Context: India is lagging behind in the targets to increase the number and quality of tree- and forest-cover plantations set in the Green India Mission, according to data accessed via the Right to Information Act.
What is National Mission for a Green India (GIM)?
- About: It was launched in February 2014, & is one of the eight Missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
- Implementing Agency: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
- Aim: It aims at protecting, restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change through adaptation and mitigation measures, which would help:
- Enhancing carbon sinks in sustainably managed forests and other ecosystems;
- Adaptation of vulnerable species/ecosystems to the changing climate; and
- Adaptation of forest-dependent communities.
- Mission Objectives:
- Increased forest/tree cover on 5 m ha of forest/non-forest lands and improved quality of forest cover on another 5 m ha (a total of 10 m ha).
- Improved ecosystem services including biodiversity, hydrological services and carbon sequestration as a result of treatment of 10 m ha.
- Increased forest-based livelihood income of about 3 million households living in and around the forests.
- Enhanced annual CO2 sequestration by 50 to 60 million tonnes in the year 2020.
- GIM envisages a holistic view of greening that extends beyond tree planting.
- GIM focusses on multiple ecosystem services such as biodiversity, water, biomass, preserving mangroves, wetlands, critical habitats etc. along with carbon sequestration.
Status of Forests in India as per the RTI
- From 2015-16 to 2021-22, the Central government (based on submissions from 17 States) had approved a target of increasing tree/forest cover by 53,377 hectares and improving the quality of degraded forest by 1,66,656 ha.
- However, the tree/forest cover had increased by 26,287 hectares and forest quality improved in only 1,02,096 hectares as of December 31, 2022.
- The States with a significant shortfall in tree cover include Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Kerala.
- For executing these projects, the Central government had allocated Rs 681 crore but only Rs 525 crore had been utilized.
Status of forests as per the India State of Forest Report-2021
- As per the Report, forest and tree cover in the country increased by 2,261 square km since the last assessment in 2019.
- India’s total forest and tree cover was 80.9 million hectares, which accounted for 24.62% of the geographical area of the country.
- The report said 17 States and Union Territories had more than 33% of their area under forest cover.
- Madhya Pradesh had the largest forest cover, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra.
- The top five States in terms of forest cover as a percentage of their total geographical area were Mizoram (84.53%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.33%), Meghalaya (76%), Manipur (74.34%) and Nagaland (73.90%).
- However, critics have noted that the majority of the increase in green cover was achieved through commercial plantations, which were monocultures and, from an ecological perspective, were unable to make up for natural forests and their biodiversity.
- They were also more vulnerable to pest infestations.