UN Forum urges urgent action to halt deforestation by 2030

UN Forum urges urgent action to halt deforestation by 2030

UN Forum urges urgent action to halt deforestation by 2030

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At the conclusion of its 19th session on Friday, the UN Forum on Forests emphasized the urgent need to halt deforestation and prevent further land degradation by 2030 to ensure sustainable development. 

The declaration from the forum, yet to be released, reaffirmed the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-30 as a global framework for action to protect and sustainably manage forests and trees. India’s Green Credit Programme, aimed at incentivizing tree plantation and forest restoration, was shared during the session as a significant step towards conservation efforts.

The Green Credit Programme allows corporations and private entities to undertake plantations on degraded lands, drawing criticism from experts and environmentalists who raise concerns about potential risks to existing biodiversity. Despite these concerns, India highlighted its advancements in forest conservation and management, noting a consistent increase in forest cover over the past fifteen years. The programme aims to generate green credits, tradable and usable as indicators under corporate social responsibility.

However, the implementation of the programme has faced scrutiny, with experts pointing out weakened legal protections and regulatory checks, potentially undermining the ecological integrity of natural forests. Critics emphasize the importance of ecological restoration and participative forest management over mere tree-planting initiatives.

India’s definition of forest cover, which includes plantations and orchards, has also been a point of contention. While accepted by international bodies like the UNFCCC and Food and Agriculture Organisation, there are calls for more accurate delineation of forest areas to ensure proper assessment of carbon stocks and ecological impact.

Amidst discussions on forest conservation, it is crucial to address the challenges faced by protected areas, many of which suffer from fragmentation and lack of capacity, leading to encroachments and biodiversity loss. Moving forward, a holistic approach to forest management, emphasizing restoration and community participation, is essential for effective conservation efforts.