Forests in India are net source of GHG emissions

03 Mar 2018

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While forests begin to be seen as a tool for carbon sequestration, over 93% of GHG emissions in India continue to emanate from this same resource. This situation will remain unchanged if related policies and programmes are implemented at their current pace and commitment.

Also Read: Forestry Sector in India is Net Source of Green House Gases (GHGS) by Dr J.V. Sharma - Paper

Fuel wood has remained the principal energy source in rural households, as well as in commercial set ups such as brick kilns, hotels and restaurants in semi-urban areas. The primary points of procuring its supply are forests, trees grown on farm lands, homesteads and common land outside forest. The annual fuel wood consumption by 854 million people in India is 216.4 million tonnes per year (FSI, 2011).

The state wise details are given below:

Annual Fuel wood Consumption

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

S. No

State/UT

No. of persons using Fuel Wood (millions)

No. of Persons using Fuel wood from Forests (Million)

Quantity of Fuel Wood used (million tonnes)

Quantity of fuel wood used from Forests (million tonnes)

Percentage of Column 6 w.r.t column 5)

1

Andhra Pradesh

64.992

7.573

24.293

2.966

12.21

2

Arunachal Pradesh

0.882

0.698

0.402

0.325

80.93

3

Assam

23.373

5.812

11.421

2.494

21.83

4

Bihar

65.816

3.115

11.475

0.465

4.05

5

Chhattisgarh

20.078

7.818

4.366

1.378

31.56

6

Gujarat

40.092

7.497

9.731

2.225

22.87

7

Haryana

8.092

0.012

1.494

0.003

0.17

8

Himachal Pradesh

5.912

5.646

1.214

1.163

95.8

9

J & K

8.375

4.54

1.394

1.015

72.8

10

Jharkhand

21.733

9.984

4.844

2.849

58.81

11

Karnataka

44.681

9.584

20.967

5.776

27.55

12

Kerala

29.504

4.429

14.543

2.183

15.01

13

Madhya Pradesh

51.007

24.839

13.665

7.191

52.63

14

Maharashtra

68.904

31.845

9.508

4.527

47.61

15

Orissa

33.029

11.11

8.894

2.971

33.4

16

Punjab

13.628

0.136

3.348

0.029

0.87

17

Rajasthan

57.992

11.414

18.782

3.698

19.69

18

Tamil Nadu

42.405

7.429

12.387

2.601

21

19

Uttar Pradesh

175.096

10.495

19.063

1.294

6.79

20

Uttarakhand

7.289

6.06

2.566

2.139

83.38

21

West Bengal

51.202

18.574

14.158

6.361

44.92

22

North Eastern States

9.383

6.588

5.274

3.822

72.48

23

UTs

10.412

4.432

2.633

1.272

48.32

 

Grand Total

853.877

199.63

216.422

58.747

27.14

Source ISFR, 2011

coalIndia is home to more than 240 million households out of which about 100 million households are still deprived of LPG as cooking fuel and have to rely on firewood, coal, dung - cakes etc., as primary sources of cooking. The smoke from burning such fuels causes alarming levels of household pollution and adversely affects the health of women and children, causing several respiratory diseases and disorders. The Government of India has also withdrawn the subsidy given on LPG which has resulted in increased use of fuel wood for commercial purpose in semi-urban areas. The source of energy for domestic and commercial use in rural and semi urban areas is largely fuel wood, which contributes to more than 93% of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from forestry sector in India (Sharma, 2017).

The estimated scenario of GHG emissions and removal of CO2 is given below:

Table 2: Inventory of GHGs in Forestry Sector in India (BAU)

Estimated Emissions/Removals

2015

2020

2025

2030

Total  emissions

482.84

539.16

587.71

626.95

Total  removals

398.87

408.11

415.03

422.36

Net Emissions

83.97

131.05

172.68

204.59

Source: TERI Analysis

The above scenario has led to forest degradation in significant terms which is quantified below:

Table 3: Trends of forest resources as reported in India's State of Forest Reports (IFSR)

Forest resource accounting variable

ISFR 2003

ISFR 2005

ISFR 2009

ISFR 2011

ISFR 2013

ISFR 2015

Net Change between 2003 to 2015

% change between 2003 to 2015

Forest Cover (in square kilometres)

686,767[1]

692,027[2]

690,899

692,027

697,898

701,673

14,906

2.17

Growing Stock in Forests (million cubic meters)

4781.414

4602.04

4498.7

4498.73

4173.36

4195.047

-586.367

-12.26

Growing Stock in Forests and Tree outside forests (million cubic meters)

6413.752

6218.28

6098.2

6047.15

5658.05

5768.387

-645.365

-10.06

Source: FSI 2003; FSI, 2005; FSI 2009; FSI 2011; FSI 2013; FSI 2015
[1] Forest cover corrected for change of scale reported in IFSR 2009
[2] Forest cover corrected for change of scale reported in IFSR 2009

The chart shows that there is reduction in the growing stock from 2003-2015 and will be further reduced if policy and programmes are implemented as business as usual. The forestry sector will continue to be the net source of GHG emissions in the future due to unsustainable harvest of fuel wood and other Minor Forest Products, forest fire, overgrazing and poor regeneration. The overdependence on forests for livelihood and domestic consumption must be substituted with natural resource based livelihood and irrigated agriculture, and assisted natural regeneration which requires 6,153 million US $ per year. This is in addition to other interventions such as community based forest governance, capacity building of frontline staff and community, and engagement with private sector. This will help India in not only achieving its Nationally Determined Contributions related to the forestry sector - mitigating climate change, poverty alleviation, biodiversity conservation and improvement in the quality of forests - and national biodiversity targets, but also contributing towards fulfilling the global targets of SDG 13,14,15, and Aichi Targets.

References

  • FSI. (2003). India State of Forest Report 2003 Forest Survey of India (FSI), Ministry of Environment, and Forests (MoEF&CC).
  • FSI. (2005). India State of Forest Report 2005 Forest Survey of India (FSI), Ministry of Environment, and Forests (MoEF&CC).
  • FSI. (2009). India State of Forest Report 2009 Forest Survey of India (FSI), Ministry of Environment, and Forests (MoEF&CC).
  • FSI. (2011). India State of Forest Report 2011 Forest Survey of India (FSI), Ministry of Environment, and Forests (MoEF&CC).
  • FSI. (2013). India State of Forest Report 2013 Forest Survey of India (FSI), Ministry of Environment, and Forests (MoEF&CC).
  • FSI. (2015). India State of Forest Report 2015 Forest Survey of India (FSI), Ministry of Environment, and Forests (MoEF&CC).
  • Sharma J. V. (2017). Roadmap for achieving additional 2.5-3 billion Tons eCO2 Sequestration from Forestry Sector by 2030, Policy Brief, TERI, New Delhi.