MGNREGA could also help India sequester carbon: Study

What is the news? 

As per a study by IISc Bangalore, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) can help India meet its target to create an additional carbon sink to the extent of 2.5-3 billion tonnes equivalent of carbon dioxide by 2030. 

It is possible through improved forest and tree cover. 

The study calculated carbon sequestration by assessing biomass in plantations and carbon stored in the soil of work sites in villages across the country except for two agro-ecological zones: 

Western Himalayas, Ladakh and north Kashmir 

Andaman and Nicobar, and Lakshadweep islands 

What are the findings of the study?  

The study illustrated that how MGNREGA scheme is helpful in carbon sequestration. Following are some key findings of the report:

First, scheme can help capture a total carbon of 102 million tonnes equivalent in 2017-18 through plantations and soil quality improvement works. It will increase the annual capacity for carbon sequestration to about 249 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030. 

Second, drought-proofing activities, including tree plantations, forest restoration and grassland development, captured the maximum carbon. It accounts for a little over 40 per cent of the total carbon sequestration under MGNREGS. 

Third, land development activities, including earthen bunding, stone bunding, land leveling and minor irrigation help in carbon sequestration.  

Fifth, as per one research, the activities implemented under MGNREGS become very important as the forest sector alone may not be able to meet the NDC carbon sink target of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2030. 

What are some recommendations? 

First, incorporation of tree planting, especially fruit and fodder yielding trees into resource management activities under MGNREGS is recommended. It will generate alternate income and livelihood sources for people while carbon sequestration will be a co-benefit. 

Second, periodic monitoring and reporting of the carbon sequestration benefits will be required. It is also a requirement for adaptation communication under Article 7 of the Paris Agreement. 

Source: This post is based on the article “MGNREGA could also help India sequester carbon: Study” published in the Down to Earth on 23rd September 2021. 

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