Govt of U’khand has taken initiatives to curb forest fires: Subodh Uniyal
By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 26 Oct: Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Labour and Employment Bhupender Yadav emphasised the importance of forest fire prevention, post-fire restoration and forest certification as a tool for sustainable forest management, today. Yadav was addressing the meeting of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) at Forest Research Institute (FRI) here via a video message.
In his video message, Yadav reminded that forest fires not only cause irreparable damage to flora and fauna but also affect the livelihoods of communities living at the peripheries. He emphasised that an important tool for promotion of sustainability of forests is forest certification, which nonetheless, presents numerous challenges notably for small-scale producers in developing countries. The Union Minister said that India has embarked on its national forest certification scheme to address these challenges. He called on all participants to work together to create a sustainable future that is equitable, just, and resilient.
The meeting was also addressed by Uttarakhand Forest Minister Subodh Uniyal, who welcomed all the delegates to the state. He highlighted the initiatives and programmes taken up by Government of Uttarakhand to minimise incidents of forest fires, towards empowering communities living in proximity of forests and incentivising them to work in tandem with the forest department. Uniyal claimed that this strategy has been successful in making a positive change. He affirmed that Forest Certification is an equally important area, being a mechanism for forest monitoring, and is the focus within Global Forest Goals. He declared that all would benefit from the exchange at the Forum of traditional knowledge, technology innovation, and community engagement practices.
Director, UNFF, Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo said that issue of forest fires has been escalated as a global concern. She said that the detrimental impact of forest fires on ecosystems, and communities, makes action imperative and the second theme for the CLI being forest certification has been a long-standing topic for discussion and actionable solutions are now need of the hour. She claimed that the impact of forest fires on the ecosystem are more profound now and she also mentioned the challenges of numerous stakeholders and upcoming regulations that need attention. She stressed that the outcome of this CLI is very important and the success would lie in the collective ability to identify areas for action and recommendations to UNFF 19.
It may be recalled that the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has taken the initiative to host the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), which was inaugurated today at Forest Research Institute (FRI) here. The meet will conclude on 28 October. More than 80 delegates are participating from 40 countries and 20 International Organisations, either physically or in online mode, including Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO), along with delegates and organisations from India. The programme has adopted a hybrid, physical and online format for enabling participation across the globe.
This Country Led Initiative (CLI) focuses on two thematic areas: forest fires/wildfires and best practices on its prevention and restoration in fire-affected areas, and forest certification and sustainable forest management. Forest fires/wildfires profoundly impact biodiversity, ecosystem services, human well-being, livelihoods, and national economies. In recent years, forest fires/wildfires have increased in scale and duration. Accordingly, there is a need to enhance collaboration and action at local, regional and international level on its prevention, reduction of its impacts and restoration of impacted land.
Forest certification has received growing global attention in recent years. Between 2020 and 2021, the certified forest area increased by 27 million hectares, led mainly by Europe and Northern America. However, developing countries and marginal forest managers continue to face challenges with the certification process. The Forum aims to provide a platform to discuss these aspects and the aspect of aligning certification systems with trade rules.
The Forum is planned over two days of exchange on the thematic areas and will host sessions on how to live with fire in a warming world, policies needed for implementing integrated fire management, how to make best use of the newly developed Global Fire Management Hub, and Forest Certification and Sustainable Forest Management. The discussions will be followed by cultural programmes at the end of each day, and a field trip to Rajaji National Park on the third day.
The Director-General, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change shared with the delegates the importance of CLI and deliberations at these meetings in enhancing international cooperation on global forestry related issues. He highlighted the issues that accompany these forest fires/wildfires and its negative impact on public health, economic activity and forest biodiversity. He also spoke about the current scenario in India where more than 62 percent of Indian states are prone to high-intensity forest fires and how India has significantly improved its forest fire monitoring systems and fire forecast models. He shared with the participants the country’s proposed global collaboration i.e. Gandhinagar Implementation Roadmap and Gandhinagar Information Platform, that emanated from G20 deliberations, to tackle restoration of forest fire and mining degraded lands.
On the first day of the forum’s meeting, today, panel discussions were held on forest fires, policies enhancing prevention of forest fires and on the global forest management hub. Various countries and International Organisations participated as panelists including New Zealand, Madagascar, Colombia, Morocco, India, Portugal, Malawi, Botswana, Russia, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, FAO, UNEP, ITTO and IUFRO. Subsequently, many other countries and organisations expressed their views and suggestions on prevention and effective management including the role of community participation.
Tomorrow, there will also be a round of interaction on Forest Certification and Sustainable Forest Management with country presentations from South Africa, Russia and India.
The outcome of the Forum will be a summary by the Co-chairs on the discussions held, which will be submitted to the 19th session of UNFF for consideration. UNFF19 will be held in May 2024 at the United Nations Headquarters.