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REDD+ in Karnataka, India
REDD+ in Karnataka, India

REDD+ in Karnataka, India

Forest-PLUS and the Karnataka Forest Department have together developed GIS and remote-sensing tools, techniques, and methods to manage forested landscapes for climate change mitigation, biodiversity, livelihoods, and environmental services.

Most of India’s forests suffer from deforestation and forest degradation. This releases greenhouse gasses (GHGs), threatens biodiversity, jeopardizes forest-based livelihoods, and undermines economically important environmental services.  The Partnership for Land Use Science (Forest-PLUS) is a program between USAID and the Government of India (GoI) to reduce deforestation and forest degradation and their consequences (REDD+).

Managing forested landscapes for REDD+ needs a spatial and quantitative understanding of deforestation and forest degradation and their human causes. This requires mapping past and projected trends in forest carbon stocks and forest condition and associating these with maps of human activities. Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis of Remote-Sensed imagery (RS) and other spatial data does this efficiently.

Forest-PLUS and the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD) are partnering to demonstrate REDD+ management in Shimoga District as a model for other forested landscapes. Together Forest-PLUS and KFD have estimated and ground-truthed the 2001-2014 trends in forest carbon, forest condition, land use, and land cover across 305,500 ha. The work used advanced RS models and analysis protocols that yield high-resolution maps of these trends.

Forest-PLUS and KFD are working together to identify and map human activities in the landscape and to establish spatial associations between these activities and forest trends. These maps suggest the drivers of change and the types and locations of management interventions that might reduce deforestation and degradation.

The Forest-PLUS partnership with KFD also trains KFD staff in forest management for REDD+ and incorporating this instruction into Karnataka’s forestry schools. This training includes collecting and analyzing forest data, designing interventions, writing field interventions into landscape management plans, and monitoring results for adaptive management.

The Forest-PLUS partnership with KFD has initiated the first state-sponsored REDD+ project in India. KFD has now moved beyond Forest-PLUS’ technical assistance to apply REDD+ in its forestry practice.It is a model of co-development and institutionalization that Forest-PLUS is replicating in other Indian forest landscapes.

For more information, please contact Dr. Kit Kernan, Forest-PLUS Chief of Party at kit.kernan@tetratech.com