Jharkhand Forests - At a Glance
The state of jharkhand has a unique relation with forest since ancient times. The word ‘Jharkhand’ connotes ‘area of land covered with forests’. Therefore, literally as well as symbolically, Jharkhand is associated with forests. Various ethnic groups such as Munda, Oraon, Ho, Santhal, Paharia, Chero, Birjea, Asura and other have influenced their ecosystems by varying practices of agro-pastoralism over the years. Traditionally, these indigenous people have symbiotic relations with forests. Local festivals like Sarhul and Karma are customarily related with worshipping of trees.
The state with a geographical area of 79,714 km² constitutes 2.42% of the country’s area. The total recorded forest area of the state is 23,605 km² which is 29.61% of the geographical area of the state. Of the total recorded forest area, Reserved Forests constitute 18.58%, Protected Forests 81.28%, and Unclassed Forests 0.14%. As per India State of Forest Report, 2013 published by Forest Survey of India, forest cover in the state is 23, 473 km² which is 29.45% of the state’s geographical area. The total forest and tree cover put together, it constitutes about 32.74% of the geographical area of the state.
Jharkhand Forest Department is one of the important administrative departments of the State with its Headquarters at Ranchi. The department is entrusted with all matters pertaining to forests and forestry; including protecting and conserving forest & wildlife resources of the state through scientific forest management practices within the ambit of policies, acts and rules in vogue.
Most of the forests of Jharkhand, as much as 79 percent, were privately owned until the Zamindari system was abolished under the Bihar Land Reforms Act, 1950. Before acquisition of these Zamindari forests, their wanton destruction was the order of the day. However, the things took a turn for better thereafter. At present, the State is having 29.61% of its total landmass under forest area.