In India, IUCN is piloting a study in the state of Uttarakhand, in partnership with G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Sustainable Development (GBPNIHESD) to assess opportunities for restoration within the state using the ROAM framework. On 8th March, 2018, a State Validation Workshop was organised at Dehradun, the state capital, to present and validate the key findings of the ROAM study to stakeholders and experts.
There is a growing suite of tools to help countries, organisations and individuals interested in restoration to identify and map priority areas of restoration, potential restoration interventions and opportunities, perform cost-benefit analyses, navigate policy and more. One such tool developed by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and World Resources Institute (WRI) is called Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM). It is a flexible and cost-effective analytic process for identifying restoration opportunities at national or sub-national levels, as well as describing how those opportunities relate to various factors such as food, water and energy security. The application of ROAM generates good context-specific knowledge relevant to understanding and addressing forest and land-use planning and management. Through participatory processes, the assessment provides a framework for a common setting of restoration goals at a landscape level that address immediate priorities, such as livelihoods. ROAM is being applied across more than thirty countries in the world.
IUCN and GB Pant Institute started this assessment in Uttarakhand in March 2017. While the entire state is the study area, intensive study sites were the two districts of Pithoragarh and Garhwal (popularly known as Pauri Garhwal). The inception workshop for the project was held in June 2017. On 8th March, 2018, the project team presented the key findings of the study to representatives from all the relevant line departments, research institutes and local NGOs/ CSOs, with Mr. Jai Raj, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) and Head of Forest Force (HOFF), chairing the workshop. Other distinguished delegates who were part of the inaugural panel included Dr. S.C. Gairola, Director General, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dr. D.V.S. Khati, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Wildlife and Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW), Dr. Dhananjai Mohan, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), and Mr. P.R. Sinha, Country Representative, IUCN India.
Dr. Gairola complimented IUCN for initiating the first step towards developing a roadmap on restoration for Uttarakhand and said “It is important to involve the policymakers right from the beginning”. He remarked, “What IUCN has begun is a tough task as it involves so many contradictions, the experience gained during this process in Uttarakhand can help drive the process in other states as well”. Dr. D.V.S Khati appreciated IUCN for completing the project within one year. He stressed the importance of going with the natural way of restoration and people’s way of restoration, and linking restoration with watersheds. In his inaugural address, Mr. Jai Raj said that the biggest challenge facing the country today was harmonising economic development and conservation of nature. He ended his address by saying “Let us build public opinion for conserving nature and supporting the departments”. He assured that once an indication of the financial resources required for implementing the restoration strategies identified through the study was shared with the government, the state could explore leveraging available resources such as Green India Mission (GIM), National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) etc. to ensure implementation and monitoring of the restoration actions.
This was followed by presentation of the findings by Dr. Rajesh Joshi from GB Pant, Ms. Anushree Bhattacharjee, IUCN and Dr. N.M. Ishwar, IUCN, followed by open discussion, where the experts deliberated upon the findings and recommendations and gave their feedback on the same. The inputs received will help in finalising the ROAM report so that by June 2017, IUCN and GB Pant are able to present a comprehensive and practically feasible document on restoration opportunities and strategies to the Government of Uttarakhand.
During the valedictory session, Dr. Dhananjai Mohan said that he looked at the entire project as a great opportunity. The first step of convergence of information that this project had achieved was something that he lauded. Mr. Sinha, IUCN, said “Opportunity map is a practical suggestion for moving forward”. He also thanked everyone for their suggestions and feedback, and said that all the suggestions will help make the macro level decision at the state level and some micro-level decisions at the district level.
For more information on 'Forest Ecosystem Rehabilitation for Integrated Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies' project, click here.