Literally an ecosystem that needs to be maintained

The world is facing a triple environmental crisis: climate change, loss of biodiversity and pollution. Ensuring forest health is a key pillar of the response. For India, this means not only increasing forest area, but also improving its quality. The 2021 State of the Forest Survey reports a 0.2% increase in forest cover, mostly outside recorded forest areas.

Geographical areas listed as forests in government records such as reserves and protected forests are called registered forest areas. Areas outside of recorded forests include any area of ​​1 hectare or more with a canopy density greater than 10%. This definition, in line with the Kyoto Protocol, deals with the role of forests as carbon sinks. Natural forests serve a broader purpose, the most important of which is to provide life-sustaining ecosystem services such as hydrological systems. It is therefore vital to focus on the health of natural forests through policies and measures that minimize their loss and help regenerate degraded forests and mangroves. In India, recorded forest area has shown marginal changes – most of its forests have a canopy density of 10-70% and only 8.8 million hectares are dense forest. The trend of declining forest cover in the northeast is cause for concern.

The recent Climate Science Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes it clear that while emission reductions are necessary to limit temperature rise, attention must be given to adaptation. This requires an ecosystem approach to forests that considers their health in terms of long-term productivity and ecosystem services such as pest control, soil health, pollination and protection from extreme temperatures while addressing economic and social concerns. .

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