India unlikely to meet carbon sink commitment

The current rate of afforestation is lower than what is needed to achieve the target

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Tuesday 18 June 2019

India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) of creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030, is unlikely to materialise, Union additional director general of forests, Saibal Dasgupta said.

The current rate of afforestation — 35 million tonnes per year carbon dioxide equivalent — is lower than what is needed to achieve the target. "At this rate, there will be a shortfall from the target pledged,” Dasgupta said on June 17.

Various afforestation programmes like the Green India Mission (GIM) and National Afforestation Programme (NAP) are under-funded, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests stated earlier this year.

There had been a decline in the progress area brought under afforestation as part of the NAP — from 80,583 hectares in 2013-14 to just 35,986 hectares in 2015-16 — the Status of Forests in India report released on February 12 by the Standing Committee said.

The report also found that there had been no recent studies to know the efficacy of these programmes.

“The Ministry should undertake a study to assess the impact of National Afforestation Programme and Green India Mission in improving the quality of degraded forests so that their actual impact on the forest cover is known and further strategies in this regard could be drawn accordingly,” it recommended.

Dasgupta was speaking at the National Workshop on the Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Programmme. The workshop was held in the run-up to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Conference of Parties 14, to be held in India from September 2 to 13. 

He pointed out that to increase afforestation and reduce land degradation, there was a need to improve the quality of the forest under the categories 'Open Forests' and 'Shrubs'. 

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