01 Sep, 2021
The Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystem Services (FES) Project was successfully launched by the Hon’ble Forest Minister of Himachal Pradesh (H.P.), Mr Rakesh Pathania on 1st September 2021 at Hotel Peterhof, Shimla. The event saw the participation of other dignitaries such as the Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Bhatiyatt Constituency of H.P. cum the Chief Whip, Mr Bikram Jariyal, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Forests, Ms Nisha Singh, Chief Project Directors (CPDs) of Externally Aided Projects (EAPs), Advisor, Planning, Dr Basu Sood, other senior forest department officials and community representatives.
The FES project is a follow-on module of the Himachal Pradesh Forest Ecosystem Services (HP-FES) Project (2016-2020), focusing on managing forests for water availability. It is jointly being implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), State Forest Departments of Himachal Pradesh (HPFD), Uttarakhand (UKFD), and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
The launch event commenced with welcome remarks by the Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Projects, Dr Pushpendra Rana, followed by a video message by GIZ India’s Country Director, Dr Julie Reviere. She endorsed H.P. as an important partner for GIZ’s Technical Cooperation (TC) portfolio with a long history of more than 50 years of engagement. The first forestry project in H.P. was implemented during the 1980s in the Dhauladhar and Changar areas. She stated that with global challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, the forestry sector continues to be a priority action area of BMZ in India. She also focused on the importance of conserving forests, wetlands and farmlands with an integrated and participatory FES approach. This was followed by a film on the concept of FES and the activities implemented during the HP-FES Project. Thereafter, the project was presented by GIZ, focusing on the core interventions of the previous project, lessons learnt and its achievements, also highlighting the output areas and proposed interventions of the new FES Project.
Community representatives also participated by sharing their experiences and expectations from the new project. The Inspector General (IG) of Forests (MoEF&CC), Dr Suneesh Buxy in his virtual message, applauded the Government of H.P. for its immense contribution and success in the field of FES which is recognised nationally. He stated that the outcomes of the new project will lead to better policies and the development of other EAPs which will prove to be beneficial to the communities of the states. Dr Basu Sood in his address expressed the importance of scientific studies for water recharge and conservation structures and focused on the pricing and valuation of ESs. The Indo-German Biodiversity Programme (IGBP) Director, Mr Ravindra Singh, mentioned how ‘Jal-Jungle-Jan' (water-forest-people) are interlinked. He emphasised the valuation of ecosystem services in each stage of the planning process. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (HoFF) H.P., Dr Savita spoke on the operationalisation of the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) policy of the state. ‘All relevant stakeholders should together be on board, only then will the PES policy be successfully implemented not only in H.P. but also nationally,’ she added. The ACS Forests, Ms Nisha Singh focused on the need for capacity development of the Forest Department officials for the successful implementation of new initiatives, such as the ‘Jal Bhandaran’ for improved water availability in forest areas. She also put forth her view that this project will be able to achieve its targets and hoped that the learnings from the previous project would be implemented to help the rural community in the state.
This was followed by the project launch by Mr Rakesh Pathania, along with the inauguration of the new website of the HPFD which was revamped jointly by the forest department and GIZ.
Subsequently, Mr Bikram Jariyal shared his experiences of the importance of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) in the livelihoods of the communities. He stressed on management and planning of FES to be implemented at both macro and micro levels. The final address was given by Mr Rakesh Pathania who cited the importance of engagement of the HPFD with other line departments, EAPs, private sector, and Panchayati Raj institutions to seek better convergence of resources and capacities for the FES Project. He stated that EAPs play a crucial role in evolving approaches and models that address the current challenges faced in forest management.
He also intimated that the H.P. Government is aiming to bring 30% of the total geographical area under forest cover by 2030. Various schemes such as ‘Ek Buta Beti Ke Naam,’ ‘Van Samridhi Jan Samridhi’ and ‘Vidyarthi Mitra Yojana’ have been launched to achieve the target,’ he added.
The launch event was successfully concluded with a vote of thanks and closing remarks by the Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) Projects, Mr Raman Sharma. He applauded the successful conclusion of the HP-FES Project and expressed his expectation to endeavouring the implementation of the new FES Project in close cooperation at the national and state levels.
Integrating the lessons from HP-FES, a follow-up project on ‘Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystem Services (FES)’ will be implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, State Forest Departments of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and GIZ India on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The project aims at strengthening the management of Forest Ecosystem Services with an emphasis on water availability in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Read More
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