Natural resources-Survey and Exploration Part 2

List of major publications 

  • BSI has so far published about 340 titles of books, 62 volumes of its official Journal “Nelumbo” (containing more than 2500 scientific paper), 3 volume of flora of India Checklist, 4 volumes of Algae of India checklist, 2 volumes of Lichens of India, one volume of Macro lichens of Sikkim, Hornworts of India 
  • An Annotated checklist, Checklist of the Gymnosperms etc. BSI has also published 29 fascicles on various plant families and plants groups. Besides, towards completion of Flora of India project, BSI has already published 10 volumes (including 2 introductory Vols.) of Flora of India and 8 Vols. (i.e. 11,17, 18,19,20,21,22 and 30) are completed and in review stage for publication. 
  • Moreover, BSI will switch over to digital printing by next year and by 2022 at least 15 titles will be published as e-books. 
  • In addition to these, 13 volumes of Plant Discoveries: New genera, new species and new records has also been published by BSI.
  •  During the reporting period (1.1.2020 to Oct. 2020), BSI has published 111 research papers and 12 books, 3 periodicals (Plant Discoveries 2019, Nelumbo and Vanaspati Vani) Challenges in work due to COVID-19: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and associated lockdowns, field survey and explorations related to Annual Research Projects were hampered and the entire flowering season has been lost without any fresh collections of plants for the collection of germ plasm. 
  • Besides, herbarium consultation tours to various herbaria also could not be conducted.
  • Apart from that, Plant identification services to the public were also hampered due to corona pandemic.
  • Other Important activities: The new regional centre of BSI i.e. High Altitude Western Himalayan Regional Centre (HAWHRC) was inaugurated by Shri C.K. Mishra, the Hon’ble Secretary, MoEF&CC, Govt. of India on 26th Feb. 2020at Solan (H.P.).
  • Response: In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the office was running following the SOP and guidelines issued by the Government. Besides, official meetings, webinars and events were organised only through virtual modes via video conferencing. Innovative Ideas: Staff of AJC Bose Indian Botanic Garden, Howrah came up with an innovative idea of making sanitizer dispensers from garden’s very own bamboo culms that were damaged due to Amphan super-cyclone. This indigenously built eco friendly Sanitizer Dispenser has gained much popularity among the staff during the prevailing situation of pandemic COVID-19 where hand sanitization is must for maintaining hygiene and more than dozen such dispensers are distributed in the different establishments of Botanical Survey of India in Kolkata & Howrah region. On the occasion of World Regional Rose Convention, Director, BSI and Ms. Henrianne de Briey, President, World Federation of Rose Societies inaugurated the ‘Rosarium’, having 248 varieties in 16 colours and spreading over 26000 sq.ft. in AJCB Indian Botanic Garden, Howrah on 12th January, 2020.
  • Novel plant species discovered by BSI: 
  • Plant species new to science: 23 
  •  Impatiens Shashi Borthakur (Balsaminaceae) 
  •  Stereochilus Arunachalensis(Orchidaceae) 
  •  Spathoglottis Arunachalensis (Orchidaceae)
  •  Didymocarpus Bhutanica (Gesneriaceae) 
  • Arnebia Ladakhensis (Boraginaceae) 
  • Iseilema Kunhikannan (Poaceae) 
  •  Eugenia bolampattiana(Myrtaceae) 
  •  Dendrophthoe Gamblei (Loranthaceae) 
  • Dipcadi Coimbatore Sis (Asparagaceae), 
  • Eugenia sphaerocarpa (Myrtaceae), 
  •  Memecylon Nervosum (Myrtaceae) 
  •  Ceropegia Khasiana (Apocynaceae) 
  •  Eugenia bolampattiana (Myrtaceae) 
  • Aloe trinervis (Asphodelaceae) 
  • Pedicularis Raghvendra(Orobanchaceae) 
  • Luisiadiglipurensis (Orchidaceae) 
  •  Luisiajarawana (Orchidaceae) 
  • Russula Lakhanpal(Russulaceae) 
  •  Russula Indocatillus(Russulaceae) 
  • Dendrophthoe Gamblei (Loranthaceae)
  •  Rivina Andamanensis (Petiveriaceae) 
  •  Dillenia Tirupatiensis(Dilleniaceae) 


Plant species new to Indian Flora: 

  • Paramigny ascandens 
  • Bulbostylis maritime 
  •  Spermacoceocymoides 
  • Cheilolejeuneabirmensis 
  • Cheilolejeuneaintertexta 
  • Cheilolejeuneaudarii 
  •  Lejeuneaanisophylla 
  •  Lopholejeuneasikkimensis var. sikkimensis 
  •  Lophocoleaheterophylla 
  •  Metzgeriaraoii Plant species rediscovered from India after a long gap: 2 plants Psydrax ficiformis (Rubiaceae), an endangered tree, was recollected after a century from the Kodaikanal WLS, Tamil Nadu. Epilobium trichophyllum (Onagraceae), a rare and endemic plant, was recollected after a gap of 157 years from the Sikkim Himalaya.


Survey & Utilization 

  • The Survey & Utilization Division deals with matters related to Forest Survey of India (FSI) (except Establishment matters), Trade Policy, sandalwood & Red Sanders related matters, regulation of export & import of forest produce as per the Export and Import (EXIM) policy,State Forest Development Corporations, all matters relating to Andaman and Nicobar Islands Forest Plantation Development Corporation. 
  • Limited, International Organizations International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), International Network for Bamboo & Rattan (INBAR), Minor Forest Produce, forestry trade tariff and related issues for Bilateral/ Multilateral Trade Negotiations, Wood Based Industries, Bamboo Cell. Forest Survey of India: Forest Survey of India (FSI), a premier national organization, is a subordinate office of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Government of India. 
  • FSI is responsible for Remote Sensing and Field Inv
  • In addition, it is also engaged in imparting training to the State & UT Forest Department personnel, and research & extension services in the forestry sector. 
  • Established on 1st June 1981, FSI succeeded the “Pre-investment Survey of Forest Resources” (PISFR), a project initiated in 1965 by Government of India with the sponsorship of FAO and UNDP.
  • The main objective of PISH was as certain the availability of raw material for establishment of wood based industries in selected areas of the country. In its report in 1976, the National Commission on Agriculture (NCA) recommended the creation of a National Forest Survey Organization for a regular, periodic and comprehensive forest resources survey of the country leading to creation of FSI. 
  • After a critical review of activities undertaken by FSI, Government of India redefined the mandate of FSI in 1986 in order to make it more relevant to the rapidly changing needs and aspirations of the country. 
  • FSI has its headquarters at Dehradun and four zonal offices are located at Shimla (Northern zone), Kolkata (Eastern zone), Nagpur (Central zone) and Bangalore (Southern zone). A sub centre of Eastern zone has been established and made operational in Burnihat, Guwahati. 
  • FSI is headed by a Director General who is assisted by two Joint Directors at the headquarters, looking after the Forest Geoinformatics, Forest Inventory and Training Division. 
  • The Joint Directors are supported by Deputy Directors, Assistant Directors and other technical staff and ministerial staff. Each zonal office is headed by a Regional Director supported by Senior Deputy Directors, technical, ministerial and other field staff. 
  • The headquarters as well as the zonal offices work in close coordination to carry out various activities of FSI. 
  • The activities at the headquarters includes biennial forest cover assessment, generation of forest cover and forest type maps, design methodology for national forest inventory, data processing, producing India State of Forest Reports, reports on specific projects, conducting training, coordination and monitoring the activities of zonal offices. On the other hand, activities of zonal offices concentrate mainly on field inventory along with forest cover mapping work of some States/UTs


Objectives of FSI: 

  • To prepare State of Forest Report biennially, providing assessment of latest forest cover in the country and monitoring changes in these. 
  • To conduct inventory in forest and non-forest areas and develop databases on forest tree resources. 
  • To function as a nodal agency for collection, compilation, storage and dissemination of spatial databases on forest resources. 
  • To conduct training of forestry personnel in application of technologies related to resources survey, remote sensing, GIS, etc.
  • To strengthen research & development infrastructure in FSI and to conduct research on applied forest survey techniques. 
  • To support State/UT Forest Departments (SFD) in forest resources survey, mapping and inventory. 
  • To undertake forestry related special studies/consultancies and custom made training courses for SFD’s and other organisations on project basis.


Major activities for FSI include: 

  •  Biennial assessment of Forest Cover using remote sensing technology 
  •  Inventory of Forest areas 
  •  Inventory of Trees Outside Forests (Rural & Urban) 
  •  Inventory data processing 
  • Methodology Design
  • Training and Extension 
  • Projects and Consultancies 
  • Work on the activities and programmes directed by the Ministry and Hon’ble Courts. 
  • Forest Cover Mapping & Tree Cover: Forest Survey of India (FSI) is involved in wall to wall forest cover assessment of the country on biennial basis by interpretation of satellite data on a two-year cycle and publish the information in the ‘India State of Forest Report’. So far, 16 cycles of forest cover assessment have been completed from 1987 to 2019. The results of 16th cycle FCM were published in ISFR 2019, which was released in December, 2019. In addition to forest cover mapping, assessment of tree cover of the country is also being carried out using the Trees Outside Forests (TOF) inventory data. As per ISFR, 2019, there is an increase of 3,976 km2 in the forest cover and 1,212 sq km2 in tree cover of the country as compared to the ISFR 2017. The forest cover mapping for the 17th cycle was initiated in the month of March 2020 and currently the interpretation work is in progress. Over the years, FSI has been making use of improved quality of remote sensing data and technologies of image processing. This has improved the accuracy of interpretation, which can be utilized for better operational management and planning in the forestry sector of the country. For the 17th cycle FCM, 310 scenes of LISS-III sensor of Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRSS) have been procured from NRSC, Hyderabad. Fully ortho-rectified satellite data is being used for Forest Cover mapping, which improves the positional accuracy of the data. 
  • Remapping of Forest Type of India: Forest Type Mapping of India was carried out by FSI between 2005 to 2011 on a 1:50,000 scale using LISS-III data of 2003. Over the years, the spatial information about the forest types of India has turned out to be an important primary information of the forests of the country and has been extensively used by the State Forest Departments, researchers, academicians and various other stakeholders in numerous ways. In 2016, a project on Remapping of The Forest Types of India has been initiated with the following objectives: 
  •   To improve and update the existing Forest Types as per the present scenario. 
  • To interpret the Forest Types as per their physiognomic distribution in the country.
  • To facilitate use in DSS & e-Green watch applications. A dedicated team of technical personnel under FGD is carrying out the exercise. So far, two expert consultations on the remapping of the forest types of India have been carried out, one each in 2018 and 2019. Currently the work is in the completion stage and will be released shortly.
  •  To improve and update the existing Forest Types as per the present scenario. 
  • To interpret the Forest Types as per their physiognomic distribution in the country. 
  •  To facilitate use in DSS & e-Green watch applications.


Forest Fires Near Real Time Monitoring of Forest Fires:


  •  FSI has been alerting State Forest Departments of forest fire locations detected by the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) sensor on- board Aqua and Terra Satellites of NASA since 2004. 
  • Since then, there has been continuous upgradation in the forest fire alert systems. 
  • The FSI Forest Fire Alerts System(FAST) has undergone periodic changes to facilitate not only foresters but also common people in a better way. 
  • The fully automated FSI forest fire alerts system version 2.0 with near real time SNPP-VIIRS data was made operational in 2017. 
  • A new faster quicker and more robust version of FSI Forest Fire Alerts System (Version 3.0) was launched in 2019 by adding several new features to the earlier Version 2.0. A major improvement over the previous version is the addition of large forest fire monitoring which identifies and tracks large fires in an automated manner.
  • The current version 3.0 of the FSI Fire Alerts System has the following features:
  • Improved Custom Filter which boosted its accuracy level 
  •  Large Forest Fire monitoring programme based on SNPP-VIRS to automatically identify and track large forest fires 
  • Map Server based Geoportal-Van Agni (open source) to view dynamic display of alerts along with other thematic layers
  •  Web Map Service available for integration with State Forest Departments Geoportal Customized alerts for 20 states at Beat level and 2 states at Range level 
  • Integration with visualization WMS, Map links in SMS 
  •  Improved feedback system (via SMS and nodal officer page) 
  •  Improved Nodal officer page Large Forest Fire Monitoring: FSI launched the Large Forest Fire Monitoring Programme using near real time SNPP-VIIRS data as a part of the FAST version 3.0. With the launch of Large Forest Fire Monitoring System, FSI aims to track large fire events across the country and disseminate specific Large Fire alerts with the objective to identify, track and report serious forest fire incidents so as to help monitor such fires at senior level in the State Forest Department and also seek timely additional assistance that may be required to contain such fires.
  • Fire Weather Index (FWI) based Early Warning Alert System for Forest Fire: FSI with years of experience and repository of fire related data, developed in 2016, an indigenous “Early Warning Alert System for Forest Fire”. The objective was to identify areas which are more vulnerable to severe forest fires. The alerts to State Forest Departments are based on parameters like Forest Cover, Forest Type, Climatic Variables (Temperature and Rainfall) and recent fire incidences over the area. The GIS layers of these parameters were overlaid and intersect areas above threshold values were chosen and communicated as early warning forest fire alerts in the form of KML files through email to the nodal officer of the State Forest Departments. These alerts which are generated based on short term weather variables, are valid for the ensuing week. Presently the early warning alerts are being sent to all the States/UTs of the country.
  • Study on identification of fire prone forest areas based on GIS analysis of archived information: FSI has carried out a The FSI forest fire alert system is being used by more than 1,08,000 registered users across the country. 
  • study based on spatial analysis of forest fire points detected by FSI in the last 13 years to identify fire prone forest area in the country.
  •  Extent of forest cover (excluding TOF) under different fire prone classes (Extremely fire prone, very high fire prone, highly fire prone, Moderately fire prone and Less fire prone) has also been determined for each State/UT. 
  • Frequency of detected forest fires in an area over a period of time indicates proneness of the area to forest fires. 
  • Map showing forest area in different classes of fire proneness can be an effective management tool for controlling forest fires. 
  • Such map can be used for optimally utilizing scarce resources available for controlling forest fires in fire season. Increased vigil in highly fire prone forest areas may effectively prevent forest fires. 
  • Considering usefulness of mapping fire prone forest areas, analysis of the detected forest fire points in GIS framework along with a grid coverage of 5 km x 5 km and latest forest cover has been done for whole country.
  • Highlights of the study
  •  Nearly 10% area of Forest Cover in India is under extremely to very highly fire prone zone, as per the long-term trend analysis performed by FSI; which needs to be addressed with priority. 
  •  States under North-EasternRegion,showed the highest tendency of Forest Fire, as these states are falling under extremely to very highly forest fire zone. 
  •  States like Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur in North-Eastern Part of India exhibit the highest forest fire probability in term of its frequency of event occurrence. 
  •  Parts of Western Maharashtra, Southern part of Chhattisgarh, Central Part of Odisha and few parts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka are showing patches of extremely and very highly fire prone zones. Webinar on Forest Fire Monitoring: A webinar on“Forest Fire Monitoring for Conservation and Sustainable Management of Forest in India” was organized by Forest Survey of India (FSI) in association with IUCN on 29th September, 2020. 
  • It focused on the national perspective, policies, overview of forest fire detections during 2019-2020 and technology solutions offered by FSI. 
  • About 120 participants attended the webinar including senior forest officials of MoEF&CC, FSI, ICFRE, IUCN, SFDs and other institutions.
  •  Different aspects of Forest Fire prevention, monitoring & management were deliberated in detail of the webinar.
  • National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI): National Spatial data Infrastructure (NSDI) is a national program monitored by the NSDI division. 
  • Department of Science and Technology to build consensus on harmonizing the available country-wide spatial database to a common set of standards, parameters and to minimize the disparity in data themes among various institutions, organizations across the country. 
  • In this context, Forest Survey of India (FSI) has been identified as a partner institution and a member of working groups (WG) assigned with the important responsibility of creating theme layers pertaining to forest resources and their categories.
  •  FSI has worked on creation of Metadata on National level, Creation of Web MapService(WMS)fortheFSI-ForestCoverand Forest Type for the entire country.
  •  Forest Data Content Standard Document based on Forest UML Diagram with unique codes for forest cover and forest type to be included in the National data Registry. FSI has also been nominated and is working as the technical member for the working group of the National Data Registry (NDR).
  •  FSI is working on the guidelines of the NDR group and technical guidance from NSDI identified System Integrators. 
  • NDR Data node is accessible and functional with the allocation of Virtual Machine (VMs) to all the respective NDR node agencies including FSI for serving interoperable data/map services towards geospatial data integration. 
  • Decision Support System (DSS): It is a web-GIS based application which has been developed to provide qualitative and quantitative information with respect to forest area. It uses different spatial layers for providing different information on different issues related to forest and wildlife areas. 
  • Geospatial data used in the DSS application includes state and district boundary layer protected area, tiger reserves, tiger corridors, forest type map, biological richness, landscape integrity,hydrological layer, forest cover map time series layer, recorded forest area and recorded forest administrative boundary. 
  • All State Forest Departments and Regional offices of MoEF&CC have been provided with the user ID and password to access and use the application website (www. fsigeoportal.gov.in/dss). 
  • This service has been extended upto the level of DFOsin many States and around 1000 users are using this portal for decision making related to FCA. 
  • e-Green Watch: The e-Green Watch portal, which has its genesis in the order of 10th July, 2009 oftheHon’ble Supreme Court ofIndia and been developed by NIC in consultation with the MoEFCC, FSI and State Forest Departments, is an integrated, web-based, user friendly online monitoring system to facilitate management and monitoring of all plantation and other activities being carried out by the State Forest Departments (SFDs) using CAF (CAMPA) funds. Monitoring of activities is carried out under following categories: 
  • Compensatory Afforestation Land (CA Land) 
  •  Diverted Land (DL) 
  •  Other Plantation Work (OPW) 
  • Plantation Work (PW) 
  •  Assets A total of 1,37,381 polygons pertaining to 28 states have been checked by FSI through this portal till October 2020. e-Green Watch is included in all the training programmes, which are conducted for Forest Department officials at FSI to improve their participation in the monitoring programme as well as to improve the accuracy of the polygons uploaded in the portal. 
  • Mapping of land use/land cover of the Little Andaman and Great Nicobar Islands: NITI Aayog, an apex planning body of the Govt of India, entrusted FSI with the task of carrying out a special study for the Little Andaman and Great Nicobar Islands with the specific objective of mapping of land use land cover of the Islands on large scale (1:5,000) using Very High Resolution Satellite Data for Development Planning with emphasis on Forest Conservation. 
  • An approach using a geospatial database of all existing land use types including forests, habitations, degraded lands and mangroves has been made. 
  • Further, ecologically sensitive areas from the point of view of conservation have also been assessed using the DSS Tools of the MoEF&CC to further strengthen the remote sensing based analysis. 
  • The results of the study will enable the policy planners and implementers in undertaking planning in a sustainable manner, considering the environmental fragility of the island and the developmental needs of the area. 
  • The project has been completed and a report submitted to NITI Aayog. Mapping of Rubber plantation and Water bodies and Assessment of Bamboo Resources of Tripura: On request of Tripura SFD, FSI has initiated this project for the State. Mapping of Rubber plantation and Water bodies is being carried out employing Remote Sensing Techniques with LISS IV data (5.8 mtr.Resolution). The Mapping is on a scale of 1:12,500 and the minimum mapping unit is 0.06 ha. Assessment of Bamboo Resources will be carried out using field sampling techniques. 
  • Tripura SFD will collect the field data regarding bamboo and further analysis will be done by FSI. Work is initiated in the month of March of 2020 after signing of MoU between FSI and Tripura SFD in the month of February. The project is expected to be completed in March 2021. 
  • Forest & TOF Inventory National Forest Inventory: National forest inventory is a major activity of FSI. Since 1965, forest inventory was carried out in
  • Modernization of National Forest Inventory: FSI redesigned the National Forest Inventory (NFI) programme from district based approach to grid based approach. Under the new design, whole country is divided into a nationwide uniform grids of 5 Km x 5 Km. Thus, the revisit time has been reduced from 20 years to 5 years for Forest Inventory and 10 years for TOF inventory. In 5 years period about 33,000 forested and 1,00,000 grids in TOF will be covered under the new NFI design. 
  • In forests in different parts of the country in different time periods, thus it was not possible to generate the national level estimates of growing stock. Accordingly, a new NFI design was adopted by FSI in the year 2002 to generate national level estimates on growing stock, forest area and other parameters of the forest resources. 
  • The whole country was divided into 14 physiographic zones and 60 districts were selected for survey spread all over the physiographic zones in a cycle of two years in forest as well as in Trees Outside Forest. 
  • This design was continued till 2016. As the revisiting time under this design was 20 years and in view of the national and international obligations and commitment a robust NFI design was felt to be necessary.
  • inventory about 7,000 and in TOF inventory 10,000 plots will be surveyed in a year. FSI has also taken steps to modernize the National Forest Inventory by switching over from manual data collection in prescribed formats designed for NFI followed by data entry of to PDA based data collection and entry which is transmitted in real time to the Zonal & Central Servers for analysis. For this purpose a State of the Art Command Centre has been established at the headquarters
  • Dependence of inhabitants of Forest Fringe Villages (FFVs) on forests for fuelwood, fodder, small timber and bamboo: FSI has made an attempt to estimate the dependence of people in forest fringe villages in the country. A methodology has been developed for carrying out the study. About 1,100 villages with 30 households in each village is selected for the survey for collection of data on fuelwood, fodder and small timber. The field works, data entry and data processing works has been completed. The abstract of the results has been published in the ISFR 2019. The state wise detailed final report for the study has been completed. The publication of final report is under preparation.
  • Inventory of TOF in Rajasthan: The project on Inventory of Trees Out-side Forests (TOF) in Rajasthan has been taken up by FSI on the request of Rajasthan Forest Department. The field work of the project has been carried out by the Rajasthan Forest Department. The field work and data entry work has been completed. The data processing work of some districts

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Blog Post written by:
Anurag Trivedi
UPSC Mentor