National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem
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18-02-2011, 03:04 PM

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National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem
The Himalayan ecosystem is vital to the ecological security of the Indian landmass, through providing forest cover, feeding perennial rivers that are the source of drinking water, irrigation, and hydropower, conserving biodiversity, providing a rich base for high value agriculture, and spectacu¬lar landscapes for sustainable tourism. At the same time, climate change may adversely impact the Himalayan ecosystem through increased tempera¬ture, altered precipitation patterns, and episodes of drought.
Concerns has also been expressed that the Himalayan glaciers, in common with other entities in the global cryosphere, may lose significant ice-mass, and thereby endanger river flows, especially in the lean season, when the North Indian rivers are largely fed by melting snow and ice. Studies by several scientific institutions in India have been inconclusive on the extent of change in glacier mass, and whether climate change is a significant causative factor.
It is accordingly, necessary to continue and enhance monitoring of the Himalayan ecosystem, in particular the state of its glaciers, and the impacts of change in glacial mass on river flows. Since several other countries in the South Asian region share the Himalayan ecosystem, appropriate forms of scientific collaboration and exchange of information may be considered with them to enhance understanding of ecosystem changes and their effects.
It is also necessary, with a view to enhancing conservation of Himalayan ecosystems, to empower local communities, in particular through the Panchayats, to assume greater responsibility for management of ecological resources.
The National Environment Policy, 2006, inter¬alia provides for the following relevant measures for conservation of mountain ecosystems:
 Adopt appropriate land-use planning and water¬shed management practices for sustainable devel-opment of mountain ecosystems
 Adopt "best practice" norms for infrastructure construction in mountain regions to avoid or min-imize damage to sensitive ecosystems and despoil¬ing of landscapes
 Encourage cultivation of traditional varieties of crops and horticulture by promotion of organic farming enabling farmers to realize a price premi¬um
 Promote sustainable tourism through adoption of "best practice" norms for tourism facilities and access to ecological resources, and multi stakehold¬er partnerships to enable local communities to gain better livelihoods, while leveraging financial, technical, and managerial capacities of investors
 Take measures to regulate tourist inflows into mountain regions to ensure that these remain within the carrying capacity of the mountain ecol¬ogy
 Consider particular unique mountain scapes as enti¬ties enti¬ties with "Incomparable Values", in developing strategies for their protection
6. National Mission for a -Green India
Forests are repositories of genetic diversity, and sup¬ply a wide range of ecosystem services thus helping maintain ecological balance. Forests meet nearly 40% of the energy needs of the country overall, and over 80% of those in rural areas, and are the back¬bone of forest-based communities in terms of liveli¬hood and sustenance. Forests sequester billions of tons of carbon dioxide in the form of biomass and soil carbon. The proposed national programme will focus on two objectives, namely increasing the forest cover and density as a whole of the country and con¬serving biodiversity.
The report of the Working Group on Forests for the 11th Five-Year Plan puts the annual rate of planting during 2001/02 to 2005/06 at 1.6 million hectares and proposes to increase it to 3.3 million hectares during the 11th Plan. The final target is to bring one-third of the geographic area of India under forest cover.
The Greening India Programme has already been announced. Under the programme, 6 million hectares of degraded forest land would be afforest¬ed with the participation of Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs), with funds to the extent of Rs 6000 crores provided from the accumu¬lated additional funds for compensatory afforesta¬tion under a decision of the Supreme Court in respect of forest lands diverted to non-forest use.
The elements of this Programme may include the following:
 Training on silvicultural practices for fast- growing and climate- hardy tree species
 Reducing fragmentation of forests by provision of corridors for species migration, both fauna and flora
 Enhancing public and private investments for rais¬ing plantations for enhancing the cover and the density of forests
 Revitalizing and upscaling community-based initia tives such as Joint Forest Management (JFM) and Van Panchayat committees for forest management
 Implementation of the Greening India Plan
 Formulation of forest fire management strategies
Conservation of wildlife and biodiversity in natural heritage sites including sacred groves, protected areas, and other biodiversity 'hotspots' is crucial for maintaining the resilience of ecosystems. Specific actions in this programme will include:
 In-situ and ex-situ conservation of genetic resources, especially of threatened flora and fauna
 Creation of biodiversity registers (at national, dis¬trict, and local levels) for documenting genetic diversity and the associated traditional knowledge
 Effective implementation of the Protected Area System under the Wildlife Conservation Act
 Effective implementation of the National Biodiversity Conservation Act, 2001
7. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
Contributing 21% to the country's GDP, accounting for 11 % of total exports, employing 56.4% of the total workforce, and supporting 600 million people directly or indirectly, agriculture is vital to India's economy and the livelihood of its people. The pro¬posed national mission will focus on four areas cru-cial to agriculture in adapting to climate change, namely dryland agriculture, risk management, access to information, and use of biotechnology.
7.1. Dryland Agriculture
Out of the net cultivated area of approximately 141 million hectares , about 85 million hectares (60%) falls under the dryland/rain-fed zone. Accordingly, to realise the enormous agricultural growth potential of the drylands in the country and secure farm-based livelihoods, there is a need to prevent declines in agricultural yields during climatic stress. Priority actions on dryland agriculture with particular rele vance to adaptation will be as follows:
 Development of drought- and pest-resistant crop varieties
 Improving methods to conserve soil and water
 Stakeholder consultations, training workshops and demonstration exercises for farming communi-ties, for agro-climatic information sharing and dissemination
 Financial support to enable farmers to invest in and adopt relevant technologies to overcome climate related stresses
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03-05-2011, 12:53 PM

Mission to maintain the ecosystem in the Himalayas seeking to establish an extensive network monitoring and surveillance that will be a detailed assessment of the destruction being done in the area of human activity and the effects of climate change and propose ways to prevent such destruction.

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