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Agro forestry and ToF (Trees Outside Forests) Potential in supporting India’s Roadmap towards Carbon Neutral Economy by 2070

Post by on Friday, March 11, 2022

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India’s Commitments led by Hon’ble Prime Minister Sh Narendra Modi during CoP26 of UNFCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) at Glasgow, United Kingdom in 2021 incorporated five nectar elements of ‘Panchamrit’, to address Climate Change related challenges. Promotion of Agroforestry and Trees Outside Forests have to play a pivotal role in meeting commitments related to; Reduction of  at least one billion tonnes of total projected emissions between now and 2030, Reduction of  the country’s carbon intensity to less than 45%, Achieving net-zero emissions target by 2070. Union Budget-2022 emphasis on Agroforestry as one of the four interventions.


It also reflects the seriousness of visionary leadership through shaping of “Climate Action” roadmap towards meeting NDC targets of having additional 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of Carbon Sequestration by 2030 and other National and International Goals related to Biodiversity Conservation, Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) underConvention on Biodiversity (CBD), UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and other conventions.


Enhancement of India’s pledge under Bonn Challenge -Landscape Restoration to 26 mha from 21 mha by 2030 during UNCCD CoP-14, held in India in 2019 by Hon’ble Prime Minister Sh Narendra Modi is the largest pledge by any Country. The potential of Agroforestry and Trees Outside Forests (ToF) needs to be harnessed optimally in meeting these commitments and goals. Agroforestry also enhances provision of ecosystem services, especially carbon sequestration, and increased inclusive economic opportunities. Agroforestry and TOFs also alleviate some pressure on natural forests by meeting fuelwood and wood product needs.


Agroforestry and ToF include trees growing on private land and farms; in urban areas; along linear infrastructure such as roads, railway lines, canals; plantations in and around industrial areas; shelterbelts; and in land belonging to government and other institutions; etc. TOFs on farms and other private lands provide income and sustenance for farmers from timber, fuelwood, fruits and other products. These TOFs play a critical role in the economy of many developing countries, including India.


Additionally, TOFs are important in promoting cultural, social, and ecological functions that are important to human livelihoods. TOFs also sequester carbon, stabilize soil, filter water and air, regulate water flow, and perform other ecosystem services. When planted along roads and canals, in institutional areas or within urban landscapes, TOFs provide shade to cool microclimates, absorb some air pollutants, beautify green spaces, provide nesting and habitat for birds and other small animals, help to regulate stormwater, and contribute to human well-being.


Haryana State has demonstrated how a State deficient in forest and natural resources scarce with only about 3.5 % area under Forests and more than 80 % area under Agriculture can support the Nation’s food security and also wood security. This is mainly due to promotion of Agroforestry friendly policies and encouraging plantation campaigns for planting Trees Outside Forests. Investor and Industry friendly climate for wood based industries, sourcing wood mainly from farmlands and facilitating availability of high productivity and short rotation seedlings of Eucalyptus and Poplar to farmers have played a pivotal role in making Yamunanagar District the Plywood Capital of the Country. Clonal Eucalyptus and Poplar seedlings have short harvesting period of 4-6 years. Farmers’ income is supplemented through farmwood based production along with agricultural crops. Moreover, Agroforestry also ensures economic security in supplementing income from trees in years of crop failures due to drought, frost, extreme temperatures, rainfall or other reasons.  Strong formal and informal market linkages, marketing agencies   and value chains linking producers, industries, consumers and end users have evolved.


There are about 350 plywood units in the State. Yamunanagar Wood Market supports more than 50 % of the India’s Plywood Production. It is estimated that wood worth INR 2500to 3000 crores sourced from farmlands is traded in Yamunanagar and nearby region. Finished and value added wood products worth about INR6500  to 8000 crores in the form of plywood, particle board, poles etc have played a vital role in shaping the economy of the region. It is estimated, that about 0.1 million persons are annually employed in activities related to woodbased harvesting, marketing and production.


Haryana State under the dynamic and visionary leadership of Hon’ble Chief Minister Sh Manohar Lal Khattar has undertaken a number of initiatives in supporting National level Commitments. “Oxy- Van” scheme launched in 2021 aims to have “Mini Forests as natural oxygen factories” so that people can have better surroundings and availability of oxygen, specially in urban areas. This is especially important, keeping in view the Oxygen Crisis, everyone faced during COVID pandemic. The objective of “Praan Vayu Devta” scheme aims  to protect and conserve the trees having immense ecological and environmental value and to inculcate in the people sense for protection of old age trees which provide valuable intangible benefits and services to humanity including lifesaving oxygen.


The scheme acknowledges and respects old and heritage trees, more than 75 years old by paying annual pension of Rs 2500 to the custodian of tree. Haryana State on the occasion of World Environment Day, 5th June 2021 has also initiated a scheme to promote Agroforestry and plantations on at least 10% of Gram Panchayat lands. For Soil and Moisture Conservation,” MeraPaani Meri Viraasat” scheme has been launched, that aims at crop diversification scheme for farmers. The scheme incentivises farmer or landowner for Rs. 7000  per  acre to switch from paddy cultivation to other crops. This water conservation initiative will also protect depletion of natural resources such as water and soil.


The success of Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus tereticornis) and Populusspp.(PopulusDeltoides) based Agroforestry and the adoption of these species  in Yamunanagar and Northern Plains is mainly due to short rotation of 5 to 7 years as compared to other species, linked established market supply chains through utilization in Plywood, Particle Board and Veneer and associated industries facilitating , value additions, supplementing economic returns and green livelihoods. The India plywood market reached a value of INR 195.8 billion in FY 2021-22. It is estimated that the Indian plywood market will reach INR 297.2 billion by 2027-28, exhibiting a CAGR of 7.4% during 2022-23 to 2027-28.(www.imarcgroup.com /indian-plywood-market/toc).


Agroforestry offers a huge opportunity in meeting the market demand of wood. Appropriate Policy measures, supported by technology transfer, diversification of wood based products, ensuring appropriate returns to wood grower for encouraging adoption of agroforestry, setting up of industries at strategic locations for balanced agroforestry based industrial development to absorb the available wood and continuous market research are needed.  Agroclimatic regions based appropriate agroforestry and ToFs models need to be promoted to realize the potential in different States across the Country.

The Haryana Model is a success story widely acknowledged globally. Appropriate State specific Agroforestry and ToFs models need to be formulated and adopted for enhancing ecosystem services, including biodiversity, hydrological services, including flood mitigation, and carbon sequestration, through improved landscape management. This will facilitate in harnessing the potential of Agroforestry and TOFs in shaping “Climate Action” as per India’s commitments for Carbon Neutral Economy by 2070.


(Dr Vivek Saxena, IFS, APCCF & CEO, Haryana State Forest CAMPA Authority) 

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