USAID Forest-PLUS is a bilateral program between India and the U.S. to develop solutions for sustainable forest land use in India. The program, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), prepares India to implement successfully Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), an international mechanism for climate change mitigation, livelihoods improvement, and biodiversity protection.
Forests in India are an integral part of the cultural life of its people, deliver many of the ecosystem services at the foundation of India's economy, and support India's status as one of the world's mega-biodiversity countries. Almost 300 million Indians depend on forest resources for their livelihoods, including 87 million tribal people. Deforestation has stabilized, but past conversion has reduced India's forest area and unsustainable use has degraded their ecology. India's forests have half the forest biomass they once had.
India's central government sets national forest policies guiding forest management. As two examples, India's National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) includes a National Mission for a Green India (GIM) that would "enhance carbon sinks in sustainably managed forests and other ecosystems". The MoEFCC 2014 National Working Plan Code defines standards for forest management that include "conservation of forests and reducing forest degradation, maintenance and enhancement of ecosystem services . . . ., increasing the growing stock and carbon sequestration potential, [and] people's involvement in planning and management of forests fulfilling socio-economic and livelihood needs". State Forest Departments (SFDs) use these policies to develop and implement management prescriptions for each forest division.
Forest-PLUS brings together Indian and American expertise to develop technologies, tools, and methods of forest management to meet the technical challenges of managing forests for ecosystem health, carbon stocks, biodiversity, and livelihoods. Forest-PLUS collaborates with Indian forestry institutions and local communities to pilot these solutions in landscapes of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Sikkim. These landscapes represent tropical moist deciduous, tropical dry deciduous, moist temperate, and subtropical broadleaf forest types.
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths for sustainable development.