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India and UK celebrate milestone in efforts to restore forests

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Tim Rollinson, FC Director-General (centre), Dr P

Efforts to restore large areas of lost and degraded forest land in India and achieve UK forest cover targets have taken an important step forward.

Britain’s Forestry Commission has been working with the Indian Forest Service to develop a common landscape-scale approach for supporting forest restoration in India and the UK.

And Tim Rollinson, Forestry Commission Director-General (at centre in the picture), Dr P.J. Dilip Kumar, Director-General of Forests in India (left), and Dr V. K. Bahuguna, Director-General of the Indian Council for Forest Research & Education (right), have marked the completion of the first phase of the project in an event at the Commission’s headquarters in Edinburgh.

Many countries have suffered significant loss and degradation of their forests. Many of their governments are recognising the consequences of this, and are keen to reverse the trend and restore some of the lost and degraded forest landscapes.

Working through the Global Partnership for Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), the Indian Forest Service and the Forestry Commission have been drawing on each other’s experience to draft a strategy for forest landscape restoration. Their vision is for the strategy to be capable of adoption and use by other countries.

The first phase of the project has provided an overview report of forest restoration activities in India and the UK that have the potential to provide benefits for biological diversity and people.

Welcoming the completion of the first phase, Mr Rollinson said,

“We’ve learned a lot here in the UK about how to restore forests, and some of it was learned the hard way, from our mistakes.

“A key point we’ve learned is that local people are key to success. Past efforts for massive tree planting have not worked as expected, partly because of a lack of understanding of the importance of forests ‘in the round’. Unless forest restoration is understood and supported by local people, who can see how they can benefit from restored forests and how restoring forests will improve their lives, efforts at forest restoration risk failure.

“These are not just fine words – the good news is that there are many inspiring examples of success from around the world, including India and the UK, which demonstrate that this is entirely achievable, and upon which we can build.”

Dr P.J. Kumar added,

“Forests become lost, degraded or badly fragmented for entirely understandable reasons as people tend to over-exploit them for wood, fuel and land for growing crops and grazing livestock.

“However, the consequences of over-exploitation can be serious for people and wildlife. Water supplies can be reduced and become contaminated, and the local climate can change so that it becomes harder to grow food.

“We need sustainable approaches to forest management that help to conserve forests and the many benefits they provide, while also ensuring the welfare of their local communities.

“Joint forest management practised with local people over more than 22 per cent of forest land in India has greatly helped in restoring degraded landscapes.

“India’s Forest Research Establishment is in a position to meet the emerging challenges of providing technologies for meeting landscape challenges. So I welcome this report, and the wider work of the GPFLR, which is a significant step on the way to developing a strategy for achieving these goals, and perhaps one that can be adopted for use by other countries in our region.

“An additional point of interest is that the Greening India Mission, one of the missions under India’s Climate Change Strategy, is based on the landscape approach to addressing ecological restoration, livelihoods and biodiversity conservation. We fully expect that the results of this research partnership will feed into this mission as well.”

The event also launched the second phase of the development of the strategy.

The summary report of the first phase of the UK-India Forest Landscape Restoration Project is available from UK-India-FLR-09-11.pdf/$FILE/UK-India-FLR-09-11.pdf . Further information about the project is available from Mike Smith at Forest Research,; tel: 0131 445 6952.

Further information about India’s forests, Forest Service and Forest Research Establishment is available from and

Funding for the project was provided by the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).


  1. Forest restoration projects in the UK that were studied as part of the UK-India collaboration included: Kielder Forest in northern England, particularly its transformation from a primarily timber-producing forest into a multi-purpose forest landscape providing economic, social, recreational and wildlife benefits. Kielder is the UK’s largest forest entirely planted by humans; Glen Affric in the north-west Highlands of Scotland, where 22,000 hectares of Caledonian forest have been restored; and the Great Trossachs Forest, a landscape-scale partnership project to restore natural habitats in multiple ownerships in Scotland’s Trossachs region.
  2. The GPFLR brings together a range of organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors around the world to work together to encourage and facilitate the restoration of forest landscapes. Forest landscape restoration focuses on working with local communities and other land-use interests to restore forest functions at a landscape level, such as a water catchment, rather than at a single-site level. This approach helps to achieve the optimum quantity and quality of forest resources necessary for improving and maintaining human well-being and ecological integrity. Tim Rollinson is the current chair of the partnership. For further information visit .
  3. The UK is internationally respected for its experience and expertise in restoring lost and degraded forests, and for its lead in developing modern concepts of sustainable forest management. At the beginning of the 20th century only about 5 per cent of the UK landscape was still forested, but now it is about 13 per cent. See Britain has more woodland than it thought.

Media contact: Charlton Clark, 0131 314 6500