Tetra Tech is strengthening capacity through the Forest-PLUS 2.0: Forest for Water and Prosperity (Forest-PLUS 2.0) program across landscapes in Gaya, Bihar; Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala; and Medak, Telangana, to implement an ecosystem approach to landscape management that increases ecological and socioeconomic sustainability.

Healthy forests foster healthy ecosystems—this is the foundation of India’s economic growth. Forests are critical for productive agriculture, successful industries, and healthy communities. However, the lack of an integrated forest landscape management approach is causing India’s forests to suffer from degradation, and thereby is putting economic pressure and strain on the communities that depend on them.

Through the five-year U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Forest-PLUS 2.0 program, Tetra Tech is providing technical assistance for the Government of India and other stakeholders to improve forest management as an important component of broad-based, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth that meets local needs and addresses global environmental challenges. The goal of Forest-PLUS 2.0 is to improve management of targeted landscapes in three Indian landscapes for enhanced ecosystem services and increased inclusive economic opportunities. The project is a follow-on to USAID’s Forest Partnership for Land Use Science that Tetra Tech implemented from 2012 to 2017.

Tetra Tech is partnering with public, private, and community land managers in these three landscapes to develop and demonstrate viable, practical, and replicable field models that advance economic and ecological sustainability in landscape management.

Forest-PLUS 2.0 is strengthening ecosystem-based forest management of targeted landscapes by developing and enhancing decision support tools for managing forests for multiple services. Tetra Tech is supporting these efforts by developing a mobile application, Van, along with a web portal to automate data collection and analysis processes and directly integrate this information into the program’s forest management plans.

Tetra Tech also is developing tools like decision support systems and low-cost systems for better monitoring of ecosystem services flow and valuation. Using these tools, the program will demonstrate use of incentive-based mechanisms to efficiently deliver services. For example, the tools provide data to municipalities about forest management improvements. With the data, a municipality may make payments to upstream forest communities for their improvements in forest management that resulted in cleaner or stronger water flow.

The program promotes inclusive participation in forest management decision-making, with an emphasis on overcoming gender-specific barriers. Tetra Tech is developing a leadership training program to encourage women’s participation in forest management decision-making and equitable access to economic opportunities in forest areas. Women are the primary collectors of fuelwood from forests and water from streams and hold knowledge about the use and cultivation of non-timber forest products such as wild ginger and turmeric, turkey berry, and shalparni.

Overall, targets include improved management of 1.2 million hectares of land, three incentive mechanisms that leverage finance to support ecosystem services, and $12 million of new, inclusive economic activity that will accrue measurable financial benefits to 800,000 households.