Virus: MP forest dept study links greenery with immunity

Districts with higher tree cover seem to be less affected by the outbreak of coronavirus, a study conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department has said.
The state has the largest area under forest in the country.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has spread to more than 42 of 52 districts of Madhya Pradesh with over 4,000 cases, people in areas with higher forest cover seem to have better immunity, the study said.
The study looked at forest cover percentage in each district, its availability per thousand people and Red, Orange and Orange zones in the district which indicate intensity of the spread of infection.
Ujjain, Indore, Khargone, Bhopal and Morena, where the forest area availability per thousand people is less than 100 hectares, are in the Red zone with high spread of the pandemic.
On the other hand, Betul and Chhindwara districts, with high density of forests and better per capita availability of forests are in the Orange Zone, despite bordering on Red Zone districts in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, it noted.
A large number of migrant labourers have returned to districts such as like Balaghat, Shahdol, Panna, Anuppur and Umaria. But these districts also have high density of forests and are in the Green Zone, showing very little or no incidence of the pandemic.
“From the available data, it seems prima facie that the immunity of citizens is relatively better in areas with more forest availability,” the study said.
The three districts having most forest area in the state are Balaghat (4,932 square kilometres), Chhindwara (4,588 square kms) and Betul (3,663 square kms).
In terms of percentage of forest area, top three districts are Balaghat (53.44 per cent), Sheopur (52.38 percent) and Umaria (49.62 percent).
In terms of availability of forest area per thousand people, top three districts are Sheopur (503 hectare forest area per one thousand), Dindori (430 hectares per one thousand people) and Umaria (314 hectares per one thousand people).