Predictive modelling of the spatial pattern of past and future forest cover changes in India

This study was carried out to simulate the forest cover changes in India using Land Change Modeler. Classified multi-temporal long-term forest cover data was used to generate the forest covers of 1880 and 2025. The spatial data were overlaid with variables such as the proximity to roads, settlements, water bodies, elevation and slope to determine the relationship between forest cover change and explanatory variables. The predicted forest cover in 1880 indicates an area of 10,42,008 km², which represents 31.7% of the geographical area of India. About 40% of the forest cover in India was lost during the time interval of 1880–2013. Ownership of majority of forest lands by non-governmental agencies and large scale shifting cultivation are responsible for higher deforestation rates in the Northeastern states.

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