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India commits $10 billion to expand forests

The Indian government has approved a bold plan to expand and improve the quality of its forests as a part of the nation’s National Action Plan on Climate Change. The reforestation plan, dubbed the National Mission for a Green India (NMGI), will expand forests by five million hectares (over 12 million acres), while improving forests quality on another five million hectares for $10.14 billion (460 billion rupees).

According to India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests, the plan will result in the carbon sequestration of 50-60 million tons every year by, sequestering around 6% of India’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Including the forest expansion, the NMGI has a number of other goals: providing tens-of-thousands of dollars to forest villages every year, protecting biodiversity, mitigating human-wildlife conflict, promoting community conservation of 14,000 sacred groves, and protecting important watershed.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 23% of India is currently under forest cover or 68 million hectares, although around 40% is considered degraded. In contrast, ten million hectares (14%) are considered primary growth forest. In the last 20 years, forest cover has declined in India by nearly a quarter of a million hectares.

The government said it will used satellites to monitor its progress.

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