A team of MSU Forestry scientists traveled to India to begin collaboration with Indian forestry institutions on developing methods, technologies and procedures for forest carbon inventories. The main aim of the effort is to collaborate with Indian forest organizations at the national, state and community levels to develop measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems. This trip focused on joint ground measurements in the states of Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, and high level meetings in New Dehli and Dehradun. MSU works on a USAID sponsored US-Indian team that also includes ARD Tetra Tech, Applied GeoSolutions, Iora Solutions, and a home office in New Delhi. Working partnerships are with the Forest Survey of India, Forest Research Institute of India and state forest departments.
USAID’s new Forest-PLUS program will accelerate India’s transition to a low-carbon economy by taking the United Nations Collaborative Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) actions to scale. This program will strengthen India’s capacity to develop systems for forest carbon measurement and monitoring, as well as conduct greenhouse gas inventories, and support the application of science and technology for improved and more cost-efficient management and monitoring systems. We will also help to improve tools and capacity for land-use planning that reduces deforestation while also ensuring the rights and engagement of local and indigenous communities.
An interagency agreement with U.S. Forest Service is helping to launch the scientific and technical collaboration and exchange envisioned under the Forest-PLUS program through short-term trainings on remote sensing and forest inventory for Indian forestry counterparts. The program will also support short-term collaborative research on carbon estimation methodologies in various Indian ecosystems.
Under USAID’s India Forest Partnership for Land Use Science (India Forest PLUS) program, the Department of Forestry faculty and experts will be working directly with the government of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Forest Survey of India to build national capacity to measure forest carbon and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the forestry sector in India. MSU will lead efforts to develop carbon measurement, reporting and verification systems for application to forestry, and will provide capacity building and training to the national government and local forest-dependent communities.
Specifically MSU will lead tasks on:
- Developing tools, techniques and methods for better ecosystem management and increasing sequestration.
- Developing improved methods to establish carbon inventories and reference baselines.
- Analyzing social and economic incentives for REDD+ policy and practice.
- Active participation and constructive engagement of stakeholders to pilot and refine research results.
The Partnership for Land Use Science (Forest-PLUS) project, between USAID/India and Government of India (GOI) is a five year initiative. The program will contribute to USAID/India’s Assistance Objective of accelerating India’s transition to a low emissions economy by taking REDD+ actions to scale. The project aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhance sequestration through afforestation, conservation, and sustainable management of forests. The project will feed into the GOI’s NAPCC and Green India Mission.
The Forest PLUS program will address sectoral barriers, build human and institutional capacity, develop and deploy improved scientific methods for carbon inventory and reference baselines, and actively engage stakeholders and create an enabling environment for REDD+ implementation in India. The Forest-PLUS project will work with the MOEF to support implementation of national policies and programs, and will contribute to MOEF’s efforts to establish and implement programs through collaboration with the new REDD+ Cell. The program will also look for active engagement with communities and local governments in supporting REDD+ activities.
Policies and programs facilitating innovation and large-scale adoption and deployment of low carbon land use approaches will need to play a central role in global efforts to address climate change. Long-term solutions will require stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at acceptable levels, national low emissions development strategies that look comprehensively at land use and forestry, and robust monitoring, reporting, and verification of net greenhouse gasses emitted or sequestered. Within the broad climate change mitigation arena, land use and forestry are estimated to contribute at least 30% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Thus, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that more sustainable land use has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by one-third, and deliver positive development benefits.
India is faced with the challenge of sustaining its rapid economic growth while dealing with the global threat of climate change. Climate change may alter the distribution and quality of India's natural resources and adversely affect the livelihood of its people. India may face a major threat from climate change since its economy is closely tied to its natural resource base and climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, water, and forestry. India's development path is based on its unique resource endowments, the overriding priority of economic and social development and poverty eradication, and its high cultural value for the environment and the maintenance of ecological balance.