India Moves to Restore Forest Cover


India is about to get greener. Literally. The Green India Mission
(GIM) has been given a final nod of approval from the government.

First proposed in 2011, the effort doesn’t refer to the greening of business or
energy systems, but the restoration
of 10 million hectares of forest cover across the country.


 


India’s Cabinet is expected to appropriate $2 billion for
the project in the very near future.


 


The goal is to restore 5 million hectares of degraded forest
land and to bring another 5 million hectares of non-forest areas under
forest cover. Returning these lands to sustainably managed
forests will create and enhance carbon sinks, biodiversity and sustainable
forest-based livelihoods for the people who live there. 

India forest

The need for such a project is underscored by a study conducted at Canada’s
Concordia University which lists India and Brazil as one of the top seven
countries most “responsible” for climate change, largely due to
deforestation-related carbon emissions. If GIM’s 10-year reforestation targets
are met official’s estimate India will see annual carbon sequestration of 50-60 million tons by 2020. Forests would then offset 6% of the country’s greenhouse gases, up from 4.5% without replanting.


 


But it’s not just about planting as many trees as
possible. GIM “proposes a fundamental shift in mindset from our
traditional focus of merely increasing the quantity of our forest cover,
towards increasing the quality of our forest cover and improving provision of
ecosystem services,” explains India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests.


 


The Ministry points to similar programs in China, which have been
reforesting much of the forest cover destroyed during the Maoist
era. China’s Three Norths Shelterbelt Development Program – the “Great
Green Wall” – has been reforesting since the 1970s in an attempt
to prevent expansion of the Gobi Desert. China’s Sloping Land
Conversion Program plants trees on sloping farm lands to prevent
erosion during floods. 

After being widely criticized for creating plantations instead of native
forests (by planting non-native trees), China revised the program.


 


The same concerns
exist in India. In the past, in the name of reforestation, GIM
established tree plantations, allowing the government to gobble up common
lands, destroy the rich biodiversity of natural open forests and grasslands,
and violate the rights of people already living there. 

Proponents of the plan say GIM now has “a clear focus on enhancing
biodiversity, restoring ecosystems and habitat diversity” and “a deliberate and
major focus on autonomy and decentralization.” Forests will be restored at the
local level by the people who live there. It’s expected to
create sustainable forest-based livelihoods for three million households.


Going forward,
India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests also proposes compensation when
forests are converted to other purposes – an equal amount of land must be
reforested.

Funding could come from India’s recently approved Corporate 
Responsibility law
, which requires all large companies to kick
in 2% of annual net profits for socially responsible projects.


The National Mission
for a Green India is one of the eight Missions under the National Action Plan
on Climate Change. The government says, "GIM recognizes that
climate change phenomena will


seriously affect and
alter the distribution, type and quality of natural resources of the country
and the associated livelihoods of the people. GIM acknowledges the influences
that the forestry sector has on environmental amelioration through climate
mitigation, food security, water security, biodiversity conservation and
livelihood


security of forest dependent communities.


 


Read more about GIM and the National Action Plan on Climate Change and the criticisms of it:


 



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Comments on “India Moves to Restore Forest Cover”

  1. Dr. badri s narayan

    all school children in the world should have practical experience greening their surrounding till the age of maturity

    Reply

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