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Centre tweaks Green Credit Programme norms

Why is it in the news?

  • The Union Environment Ministry has clarified that the priority should be given to restoring ecosystems rather than merely planting trees under the Green Credit Programme (GCP).

 More about the news

  • The GCP encourages organizations and individuals to invest in afforestation projects on degraded forest lands in exchange for ‘green credits.’
  • Forest departments of 13 states have offered 387 land parcels of degraded forest land for restoration, totalling nearly 10,983 hectares.
  • Interested individuals and companies can apply to the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) to pay for the restoration of these forests. The actual afforestation will be carried out by state forest departments.
  • After two years of planting, each tree can be worth one ‘green credit,’ evaluated by the ICFRE.
  • Green credits can be used to comply with existing forest laws requiring organizations to recompense for forest land diversion or for reporting under environmental, social, and governance norms.
  • The notified rules of the GCP suggest that green credits may be tradable in the future and can also be used to obtain carbon credits if they contribute to reducing or removing carbon emissions.
  • The Environment Ministry has issued updated guidelines allowing states to determine the minimum tree density required for a reforested landscape, deviating from the previous minimum requirement of 1,100 trees per hectare. Preference will be given to indigenous species, and naturally growing seedlings will be retained.
  • Several public sector companies have registered to invest in the GCP, and their applications are under review.
  • The programme is currently in a pilot project mode, with ongoing discussions regarding the quantification of shrubs and grasses in terms of green credits, as well as the equivalence of green credits and carbon credits.

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