Amidst times when opposition and activists are blasting the Narendra Modi government for making it easy for the companies to degrade the environment via its new Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Draft 2020, Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has said that India continues to conserve and protect nature and has eternally tried to make harmony with it.
Speaking at the Biodiversity Summit in the United States recently, he mentioned that India has added to its forest cover by 24.56 percent in the last decades.
“In the course of last decade, India has enhanced the combined forest and tree cover to 24.56 per cent of the total geographical area of the country,” he said.
Also, he mentioned that as its contribution to make the world greener, India aims to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030. This, as per the Union Miniter, will allow India to achieve land degradation neutrality.
In simple words, land degradation neutrality means that if India deteriorates 5 sq km of land at one place, it will try to cover 5 sq km with plants and trees at some other spot.
“India has operationalized a system for access and benefit-sharing provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity through a national network of 250,000 Biodiversity Management Committees across the country involving locals and 170,000 Peoples Biodiversity Registers for documentation of biodiversity,” he said.
Recounting the achievements of India in protecting environmental diversity, Javadekar said that India has the highest number of tigers. India has doubled the number of tigers before its 2022 deadline, he added.
He mentioned that the upcoming 15th Conference of Parties is a stage to further unite the world to pave the way to enhance efforts to conserve and protect nature
“India has already taken a leadership role in order to conserve biodiversity by organizing two Conference of Parties (CoPs) within a span of less than a year,” he said. “We organized CoP 14 of UNCCD during September 2019 in New Delhi, followed by CoP 13 of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) in Gandhinagar during February 2020.”
Meanwhile, while the forest cover has surely increased in India. But the ‘tree cover’ in India has shrunk in the past decades.
Areas covered with different types of forests – very dense forests (VDF), moderately dense forests and open forests – have increased. Such forests are under the state’s control and fall in the Recorded Forest Area (RFA).
But the ‘tree cover’ of any region is outside the Recorded Forest Area (RFA). And this area is losing trees rapidly.