[op-ed snap] For a wider cover: meeting climate goals

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Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Bonn Challenge, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), agroforestry, Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) systems, NABARD, Foundation for Ecological Security

Mains level: India’s actions to tackle climate change and way forward


News

India’s Bonn Challenge commitment

  1. In 2015, India made a Bonn Challenge commitment to place into restoration 13 million hectares (Mha) of degraded land by 2020 and an additional 8 Mha by 2030
  2. India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) have also pledged to sequester 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent additionally by 2030 through enhanced tree cover

Is Bonn challenge only about planting trees?

  1. Neither the Bonn Challenge nor the NDCs are about large-scale plantations alone
  2. The Bonn Challenge lays emphasis on landscape approaches — a model aimed at improving the ecology of a landscape as a whole in order to benefit local livelihoods and conserve biodiversity
  3. The NDC lays emphasis not only on carbon sequestration but also adaptation to climate change through a strengthened flow of benefits to local communities that are dependent on forests and agriculture for sustenance

India’s policy framework

  1. India’s policy framework on forests lays emphasis on a landscape approach to manage forest and tree cover
  2. This is to ensure that the flow of multiple ecosystem services — including food security, climate mitigation and adaptation, conservation of biological diversity and water supplies — is secured

Are large-scale tree plantations sustainable?

  1. Large-scale plantation drives, often do not lay stress on species selection, the quality of planting materials or survival rates, nor recognize tenure and resource rights to ensure that the benefit flows to communities
  2. Thus they do not really achieve the goals

What should be done?

  1. Plantations should be taken up as one measure among a larger suite of interventions
  2. To operationalize a landscape approach, we must protect healthy forest areas from deforestation, degradation, and fragmentation
  3. We must also creatively integrate trees into different land uses
  4. It is also important to have in place a performance monitoring system to quantify tree survival rates and the benefits to communities
  5. This can be achieved through a combination of remote sensing, crowdsourced, ground-level monitoring with support from communities and civil society organizations

Advantage possessed by India 

  1. India has numerous models that are suited for different regions and farm household sizes to draw upon
  2. The nation practices at least 35 types of agroforestry models that combine different trees that provide timber, fruits, fodder, fuel and fertilizers with food crops

Different models that can be used

  1. Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) systems where farmers protect and manage the growth of trees and shrubs that regenerate naturally in their fields from rootstock or from seeds dispersed through animal manure can deliver several economic and ecosystem benefits
  2. In Niger, West Africa, farmers operating on 5 Mha of land added roughly 200 million on-farm trees using FMNR in the past 30 years. This has sequestered 25-30 million tonnes of carbon and increased annual agricultural production by about 500,000 tonnes
  3. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development’s (NABARD’s) ‘Wadi’ model and the Foundation for Ecological Security’s re-greening of village commons project are good examples of tree-based interventions

ROA Methodology

  1. A tool called the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM) is being used in 40 countries to find the best methods for landscape restoration
  2. The tool includes rigorous analysis of spatial, legal and socio-economic data and draws on consultations with key stakeholders to determine the right type of interventions
  3. In India, this tool is being piloted in Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh

Way Forward

  1. India has the policy framework, the political will and financing to endorse landscape restoration
  2. Need of the hour is innovation and imagination to build replicable and scalable models with a participatory approach to achieve the country’s climate goals through landscape restoration
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols
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