Event Title : Measuring our forests: a retrospective analysis of India's State of Forest reports 1987-2019

Session Theme : Ecology and global change, Session Chair : Jayashree Ratnam
Speaker Name: 
M.D. Madhusudan
Start Time: 
Thursday, January 13, 2022 - 18:10
End Time: 
Thursday, January 13, 2022 - 18:30
Talks Abstract: 

In 2019, the Forest Survey of India put out a two-volume 604-page report which was the 16th edition of the biennial report whose first edition was a modest 87-pages. Beginning in 1987, these reports have been and continue to be the only available national-level data source on India's forests. For this reason, the reports have been crucial to several decision-making processes in the country, including the diversion of forest lands for mining, highway construction, dams, and other infrastructure and industry projects. My work examines the reports to ask several questions: How have 16 editions of India's State of Forest reports grappled with the task of assessing the country's forest cover? How have these assessments kept pace with, and leveraged, transformative technologies such as remotely-sensed imagery from earth observation satellites to accomplish this vast and complex undertaking? What are the trajectories of forest cover these reports trace, both nationally, and regionally? What stories do these trajectories tell about the effectiveness and endurance of measures taken to reconcile contestations over forests as realms of livelihood, as domains of production, and as provinces for preservation? In this talk, I analyse the entire time-series of India's State of Forest reports from this 33-year period and trace the evolution of their scope and aims, their underlying technical methods, their institutional processes, their overarching findings, and finally, looking ahead, I reflect on how these efforts can better read the pulse of our forests and aid in managing and conserving them better.

Event Day: 
Day 4 (13th Jan 2022)