Saturday, 22 August 2009

More forests as India's contribution to reducing global warming?

According to news reports, the Indian government has unveiled a plan to protect our forests, saying the initiative is a key element in our strategy to combat climate change.

No details of the plan are given, as far as I can discover, beyond saying that India has set up a fund to manage its forests with an initial budget of 2.5 billion dollars and annual funding of one billion dollars.

In our country, the problem is not so much the availability of money for any purpose as the implementation of anything in an effective and corruption-free manner.

Till details are known of what is proposed to be done, and how it is proposed to be done, and till we see how it is actually being done, naturally no comments can be made beyond welcoming the intention and the allocation of money.

As a child growing up in the Himalayas (the Simla area), I had the misfortune of seeing our natural forests in the hills systematically denuded while being taught at my school about the multi-dimensional importance of forests and trees for life on earth.

I grieved for the loss of our forestst then, without knowing what to do about it. I grieve for the loss of our forests even more now when I know that the consequences of the loss of forest cover that I was taught about as a child (floods, desertification...) have in fact occured so extensively and damagingly in our country - only to make a few people very rich.

So I welcome the government's initiative while hoping that it is not merely a political ploy to divert pressure at the global climate talks.

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