India is home to 650 endemic tree species found nowhere else in the world, 8% of the world’s biodiversity, and three biodiversity hotspots. Most of this unique flora and fauna can be found in India’s forests.
These forests provide essential services in absorbing carbon, preserving nutrients, and providing timber and fuelwood. However, deforestation is causing the loss of these services and affecting India’s climate and places further afield. The most common cause of forest loss in the tropics is commodity-driven deforestation. However, a growing body of research has shown that climate change affects the survival and composition of tropical forests.
It was found that there is still an extensive amount of forest loss occurring in India, totaling 20,472 square kilometers (km2) of loss between 2001 and 2018, accounting for more than 7% of India’s forest cover.
India is in the process of creating a new National Forest Policy to replace the last, which was written in 1988. Therefore, this is a crucial time for policies to be considering the multiple threats that forests in the country face. Adaptable management strategies built from up-to-date research are even more critical as the country’s forests face unprecedented threats on multiple fronts.