[Answered] Forest landscape restoration process is helpful in regaining ecological functionality and improving human welfare. Discuss. Also, highlight the major government initiatives in India aimed at afforestation.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain how forest landscape restoration process is helpful in regaining ecological functionality and improving human welfare. Also write some major government initiatives in India aimed at afforestation.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Planting trees is deeply linked to the ‘wholistic’ well-being of all individuals, the community, and the planet. Forest landscape restoration approach keeps in mind multiple land uses and people’s needs in the short and long terms. Nearly two billion hectares of degraded land in the world (and 140 million hectares in India) have scope for potential restoration as forest land.

Helpful in regaining ecological functionality:

  • It ensures diversity of the species while planting trees. Natural forests with diverse native tree species are more efficient in sequestering carbon than monoculture tree plantations.
  • Forests are integral in regulating ecosystems, influencing the carbon cycle and mitigating the effects of climate change. Annually, forests absorb roughly 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. This absorption includes nearly 33% of the carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels.
  • Tree planting prevents erosion and stems flooding.

Improving human welfare:

  • Forests are a boon for local communities and their livelihoods by functioning as a resource base for goods and services.
  • According to the World Resources Institute, forest ecosystems enrich soil fertility and water availability, enhancing agricultural productivity, and in turn the rural economy.
  • Sustainable forest crops reduce food insecurity and empower women, allowing them to gain access to more nutritional diets and new income streams.
  • Agroforestry lessens rural-to-urban migration and contributes to an increase in resources and household income.

Government initiatives in India aimed at afforestation:

  • India joined the Bonn Challenge in 2015, pledging to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030. An additional carbon sink of 2.5 billion-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through forest and tree cover is to be created by 2030.
  • Other initiatives are- Compensatory Afforestation, the National Afforestation Programme, the National Mission for a Green India (Green India Mission), the Nagar Van scheme and the Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme.
  • There is a spotlight on youth via the Green Skill Development Programme for youth who aspire to attain employment in the environment and forest sectors.
  • In Punjab, the community is proactively planting native species such as Desi Kikar, Pharwan and Jhand which are resilient and acclimatised.
  • Telangana has initiated a large-scale tree planting programme called ‘Telanganaku Haritha Haram’.

The restoration of natural forest ecosystems can be strengthened through participatory governance by engaging community, champions, government and landowners. To be successful, forest landscape restoration must be implemented proactively

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