Stakeholder Consultation on Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology in Haryana
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) organized a stakeholder consultation workshop on “Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM)” with the Government of Haryana, India on 12th January 2021. The meeting held in Gurugram, Haryana, India saw the attendance of Sh. Kanwar Pal, Hon’ble Minister of Education, Forest, Tourism, Parliamentary Affairs, Hospitality, and Art & Culture Affairs, Haryana as Chief Guest, along with senior officials from Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), State Forest Department, Government of Haryana and other line Departments that are key stakeholders for land restoration in Haryana. The purpose of this workshop was to get feedback and to validate preliminary findings with officials who work in different landscapes in Haryana.
Photo: @IUCN India
The ROAM project entails IUCN supporting MoEFCC with coordination, planning, monitoring, and reporting of land restoration in India in a pilot phase of 3.5 years. In order to develop and adopt best practices and monitoring protocols, and build capacity. IUCN and MoEFCC have identified five states in this pilot phase - Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra, and Nagaland. IUCN has engaged IORA Ecological Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (IORA), an environmental advisory group with expertise in forestry, landscape management, and climate change mitigation and adaptation to carry out an analysis of land restoration opportunities in the five states to tackle the challenge of land degradation. This was the second stakeholder consultation for the project in Haryana undertaken by IUCN and IORA in close collaboration with the State Forest Department4.
The workshop began with remarks by the dignitaries present who all stressed the importance of land restoration in Haryana to support India’s efforts towards achieving Land Degradation Neutrality.
Dr. Vivek Saxena, Country Representative, IUCN India, thanked the Hon’ble Minister of Forest and Education, and the Forest Department for supporting IUCN in the implementation of the ROAM project. He highlighted the ongoing pandemic due to COVID19, which is somewhat linked to loss of habitat destruction and degradation that also brings potential risks of such future pandemics. Hence addressing Forest Landscape Restoration and degradation are key to ensure a healthy and liveable planet ensuring the need for Biodiversity Conservation.
Mr. James McBreen, Senior Programme Officer, Forest Landscape Restoration Opportunities Assessment Coordinator, IUCN, highlighted how restoring land is possible through stakeholder engagements. He emphasized how ROAM methodology is a futuristic approach to Forest Landscape Restoration.
Sh. Pankaj Asthana, IGF(Inspector General of Forests), National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board(NAEB), MoEFCC, Government of India congratulated the officers from Haryana on participating in the second consultation meeting under the IUCN ROAM project in the State and emphasized Haryana’s important role in the project.
Sh. V.S. Tanwar, PCCF & HOFF,(Principal Chief Conservator of Forests & Head of Forest Force), Haryana Forest Department, Haryana, highlighted the use of Remote Sensing and GIS( Geographical Information Systems) techniques to monitor forest cover by Forest department. He expressed a desire to carry this out in even more detail with IUCNs support. He assured the cooperation of the department on ROAM initiative.
Smt. G. Anupama, Principal Secretary to Government, Haryana Forest and Wildlife Department noted that the remaining natural forests in the state were primarily in the Aravalli hills and Shiwaliks. Given the challenges of population pressure and conserving and increasing vegetation cover, she stressed the importance of community participation in achieving goals of restoration.
This was followed by a technical workshop where the IUCN-IORA team presented detailed findings and analysis of degradation trends and drivers across 6 Aravalli districts of Haryana facilitated by Dr. PP Bhojvaid, Retd. PCCF Haryana Forest Department and former Director, Forest Research Institute, Dehradun and Vive Chancellor, TERI University. The exercise revealed that mining and pressure on peri-urban forests were the key drivers of degradation in the region. It was agreed that the participating departments will work closely with the project team as they move forward towards developing restoration action plans for the region.