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Climate change to impact forests in India

Climate change will be an additional stress on Indian forests, especially in Upper Himalayan stretches.

New Delhi: Climate change will be an additional stress on Indian forests, especially in Upper Himalayan stretches, which are already subjected to multiple challenges including over-extraction, livestock grazing and human impact, a government report said here today.

India`s second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, released by Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said that the assessment of climate impacts showed that at the national level, 45 per cent of forested grids are likely to undergo changes.

In the report, a digital forest map of the country was used to determine spatial location of all the forested areas. This map was based on a high-resolution mapping, wherein the entire area of India was divided into over 165,000 grids. Out of these, 35,899 grids were marked as forested grids --along with the forest density and forest types.

Vulnerability assessment showed that the sensitive forested grids are spread across India.

"However, their concentration is higher in the Upper Himalayan stretches, parts of Central India, northern Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats," said the report prepared by the Environment Ministry towards fulfillment of the reporting obligation under the Convention.

"Most of the mountainous forests --sub-alpine and alpine forest, the Himalayan dry temperature forest and the Himalayan moist temperature forests-- are susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change," it said.

In contrast, north-eastern forests, southern Western Ghats and the forested region of Eastern India are estimated to be the least vulnerable

Unveiling the report, Minster of state for Environment
Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said that India is fully committed to its responsibilities towards global community.

She said that India has voluntarily reduced carbon emission.

The report provides the context and the national circumstances inter alia India`s geography, imperative of development needs, climate and economy, based on which India would be addressing and responding to the challenges of climate change.

It includes results of wide ranging of studies, specifically conducted at the national level capturing diversity of India.

The Greenhouse Gas Inventory of gases of anthropogenic origin for the year 2000 has been reported, as per the stipulated guidelines using prescribed methodologies by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

It is to be noted that, for year 2000, the net carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions for India were estimated to be 1301.21 million tones, indicating a growth of 4.2 per cent in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from the levels in 1994.

The report also provides the GHG profile for the year 2007 - a unique feature of this report, which is estimated to be of the order of 1771.66 million tones CO2 equivalent.