India Wants to Boost Forest Cover Using Money From Diverting Forest Land to Industries!

Sal Forest, Jim Corbett National Park, India; Photo by Pooja Parvati

This one is a mind twister, really! India’s government says it wants to increase forest and tree cover across the subcontinent, and for this it wants to plant more trees, and for this special drive it plans to use money raised from diverting forest land for non-forest purpose!?

Here’s what India’s environment minister Prakash Javadekar informed the nation’s lower house of parliament: “The Government proposes to implement the tree plantation programme extensively in the country. To increase forest and tree cover in the country, the Central Government has initiated several measures. Notable among them are launching of National Mission for a Green India and taking appropriate measures to put in place a proper institutional mechanism for expeditious utilization of amounts realized in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.”

He says the plan envisages enhancing quality of forest cover in 4.9 million hectares (mha) of predominantly forest lands, including 1.5 mha of moderately dense forest cover, 3 mha of open forest cover, 0.4 mha of degraded grass lands.

Eco-restoration/afforestation to increase forest cover and eco system services from 1.8 m ha forest/non forest lands, including scrub lands, shifting cultivation areas, abandoned mining areas, ravine lands, mangroves and sea-buckthorn areas. Enhancing tree cover in 0.2 mha Urban and Peri-Urban areas (including institutional lands) Increasing forest cover and eco-system services from Agro-forestry and Social Forestry on 3 mha of non-forest lands

Restoration of 0.1 mha of wetlands also features in the plan.

Still, one doesn’t understand the logic of diverting forest land and then planting trees in waste land, instead of using the waste land for industrial purposes.