India’s Draft Forest Policy will be counterproductive to the country’s Paris Climate Commitments: says Climate Scorecard, a global civil society coalition!

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New Delhi: The Climate Scorecard, that tracks the implementation of Paris Climate Commitments of top Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emitting countries, has analysed the Draft Forest Policy 2018 of India and has found out that it has potential to derail the country’s Paris Goals.  “We have found the policy to be a retrogressive, state-centered policy in intent, even as concepts like climate change and REDD+ are liberally sprinkled in the text”, said Ranjan Panda, Country Manager for India of the Climate Scorecard, in a press release.

“It is similar in intent and purposes to the Compensatory Afforestation Funds Act, 2016 scored by us last month, in that it seeks to enhance the control of forest departments over forests at the cost of communities. Given the past record of forest bureaucracy in India, there is little hope that this exclusionary, bureaucracy-centered forest policy will yield any positive results in mitigation and adaptation of climate change, and likely will have very negative outcomes”, said Ranjan Panda.

Ranjan Panda further said, “Our assessment found out that the 2018 Draft Forest Policy walks back on the gains of 1988 Forest Policy and the Forest Rights Act and seeks to go back to a state and private sector-based forest governance, which would not be healthy for India’s natural forests as well as climate commitments”.

“The policy does recognise the challenges of ‘Climate Change’ but its strategies have been criticised by conservationists, ecologists, tribals and community representatives. The main criticisms are: i) its use of climate change threats to recentralise power with the forest bureaucracy at the cost of communities; ii) its deliberate subversion of the landmark Forest Rights Act; and iii) it facilitates grabbing of burdened forest lands by private companies for industrial plantations”, said Ranjan Panda in the release.

Ranjan Panda further said that, “The immense opportunity for climate change mitigation and adaptation through a rights based forest protection and restoration movement provided by the Forest Rights Act has been totally ignored in this new Forest Policy draft”.

The Draft Forest Policy 2018 has been given ONE STAR* rank by the Climate Scorecard because it contains strategies for climate change mitigation which are unworkable; fails to recognise the rights of tribal and forest dweller communities of forests; promotes industrial plantations by the private sector that may impact India’s Paris Climate Goals negatively, informed Panda.

The report-cum-alert for India can be assessed at: https://www.climatescorecard.org/2018/05/draft-forest-policy-2018/

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