The Assam government department of Environment and Forests and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the “Trees Outside Forests in India (TOFI)” programme in Assam Tuesday. The programme aims to bring together farmers, companies, and private institutions to rapidly expand tree coverage outside of traditional forests in the state.
“Agroforestry is intimately associated with Assamese civilization and we are very delighted to launch the TOFI programme in Assam. The programme will help the people of Assam to take up the traditional practice of agroforestry in a modern scientific manner to integrate productivity and profitability with environmental stewardship,” Assam Environment and Forest Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said while announcing the launch of TOFI.
The Trees Outside Forests in India programme is expected to enhance carbon sequestration, support local communities, and strengthen the climate resilience of agriculture, thereby supporting global climate change mitigation and adaptation goals, the US Consulate General Kolkata said in a release.
Highlighting the importance of TOFI, USAID’s Deputy Mission Director in India, Karen Klimowski said, “As the climate crisis intensifies, it is ever more important that we protect India’s forests and the communities who depend on them. The United States is proud to support the Trees Outside Forests in India programme, which builds upon decades of US-India cooperation on forestry and climate-smart agriculture. India’s progress on these issues can provide models for the world.”
Assam, according to the release, has placed a high priority on expanding tree cover outside forest areas, as demonstrated in its State Action Plan on Climate Change and recent establishment of the Assam Agroforestry Development Board.
Through agroforestry, or integrating trees into farming systems, TOFI will improve the resilience of farming systems, while increasing the income of farmers in Assam, in partnership with Assam’s Environment and Forest Department and Assam Agroforestry Development Board, it stated.
TOFI will leverage India’s private sector to promote and scale tree-based enterprises and the sale of carbon credits, helping to create jobs, boost incomes, and help families in Assam overcome the economic impacts of the pandemic, the release added.
“We look forward to the TOFI Program to scale up trees outside forests in Assam and bring forward livelihood and economic opportunities with improved access to actionable information,” Additional chief secretary, Assam, Environment and Forest Department, Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Prasad said the programme will also help in fulfilling several national goals and international commitments and add momentum to the “Lifestyle for Environment” movement launched by the Prime Minister at COP26.
The Trees Outside Forests in India programme, according to the release, was first launched in September 2022 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change secretary Leena Nandan and US Chargé d'Affaires Patricia Lacina.
The programme will allocate up to 25 million USD in seven states - Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh, to rapidly expand tree coverage outside of traditional forests by 2.8 million hectares, contributing to India’s Nationally Determined Contribution target of creating an additional “carbon sink” of 2.5 to 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030.
This new programme builds on the enduring US-India partnership to tackle the climate crisis and bolster resilience in the face of climate threats and extreme weather events, the US Consulate General Kolkata added.
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