preservation, ensuring sustainable mining practices for the future.

For Daily Current Affairs Click Here

Join our Official Telegram Channel HERE
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel HERE
Follow our Instagram ID HERE

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *