Role of forests in curbing climate change

Forests have significant potential to reduce climate change. Afforestation can reduce climate change. Plants and flora reduce carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, as well as soil also inhibit organic carbon released from plants and organisms. The amount of carbon in the soil depends on the use of land, types of farming, nutrition and temperature of the soil.

Speaking in the context of a study

Recently, a study has shown that if trees are covered in an area of ​​0.9 billion hectares in the world, it is able to reduce emissions of two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas. In this way, severe negative effects of climate change on the world can be eliminated or avoided, but afforestation is often not preferred in global and national policies.

The Conference on Climate Change (COP-21) was held in Paris in 2015 under the UNFCCC. In this conference each of the countries promised to make efforts to tackle the global problem related to climate change on the basis of their potential through nationally determined contribution (INDC).

climate change

  • However, in a recent study, the Forest Survey of India (FSI) estimated additional forest and tree cover to achieve NDC targets.
  • Apart from mitigating climate related effects, forests also have other benefits which are worth noting from both human and nature point of view.
  • Globally, 1.6 billion people (about 25% of the world population) depend on forests for their livelihood, with the majority of the world’s poorest population.
  • Forests give us 75–100 billion dollars in benefits each year in the form of goods and services like clean water and healthy soil.
  • 80 percent of the world’s grassroots biodiversity is available only in forests. Keeping this in mind, additional carbon sinks, as recommended in the report, can be obtained with the following efforts:
    • By promoting the density of open forests
    • Making fertile land fertile
    • Through agricultural forestry
    • By building green corridors
    • Railway track, road, by trekking along the banks of Nehru
    • By increasing tree cover in open places like parks etc. in cities
  • The FSI study indicated that a carbon sink equivalent to 3.39 billion tonnes of CO2 could be built if the density of forests that have decreased in density by 2030 would cost around ₹ 2.46 lakh crore.

India’s Nationally Determined Contribution

effects of climate change

  • The concept of Nationally Determined Contribution has been proposed under the Paris Agreement, in which each nation is expected to electively set emission targets for itself.
  • The unconditional implementation and comparative action of NDC nationally determined contributions (NDCs) will result in a temperature increase of approximately 2⁰C by the year 2100 relative to former industrial levels, if conditionally implementation of nationally determined contributions will be done. So it will be reduced by at least 0.2%.
  • Fossil fuels and cement production contribute 70% to greenhouse gases. The report has detailed gaps between the target emission levels of 2030 and the routes adopted to achieve the 2⁰C and 5⁰C targets.
  • For the full implementation of conditional and unconditional NDC for the year 2030, a 2⁰C increase in temperature is the same as 11 to 5 gigatons of carbon-dioxide.

Target by 2030

  • India aims to reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions by one-third by 2030.
  • The goal is to get 40 percent of the total electricity generation from non-fossil fuels.
  • By 2030, India has also promised to build 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon sinks by increasing the additional forest and tree cover. A carbon sink refers to the creation of a capacity by which carbon dioxide is absorbed in the same proportion by the environment.

Natural forest

climate change

  • India still has to determine how to meet the targets related to carbon sinks.
  • The safest way to reduce carbon from the atmosphere is to turn carbon into plants, vegetation, and soil.
  • There is a greater potential to improve water quality in natural forests, increase water storage in wetlands, prevent soil erosion, secure biodiversity and create new employment opportunities.
  • According to an estimate, if the land is converted into forests naturally, it can reduce carbon by 42 times compared to plantation and 6 times more than agriculture forestry.
  • Only green measures like plantation cannot mitigate climate change. Also, it may not prove to be effective in improving biodiversity and providing its benefits.

Types of Recycling

nationally determined contribution

The amount of carbon collected depends on the type of afforestation.

  • Large quantities of plantations have been promoted in various countries of the world including India, but plantations have a very small capacity to reduce carbon and when they are harvested, the burning of wood releases carbon again into the atmosphere. is.
  • Therefore, India needs to ensure that deforestation is prevented to the maximum extent. Also, the areas mentioned in the FSI report which are to be used to improve the quality of the forest, such areas should be developed as fully natural forests and agro-forestry.
  • Local communities will also get additional benefits by developing forests in place of plantations. Local communities have a long history of relations with forests in India. Thus India can achieve goals such as climate and environment as well as social justice.

What can be done globally?

  • To initiate and support international efforts to reduce forest loss and forest degradation, including the New York Declaration on Forests. This announcement aims to halve the global natural forest loss by 2020 and eliminate this loss by 2030.
  • Under the Bonn Challenge, the condition of forests of 150 million hectares by the year 2020 and 350 million hectares by the year 2030 has to be improved.
  • It can reduce CO2 equivalent to 1.7 gigatons when it reaches its target of 350 million hectares.
  • The concept of rights-based land use enhances the role of community in land use.
  • The relationship between forest and community is capable of poverty alleviation, women empowerment, increasing biodiversity and increasing the sustainability of forests.
  • Programs like REDD + (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) are being carried forward. With this program, developing countries will be able to ensure better utilization of their resources. Along with this, local communities will also get benefit through this.

The conclusion
Forests present the most important solution to mitigate and overcome the effects of climate change. About 2.6 billion tonnes of CO2, which is one-third of the CO2 released by fossil fuels, is absorbed by forests every year. Keeping this fact in mind, increasing forest cover and maintaining it is important from the point of view of the solution of climate change.

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