Spatial distribution of phytomass carbon in Indian forests


V. K. Dadhwal, tel. +91 79 677 4001, fax +91 79 674 8813, e-mail:


A spatial analysis of phytomass carbon (C) in Indian forests for the period (1988–94) at the district-level is reported. District-level forest phytomass C (1988, 1994) was computed by combining remote sensing-based forest area inventories on 1:250 000 scale, field inventories of growing stock volume by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), and crown density-based biomass expansion factors. The estimates of forest area inventory, forest phytomass C density, and forest phytomass C pools (1988–94) were linked to the district boundary coverage of India in ARC/INFO Geographic Information System (GIS). Of the total 386 districts examined, only 17 districts had more than 75% forest cover (as percent of their geographic area) in 1988. Estimated district-level forest phytomass C densities ranged from 4.3 to 206.8 MgC ha−1*. At the national level, forest phytomass C pool was estimated to be 3871.2 and 3874.3 TgC# in 1988 and 1994, respectively. Although the aggregated national estimates were similar, the district-level change analysis indicated a decrease of 77.8 TgC and an increase of 81 TgC (1988–94). The highest decrease of 10.4 TgC was observed in Vishakapatnam district (Andhra Pradesh) while largest increase of 9.8 TgC in Bastar district (Madhya Pradesh) resulting from deforestation and afforestation activities, respectively. At the national level, the total forest cover decreased by ∼0.6 Mha, however, the district-level spatial analysis indicated an increase of 1.07 Mha, and decrease of 1.65 Mha forest cover during 1988–94 period. Although, this is the first district level phytomass C analysis of Indian forests, the aggregated results at state-level were close to the earlier estimates. The spatial analysis identified the districts that have undergone significant changes in their forest phytomass C during the study period. This improved understanding of forest phytomass C pools is important to sustainable development and conservation of forests, mitigation strategies for C sequestration, and accurate estimation of contribution of land use changes to C emission in India.