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Daily-current-affairs / 22 Mar 2023

Healthy Forests For Healthy People : Daily Current Affairs


Date: 23/03/2023

Relevance: GS-3: Biodiversity and Environment

Key Phrase: Indian State of Forest Report (ISFR), carbon sequestrated, nationally determined contributions, Forest Conservation Act, Green India Mission, Lifestyle for Environment.


  • The International Day of Forests (IDF) was observed recently on March 21 to raise awareness about the significance of forests and trees.

Key Highlights:

  • Humanity today faces numerous global challenges. These include the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic hardships, international conflicts, food insecurity, poverty, climate change, land degradation, water pollution and biodiversity loss.
  • The world is now looking for solutions that are cost-effective, equitable and can be easily implemented.
  • Forests contribute significantly to addressing many of the challenges mentioned above.
  • The Indian State of Forest Report (ISFR) estimates the carbon stock (which is the quantity of carbon sequestrated from the atmosphere and stored in biomass, deadwood, soil, and litter in the forest) of forests to be about 7,204 million tonnes in 2019, which is an increase of 79.4 million tonnes of carbon stock as compared to the estimates in 2017.
  • Among the Indian States, Arunachal Pradesh has the maximum carbon stock in forests (1023.84 million tonnes), followed by Madhya Pradesh (609.25 million tonnes).
  • The country ranks third globally with respect to the net gain in average annual forest area between 2010 and 2020.
  • In India, at least 80% of all villages and urban local bodies are intended to become environment-friendly by 2028.
  • As per the Economic Survey of India (2022-23), one of the quantifiable targets of India’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs) is to achieve an additional carbon sink of 2.5 billion to 3.0 billion tonnes through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

Importance of Forest:

  • Carbon storage:
    • Forests are one of the largest natural carbon sinks on Earth.
    • Trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere during photosynthesis and store it in their biomass.
    • This helps to mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
  • Biodiversity:
    • Forests are home to a vast array of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth.
    • They provide habitat for wildlife and support the food web, helping to maintain ecological balance.
    • Forests provide habitat for 80% of amphibian species, 75% of bird species and 68% of mammal species.
    • More than 18% of the total forest area is in legally established protected areas.
  • Water cycle:
    • Trees play a vital role in the water cycle by absorbing water from the soil and releasing it into the atmosphere through transpiration.
    • This helps to regulate the climate and maintain the water cycle.
  • Soil conservation:
    • Forests help to prevent soil erosion by holding the soil in place with their roots.
    • This is especially important in areas with steep slopes or heavy rainfall, where erosion can lead to landslides and other disasters.
  • Economic value:
    • Forests provide a wide range of products and services, including timber, non-timber forest products, and ecotourism.
    • They also provide employment and income for millions of people around the world.
  • Climate regulation:
    • Forests help to regulate the climate by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which helps to reduce the impact of climate change.

Key Concerns:

  • The area is shrinking : The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO’s) latest report ‘The State of the World’s Forests (2022)’ states that forests cover 31% of the Earth’s land surface (4.06 billion ha) but the area is shrinking, with 420 million ha of forests lost due to deforestation between 1990 and 2020.
  • The rate of deforestation is declining but was still 10 million ha per year during the period of 2015–2020.
  • Climate change is a major threat to forest health and this is manifested in a number of ways. For instance, there are indications that the incidence and severity of forest fires and pests are increasing.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic also had a significant impact on forest value chains and trade in early 2020.
  • There is a possible longer-term link between forests and disease. More than 30% of new diseases since 1960 are ascribed to land-use change, including deforestation, and 15% of 250 emerging infectious diseases have been linked to forests.
  • Deforestation, specifically in the tropics, has been associated with an increase in infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue.
  • Moreover, worldwide almost 90% of deforestation is driven by agricultural expansion such as the conversion of forest to cropland or grassland for livestock grazing.
  • FAO’s report ‘The State of the World’s Forests (2022)’ suggests three forest-based pathways as a means for tackling local to global challenges
    • first, halting deforestation and maintaining forests;
    • second, restoring degraded lands and expanding agroforestry; and
    • finally yet importantly, sustainably using forests and building green value chains.

Various Indian Government Initiatives To Conserve Forest:

  • National Afforestation Programme (NAP): Launched in 2002, the NAP aims to increase the country's forest cover by 5 million hectares and improve the quality of existing forests. The programme is implemented through a combination of afforestation, regeneration, and agroforestry.
  • Forest Conservation Act (FCA): The FCA was enacted in 1980 to protect forests and regulate diversion of forestland for non-forest purposes. Under this Act, prior approval of the central government is required for any diversion of forestland for non-forest use.
  • National Bamboo Mission (NBM): The NBM was launched in 2006 with the objective of promoting the growth of bamboo in non-forest areas to supplement the income of farmers and promote bamboo-based industry.
  • National Green Corps (NGC): The NGC, also known as Eco-Clubs, was launched in 2001 to create awareness about environmental issues among school children. The programme aims to involve students in various environmental activities and create a generation of environmentally conscious citizens.
  • Green India Mission: Launched in 2010, the Green India Mission aims to increase the forest cover by 5 million hectares and improve the quality of existing forest cover.
  • Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act (CAF): The CAF Act was passed in 2016 to ensure that the compensatory afforestation funds are used for afforestation, regeneration, and conservation activities.
  • Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE): The Government of India (GoI) has launched a global movement on Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE), or Mission LiFE.
  • This is designed with the objective of mobilising at least one billion Indians and other global citizens to take individual and collective action for protecting and conserving the environment.


  • Governments and business entities need to direct funding for recovery towards long-term policies aimed at creating sustainable and green jobs and further mobilising private sector investment; and empowering and incentivising local actors to take a leading role in the forest pathways.
  • Healthy forests are crucial for all aspects of a healthy planet, from livelihoods and nutrition to biodiversity and the environment, but they are facing risk.
  • It’s up to us to safeguard these priceless natural resources.

Source: The Hindu

Mains Question:

Q. Deforestation has been identified as a major threat to forest health and climate change. Analyze the key concerns related to deforestation and suggest strategies to curb it. (Words 250).