Assam, USAID join hands for new afforestation programme

  • | Tuesday | 18th October, 2022

Guwahati, Oct 18 (PTI) The Assam government and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on Tuesday joined hands to roll out an afforestation programme to plant trees outside the traditional forest areas in the state.The "Trees Outside Forests in India (TOFI)" initiative will bring together farmers, companies and private institutions to rapidly expand tree coverage outside such areas of Assam, an official release said."The new program will enhance carbon sequestration, support local communities and strengthen the climate resilience of agriculture, thereby supporting global climate change mitigation and adaptation goals," it said. Assam has placed high priority on expanding tree cover outside forest areas as demonstrated in its State Action Plan on Climate Change and recent establishment of the Assam Agroforestry Development Board, officials said.Through agroforestry or integrating trees into farming systems, TOFI will improve the resilience of such systems, while increasing the income of farmers in Assam in partnership with the Environment and Forest Department and Assam Agroforestry Development Board.TOFI will leverage India"s private sector to promote and scale tree-based enterprises and the sale of carbon credits, helping create jobs, boost incomes and help families in Assam overcome the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the release said."Agroforestry is intimately associated with Assamese civilization and we are very delighted to launch the TOFI programme," said Environment and Forest Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary.Stating that the Assam government is striving towards increasing forest cover in the state from 36 per cent to 38 per cent, Patowary said the TOFI programme is going to augment these efforts in a big way."A memorandum is going to be placed in the next cabinet meeting to abolish the system of seeking permission from the Forest Department for felling trees planted in one"s own land," he said.The minister also urged the Forest Department officials to encourage people to plant trees of high commercial value such as Agar, Sishu and Sandalwood for economic benefits, and growth of wood-based industries in the state.Highlighting the importance of the programme, USAID Deputy Mission Director in India Karen Klimowski said, "As the climate crisis intensifies, it is ever more important that we protect India"s forests and the communities who depend on them." The programme will allocate up to USD 25 million in seven states -- Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh -- to rapidly expand tree coverage outside traditional forests by 2.8 million hectares. PTI TR RBT RBT

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