Tetra Tech supported the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help India manage its forests to keep pace with growing mineral and fuel needs to maintain a thriving economy.

India’s large rural population is directly dependent on its forests, especially for fuel, fodder, and other non-timber forest products. To meet growing mineral resources and fuel needs, large tracts of forest are being diverted to other land uses that degrade and threaten the sustainability of India’s forests and the livelihoods of communities of forest-dependent people (FDP).

Through USAID’s Forest Partnership for Land Use Science (Forest-PLUS) program, Tetra Tech identified and adapted scientific, economic, and sustainable solutions to India’s community forestry movement. These solutions included activities to reduce deforestation and degradation, increase forest cover, restore forest health and carbon stocks, and further the conservation of India’s rich biodiversity while improving rural livelihoods for FDP.

The Forest-PLUS program is helping us with the sustainable management of forests as well as the capacity building of our staff so that they are well-versed in what is happening in other parts of the world, and the forest management can contribute to the low carbon growth strategy of our country.

Dr. S.S. Negi, Director General of the Indian Forest Service

The twofold purpose of Forest-PLUS was to improve forest sustainability to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through carbon sequestration, and to assist individuals and communities in adapting to climate change. Tetra Tech supported the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ (MoEF) Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) Cell initiative by developing an integrated and inclusive approach to forest ecosystem management. We built on and improved traditional forest management structures while introducing carbon monitoring and gender mainstreaming best practices from around the world to increase forest carbon stocks, provide more accurate monitoring, and improve socioeconomic and gender equity.

Tetra Tech supported India’s effort to move toward a low-emission economy and MoEF’s REDD+ Cell initiative from the local to the national level. At the community level, we scaled up pilot projects; at the landscape level, we built the capacity of local governance structures, officials, and community-based organizations to implement REDD+-focused ecosystem management, involving the private sector through public-private partnerships. At the state level, we strengthened the capacity of state forest departments in the project landscapes to promote and support community-level ecosystem management and conservation. At the national level, we worked closely with MoEF’s REDD+ Cell and academic institutions in India’s forest sector to develop and implement nationwide GHG and carbon measurement tools and methodologies.

The India Forest-PLUS program had two primary technical components—sustainable landscape development with a focus on the exchange of scientific support and technical cooperation and sustainable landscape deployment with a focus on piloting scientific and technical approaches and results at scale. We developed technologies, tools, and methods of forest management, including:

  • Project design documents for practitioners to use on future climate change mitigation through forests programs, addressing management and financing options
  • Policy strategies for sustained yield of multiple ecosystem services
  • A suite of integrated tools to support forest management, including mobile apps for inventory data collection and investment planning; inventory and data management systems for carbon; a learning management platform for online training; and the mForest app, to improve forests ecosystem, carbon stocks, biodiversity, and livelihoods
  • High-quality training materials on climate change awareness, carbon inventory, and an ecosystem approach to forest management
  • Field-based techniques for sustainable forest management
  • Communications strategy frameworks for future forest management programs
  • Action Learning Pilot Programs to understand and address key institutional and governance challenges for sustainable forest ecosystem management

Forest-PLUS also mainstreamed gender, in line with USAID’s gender strategy, throughout its project activities to develop solutions that lead to more equitable participation of women in forest management. Overall, Forest-PLUS achieved a high percentage of women participants—46 percent—in its training programs; developed and adapted innovative, site-specific solutions for reducing daily subsistence burdens facing women, including strategies for reducing fuelwood collection through a reduction in usage; and developed a national analysis on gender and REDD+ in India.

View this video to learn more about the program and its success in securing a better future for India.