The forests play vital role in harboring more than 45,000 floral and 81,000 faunal species of which 5150 floral and 1837 faunal species are endemic. The nation has established 597 Protected Areas comprising 95 National Parks, 500 Wildlife Sanctuaries 2 conservation reserves covering 1.56 million ha area or 4.75 per cent geographical area of the country.
The rising demand for forest based products and resultant deforestation and encroachment has led to a severe loss of natural resources and destruction of habitat.
India is likely to face severe shortage of supply of timber to meet its requirement from both domestic and international front. It is estimated that the demand for timber is likely to grow from 58 million cubic metres in 2005 to 153 million cubic meters in 2020. The supply of wood is projected to increase from 29 million cubic meters in 2000 to 60 million cubic meters in 2020. As a result, the nation has to heavily depend on imports for meeting its growing demand. This could result in loss of high conservation value forests or loss of biodiversity else where.
The Living Planet Report 2006 ranked India as the third highest gross foot print nation, followed by US and China. India is presently 4 th largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity and is growing at 8-9 per cent per annum. This fast growth coupled with the needs and aspirations of more than one billion people is a challenge for conservation of forests unless environmentally responsible policies are in place. In this regard, the new strategy document of the Forest programme incorporated innovative approaches such as Payment for Forest Ecosystem Services (PES), Ecological Footprint Analysis and Forest Certification.
The identified priority landscapes for field level activities for strengthening conservation of forests and biodiversity are Western Arunachal Landscape (WAL) in eastern Himalayas and South Western Ghats Landscape (SWG L) in the Western Ghats. Besides, the programme continues to provide inputs and support to conservation programmes in other priority landscapes of WWF-India, including Terai Arc Landscape, Kanchanjunga Landscape, Sundarbans landscape.
T R Manoharan
Head- Forest Programme
+91 11 41504787
Ensure effective management of India's forests for ensuring biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services and sustainable livelihoods