ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Green India Mission

Sumana Datta’s special article “Continuing the Forest Conservation Debate” (EPW, 23 January 2016) on the Green India Mission (GIM) is a commendable attempt at summarising a complex and wide-ranging document lucidly. Having been closely associated with drawing up the Mission document at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, I offer the following comments on some of the issues taken up in the article.

The impetus for the Mission was, patently, the desire of the government to make some concrete and specific proposals for addressing the climate change crisis.The ministry team was initially mandated with coming up with a single figure and a clear strategy to sequester carbon in forests (through both quality improvement and expansion). However, anything to do with forests immediately brings in its wake various effects and consequences for communities and biodiversity/habitats, as we have learnt from our past experimentation with commercial exploitation, conversion to monoculture, and so on. So the team took pains to move the government away from a single-dimensioned harping on carbon sequestration towards a more flexible, multi-stakeholder, multi-interest programme that would address the underlying processes and causes of forest degradation (as required by REDD+), rather than just the forest biomass. This brings us back, of course, to the approach mandated by the new forest policy of 1988, the joint forest management (JFM) order, the National Afforestation Programme (NAP) and the various integrated projects for watershed, tribal development, eco-development, etc. Now, we have the forest landscape restoration (FLR) approach that had its own international congress right after the Paris climate summit in December 2015.

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