, Volume 74, Issue 1-3, pp 191-221
Date: 24 Jan 2006

Temporal Assessment of Growing Stock, Biomass and Carbon Stock of Indian Forests

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The dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems depends on interactions between carbon, nutrient and hydrological cycles. Terrestrial ecosystems retain carbon in live biomass (aboveground and belowground), decomposing organic matter, and soil. Carbon is exchanged naturally between these systems and the atmosphere through photosynthesis, respiration, decomposition, and combustion. Human activities change carbon stock in these pools and exchanges between them and the atmosphere through land-use, land-use change, and forestry.

In the present study we estimated the wood (stem) biomass, growing stock (GS) and carbon stock of Indian forests for 1984 and 1994. The forest area, wood biomass, GS, and carbon stock were 63.86 Mha, 4327.99 Mm3, 2398.19 Mt and 1085.06 Mt respectively in 1984 and with the reduction in forest area, 63.34 Mha, in 1994, wood biomass (2395.12 Mt) and carbon stock (1083.69 Mt) also reduced subsequently. The Conifers, of temperate region, stocked maximum carbon in their woods, 28.88 to 65.21 t C ha−1, followed by Mangrove forests, 28.24 t C ha−1, Dipterocarp forests, 28.00 t C ha−1, and Shorea robusta forests, 24.07 t C ha−1. Boswellia serrata, with 0.22 Mha forest area, stocked only 3.91 t C ha−1. To have an idea of rate of carbon loss the negative changes (loss of forest area) in forest area occurred during 1984–1994 (10yrs) and 1991–1994 (4yrs) were also estimated. In India, land-use changes and fuelwood requirements are the main cause of negative change. Total 24.75 Mt C was lost during 1984–1994 and 21.35 Mt C during 1991–94 at a rate of 2.48 Mt C yr−1 and 5.35 Mt C yr−1 respectively. While in other parts of India negative change is due to multiple reasons like fuelwood, extraction of non-wood forest products (NWFPs), illicit felling etc., but in the northeastern region of the country shifting cultivation is the only reason for deforestation. Decrease in forest area due to shifting cultivation accounts for 23.0% of the total deforestation in India, with an annual loss of 0.93 Mt C yr−1.