UNEF resolves to act against deforestation, curb land degradation

Consistent increase in forest cover in India over the past 15 years is attributed to advancements in forest conservation and sustainable forest management

United Nations Forum on Forests

New Delhi: Participants at the 19th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) have resolved to take urgent and accelerated actions to halt deforestation and forest degradation and to prevent land degradation, including the implementation of the United Nations strategic plan for forests and the achievement of the Global Forest Goals.

The global summit was held at the UN headquarters in New York between May 6th and 10th May 2024, in which India also participated. The UN General Assembly had approved the first-ever UN strategic plan for forests for the period 2017-2030. This strategic plan provides a global framework for efforts at all levels to achieve sustainable management of all types of forests, including trees outside of forests, as well as prevent deforestation and forest degradation.

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Officials representing India said that the country ranked third in the net gain, in average annual forest area, between 2010 and 2020. The consistent increase in forest cover over the past fifteen years is attributed to advancements in forest conservation and sustainable forest management.

During the session, India shared the high priority the country provides towards biodiversity and wildlife conservation, having expanded the network of protected areas to over a thousand wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, tiger reserves, biosphere reserves, and other wildlife habitats. The recent celebrations marking 50 years of Project Tiger and 30 years of Project Elephant underscore India’s commitment to species conservation and habitat protection.

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At the global meet, India also highlighted the creation of the International Big Cat Alliance, another important step aimed to protect and conserve the seven big cat species around the world through collaborative international efforts.

India also shared the introduction of the ‘Green Credit Program’, designed to incentivize entities to take up tree plantation and restoration of degraded forest lands, which aims to further strengthen climate action initiatives.

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Previously, in October 2023, India hosted the Country Led Initiative under UNFF at Dehradun, attended by representatives from 40 countries and 20 international organizations and held discussions on forest fire management and forest certification. The recommendations from this initiative were presented by India during UNFF 19.

The Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) also hosted a side event on ‘Principles and Strategies for Landscape Integrated Fire Management through Collaborative Governance’ in partnership with the Agency for Integrated Rural Fire Management, Portugal, the Korea Forest Service, and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) at the UNFF 19 at New York.

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The Indian delegation was led by Jitendra Kumar, director general of forests and special secretary, MoEFCC, government of India.

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