Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

19th Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF19) in New York


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Climatization of Forests;

Mains level: Climate change; International Institution on Biodiversity and Conservation;

Why in the news? 

Recently, during the 19th Session (10th May 2024) of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF19) in New York, a significant report titled “International Forest Governance” was published.

About International Forest Governance: 

  • The report “Critical Review of Trends, Drawbacks, and New Approaches” authored by the Science-Policy Programme (SciPol) of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) was released.
  • It marked the first global synthesis on international forest governance in 14 years.

The report exposes the rising trend of ‘Climatization’ of forests:

About Climatization of forests: 

  • Shift in Emphasis: The trend involves a notable shift in focus towards valuing forests primarily as carbon sinks, rather than recognizing their essential ecological and social functions.
  • Carbon Sequestration Priority: Political and financial orientations have increasingly prioritized carbon sequestration in forests as a means to address climate change issues. This emphasis often leads to the overshadowing of other aspects of forest management.
  • Neglect of Long-Term Sustainability: The emphasis on carbon sequestration may result in neglecting the long-term sustainability of forests. Forest management strategies that prioritize carbon storage may not necessarily align with broader ecological and social sustainability goals.

Risks and their impacts:

  • Ongoing Crises: Despite efforts to reduce deforestation, significant challenges persist, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and socio-economic inequalities. These crises pose substantial threats to global sustainability and well-being.
  • Commodification Risks: The commodification of forests for carbon capture introduces risks that may exacerbate existing inequalities and hinder effective forest management practices.

Market-based Versus Non-market Approaches:

  • Market-Based Solutions: There has been significant traction in market-based solutions such as forest carbon trading and zero-deforestation supply chains. These approaches aim to incentivize sustainable forest management practices through economic mechanisms.
  • Exacerbation of Inequities: Despite their popularity, market-based solutions may exacerbate existing inequities within forest governance systems. Certain stakeholders or regions may benefit disproportionately, while others may be marginalized or disadvantaged.
  • Non-market mechanisms: As an alternative, non-market mechanisms, including state regulation and community-led initiatives, are suggested to offer more just and effective pathways for forest governance.

Policy recommendations as per the Report:

  • Holistic Valuation of Forests: Policymakers should reevaluate forests beyond their role as carbon sinks, recognizing their multifaceted ecological, social, and economic values.
  • Equitable Governance: Policymakers should prioritize inclusive decision-making processes that ensure the voices of marginalized groups, such as indigenous and local communities, are heard and respected.
  • Protection of Rights and Livelihoods: Policies should prioritize the protection of the rights and livelihoods of resource-dependent communities.

Way Forward: 

  • Integrated Forest Management: Governments and international organizations should adopt integrated approaches to forest management that recognize and balance the ecological, social, and economic values of forests.
  • Strengthening Governance Structures: Policymakers should work to strengthen governance structures at local, national, and international levels to ensure more equitable decision-making processes.

Mains PYQ:

Q Examine the status of forest resources of India and its resultant impact on climate change. (UPSC 2020)

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