Context: In fight against climate change and its impact, Forest landscape restoration has gained focus.
- According to the IUCN, deforestation and forest degradation contribute around 12% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- Typically, governments have relied on afforestation and reforestation as a means of establishing trees on non-treed land.
- These strategies have now evolved. The focus is now on forest landscape restoration — the process of regaining ecological functionality and improving human welfare across deforested or degraded forest landscapes.
Forest landscape restoration
- Forest landscape restoration seeks to involve communities in the process of designing and executing mutually advantageous interventions for the upgradation of landscapes.
- Nearly two billion hectares of degraded land in the world (and 140 million hectares in India) have scope for potential restoration as forest land.
- A crucial aspect of this process is to ensure the diversity of the species while planting trees.
- Natural forests with diverse native tree species are more efficient in sequestering carbon than monoculture tree plantations.
- Planting diverse species is also healthier for local communities and their livelihoods
Importance of forest
- Forests are integral in regulating ecosystems, influencing the carbon cycle and mitigating the effects of climate change.
- Annually, forests absorb roughly 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. This absorption includes nearly 33% of the carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels.
- Millions of lives and livelihoods are intertwined with our forests.
- Forests are a boon for local communities and their livelihoods by functioning as a resource base for goods and services.
- Forest ecosystems enrich soil fertility and water availability, enhancing agricultural productivity, and in turn the rural economy.
- Tree planting prevents erosion and stems flooding.
- Sustainable forest crops reduce food insecurity and empower women, allowing them to gain access to more nutritional diets and new income streams.
- Agroforestry lessens rural-to-urban migration and contributes to an increase in resources and household income.
India and programmes
- India joined the Bonn Challenge in 2015, pledging to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030.
- An additional carbon sink of 5 billion-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through forest and tree cover is to be created by 2030 as announced recently.
- Government programmes includes Compensatory Afforestation, the National Afforestation Programme, the National Mission for a Green India (Green India Mission), the Nagar Van scheme and the Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme to name a few.
- There is a spotlight on youth via the Green Skill Development Programme for youth who aspire to attain employment in the environment and forest sectors.
- However, forest restoration in India faces hurdles in terms of the identification of areas for restoration, a lack of importance accorded to research and scientific strategies in tree planting, stakeholders’ conflicts of interest, and financing.
What is the right way to undertake tree plantation drives?
- Forest landscape restoration must be implemented proactively, bolstering landscapes and forest ecosystems to be durable and adjustable in the face of future challenges and societal needs.
- It also needs the involvement and the alignment of a host of stakeholders including the community, champions, government and landowners.
- Vulnerable forest-dependent communities should be factored in, and any effort should be tailored to the local socio-economic context and landscape history of a region.
Source: The Hindu