- Recently, the Forest Advisory Committee has approved the Green Credit Scheme that would allow ‘forests’ to be traded as a commodity.
- Forest Advisory Committee is the apex body tasked with adjudicating requests by the industry to raze forest land for commercial ends.
About the Green Credit Scheme:
- The scheme was first developed by the Gujarat state government and was pending for approval from the MoEF&CC since 2013.
- The scheme allows companies, village forest communities to identify land and begin growing plantations. After three years, they would be eligible to be considered as compensatory forest land if they met the Forest Department’s criteria.
- An industry needing forest land could then approach the agency and pay it for parcels of such forested land, and this would then be transferred to the Forest Department and be recorded as forest land.
Benefits of the scheme:
- The scheme will advance plantation by individuals outside the traditional forest area and will benefit in meeting international commitments such as Sustainable Development Goals and Nationally Determined Contributions.
- The scheme will add to the Green India Mission, which is one of India’s initiatives to combat climate change.
Under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980:
- Each time forest land is diverted for non-forest purposes like mining or industry, the project developer is supposed to identify land and pay for planting forests over an equal area of non-forest land, or when that is not available, twice the area of degraded forest land.
- Delay in accessing compensatory afforestation funds to raise plantations.
- Difficulty in acquiring land near the site of diversion
- Delay in undertaking afforestation leading to cost overruns for projects which hurt the industry, and poor survival of plantations.
- Concerns about biodiversity and tenurial rights, Plantations cannot replace the biodiversity value of native natural forests.
- It creates problems of privatising multi-use forest areas as monoculture plantation plots
Forest Advisory Committee:
- It is the statutory body constituted under the Forest Conservation Act 1980.
- It is under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and is responsible for regulating forest diversion.
Source – Down to Earth