Introduction: Compensatory afforestation is a program implemented in India to ensure that forest land diversion for non-forest purposes, such as industrial or infrastructure development, is accompanied by afforestation on an equal area of land. Under this program, project developers are required to fund afforestation activities on new lands, and also pay for the Net Present Value (NPV) of the forests being cleared. The newly afforested land may not immediately provide the range of goods and services that the diverted forests were providing. However, this program ensures that newer parcels of land are earmarked for development as forests, contributing to the country’s forest cover.
Why is Compensation Afforestation in News?
According to the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), 45 per cent of funds allocated by the Central Government for compulsory afforestation between 2017 and 2022 have not been utilized by Kerala. The state government’s target for each year’s plantation has also not been met. Also recently, the Environment Ministry decided to promote ACA or accredited compensatory afforestation which is a proactive afforestation system. In this system, afforestation of non-forest land in advance can be used to get prior approval under Section 2 of the 1980 Forest Conservation Act.
Compensation Afforestation at the global level
According to Global Forest Watch, compensatory afforestation increased by 5.4% between 2001 and 2018. Unfortunately, the increase was due to deforestation. The concept was initiated in China in 1999. It exists in USA, Australia, and UK as well.
India was the first country to adopt Compensation Afforestation
The concept of compensation afforestation in the world started in India. India launched the concept through its Forest conservation act of 1980.The Supreme Court of the country was unsatisfied with the provisions of the act. For this reason, CAMPA was created in 2002.
The major challenge in compensation afforestation is funds and land allocation. In India, the destroyed forests are not completely compensated according to the provisions in the CAMPA.