Taking forward an agreed framework of the 2013 Warsaw climate conference, India has with a draft national policy on ‘reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation’ (popularly known as REDD+ initiative) which enable local communities to get financial incentives for increasing forest cover.
The REDD+ initiative is a global mitigation mechanism under a UN body, linking deforestation, degradation and conservation of forest carbon stocks and sustainable management of forests with reduction of greenhouse gas emission.
It has provision of compensating developing countries for their efforts to increase forest cover under a result-based payment system. The money is being collected through contributions from rich nations under the initiative.
Although only three countries – UK, Norway and US – have, so far, pledged money to the tune of 280 million dollars for financing the initiative, the move is seen as a step in the right direction as deforestation accounts for nearly 20% of global emissions of carbon dioxide.
In order to tap this source to improve its forest cover, India now intends to make the country REDD+ ready by creating a “national-level authority” and setting up “supportive institutions” in three years.
Keeping this deadline in mind, the Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) on Monday come out with a draft national policy and sought suggestions from stakeholders and experts within a month (till May 27).
“Based on the comments, the draft document will be finalized,” said a ministry note.
Objective of this policy is to develop forest areas, safeguard rights and interests of local communities and to strengthen coordination among sectors and stakeholders having direct impact on land use and forestry.
“The objective is to develop appropriate mechanism for channelizing REDD+ funding and transferring the accrued financial benefits to the communities in a fair, equitable and transparent manner”, said the ministry.
Underlining importance of increasing forest cover, the ministry took note of the fact that the present level of forest cover in India (69.20 million hectares) neutralizes 11% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Global Forest Resource Assessment (GFRA), India is at 10th position in terms of forest area in the world. As per India State of Forest Report, the total forest cover in the country is around 21.05% of the geographical area. The country had, however, added merely three million hectares of forest in 1997-2007.
Setting up national forest monitoring system, national REDD+ architecture\governance and information system, building a critical mass of technical\institutional capacities of various stakeholders including local communities and evolving a domestic funding mechanism to increase forest cover in the country by involving PSUs and corporate sector under ‘corporate social responsibility’ are some of the key features of the draft policy.