Badlands can earn

By Supriya Singh
Published: Friday 15 May 2009

Sirsa afforestation project gets CDM certification

eight remote villages of Haryana have entered the global carbon market. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (unfccc) registered an afforestation project on the degraded land of these villages as the world's first small-scale clean development mechanism (cdm) initiative.

The project initiated by the Haryana forest department covers 370 hectares (ha) of degraded land in Sirsa district. The beneficiaries are 227 private landowners. Plantation of prosopis, acacia and eucalyptus trees started in August 2008 (see 'That's your sink', Down To Earth, December 1-15, 2008).

The project is on a pilot basis and is funded by the forest department. So far the department has planted 300,000 trees on 300 ha. It will carry out a second round of plantation in July. The trees, the project claims, will sequester 11,596 tonnes of co2 every year, which is equal to 11,596 cers (certified emission reduction units). As per the unfccc specifications, the farmers can sell the cer s after every five years from 2014 for 20 years. Registration can be extended by another 40 years in phases.

But the farmers are not sure how much they will earn. There is no fixed price for cer from afforestation projects as no such cer has been traded till date. The forest department has estimated a price of US $5 per cer.

The estimated rate and the five-year waiting period seem to deter some farmers from continuing with the project. "Owners of 70 ha of land have expressed reservations and we have not planted saplings on their land," said V S Tanwar, divisional forest officer, community forestry project, who is in-charge of the project. He admitted it would be a challenge to retain farmers' interest in the project in the long run.

The forest department is hopeful. "Depending on the success of the project, we will plan an afforestation project under cdm covering the entire southern Haryana where land is extremely degraded," said Tanwar.

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