The Indian government has committed to spend an impressive $6.2 billion on reforestation in certain parts of the country. The plan, which has unilateral support and has already been passed by members of India’s lower house of Parliament, is now waiting to be passed by the upper house. The goal is to increase the overall forest cover of the nation, which currently covers 21 percent of the country’s surface. The initiative will increase that number to 33 percent over the coming years.
The developing country is also currently undergoing rapid industrialization, and is currently one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters. In 2015, India submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), which describes the nation’s plan to cut its emissions by 33 to 35 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, as the new plan is officially known, is seen as part of this commitment.
“I am sure that this fund will give a tremendous push in our reforestation movement,” India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters outside of Parliament on May 3. “Our forest cover will dramatically increase and it will result in achieving our target 33 per cent of tree cover and most importantly, 2.5 billion tons of carbon sink.”
The money has been collected by the government over the past 12 years from various private companies who have paid fees to let them set up projects on forested land. In a country that has one of the largest human populations, currently estimated at around 1.2 billion people, the environment has come under increasing pressure. While historically nature has suffered, it seems that potentially things might change for the better in India.