The NITI Aayog recently unveiled the ‘Growing and Restoration of Wasteland with Agro-forestry (GROW) portal, aiming to bolster the efforts in environmental conservation and sustainable land use.

About GROW:

  • It is a multi-institutional effort led by NITI Aayog which utilized remote sensing and GIS to assess agro-forestry sustainability across all districts.
  • Objective: To transform India’s wastelands into productive agroforestry zones.
  • Promotion of Agroforestry: There is a need for the promotion of agroforestry especially for reducing the import of wood and wood products and carbon sequestration to combat climate change.

Key highlights:

• An Agroforestry Sustainability Index (ASI) was developed for the national level.

• The GROW-Sustainability Mapping portal BHUVAN allows universal access to state and district-level data. 

• The GROW initiative aligns with national commitments, aiming to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.

  • To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion of carbon dioxide equivalent.

• It provides state-wise and district-wise analysis, supporting government departments and industries for greening.

• It underscores the potential benefits of converting underutilized areas, especially wastelands for agroforestry.

Some measures: 

  • Union Budget 2022-23 prioritized agroforestry and private forestry which is India’s commitment to enhancing productivity, profitability, and sustainability.
  • Integrated Wasteland Development Programme (IWDP): To develop wastelands mainly in non-forest areas by involving local people at every stage of development.
  • Wasteland Reclamation: To restore wasteland, revive biodiversity, improve the lives of affected communities, and enhance ecological and economic value.
  • Some states such as Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have high scope for using wasteland due to their large wasteland area.
  • Efforts align with various global commitments such as the Paris Agreement, Bonn Challenge, UN Sustainable Development Goals, UNCCD, and Green India Mission, among others.

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