Today forests extend over about 29% of the land surface, but this is a fraction of the original cover. Historically deforestation in Nepal has occurred over thousands of years (especially in the Mid-Hills), with a sharp increase in recent times following the end of Rana rule in 1950. At that time taxation of arable land provided important revenue, and the state offering tax reductions for three years after clearance for arable land. Under this strong incentive forests disappeared fast in the Mahabharat Mountains and Midlands. Other pressures on timber supply came from increasing demands for charcoal (especially for smelting iron ore) and construction. In 1966 forest cover was estimated at 45%, but between 1979 and 1994 this fell by 9% (NBS 2002), and current annual rates of deforestation are estimated at 1.7%. Quality of forest cover has also declined as shrubland has doubled in area from 4.8% in the mid-1980s to 10.8% in the mid-1990s (Ministry of Population and Environment website).