Why Focus on Tree Plantation and Forest Restoration - UPSC Current Affairs

Why Focus on Tree Plantation and Forest Restoration - UPSC Current Affairs

Enhance your UPSC CSE preparation with our daily dose of Current Affairs wherein we talk about the crucial updates of national and international importance. In today’s edition, we will discuss Tree Plantation and Forest Restoration.

Navigate further to upgrade your UPSC preparation and check the topic’s relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus.

For Prelims: MGNREGA, Food Insecurity, Agroforestry, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Bonn Challenge, Van Mahotsav, Green Skill Development Program

For Mains: Environmental and ecological benefits, Forest Degradation, Flora and Fauna, Deforestation, Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation

Context

Recently in Punjab, about 100 women employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), were seen digging pits, planting trees, and watering them, for World Environment Day (June 5).

Probable Question

Integration of Schemes such as MGNREGA with Climate goals will be a win-win for the economy as well as the environment. Comment. 

About Tree Plantation

  • Tree planting comes with varied environmental and ecological benefits. 
  • Planting trees is deeply linked to the ‘wholistic’ well-being of all individuals, the community, and the planet, specifically due to;
    • Tree planting prevents erosion and stems flooding. 
    • Sustainable forest crops reduce food insecurity and empower women, allowing them to gain access to more nutritional diets and new income streams. 
    • Agroforestry lessens rural-to-urban migration and contributes to an increase in resources and household income. 
    • Planting diverse species is also healthier for local communities, and their livelihoods and has a positive impact on the quality of the forests.

Also read our yesterday’s edition of Current Affairs, in case you missed it: What’s behind North Macedonia’s long road to the European Union

About Forests

Millions of human lives, especially local communities and their livelihoods are intertwined with our forests, in a way.

  • Forests are integral in regulating ecosystems, influencing the carbon cycle, and mitigating the effects of climate change. 
  • They absorb roughly 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, out of which 33% are released from burning fossil fuels.
  • As per the World Resources Institute, forest ecosystems enrich soil fertility and water availability, enhancing agricultural productivity, and in turn the rural economy. 
  • Forest Degradation:
    • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), deforestation and forest degradation contribute to around 12% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 
    • The total area occupied by primary forests in India has decreased by 3.6%.
  • Forest Land Restoration: 
    • Nearly 2 billion hectares of degraded land in the world (and 140 million hectares in India) have scope for potential restoration as forest land.
    • Forest restoration is the process of regaining ecological functionality and improving human welfare across deforested or degraded forest landscapes.
    • The scope of restoration increases if there is the involvement of a host of stakeholders including the community, champions, government, and landowners. 
    • In 2011, the Bonn Challenge was launched, which is a global initiative, to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030.
    • The span 2021-2030 is the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, emphasizing efforts to restore degraded terrestrial ecosystems including forests. 

India’s Initiatives

Indian governments have relied on afforestation and reforestation as a means of establishing trees on non-treed land, but now the focus is more on restoring the forest, following are key highlights – 

  • Van Mahotsav:
    • Every year Van Mahotsav, a tree planting festival is organized in India, over a period of the week starting from 1st July to 7th July.
    • It was first started by K.M. Munshi in 1950.
  • India joined the Bonn Challenge in 2015, pledging to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030. 
  • In India, an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through forest and tree cover is to be created by 2030.
  • Other government programs: Compensatory Afforestation, the National Afforestation Programme, the National Mission for a Green India (Green India Mission), the Nagar Van scheme, and the Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme. 
  • There is also a Green Skill Development Programme for youth who aspire to attain employment in the environment and forest sectors. 
  • Hurdles in forest restoration:
    • Identifying the areas for restoration.
    • A lack of importance accorded to research and scientific strategies in tree planting.
    • Stakeholders’ conflicts of interest, and issues in financing.
    • Dilemma to prioritize environmental sustainability over development and industrialization. 

Also watch a detailed video on Social Forestry  by  Himanshu Sharma Sir our Faculty for Geography :

Way Forward

  • Forest landscape restoration and tree plantation must be implemented proactively.
  • Bolstering landscapes and forest ecosystems to be durable and adjustable in the face of future challenges and societal needs. 
  • The restoration of natural forest ecosystems can be strengthened through participatory governance by engaging stakeholders. 
  • Vulnerable forest-dependent communities should be factored in, and any effort should be tailored to the local socio-economic context and landscape history of a region.

Source: The Hindu

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