India has reiterated its commitment to achieving its Bonn Challenge pledge by launching the first ever country progress report. This includes datasets from the Government of India, NGOs and the private sector. Although not an exhaustive list, the data reveals patterns and provides a glimpse into the country’s different initiatives towards restoration. The report is a joint publication of the government of India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), and IUCN.
At the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (CoP) 2015 in Paris, the government of India made a Bonn Challenge pledge to bring 13 million hectares of degraded land into restoration by 2020 and an additional 8 million hectares by 2030.
According to the Bonn Challenge and India: Progress on restoration efforts across states and landscapes report, India has brought an area of 9.8 million hectares under restoration since 2011, meaning that work to restore these landscapes is already underway.
Of the 9.8 million hectares, 94.4% was contributed by government agencies, while the surveyed NGOs and private companies contributed 3.6% and 2% respectively.
This stark contrast between the three implementing agencies’ contributions can be explained by the fact that private companies and NGOs generally carry out their restoration in small land holdings. However, they play a vital role in the planning and implementation of restoration programmes thanks to their technical expertise and knowledge of the local conditions.
“While the private companies and NGOs can benefit from the vast resources that the government agencies possess in terms of land, labour or capital, the government can profit from the insights and experiences of the private companies and NGOs,” says Anushree Bhattacharjee, Programme Officer with IUCN India. “Therefore, collaboration between government, non-government and local communities on restoration initiatives is highly recommended.”
The report also includes five case studies that demonstrate some of the best practices on restoration from across the country, with implementing bodies ranging from government-funded joint forest management committees to private companies and NGOs. The featured NGOs included the Nature Conservation Foundation, the Foundation for Ecological Security and the Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology; Tata Power Company Limited represented the private sector; and the government efforts were represented by the Joint Forest Management Committee from Old Jalukie, Nagaland. While the approaches varied in their details, other restoration programmes can use them as broad examples.
Momentum for forest landscape restoration in Asia is growing. At the first Bonn Challenge roundtable in Asia, held in May 2017 in South Sumatra, restoration pledges crossed the 150 million hectare milestone. India hosted a South Asia regional consultation on the Bonn Challenge and forest landscape restoration in August 2017, which was attended by government and non-government representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. A ministerial-level Regional Bonn Challenge Roundtable is scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka later in 2018.
“The Government of India extended its support for the Bonn Challenge pledge at Paris CoP 2015 to restore deforested and degraded land, becoming one of the first Asian countries to join the global commitment, with one of the largest pledges from the region,” said Pankaj Asthana, Inspector General of Forests, MoEFCC. “This report is a first endeavour to document the progress being made, and is a first of its kind report from any of the Bonn Challenge countries.”
He added: “India seems well-positioned to meet its Bonn Challenge pledge, and we look forward to engaging with IUCN on the Bonn Challenge and restoration process.”