By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 7 Aug: Forest Ecology and Climate Change Division of FRI organised a seminar on ‘Forest Landscape Restoration’, here, today. The seminar was inaugurated by FRI Director Arun Singh Rawat. In his inaugural speech, Rawat said that Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) is the ongoing process of regaining ecological functionality and enhancing human well-being across deforested or degraded forest landscapes. FLR is more than just planting trees – it is restoring a whole landscape to meet present and future needs and to offer multiple benefits and land uses over time. He further emphasised, “The increasing degree and extent of land degradation processes due to mismanagement and land use changes are threatening our soils. Urgent action is needed to reverse this trend if we are to ensure the necessary food production for future generations, mitigation of climate change, provision of clean groundwater, and reduction of biodiversity loss.” He highlighted that potential productivity of the world’s cropland is deteriorating fast due to weakening soil quality. As much as 33% of global soils are already degraded. Of India’s total geographical area of 329 million hectare (mha), 265 mha only is under use for agriculture, forestry, pasture and other biomass production. India supports approximately 17% of the world’s human population and 20% of the world’s livestock population on merely 2.5% of the world’s geographical area. The steady growth of human as well as livestock population, the widespread incidence of poverty, and the current phase of economic and trade liberalisation is exerting heavy pressures on India’s limited land resources for competing uses in forestry, agriculture, pastures, human settlements and industries. This has led to very significant land degradation. He said that land degradation is increasingly becoming a major concern in India which is reflected in the commitment to achieve land degradation neutral status by 2030 as a signatory to the UNCCD. FRI in tandem with its sister institutes under ICFRE is addressing this issue by developing suitable models of restoration for various degraded lands e.g. Coal mine overburden dumps, limestone mines, salt affected soils, degraded hills, waterlogged areas, desert sand dunes, etc. N Bala, Head, Forest Ecology and Climate Change Division of FRI, presented a brief account of significant past achievements and current activities of the division. Dr HB Vasistha highlighted the Need and Opportunities for Forest Landscape Restoration especially in the Indian context. Col HRS Rana shared experiences of the Eco-Task Force in Forest Landscape Restoration and the Way Forward. Dr RS Rawat focused on government programmes, initiatives and significance of the Bonn Challenge. Dr Suresh Kumar elaborated on GIS and Remote Sensing Technology in Forest Landscape Restoration. Dr GP Juyal talked about “Role of Soil Moisture Conservation Practices in Forest Landscape Restoration” during the seminar. Former Heads of Division Dr SC Sharma, Nirmal Ram, representatives of research organisations and other participants shared their experience and drew the future roadmap. Apart from FRI, participants included scientists and officers from ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, State Forest Department, Students/ Research Scholars, Eco-Task Force, Universities, NGOs, etc.