This project assessed impacts of climate change on forests in India, and explored the potential of getting support from foreign countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in India. So far, India has taken few initiatives to attract these projects, but are considering a more active role. Moreover, India has strong institutions in managing forests. This implies better availability of data and a transparent allocation of responsibilities and roles, when compared with other possible recipient countries. Lessons from India is therefore useful in evaluation of REDD+ also in other countries.
A main part of the project was to analyse challenges related to the assessment of potential carbon uptake in the forested areas and future development of this potential. It was shown that present modes of monitoring and reporting is inadequate to meet national and international requirements, with a risk of over-reporting areas under forest and under-report deforestation. The diversity of Indian forests are large, and with large regional differences. Thus, the potential for REDD+ also differs considerably across regions, and climate change may reinforce these differences. Plantations are in general more vulnerable to climate change than natural forests, although this is where the most topical REDD+ projects are found. In assessing the REDD+ potential, the project also demonstrated the importance of multi-model analyses.
The second part of the project aimed at using results from the biophysical models to analyses of social and economic consequences. In general, it was shown that strong institutions reduce the risk of a loss related to a fall in the price of carbon by investing in REDD+. They may also contribute to reduce carbon leakage.
Climate impacts and REDD+ in plantations were analyzed by a computable general equilibrium model, while community forests were analyzed by a sector model. It was shown that The economic analysis illustrates the regional differences in the REDD+ potentials. Despite a higher vulnerability to climate change and more leakage, we also find that the outcome of REDD+ projects in plantations are more predictable than in community forests, which are being utilized by local communities for subsistence. This is because specific local factors, which are difficult to evaluate from the outside, plays a major role in the management of these forests.
This project consists of an an ecological component, based on development and application of biological models for forest plantations, and an economic component, which aims at integrating insights from the ecological component in a borader macroeconomic f ramework. The two components will provide the background for policy analyses in close collaboration between Cencter for Environmental Technologies (CET) at Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and CICERO.
In the ecologial component a climate impact assessm ent on forests will be conducted, using multiple GCM-RCM model outputs and multiple Dynamic Global Vegetation models. In the proposed phase, the climate change impact assessment will be focused on forest plantations (community, farmer and industrial), sin ce they dominate the Indian forest landscape, and will be used increasingly to mitigate climate change, being considered as essential for stabilization of CO2-concentration in the atmosphere. Forest plantations are, however, likely to be more vulnerable t o climate change than multi-species natural forests. This makes the development of adaptation strategies challenging, and attempts to mainstream adaptation practices in forest planning and management are crucial.
The economic component comprises furthe r development of the macroeconomic model GRACE. The model will be extended and improved by separating natural forests and plantations and inclusion of mitigation options. Some weaknesses of the model, which have become apparent in earlier studies, will be focused in order to improve the model. All this serves, however, the main purpose of the economic component, which is to conduct an analysis of the macroeconomic consequences of suggested adaptation and mitigation strategies for India. Possible feedback of policy choices through market mechanisms are among the most important consequences that will be analysed.