Forest Landscape Restoration :Regaining Ecological Functionality


    In Context 

    The focus now is on Forest Landscape Restoration to regain ecological functionality and improve human welfare.

    Objectives and need 

    • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), deforestation and forest degradation contribute around 12% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 
      • The total area occupied by primary forests in India has decreased by 3.6%.
    • Governments have relied on afforestation and reforestation as a means of establishing trees on non-treed land.
      • These strategies have now evolved. The focus is now on forest landscape restoration .

    About Forest Landscape Restoration 

    • It is the process of regaining ecological functionality and improving human welfare across deforested or degraded forest landscapes.
      • This approach keeps in mind multiple land uses and people’s needs in the short and long terms. 
    • Forest landscape restoration seeks to involve communities in the process of designing and executing mutually advantageous interventions for the upgradation of landscapes. 
    • Nearly two billion hectares of degraded land in the world (and 140 million hectares in India) have scope for potential restoration as forest land.
    • A crucial aspect of this process is to ensure the diversity of the species while planting trees. 
      • Natural forests with diverse native tree species are more efficient in sequestering carbon than monoculture tree plantations. 
      • Planting diverse species is also healthier for local communities and their livelihoods and diversifying species in forest plantations has a positive impact on the quality of the forests.

    A pivotal role played by them 

    • Tree planting comes with varied environmental and ecological benefits.
    • Forests are integral in regulating ecosystems, influencing the carbon cycle and mitigating the effects of climate change. 
    • Annually, forests absorb roughly 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. 
      • This absorption includes nearly 33% of the carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels.
    • Beyond the environmental benefits, there is the human dimension that is at the front and centre. 
      • Millions of lives and livelihoods are intertwined with our forests. 
      • Forests are a boon for local communities and their livelihoods by functioning as a resource base for goods and services.
        •  India is an agrarian economy.
    • Forest ecosystems enrich soil fertility and water availability, enhancing agricultural productivity, and in turn the rural economy. 
    • Tree planting prevents erosion and stems flooding. Sustainable forest crops reduce food insecurity and empower women, allowing them to gain access to more nutritional diets and new income streams. 
    • Agroforestry lessens rural-to-urban migration and contributes to an increase in resources and household income. 
    • Planting trees is deeply linked to the ‘holistic’ well-being of all individuals, the community, and the planet.

    India and programmes

    • The span 2021-2030 is the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, emphasising efforts to restore degraded terrestrial ecosystems including forests.
    •  In 2011, the Bonn Challenge was launched with a global goal to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. 
      • India joined the Bonn Challenge in 2015, pledging to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030
      • An additional carbon sink of 2.5 billion-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through forest and tree cover is to be created by 2030.
    • India’s pledge to set a net zero target by 2070, at the COP26 summit, Glasgow, has again highlighted the importance of forests as an undisputed mechanism to help mitigate the challenges of climate change. 
    • Government programmes 
      • There are a myriad of government programmes such as Compensatory Afforestation, the National Afforestation Programme, the National Mission for a Green India (Green India Mission), the Nagar Van scheme and the Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme .
      • There is a spotlight on youth via the Green Skill Development Programme for youth who aspire to attain employment in the environment and forest sectors.
      • Van Mahotsav, the Forest Festival : 
        • It is celebrated in the first week of July.It was first celebrated in the year 1947 the first week of July is a good time to plant trees as it coincides with the monsoon season

    Hurdles in forest restoration 

    • Forest restoration in India faces hurdles in terms of the identification of areas for restoration
    •  A lack of importance accorded to research and scientific strategies in tree planting
    •  Stakeholders’ conflicts of interest, and financing.

    Right way to undertake tree plantation drives

    • To be successful, forest landscape restoration must be implemented proactively, bolstering landscapes and forest ecosystems to be durable and adjustable in the face of future challenges and societal needs. 
    • It also needs the involvement and the alignment of a host of stakeholders including the community, champions, government and landowners
    • The restoration of natural forest ecosystems can be strengthened through participatory governance by engaging stakeholders —as in the Punjab example.
    • Vulnerable forest-dependent communities should be factored in, and any effort should be tailored to the local socio-economic context and landscape history of a region.


    [Q] Discuss the advantages of Forest Landscape Restoration and its possible impact on the environment.