Spotlight Activity: Compensatory Afforestation Fund Rules 2018
To fulfill its Paris Goals, India has set ambitious mitigation strategies, including increase in the forest/tree cover by 5 million hectares (m ha) and improving the quality of forest cover in another 5 m ha of forest lands, thereby creating an additional carbon sink of 2 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent. India’s INDC has been criticized, by local and tribal communities as well as civil society, of being overly commercial monoculture focused and ignoring community rights over forests. Latest initiatives by the Indian Government to dilute forest rights of communities raises fresh doubts over India’s commitment to a socially just and sustainable pathway to achieve its Paris Climate Goals.
On the 16th of February 2018, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), notified the draft Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Rules, 2018, which—if passed as it is—would vest almost absolute power in the forest department and its officials to decide how $6 billion worth of funds from the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Fund (referred to as CAMPA fund henceforth) will be utilized. The CAF rules don’t respect the rights granted to nearly 200 million indigenous people and forest dwellers by the Forest Rights Act and will likely promote monoculture plantations by displacing forest dwellers. The www.landconflictwatch.org already documents dozens of conflicts where communities have been displaced by such plantations. Ignoring indigenous and local communities, who have been the best managers of India’s natural forest resources and have helped preserve the majority of its high biodiversity forests, would also ensure that the afforestation and forest restoration through the $6 billion CAMPA Fund would likely fail. The Indian government therefore needs to re-look at the draft rules and incorporate vital suggestions from the indigenous and forested communities, environmentalists and activists who have already given important suggestions to it on the draft Rules.
The Program consists of assigning Certificates of Efficient Production of Biofuels (CBios) for biofuel producers, and also requiring that fuel distributors meet certain greenhouse gas emission reduction targets based on the fuels that they are selling. Basically, the model is based on the purchase of CBios by fuel distributors from ethanol and biodiesel plants. Also, the number of CBios that each biofuel producer has to offer will depend on the biofuel itself and the efficiency of the producer in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Since Brazil, by 2030, aims to have renewable energy represent 45% of the country’s energy matrix, with biofuels representing 18% of the energy matrix – according to its NDCs – the RenovaBio program is directly associated with the country’s commitments made at the COP21. By the Law, there will be a deadline of 180 days for definitions of decarbonization goals and other objectives, and then another 18 months for program regulation, which includes the negotiation of CBios credits. Therefore, the whole regulatory process will probably last, at best, two years, starting to actually take effect in early 2020.
Status: Falling Behind
The Draft Rules for utilization of CAMPA Funds have ignored the forest rights of the Gram Sabhas (village assemblies) recognized under the historic law, the Forests Rights Act (FRA), and fails to work with communities to afforest and restore India’s forests. It leans towards promotion of monoculture plantations rather than biodiversity rich natural forests. It also does away with the provision of ‘free, prior and informed consent’ of Gram Sabhas of forest communities while taking up the compensatory afforestation projects, creating significant risk of dispossession and displacement of some of the most vulnerable forest communities in the world. Climate Scorecard’s Spotlight Project therefore gives this action of the Government of India only one Star!
To take action, simply fill out your name and email in the form below and the message will be sent.
Your message will be sent to:
Inspector General of Forest (Forest Conservation), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change,
Indira Paryavaran Bhawan
Jorbagh Road, Aliganj, New Delhi-110003
Twitter handle of the Ministry: @moefcc
You can also contact:
Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Indira Paryavaran Bhawan
Jorbagh Road, Aliganj, New Delhi 110003