Centre, US agency launch Forest-PLUS 2.0

Five-year programme to focus on improving status of forests in three terrains in Bihar, Kerala and Telangana

By Rohan Gupta
Published: Thursday 26 September 2019
Forest-PLUS 2.0 comprises pilot project in three landscapes – Gaya in Bihar, Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Medak in Telangana. Photo: Getty Images

US Agency for International Development (USAID) and India's Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) officially launched Forest-PLUS 2.0 on September 25, 2019.

It is a five-year programme initiated in December 2018 that focuses on developing tools and techniques to bolster ecosystem management and harnessing ecosystem services in forest landscape management.

Tetra Tech ARD, a consulting and engineering company headquartered in the US, was given the contract to implement the programme and IORA Ecological Solutions, a New Delhi-based environmental advisory group, is its implementation partner.

Forest-PLUS 2.0, the second set of pilot projects, is meant to enhance sustainable forest landscape management after Forest-PLUS completed its five years in 2017.

The programme’s first set focused on capacity building to help India participate in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). It included four pilot projects in Sikkim, Rampur, Shivamogga and Hoshangabad.

Under these, field tests, innovative tools and approaches for Indian forest management were developed. Promotion of bio-briquettes in Sikkim, introduction of solar heating systems in Rampur and development of an agro-forestry model in Hoshangabad were some of the achievements of this programme.

Forest-PLUS 2.0 comprises pilot project in three landscapes — Gaya in Bihar, Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Medak in Telangana. The choice of these sites was driven by the contrast in their landscapes – Bihar is a forest deficit area, Telangana is a relatively drier area where there is ample scope for community livelihood enhancement and Kerala is rich in biodiversity.

The targets of this set are –

  • 1,20,000 hectares of land under improved management
  • New, inclusive economic activity worth $12 million 
  • Measurable benefits accrued to 800,000 households
  • Three incentive mechanisms demonstrated in managing landscapes for ecosystem services

To achieve these targets, the programme has three focal points of action –

  • Developing tools for multiple services in forests management. The tools consist innovative apps for automating forest planning processes, model forest management plans. These tools are expected to result in enhanced water flow and quality, improved livelihoods and resilience of forest-dependent communities.
  • Developing incentive-based instruments for leveraging finance. For example, a payment mechanism where a municipality or industry would pay upstream forest communities to use water flowing down because of improved forest management.
  • Unlocking economic opportunities for forest-dependent people by modelling and setting up conservation enterprises and mobilising investment from the private sector.

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