Biodiversity & Environment
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Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Forestry Report: FAO
- 11 Oct 2022
- 5 min read
For Prelims: Food and Agriculture Organization, India State of Forest Report, 2021, National Afforestation Programme, Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, Environment Protection Act of 1986, Biodiversity Diversity Act of 2002
For Mains: Forest Conservation and its importance, Forest Resources
Why in News?
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s recently released report titled “Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Forestry Report”, integrating biodiversity into such 'production forests' is paramount.
- Mainstreaming Biodiversity is the process of embedding biodiversity considerations into policies, strategies, and practices of key public and private actors to promote the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
What are the Threats to Mainstreaming Biodiversity?
- Deforestation: Deforestation continues at an alarming rate of 10 million ha per year (mainly for agricultural expansion) especially in lower income tropical countries.
- Illegal Forest Activities: Illegal timber harvesting is estimated to account for 15–30% of global timber production.
- Low Conservation Profile: Low profile of conservation outside protected areas.
- Insufficient Capacity: Developing countries struggle to enforce forest and biodiversity regulations.
- Lack of Participation: Lack of Indigenous People and local community participation.
- Weak Governance: Weak governance and law enforcement are the biggest stumbling blocks behind biodiversity conservation in protected areas.
Why is Forest Conservation Important?
- Forests that are managed primarily for economic benefits are critical for biodiversity conservation.
- Forests cover 31% of the world’s land surface, store an estimated 296 gigatonnes of carbon and are home to most of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.
- The world’s forests provide habitats for about 80% of amphibian species, 75% of bird species and 68% of mammal species. In addition, about 60% of all vascular plants occur in tropical forests.
- The role of forests in maintaining biodiversity is explicitly recognised by the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017–2030.
- In 2019, FAO adopted the Strategy on Mainstreaming Biodiversity across Agricultural Sectors.
What is the State of Forest and Biodiversity Conservation in India?
- According to India State of Forest Report, 2021, the Total Forest and Tree cover is now 7,13,789 square kilometres, 21.71% of the country’s geographical area, an increase from 21.67% in 2019.
- Largest Forest Cover (Area-wise): Madhya Pradesh> Arunachal Pradesh> Chhattisgarh> Odisha> Maharashtra.
- Constitutional Provisions:
- Through the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 Forests and Protection of Wild Animals and Birds were transferred from State to Concurrent List along with Education, Weights & Measures and Administration of Justice.
- Article 48 A in the Directive Principles of State policy, mandates that the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.
- Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution states that it shall be the Fundamental Duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests and Wildlife.
- Policies Governing India’s Forests and Biodiversity:
- Indian Forest Policy, 1952
- Forest Conservation Act, 1980
- National Forest Policy, 1988
- National Afforestation Programme
- Wildlife Protection Act of 1972
- Environment Protection Act of 1986
- Biodiversity Diversity Act of 2002
- Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
- Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022
What are the Recommendations of the Report?
- Recognizing the forest tenure of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, with emphasis on enhancing the equitable sharing of benefits.
- Preventing the conversion of natural forests into monospecific forest plantations.
- Ensuring the sustainable management of harvested species to control overharvesting of plants and wildlife.
- Adopting a multisectoral perspective by mainstreaming biodiversity across other land use sectors.
- Providing economic incentives, like compensation for reduced production to promote biodiversity benefits and investing in knowledge and capacity development.
- Facilitating market-based instruments like engaging in public–private partnerships to leverage corporate social responsibility commitments.
- Leveraging global momentum on restoration to enhance biodiversity conservation.
- Biodiversity mainstreaming in the forest sector requires integrated multi-stakeholder approaches that cross sectoral boundaries.
- Mainstreaming biodiversity in forestry involves prioritising forest policies, plans, programmes, projects and investments that have a positive impact on biodiversity at the ecosystem, species and genetic levels.