National REDD+ Strategy of India Launched

Union Minister for Environment released the ‘National REDD+ Strategy India’. In simple terms, REDD+ means “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation”, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

REDD+ aims to achieve climate change mitigation by incentivizing forest conservation.

The strategy seeks to address drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and also developing a roadmap for enhancement of forest carbon stocks and achieving sustainable management of forests through REDD+ actions. The National REDD+ Strategy will soon be communicated to the UNFCCC.

India’s National REDD+ strategy is one of the tools to achieve   India’s commitment to Paris Agreement.

Paris agreement on climate change also recognizes role of forests in climate change mitigation and calls upon country Parties to take action to implement and support REDD+.   India has communicated in its Nationally Determined Contribution under Paris Agreement, that it will capture 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of Carbon dioxide through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.   

India’s first biennial update report to UNFCCC has revealed that forests in India capture about 12% of India’s total GHG emissions. Thus, forestry sector in India is making a positive cost effective contribution for climate change mitigation.

Complying with the UNFCCC decisions on REDD+, India has prepared its National REDD+ Strategy. The Strategy builds upon existing national circumstances which have been updated in line with India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, Green India Mission and India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to UNFCCC.

National Governing Council of REDD+ chaired by the Union Environment Minister at  the national level and two technical committees, headed by DG, Forest Survey of India and DG, ICFRE are being established for supporting the REDD+ implementation in the country.   

The REDD+ actions at the State level will be coordinated by the committee headed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) & Head of Forest Force (HOFF) of the States.

Forest is the second-largest land use in India after agriculture. Roughly, 275 million rural people in India depend on forests for at least part of their subsistence and livelihood. As per the India State of Forest Report (FSI, 2017), the forest cover of the country stood at 708,273 km2, while it was 701,495 km2 in 2015 updated assessment (FSI, 2017), recording an increase of 6778 km2 within two years.

The National Forest Policy of India envisages 33% of its geographical area under forest and tree cover. The total forest and tree cover of the country is 24.4% of its geographical area.

India has been successful in improving carbon stock in its forests by as much as 10% amounting to 592 million tons of carbon for the decade ending in 2004. Carbon stocks in India’s forests were estimated to be 6071 million tonnes in the year 1994 and 6663 million tonnes in 2004. In 2015, (FSI, 2017 assessment) estimated carbon stock in forest was 7,082 million tonnes (FSI, 2017) while in 2013 it was 7044 million tonnes (FSI, 2015) which is a net increase of 38 million tonnes in country’s carbon stock within two years. Various national programmes and policies have converted India’s forest from net source to net sink of CO2.

The land use, Land Use Change And Forestry (LULUCF) sector was source of CO2 in the year 1994 accounting for 1.16% of CO2eq emissions when India submitted its first National Communication (NATCOM) to UNFCCC in 2000 (MoEF, 2004).

In its second National Communication, LULUCF sector was a net sink of 17 % of total national emissions (MoEF, 2012). India’s first biennial update report to UNFCCC has reported that the LULUCF sector was a net carbon sink offsetting 252.5 million tonnes of CO2eq which is 12% of India’s total GHG emission (MoEFCC, 2015). Thus, forestry sector in India is making positive contribution for climate change mitigation.

India started forest cover assessment in 1987 using LANDSAT-MSS satellite data with a spatial resolution of 80 meter. Since 1995, FSI started using indigenous remote sensing satellite data and mode of interpretation was partly shifted from visual to digital.

In 2016, the National Forest Inventory (NFI) was reoriented keeping its focus to generate information which are used in Forest policy making at national and international levels.

According to National Working Plan Code-2014 (for Sustainable Management of Forests and Biodiversity in India) the forest management planning must provide for sustainable management of forests and its biodiversity as enshrined in the National Forest Policy, encompassing the ecological (environmental), economic (production) and social (including cultural) dimensions.

The overarching objective of National REDD+ Strategy (NRPS) of India is to facilitate implementation of REDD+ programme in the country in conformity with relevant decisions of UNFCCC, in particular the Cancun Agreements, Warsaw Framework for REDD+, Paris Agreement, and the national legislative and policy framework for conservation and improvement of forests and the environment.

REDD+ will cover all trees within forest areas and tree outisde forests (TOF) also irrespective of the legal status or ownership of land. Agroforestry, urban and peri-urban forestry, avenue plantations, orchards and plantations on wasteland are included in this component.

Presently, pristine natural grasslands are not eligible to qualify as a REDD+ activity as these do not meet the eligibility criterion of definition of a REDD+ forest.

Blue Carbon: Mangroves, coastal sea grasslands and salt marshes are also an important sink of carbon of biomass origin. Presently, some of these systems are also not covered under REDD+ for the same reason as natural grasslands as these do not qualify the definition of a REDD+ activity.

Phytoplankton: Presently, these are not covered under REDD+ as these do not qualify the definition of a REDD+ activity.

REDD+ Activities:

  • Reducing Deforestation
  • Reducing Forest Degradation
  • Conservation of Forest Carbon Stocks
  • Sustainable Management of Forests
  • Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks

Green Skill Development Programme: Government of India, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has taken up an initiative for skill development in the environment and forest sector to enable India’s youth to get gainful employment and/or self employment, called the Green Skill Development Programme. The programme endeavours to develop green skilled workers having technical knowledge and commitment to sustainable development, which will help in the attainment of the Nationally Determined Contribution, Sustainable Development Goals and National Biodiversity Targets.

14th Finance Commission has recommended for devolution of funds from the federal pool to the States attaching a weightage of 7.5% of the State’s forest cover. A part of this devolution is expected to be ploughed into the forestry sector.

Government of India has established a National Designated Entity for REDD+ (NDE-REDD+) in the Climate Change Division of the MoEFCC.

India ranks at 10th position in terms of forest area in the World as per Global Forest Resource Assessment (GFRA), 2010.Country 16 major forest types and 221sub-forest types.

India is one of the 17 Mega-diverse countries with 4 global biodiversity hotspots. Protected Area network includes 102 National Parks, 515 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 47 Conservation Reserves, 4 Community Reserves extending over 16 mha (4.9% of geographical area of the country).   

India is world’s 4th largest economy and 5th largest GHG emitter, accounting for about 5% of global emissions. Its emissions increased to 65% between 1990 and 2005 and are projected to grow another 70% by 2020.

On a per capita basis, India’s emissions are 70% below the world average. Forests neutralize 11% of India’s GHG Emissions. India added around 3 mha of forests in the decade of 1997-2007).