MSU, ARD Tetra Tech and the Government of India Capture USAID $14M Award

MSU Department of Forestry faculty and experts will be working directly with the government of India to build national capacity to measure forest carbon and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the forestry sector in India.

Under USAID’s India Forest Partnership for Land Use Science (India Forest PLUS) program, Department of Forestry faculty and experts will be working directly with the government of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Forest Survey of India to build national capacity to measure forest carbon and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the forestry sector in India. MSU will lead efforts to develop carbon measurement, reporting and verification systems for application to forestry, and will provide capacity building and training to the national government and local forest-dependent communities.

Specifically MSU will lead tasks on:

  • Developing tools, techniques and methods for better ecosystem management and increasing sequestration.
  • Developing improved methods to establish carbon inventories and reference baselines.
  • Analyzing social and economic incentives for REDD+ policy and practice.
  • Active participation and constructive engagement of stakeholders to pilot and refine research results.

The Partnership for Land Use Science (Forest-PLUS) project, between USAID/India and Government of India (GOI) is a five year initiative. The program will contribute to USAID/India’s Assistance Objective of accelerating India’s transition to a low emissions economy by taking REDD+ actions to scale. The project aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhance sequestration through afforestation, conservation, and sustainable management of forests. The project will feed into the GOI’s NAPCC and Green India Mission.

“This kind of project truly enables the transfer of fundamental carbon science research into practical application, and it’s a real pleasure to be involved with a great team working on one of the critical problems facing all countries, but especially those rapidly growing developing countries such as India where the economic welfare of billions of people are linked to agriculture and natural resources. Climate change will dramatically affect the communities and people that get their livelihoods from forest resources and their ecosystem services,” notes Dr. David Skole, Professor in the Department of Forestry.

The Forest PLUS program will address sectoral barriers, build human and institutional capacity, develop and deploy improved scientific methods for carbon inventory and reference baselines, and actively engage stakeholders and create an enabling environment for REDD+ implementation in India. The Forest-PLUS project will work with the MOEF to support implementation of national policies and programs, and will contribute to MOEF’s efforts to establish and implement programs through collaboration with the new REDD+ Cell. The program will also look for active engagement with communities and local governments in supporting REDD+ activities.

Skole observes, “This type of research and the things one has to do to engage it, is strikingly different than the normal federally funded routes we take for basic research – from teaming efforts, to proposal preparation, to implementing the work plan, this is very different in its targeted and focused approach to problem solving. Yet it’s certainly the type of work and challenge that only a place like MSU can undertake, because of our unique merging of fundamental and applied research.”

Policies and programs facilitating innovation and large-scale adoption and deployment of low carbon land use approaches will need to play a central role in global efforts to address climate change. Long-term solutions will require stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at acceptable levels, national low emissions development strategies that look comprehensively at land use and forestry, and robust monitoring, reporting, and verification of net greenhouse gasses emitted or sequestered. Within the broad climate change mitigation arena, land use and forestry are estimated to contribute at least 30% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Thus, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that more sustainable land use has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by one-third, and deliver positive development benefits.

India is faced with the challenge of sustaining its rapid economic growth while dealing with the global threat of climate change. Climate change may alter the distribution and quality of India's natural resources and adversely affect the livelihood of its people. India may face a major threat from climate change since its economy is closely tied to its natural resource base and climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, water, and forestry. India's development path is based on its unique resource endowments, the overriding priority of economic and social development and poverty eradication, and its high cultural value for the environment and the maintenance of ecological balance.

“There is also a personal aspect to this particular project," Skole adds. “One of the other leading partners on this project is a small business research and development company, Applied GeoSolutions, that was created by one of my past graduate students, Bill Salas, founder and President. The firm has grown, even in these hard times, and it’s a real joy and satisfaction to work with Bill and his team on this project.”


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