India Increases Green Cover For Sinking Carbon More Effectively
A Vast and Majestic Tree is the greatest of all Man’s Works of Art – Henry Ward Beecher
The section of the humanity world is still debating the validity and existence of climate change claims and others are engaged in voicing increasing demand to declare climate emergency. There is also tremendous pressure on governments across the globe to take firm and definite action.
India once again demonstrating how to take action and nature-based solution and let the results speak. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government had resolved in last Conference of UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) resolved to extend the forest cover to tackle the global warming pandemic India’s green cover has significantly increased by over 2000 square kilometers.
The top five states where forest cover is increased are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Karnataka and Jharkhand.
The biennial environment report by Forest Survey of India, released recently, states that India’s Forest cover has increased significantly even in the COVID pandemic.
The significant improvement in forest cover, helps India in its mission to tackle climate change. Afforestation process intends to encourage people’s participation. People’s participation would have multiplying effect and likely to trigger massive changes by which clean India would also become green India.
The Ministry of Environment also stressed on plans to create a carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030 by enhancing the tree cover. For the purpose too , people’s participation is crucial. Hence, the ministry has drawn plans for Nagar Van Yojana, public plantations which will encourage citizens to participate in making their towns and villages greener and carbon neutral.
Urban Forests will be crucial, especially in urban area and in cities . Class 1 cities where development happens rapidly and without halt the urban forestry needs to be undertaken in accelerated way. The Environment Minster Yadav has also emphasized in the role of private sector corporations in this regard. The corporate sector can rise to this demand of the times and undertake such activities under their CSR umbrella and act as catalysts for the growth of forest cover. India Inc has the knowledge, expertise and resources that are required to accomplish this task. The political will is proactive and bureaucratic system very supportive in this endeavor.
A consultation process for afforestation and ecological restoration has been initiated under Forest Conservation Act and it has received a favorable response with more than 5000 entities offering consultation.
Tree plantation also needs appropriate selection process. Consultation and guidelines are needed for selection of Native trees to suit the environment and land and care must be taken to avoid invasive species to take root.
According to the report, India’s forest cover stands at 24.62 percent of its geographical area. Only the north eastern states have shown a decrease in forest canopy by 1030 sq km which is disturbing. The geographical neighbor, China has been ranked highest among 236 countries in afforestation and naturally regenerated forests, as per FAO’s (Food and Agriculture Organization Of United Nations) latest assessment report generated in 2020.
The report also stressed the conservation and forestry of mangroves which is crucial for coastal land. Maharashtra , Odisha and Karnataka lead the mangrove conservation efforts. Mangroves also help in adaptation to climate change.
Forests act as Natural carbon ditch and help reduce air pollution, enhancing bio-diversity. They help in soil retention, stabilize stream flow, prevent water runoff and land degradation, and significantly reduce the risks of natural disasters such as droughts, floods and landslides.
The Forest Survey of India (FSI), in collaboration with Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani in its Goa Campus performed a study based on ‘Mapping of Climate Change Hotspots in Indian Forests’ as part of the report.
The collaborative study was carried out over the forest cover in India, using modelling of projection of temperature and rainfall data, for the three future time periods, years 2030, 2050 and 2085.
Indeed, the nature-based solutions have multitude of advantages. Enhancing the tree cover is excellent example of the same.