Forestry & Wildlife

Forest cover gives information about the forest canopy area covered on the ground irrespective of the legal status of land whereas Recorded Forest Area gives extent of forests in terms of legal status or definition of land as "Forest" irrespective of the actual forest canopy cover on the ground. The recorded forest area of the State is 11,520.06 square km. Forest conservation and afforestation campaign in Kerala have shown results. There is an increase in forest cover of theState during the second consecutive assessment period too, thereby enabling the State to occupy third position in terms of increase in forest cover, as per India State of Forest Report 2019. As per the report, the total area under forests, including plantations is 21,144 square km which shows that the forest cover of Kerala has increased by 2.12 per cent from the previous assessment in 2017. The extent of very dense forest is 1,935 square km whereas moderate dense and open forest covers 9,508 square km and 9,701 square km, respectively, making the total area to 21,144 square km.
Among the Districts, Idukki leads with 3,151 square km followed by Palakkad with 2,084 square km, and Malappuram with 1,981 square km. Districts with the least forest cover are Kasaragod and Alappuzha.
Apart from the regular activities, Kerala Forest Department had undertaken certain Special Projects during these years.
1. Project Green Grass: Kerala Forest Department has launched "Project Green Grass" in the State in a move to keep our forests clean. The project aims at clearing the solid waste from forest areas (by involving VSS/EDC/Voluntary organisations), create awareness among the tourists, impose spot fining and other legal measures, adoption of technology to monitor waste dumping and so on. 125 waste dumping spots were identified and cleaned.
2. Forest Plus 2.0: Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram landscape is one among the three areas in India identified for implementing the project by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). This project, started in 2018, with the technical support of United States Agency for International Development (USAID), aims at developing tools and techniques to strengthen ecosystem-based management by including ecosystem services in forest landscape management, and to bring in a larger area under improved management and improve the livelihood of forest dependent communities. 
3. Measures to Reduce Human Animal Conflict: As part of reducing human-wildlife conflict, during the past four years, 204 Jana Jagratha Samithis have been formed in the State. For better coordination mechanism, SMS alert systems were implemented in sixty-five forest fringe areas with control rooms in five locations. "Crash Guard Steel Rope Fencing", the first of its kind in the country, was adopted by the Department to reduce human-wildlife conflict. 
4. Projects under Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB): To reduce Human-Animal Conflict, various activities like solar fencing, elephant-proof wall and rail fencing were initiated under KIIFB in two phases.
5. Projects under Rebuild Kerala Development Programme (RKDP): Activities such as voluntary relocation of private settlements from forests, acquisition of private estates within forests and consolidation of mangroves received approval under RKDP for ₹800 crore. 
6. E-Database for Captive Elephant: By preparing a comprehensive informationsystem of all the registered captive elephants, based on DNA data bank profiling, Kerala became the first State in India to have a detailed database of 519 captive elephants.
7. State Butterfly: "Budha Mayoori" is proclaimed as the official butterfly of Kerala State, thereby being the fourth State in the country to have a State Butterfly. 
Management of Natural Forests
Major activities taken up in 2019-20 were survey of forest boundaries, forest protection and regeneration of denuded forests. Boundary demarcation was done by construction of cairns and kayyalas along the boundary of the forests. Degraded forest areas were rehabilitated by planting in gaps with the local species. Protection of forests from fire was carried out mainly by undertaking fire lines and engaging fire protection watchers. 
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Source : Economic Review 2020