To fight climate change, the Centre Friday approved a strategy for creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
Carbon sinks are natural or artificial reservoirs that absorb and store the atmosphere's carbon dioxide through physical and biological mechanisms.
Union Minister Harsh Vardhan released a report on Friday which detailed the recommendations made by an expert committee formed in 2017 to frame the strategy on increasing carbon sink in the country for combating climate change.
The commitment to increase carbon sink was made by India in the Paris Agreement in 2015. Following this, an expert panel under the chairmanship of Devendra Pandey, a former DG, Forest Survey of India, was set up in 2017 to frame a strategy for fulfilling the commitment.
The report stated, "In order to create carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030 as committed by India in 2015 and also for sustainable management of forest resources, it is critically important to have properly demarcated forest land boundary to enforce protection, ensure conservation and a comprehensive information on the state of forests and their management at national, state and local levels."
The expert panel has come out with various recommendations to increase carbon sink.
Throwing light on the strategy, Siddhanta Das, DG Forests, in the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change said, "In the Paris conference, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India is going to sequester 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in the country's forests."
"We had constituted a committee to have a roadmap for this. It recommended digitization of forests boundaries. We are engaging with other states. Odisha has already given its methodology for digitising all boundaries. Hence, we are releasing the publication on the strategy on increasing carbon sink to 2.5 billion tonnes," he said.
The report has recommended digitisation of forest boundary, refining forest cover assessment, developing specific carbon accounting models for trees growing outside forests and strengthening database of the forest sector and their flow from the state to the central government.
It is hoped that the analysis and the strategy recommended by this committee will help the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to act for achieving additional carbon sink goal from forest and tree cover, the report said.
Elaborating on the role of forests in sequestering carbon dioxide, Das said, "India's forest as on date have a CO2 equivalent of 26.5 billion tonnes. We are adding annually about 128 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent with forest as the sink. At this rate by the year 2030, we will be sequestering additionally 1.9-2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent."
"Therefore, the ministry has run upon a plan that will see qualitative improvement of forests. As a majority of carbon is stored in the soil, so if you enrich the quality of the forest they will sequester CO2 at a much accelerated rate," he said.
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