RESTORING ECOLOGICAL MOSAIC

The Green India Mission heading towards completion of nearly a decade of its launch it is high time to assess whether set targets have been achieved or not and if not then identify the discrepancies and flaws that need to be corrected. It is pertinent to mention here that Green India Mission is aimed at protecting, restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures. As per the reliable statistics available, the forest cover in India currently stands at 75 million hectares. As per Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of India, by the year 2020-30, the target to achieve is approximately 2.5 bil- lion tonnes of carbon and to meet this target, India needs an additional forest cover to the tune of 30 million hectares.
This is no less than a herculean task, given the progress of this significant mission being far from the set targets till date.
It is pertinent to mention here that even a Parliamentary Committee constituted for the purpose had a few years ago raised concern over the targets set for carbon sequestration.
In its report the Committee had observed that the target set for afforestation was approximately 51,000 hectares, which comprises a very small proportion of the requirement. This indicates that the deficit till 2017 and thereafter is definitely going to have its impact upon the performance of the mis- sion to achieve the target by 2030. Primarily it seems that the performance of the Mission has remained wanting on account of two main factors firstly due to underfunding and secondly due to the mission not being synchronous with the realistic ground situations so far as strict scientific and envi- ronmental aspects are concerned. Therefore first and fore- most the government needs to ensure adequate funding for this significant mission. Moreover, it needs to be realized by the stakeholders especially the policy planners that planta- tion activity is aimed at just increasing the green cover which cannot replace the actual forest cover as forests do not have only plants and trees of numerous varieties but also a spe- cific animal kingdom within it and all the components living in an absolutely undisturbed environment play the most important role in maintaining an ecological balance that in the long run contributes towards addressing the Climate Change issue that the world is facing today. It means that in the newly created plantations there is no wildlife and biodi- versity, the reason being that there are aggressive afforesta- tion projects directing resources toward tree-planting, with- out addressing the drivers of widespread deforestation. It needs to be realized that greening would take a socio-eco- logical approach that treats the system as a whole which must include restoration of ecology of agro-forestry, grass- lands, streams, mixed scrub besides other inseparable enti- ties existing in the exclusive natural flora and fauna. Last but not the least, during afforestation the peculiarity of local sys- tems to preserve the diversity needs to be taken care of seri- ously. Only then it shall be possible to achieve the target set under Green India Mission and ultimately restoring the pris- tine glory of the Indian ecological mosaic.