India Showcases Forest Conservation and Sustainable Management Efforts at UNFF 19

Context:

India’s active participation in the 19th Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), held at the UN Headquarters in New York from May 6th to 10th May 2024, was marked by significant contributions towards forest conservation and sustainable management initiatives.

  • Leading the Indian delegation was Shri Jitendra Kumar, Director General of Forests and Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India.

Key Highlights:

  • India highlighted its notable achievements in forest conservation and sustainable forest management, which have resulted in a consistent increase in forest cover over the past fifteen years. Globally, India ranks third in net gain in average annual forest area between 2010 and 2020.
  • The country reiterated its high priority towards biodiversity and wildlife conservation, showcasing its expanded network of protected areas, including wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, tiger reserves, biosphere reserves, and other wildlife habitats.
  • India celebrated 50 years of Project Tiger and 30 years of Project Elephant, demonstrating its steadfast commitment to species conservation and habitat protection. Additionally, the creation of the International Big Cat Alliance aimed at protecting and conserving the seven big cat species worldwide through collaborative international efforts.

Initiatives and Programs:

  • India introduced the ‘Green Credit Program’ to incentivize entities to undertake tree plantation and restoration of degraded forest lands, furthering climate action initiatives.
  • In October 2023, India hosted the Country Led Initiative under UNFF in Dehradun, focusing on forest fire management and forest certification. Recommendations from this initiative were presented during UNFF 19.
  • A side event on ‘Principles and Strategies for Landscape Integrated Fire Management through Collaborative Governance’ was organized by the Ministry in partnership with agencies from Portugal, Korea, and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) at UNFF 19 in New York.

Outcome and Declaration:

  • UNFF 19 concluded with a declaration urging urgent and accelerated actions to halt deforestation, forest degradation, and prevent land degradation.
  • Emphasis was placed on implementing the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests and achieving the Global Forest Goals as crucial steps towards addressing these pressing challenges.