At present an area of 16,582 sq km is covered with forests which account for about 6.88% of the total area of the state. This forest coverage is much below the target set by our National Forest Policy. In accordance with this policy, 33.3 per cent of the total land of State should be covered with forests. The details of the policy reveal that 60 per cent of the mountainous tract and 20 per cent of the plain region should be under forests. Besides subsidizing the income of a farmer from vocations scientifically based on forests, the verdant forests, leave a beneficial imprint on agriculture and a salubrious influence on the climate.
The distribution of forests in Uttar Pradesh is not only uneven but its quality is also poor. The three districts of the far-eastern portion of the state, i.e., Jaunpur, Ghazipur and Balia, have hardly any forest worth the name. So also in the central part of the Gangetic plain, most districts show less than 2% of forest land, which is a very low figure compared with 20%, as the adopted optimum in the national forest policy. The present per capita forested area is bound to go down with increasing human numbers and shrinking forest acreage.
A wide spatial and special variation of forests is observed in Uttar Pradesh. Only in the Ganga plain grasses of 220 varieties have been studied. Apart from these trees and grasses many medicinal herbs are also found within the frontiers of the State. Broadly speaking, tropical moist deciduous, tropical wet and sub-tropical dry forests are found in the State. The tropical moist deciduous forests are confined to the Tarai and Bhabhar areas. Sal, sen, tun, haldu, cashewnut and semal are found in Tarai and Bhabhar tracts. Tarai sal is, however, poorer than the Bhabhar sal. Tall grasses like elephant grass, munj and kans also grow in the Tarai area. In the plain tract trees like amaltas, khirni, goldmohar, kadamb, kachnar, maulsiri, mango, iron wood, jamun, mahua, imli and neem are found. In the sub-tropical dry area xerophytic plants like babul, khair, semal and sheesham are found.
To conform with the requirements laid down under the national forest policy the government are going ahead with the programmes of increasing forest coverage, the concrete results of which cannot be quoted with certainty. Trees of economic and industrial importance, quick maturing species of trees, trees yielding fuel are being planted in many areas apart from the tree plantations carried on along the roadsides and banks of the streams and rivulets. With regard to the fauna found in the forests of Uttar Pradesh fox, jackal, tiger, deer, bear, etc, are found in the Terai forests of the State. Earlier, there was no ban on the killing of forest animals but now under the new policy with a view to preserve faunal wealth stringent restrictions have been imposed on shooting and many deer parks and zoological parks are being developed and maintained at some stations.