A MP for the year 2013-2014, estimates

A large portion of Madhya Pradesh’s forest area is accessible to the local communities for the purpose of NTFP collection, under surveillance of the forest department. The key NTFPs collected in the state are: Tendu leaves, Palash, Lac, Mahua, Bamboo, Honey, medicinal plants and fruits e.g. mangoes. A large number of villages are situated either inside the forests or at forest fringes. These villages largely depend on the forests for their fuel wood requirements and also for their livelihood security as they extract NTFPs from these woods. Largely, much of the state’s population depends on agriculture as their primary occupation; however, livestock rearing and NTFPs provide supplementary livelihood opportunity to majority of the villagers. This diversified source of income, food, timber, fuelwood etc. provides crucial resilience to the communities in the face of different climatic and socio-economic stresses. It is estimated that about 66.4% of the households of MP depend on fuelwood for cooking; and, a total of 16.7 million cubic metres of fuelwood was extracted from the forests of Madhya Pradesh in the year 2010 (ICFRE, 2010). Given a livestock population of 40.7 million, there is a heavy dependence of livestock on the forest land.. The Working Plan for one of the districts in MP for the year 2013-2014, estimates the average forest produce requirement per family to be ‘0.22 Cu. m. Timber’, ‘12.62 bamboos’ and ‘7.93 quintals of fuel wood’. Additionally, the Working Plan also recognizes that ‘there is 2.9 times more grazing pressure than the carrying capacity’ of the grazing land (Forest department Madhya Pradesh, 2014). It is estimated from this study that under the influence of increasing CO2, largely due to CO2 fertilization effect, the net primary productivity of the forests is rising, which is generally beneficial for the growth of biomass and, in turn, for the supply of various non-timber forest products. However, increasing weather extremes such as droughts and extreme precipitation events pose a serious threat to the sustained supply of various NTFPs. Weather extremes are known to have a grave impact upon the agricultural produce as well as on the NTFPs, since both the products thrive on a delicate balance of natural factors. For example, this year’s extreme rainfall events not only destroyed the standing rabi crops, but they also damaged the delicate mango flowers. There is no systematic assessment in MP about the impacts of weather extremes on the NTFP production and supply. There exists adire need to undertake such a study. In the future, climate change due to increased CO2 fertilization may affect the net primary productivity, which is projected to increase under the scenario of good water availability. However, the greatest damage to NTFPs in the future is likely to stem from the extreme weather events. Shifting forest types are also likely to impact the supply of rare plants and herbs along with the production and supply of many of the NTFPs. There is a need to explore the impacts of climate change on NTFPs based on field based long-term observations. Currently, we lack long-term observation plots in the Madhya Pradesh. Impact of Climate Change on Forests and Biodiversity of Madhya Pradesh 40 References: 1. FSI (2013) State of the forest report, Forest Survey of India, Dehradun 2. ICFRE (2010) Forest sector Report India 2010; Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehradun Forest department, Madhya Pradesh (2014)Working Plan for the Hoshangabad district. 3. Forest Department Madhya Pradesh Impact of Climate Change on Forests and Biodiversity of Madhya Pradesh 41 Chapter 7: Adapting to Impacts of Climate Change On Forests and Biodiversity of Madhya Pradesh In view of the recent COP 21 agreement, forests and terrestrial ecosystems are increasingly assuming a more prominent role, both as a very important carbon sink as well as an adaptation option, due to its positive role in diversifying livelihood opportunities of the rural communities along with its moderating impact on climate, climate extremes, land degradation, water resources and biodiversity conservation. As part of its INDC, India has promised to carry out a massive afforestation drive to sequester an additional 2.5-3.0GtCO2 till 2030. Globally, the COP 21 agreement relies heavily on forests to achieve zero carbon emissions in the next half of this century – Which is a pre-requisite for limiting warming to a rise of 2°C. However, the big question that needs urgent answers is the fact that forest ecosystems themselves are highly sensitive to climate change impacts. Addressing questions such as ‘How does climate change impact forest ecosystems and carbon stored there-in, in the next half of this century?’ is crucial to meet the objectives outlined in India’s INDC and the COP 21 agreement. Populations of many species, including the plants, are already threatened and are expected to be placed even at a greater risk by the multiple stresses of changing climate and land-use changes that fragment the habitats. Though there are uncertainties with respect to projections of climate change impacts on forest ecosystems, evidence is growing to indicate that climate change, coupled with socioeconomic and land use pressures, is likely to adversely impact forest biodiversity, carbon sinks, biomass productivity or carbon uptake rates, livelihoods of forest- dependent communities and economies. Adaptation to projected climate impacts on MP’s forest sector is critical due to the following reasons: a) In Madhya Pradesh, there is a large proportion of population depending on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forests and fisheries. Forest dwellers form one of the poorest sections of society and are likely to be adversely impacted due to the climate change. b) Due to poorly developed institutions, markets, technology-transfer pathways and lack of financial resources, forest-dependent communities (in particular) have low capacity to cope with or adapt to adverse impacts. Those with the least resources and the least capacity to adapt, such as forest dwellers, are the most vulnerable communities. c) Forest sector is likely to be vulnerable to extreme events, such as droughts coupled with warming, leading to increased occurrence of fires to which local governments and institutions, especially in developing countries, could find it difficult to cope with. d) Development and implementation of adaptation strategies and practices in the forest sector would require long gestation periods, years of research and development, institutional building and education. Inertia in climatic, ecological and socio-economic systems makes adaptation inevitable and extremely essential in some cases. Impact of Climate Change on Forests and Biodiversity of Madhya Pradesh 42 Our analysis suggests that the ongoing climate change (as well as the projected climate change) presents both an opportunity and a threat to the forests of MP. The opportunity comes by the way of increased net primary productivity; increased biomass and increased soil organic carbon in different parts of the state (see Chapter 5 for details). Satellite-based observations in the last three decades suggest that the NPP is already increasing in the state, largely in response to the increased carbon fertilization. Our simulations further suggest an increase in NPP, biomass and soil carbon in the forests of MP, at least in the short term. Increased NPP and increased biomass have the potential to increase the supply of both timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) as well, since it can further enrich the soil carbon and productivity by additional litter-fall. However, the scenario of increased NPP could be threatened due to 1) lack of adequate water and other nutrients in a warming climate. In this context, it should be noted that our rainfall projections used in this study are associated with large uncertainties; and,2) our model-based simulations suggest that many forested grids, especially in the northern and western parts of the state, may not remain suitable for the drier forests types at present, and may give way to wetter forest types. This scenario presents a serious threat to these forests as majority of these forests are low in biodiversity richness, disturbed and fragmented. In fact, the fragmented and isolated forests in low biodiversity areas are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change which, in turn, could hamper the dispersal and migration of species. Hence, it is vital to carry out afforestation and forest restoration activities, keeping in mind the need to build corridors to link fragmented and isolated forests. While building these corridors, a mix of native and relevant species should be selected. Such corridors will not only be useful for building resilience of the forest ecosystems, but they will also provide crucial points for the movement of fauna as well. It needs to be understood that the needs of plants are in synergy with the needs to the animals including the large mammals. a) Keeping these synergies as well as Govt. of India’s large afforestation commitments in mind, the feasibility of an ambitious project like ‘interlinking of forests’ of the state should be investigated. b) Forest conservation, afforestation/reforestation activities in the state should be designed such that these activities reduce the fragmentation and degradation of the existing forests. Anticipatory planting and assisted natural migration through transplanting plant species could also be considered. c) Biodiversity Richness Index of different forests of MP is available from the Department of Space. It is important to carry out the forest conservation activities in a way that these activities increase the overall biodiversity richness of these forests, by planting of mix species, and the native species. d) Since water and nutrients are a critical bottleneck for realising the benefits of increases in NPP, it is important that water conservation activities are initiated in forests of the state. e) In the state, a large number of people depend on forest resources for their livelihood (See Chapter 6). However, in a climate change scenario, increasing climate extremes have the potential to disrupt the supply of NTFPs in the short or long term (as this study largely assesses the impact of mean climate changes and does not account for the impacts of extremes of climate on forest