Forest Management and the Impact on Water Resources: A Review of 13 Countries


India underwent a major transformation of its landscape and land-cover after approximately 1860, when large parts of the country came under the British Colonial rule (Gadgil and Guha, 1993; Goldewijk and Ramankutty, 2004; Kumar, 2010), spurred by demands for timber destined to shipbuilding, railways, expansion of agriculture, and plantations for tea, further continuing in the postindependence period for dams and reservoirs, agricultural expansion, and refugee resettlement.

It is estimated that in the period 1875-1900, roughly one-third of india was cultivated, an equal expanse was forested, and about twenty percent of the land was grassland and savannah-woodlands (Lynch and Talbott 1995; Sivaramakrishnan, 2009).

Overall estimates of deforestation are between 40%-50% of original cover lost between 1860s and 1990s. However, according to Laurance 2007, india has already lost nearly 80% of its original native forest cover. Using the best available datasets, his analyses suggest that the remaining native forests in india are declining at a rapid pace, from 1.5% to 2.7% per year.

According to data from Global Forest Watch (, approximately 100,000 hectares of forest were lost from Arunachal Pradesh, between 2001 and 2013, representing more than one percent of the state’s entire area.

A report on the forest cover of Arunachal Pradesh, which is india’s last remaining massive forest landscape, noted that 70 percent of the state was forested in 1988. By computing projected population growth and its resultant resource extraction pressures, the study estimated 50 percent of the state’s forests would be lost by 2021 (Menon et al. 2001).