The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy One Earth Foundation

Nurturing degraded lands and returning to nature

Forest Degradation: A Global problem

Forest degradation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. In the Brazilian Amazon it is responsible for 20 per cent of total emissions (Asner et al. 2005). In Indonesia, the forest stock is decreasing by a rate of six per cent a year, only one-third of which is due to deforestation (Marklund and Schoene 2006). In Africa, the annual rate of degradation is almost 50 per cent of the deforestation rate (Lambin et al. 2003).

On our planet today, there are over a Billion hectares of forests with potential for restoration

The Global Partnership on Forest Restoration (GPFLR) of which IUCN is a founding member, assessed that the potential to restore the world’s lost forests is much greater than the previous estimate of 850 million hectares. The GPFLR partners say that forest restoration can have a significant impact on climate change as well as improving lives, and that urgent action on restoration should be taken hand in hand with efforts to stop the continuing global loss and degradation of forests. Preliminary analysis indicates that by 2030 the restoration of degraded forest lands will make the same contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases as that which could be expected from avoided deforestation (70 Gt of CO² emissions) and perhaps as much as twice that amount.

Quality of Forests in India: The urgent need for restoration

Around 3000 B.C, nearly 80% of India was forested.9

The state of Forest Report 1987 states “……only 10.88% of the country’s geographical area has adequate forest cover. The situation is, indeed, alarming.  For ecological stability, the country should have at least 1/3rd of its geographical area under adequate forest cover”.

State of Forest Report 2017 states “India’s current forest and tree cover is estimated to be 7,08,000 sq. Km constituting about 21.54 per cent of the geographical area of the country (ISFR, 2017). Of the total Geographical only 2.99% is classified as Very Dense Forest (canopy cover > 70%), 9.38% as Moderately Dense Forest (canopy cover from 40% to 70%) and 9.18% is open forest (canopy cover between 10% and 40%).  About 1.4% of the land is classified as scrub.”

More importantly, the degraded state of our forests is well represented by the exceptionally low growing

stock per ha which is estimated to be around 58.46 m3 per ha of forest area. This is far below the global average of 130.7 m3 /ha and the south and Southeast Asian average of 98.6 m3 /ha for the corresponding period (FAO, 2010).

More than 40 per cent of the forest in country are degraded and under-stocked (Aggarwal et al, 2009, Bahuguna). The National Forest Commission report 2006 indicated that around 41 per cent of total forest in the country is already degraded, 70 per cent of the forests have no natural regeneration, and 55 per cent of the forests are prone to fire (MoEF, 2006).

India’s forests are among the most degraded in the world

The factors affecting forest degradation in India are: a)  Critical livelihood–forest linkage of a huge forest dependent population (FSI, 2011; Davidar et al, 2010) b)  Demand and supply gap of forest products, resulting in exploitation beyond its carrying capacity (Aggarwal et al, 2009) c)  Forest fires, over–grazing, illegal felling, and diversion of forest land (both permitted and illegal for non-forest uses due to competing land use demand for developmental and other uses (FSI, 2011; Davidar et al, 2010; Aggarwal et al, 2009; MoEF, 2009; MoEF, 2006).

Growing population, widespread poverty, limited employment opportunities in agricultural and industrial sector has resulted in heavy pressure on forests, primarily due to unsustainable extraction of fuel wood and over-grazing resulting in forest degradation. As per wood budget for 1996, sustainable production of fuel wood from the forest was 17 million tonnes and 98 million tonnes from farm forestry and other areas.10 There was a net deficit of 86 million tonnes of fuelwood, which as a compulsion, being removed from the forests. An estimated 100 million cow units graze in forests annually, sustainable level being 31 million.11 additionally, graziers collect an estimated 175-200 million tonnes of green fodder annually.12 Grazing was also reported in 67% of the national parks and 83% of the wildlife sanctuaries.13

Our Belief Coming generations deserve and have the right to inherit a healthy planet. Our Vision Thriving, prosperous communities nourished by vibrant natural lands, clean water and abundant biodiversity.

Our Mission One Earth Foundation through its Nature Conservancy Initiative, aims to specifically focus on the restoration and conservation of purchased/leased, degraded natural forests & threatened habitats with the objective of restoring their economic capacity, environmental functions, biodiversity values and utilizing it as an educational resource for native communities.