Sikkim has become the only state to have increased its forest cover in the past two decades and has launched an ambitious Rs 31 crore project of plantation in additional 1,000 hectares in the next five years to further enhance its green area.
The forest cover in the tiny northeastern state has been increased to 47.34 per cent in 2013 from 43.95 per cent in 1993, the only state to achieve this.
A target has been fixed to bring additional 1,000 hectare land area under forest cover during 12th Five Year Plan in Sikkim with financial target of Rs 31 crore, an official release said.
Sikkim is also greenest state in the country. The forest cover based on interpretation of satellite data is 3,359 sq km which is 47.3 per cent of state geographical area as compared to 21 per cent of the national average.
In terms of forest canopy dense class, the state has 500 sq km area under very dense forest, 2,161 sq km under moderately dense and 698 sq km under open forests.
The forest area in the state under very dense forest, moderate dense forest, open forest is 7.05 per cent, 30.45 per cent and 9.84 per cent respectively in comparison to national average of 2.54 per cent, 9.76 per cent and 8.73 per cent respectively.
Sikkim has a total 47.69 per cent of geographical area under forest and tree cover. The estimated tree cover in the state outside forest cover is 25 sq km which is 0.35 per cent of its geographical area.
The state has launched various protection and conservation measures like Sikkim green mission, ten minutes to earth and 'smriti vans', the release said.
It has 5,841 sq km total recorded forest area out of total geographical area of 7,096 sq km which is 82.31 per cent compared to 23.41 per cent recorded forest area at the national level. The recorded forest area in Sikkim is highest among all states.
The Sikkim government has spent around Rs 10 crore on green mission so far and around 45 lakh indigenous trees, shrubs, herbs, climbers, creepers, conifers and green foliages including fruits and medicinal plants have been planted under the green mission to create a store house of genetic diversity.