Monday, May 30, 2016

Indian Army Helps Battle Climate Change

India's Forest Cover (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
As part of its effort to improve forest cover and so soak up climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions, the government in India has an unlikely partner – the Indian Army.

At the UN climate conference in Paris last December, India made enlarging and improving its forest cover a central part of its pledge on fighting climate change.

One of the many agencies – apart from the forest department – the government has recruited to carry out the work of forest improvement is a part of the Indian army known as the Eco Task Force (ETF).

According to India’s Ministry of Defence, units of the ETF have, over the last 30 years, already planted 65 million trees across the country. The ETF is also involved in rehabilitating degraded forests, conserving soils and managing water resources.

Forests act as a vital carbon sink, soaking up quantities of climate-changing carbon dioxide. When forests are destroyed, that stored CO2 is released into the atmosphere, adding to emissions of greenhouse gases and further exacerbating the problem of climate change.

Carbon sink
The total amount of CO2-equivalent at present stored in India’s forests is estimated to be more than 7 billion tonnes.  As part of its commitment to meeting the targets put forward in Paris to fight climate change, India plans to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

Carbon dioxide equivalency is a simplified way to put emissions of various greenhouse gases on a common footing by expressing them in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide that would have the same global warming effect (usually over a century).

Latest statistics contained in the India State of Forest Report 2015 indicate that the country has a total of just over 7 million square kilometres of forest cover – more than 21% of its geographical area.  The government says it plans to increase this figure to 33%.

Read more at Indian Army Helps Battle Climate Change

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