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The Afforestation Scam

The government often proclaims that India’s tree and forest cover is increasing. Today, it’s taken to making claims that this is central to tackling climate change (also see our note on REDD).  But much of this “increased forest cover” is afforestation plantations, including the “compensatory afforestation” that the law requires when forest land is diverted.

But this kind of “afforestation” means tree plantations, which can actually be harmful to the environment, as they replace diverse natural ecosystems with single tree stands.  Besides, they are frequently done on people’s lands or village forests and result in displacing people and denying them their rights.  At the moment, the government is pumping huge sums of money into such programs, which in reality pose a threat to people and forests alike.

Most recently, the NDA government is pushing its Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority Bill, an earlier version of which had been comprehensively and unanimously rejected by a Standing Committee in 2008.  You can find highlights of the Standing Committee’s report, and a list of problems with the bill, here.