Forests of Manipur are rich in biological & genetic diversity, and are reported to possess about 2192 species of plants belonging to over 213 families, out of which about 523 plant species are reported as ethno botanically important. This rich flora and fauna of the state forest might be at risk under the long term projection of variability of the climate on temporal and spatial scales or deforestation due to natural or anthropogenic pressure. As per the analysis carried out by Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA) about 8% of (or 6 out of 73) forested grids are projected to undergo changes under the projected climate change scenario with possibilities of shifting forest boundaries in the region. Even under the projected scenario the state forest profile is concluded to be comparatively least vulnerable as compared to other north eastern states.
The Forest of Manipur is distributed in different altitudes upto 3000 msl and belongs to 5 (five) types of forest groups (ISFR 2011, FSI, Govt. of India) as,
i. Tropical Semi – evergreen Forests (24.82 % of total state forest);
ii. Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests (3.05 % of the state forest);
iii. Subtropical Broadleaved Hill Forests (52.94%of the state forest);
iv. Subtropical Pine Forests (8.4 % of the state forest); and
v. Montane Wet Temperate Forest (10.46 % of the state forest).
Impact of climate Change
INCCA reported that the climate change is likely to have multiple effects on individuals, species and ecosystem due to increase in surface temperature and changes in rainfall pattern. The Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), Banglore has projected that there will be no change in the forest types of Manipur for the short term period of 2030s, but districts like Bishnupur, Churachandpur, Senapati, Imphal East, Tamenglong and Chandel are likely to have high composite forest vulnerability index. The forests ecosystem might be vulnerable on account of the altitudinal and latitudinal shift of the species of the forest ecosystems and also on account of increased occurrences of fire, pests/diseases, invasive species, change in species assemblage/forest type, forest die-back and loss of biodiversity.
The anthropogenic pressure on the forests of Manipur cannot be ignored. The swelling population, demographic resettlements, developmental projects, consumerism, illicit felling together with the pernicious practice of shifting cultivation are likely to pose a serious threat to the conservation of this invaluable resource. Even though the forest types of Manipur are not likely to be impacted much by the climate change under A1B scenario through 2030s, the forests could be vulnerable to other factors such as forest fragmentation, forest degradation and forest conversion etc.