India: Himachal Pradesh Reforestation Project

UNFCCC Reference No.: 4174

 

Context

The state of Himachal Pradesh is located in the North-Western Himalayan region of India and has 12 districts, which are categorized into four agro-climatic zones: i) Shiwalik hills, ii) Mid hills, iii) High hills and iv) Cold dry zone. The net sown area of Himachal Pradesh has declined over the past decades, and forests in Himachal Pradesh are in continuous degradation as a result of biomass loss. Since the Government of India’s 1980 Forest Conservation Act banned conversion of forestland to non-forest uses, there has been no shift of non-cropland, such as forest, revenue, and common land, to agricultural land. Thus, the degraded forest and community land cannot be converted to agriculture or horticulture, and the most plausible baseline scenario is continued degradation of forest and community land.

The forested mountainside in Himachal Pradesh. The Project

The India Himachal Pradesh Reforestation Project was developed by the Government of Himachal Pradesh - Department of Forests and implemented under the larger World Bank Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development project (MHWDP). The project is reforesting 4,000 hectares of the Siwalik hills of Himachal Pradesh between 600 to 1800 meters altitude and covers 11 watershed divisions in 10 districts spread over the catchments of the major rivers of Ravi, Beas and Sutlej in northern India. It is implemented under four guiding principles: (i) adopting native and locally preferred tree species for reforestation (including over 50 native species), (ii) involving the local Gram Panchayats (GPs) and small and marginal farmers in reforestation activities that will strengthen the ongoing watershed interventions, (iii) facilitating technical, financial and capacity development support from MHWDP to reforestation activities, and iv) distributing carbon revenue to the village community (GP and farmers). 

Environmental Benefits

Through this project, highly vulnerable degraded lands are being restored, including forestland, degraded community land, and degraded and abandoned private lands in the Mid-Himalayan watershed. The productive potential of these degraded lands and watershed catchment areas is improving as a result of the enhancement of biomass production and carbon stocks. In addition, the project activities are promoting biodiversity conservation, soil conservation and environmental protection through planting and protection of native tree species, reduction in soil erosion, and prevention of downstream siltation of water bodies.

Social Benefits

Through community involvement, the project is working to sustainably improve livelihoods and incomes of rural households. Small and marginal farmers are involved in plantation activities on degraded common lands, degraded forestlands, and private degraded lands through planting of multi-purpose species and implementing sustainable forest management practices. The project is generating employment through silvicultural activities (nursery raising, site preparation, seedling transportation, planting, fencing, and maintenance of plantations) and revenue from the sale of carbon emission reductions, The broader MHWD project includes several activities that promote livestock development, fodder production, infrastructure development, and institutional capacity enhancement.