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COVID-19 & forest management: Global Forest Goals Report

Context:

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has aggravated the challenges faced by countries in managing their forests, the United Nations’ Global Forest Goals Report 2021 has said.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of Environment and Ecology, Challenges with management of Forest Resources)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the Global Forest Goals Report 2021
  2. Forest in India
  3. Way Forwards suggested by the UN Report

Highlights of the Global Forest Goals Report 2021

  • Covid-19 is driving losses of lives and livelihoods, extreme poverty, inequality, and food insecurity, and it has put the ‘Future We Want’ further out of reach.
  • It is estimated that world gross product fell by an estimated 4.3% in 2020. It is the sharpest contraction of global output since the Great Depression.
  • An estimated 1.6 billion people, or 25% of the global population, rely on forests for their subsistence needs, livelihoods, employment, and income.
  • Of the extreme poor in rural areas, 40% live in forest and savannah areas, and approximately 20% of the global population, especially women, children, landless farmers, and other vulnerable segments of society look to forests to meet their food and income needs.
  • On the economic front, forest-dependent populations have faced job loss, reduced income, diminished access to markets and information, and for many women and youth, a contraction in seasonal employment.
  • Socially, many of these populations are already marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as indigenous peoples, least able to access critical socio-economic safety nets.
  • Many forest dependent populations, especially those in remote or hard to reach places, have faced difficulties accessing healthcare or find that government assistance programmes and basic services are disrupted.
  • Pandemic driven health and socio-economic outcomes have increased pressure on forests.
  • To ease their growing vulnerability, many indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as returning migrants and urban workers, have retreated deeper into the woods to seek food, fuel, shelter, and protection from the risks of Covid-19.

Forest in India

  • According to the India State of Forest Report, 2019, the Total Forest and Tree cover is 24.56% of the geographical area of the country.
  • Forest Cover (Area-wise): Madhya Pradesh> Arunachal Pradesh> Chhattisgarh> Odisha> Maharashtra.
  • National Forest Policy of India, 1988 envisages a goal of achieving 33% of the geographical area of the country under forest and tree cover.

Way Forwards suggested by the UN Report

  • Sustainably resourced and managed forests can bolster employment, disaster risk reduction, food security and social safety nets, for starters.
  • With regard to global health, safeguarding and restoring forests are among the environmental actions that can reduce the risk of future zoonotic disease outbreaks.
  • The report called for a future course of action that included greater sustainability and a greener and more inclusive economy to tackle the threats of Covid-19, climate change and the biodiversity crisis faced by forests.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine

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September 2022
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