From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Green Credit Scheme, CAMPA
Mains level : CAMPA
The Forest Advisory Committee has approved a scheme that could allow “forests” to be traded as a commodity. FAC is an apex body tasked with adjudicating requests by the industry to raze forest land for commercial ends.
Green Credit Scheme
- The proposed ‘Green Credit Scheme’, as it is called, allows agencies — they could be private companies, village forest communities — to identify land and begin growing plantations.
- After three years, they would be eligible to be considered as compensatory forest land if they met the Forest Department’s criteria.
- An industry needing forest land could then approach the agency and pay it for parcels of such forested land, and this would then be transferred to the Forest Department and be recorded as forest land.
- The participating agency will be free to trade its asset, that is plantation, in parcels, with project proponents who need forest land.
- This is not the first time that such a scheme has been mooted.
- In 2015, a ‘Green Credit Scheme’ for degraded forest land with public-private participation was recommended, but it was not approved by the Union Environment Minister, the final authority.
- In the current system, industry needs to make good the loss of forest by finding appropriate non-forest land — equal to that which would be razed.
- It also must pay the State Forest Department the current economic equivalent — called Net Present Value — of the forest land.
- It’s then the Forest Department’s responsibility to grow appropriate vegetation that, over time, would grow into forests.
- Industries have often complained that they find it hard to acquire appropriate non-forest land, which has to be contiguous to existing forest.
- If implemented it allows the Forest Department to outsource one of its responsibilities of reforesting to non-government agencies.
- One of India’s prongs to combat climate change is the Green India Mission that aims to sequester 2.523 billion tonnes of carbon by 2020-30, and this involves adding 30 million hectares in addition to existing forest.
- Critics held that it does not solve the core problems of compensatory afforestation.
- It creates problems of privatizing multi-use forest areas as monoculture plantation plots. Forests are treated as a mere commodity without any social or ecological character.