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U.N. report favours more investment in forestry sector

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Investing an additional $40 billion annually in the forestry sector can halve the deforestation rates by 2030, increase the rate of tree planting by about 140 per cent by 2050, and catalyse the creation of millions of new jobs, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Backed by the right kind of enabling policies, such an investment — equal to about two-thirds more than what is spent on the sector at present — could also remove an extra 28 per cent of carbon from the atmosphere, thus playing a key role in combating climate change, says the report, “Forests in a Green Economy: A Synthesis.”

The report says that natural capital such as forests can represent up to 90 per cent of the GDP of the rural poor. India is among a dozen countries that take the global findings of the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study into national assessment and enable the translation of the value of nature and its services into national accounts.

Carefully planned investments would also contribute to increased employment from the current 25 million to 30 million by 2050.

Speaking at a function marking the World Environment Day, Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said forward-looking policies must be leveraged so as to conserve and improve the quality of forests while generating employment and socio-economic returns for local communities.

Mr. Ramesh cited the “Green India Mission” launched by the government, wherein $10 billion would be spent over the next 10 years to improve the quality of forests and increase the green cover by involving the local communities, the civil society and the elected representatives.

The Forest Department would play only a technical role in the entire process. This, he said, would help in checking the decline in carbon sequestration as a result of high economic growth. The Mission aimed to increase forest-based incomes for three million households.

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