More than 50,000 farmers in 602 villages of Himachal Pradesh who raised multiple forest plantations on degraded public land in the mid and high hills under the community-led initiative have become eligible to share cash benefits of nearly Rs 1.93 crore earned through carbon credits.
This will be the first installment of the sequestered carbon credits ,which the state government has received from the government of Spain for implementing the climate change mitigation Project under the Kyoto Protocol.
The government had signed an agreement with the state government a few years back to purchase carbon credits under bio-carbon project of World Bank-funded HP Mid Himalayan watershed project, being implemented in the state to increase livelihood means of the poor people, mainly small and marginal farmers. Farmers and local communities have formed groups in their areas to raise forest and other plantations on the common village land and degraded forests as part of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who today reviewed the progress of the project at its governing council meeting, termed it as a first of its kind project in India under the public sector and community driven initiative in the hill state. “It may be first even in Asia to successfully link the the CDM plantation work on the degraded land (between 600 to 1800 meter above sea level ),” he maintained.
The financial benefits will be directly passed on to the local communities and users group as incentive for improved natural resource management practices.
“The Project is registered under CDM provisions and subsequently a purchased agreement was entered with the government of Spain through the World Bank for the sale of carbon credits. The forestry plantations on 3204 hactares raised became eligible for the first cycle of carbon credits. The verification process for the first cycle was completed in November, 2014,” said Additional Chief secretary (Forests and Environment) Tarun Shridhar.
He added that the verification report about the plantation and its success rate was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December, 2014. After it’s acceptance, the WB has now agreed to release the payment amounting USD 3,11,514,which is equivalent to Rs. 1.93 Crore against a stored and verified 65,582 credited Emission Reductions (CERs). The mid Himalayan project authorities have recently received formal confirmation .
Senior forest officials told the Indian Express that the project was expected to sequester a total of 8,28,016 CERs in the project area over the first crediting period of 20-years with a total gain of Rs 20 crores. The project will turn the villagers into strategic sellers of carbon credits, in response to global demand for Certified Emission Reduction. In addition, 343 person days/hectares of employment and an additional income of Rs 3000 per ha per year will be generated during the project period.
While mid-Himalayan aims to protect watersheds improvement and livelihood enhancement, the bio-carbon sub-project will sequester Green House Gases (GHG) through reforestation on and generate carbon revenue for the local communities. This combination has been able to provide multiple benefits to the poor farmers through meeting their needs of small timber, firewood, minor forest produce along with carbon credits (as cash incentive), besides providing gainful employment,says Avtar Singh, Additional PCCF ( Mid-Himlayan Porject.