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Great People’s Forest initiative in South Asia

Planting of 1b trees, restoration of 1m hectares forest land targeted

Published : 04 Sep 2023 10:32 PM

The Great People's Forest initiative has been launched recently in New Delhi with an aim of planting one billion trees and restoring one million hectares of forest land in the South Asia.

The Great People's Forest initiative is an urgent response to the shared challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, through which local conservationists are joining together to protect the region.

In Bangladesh, this initiative is being led by FRIENDSHIP NGO, and in South Asia, it is led by the Balipara Foundation of Assam and global environmental leader Conservation International.

 One million hectares of forest will be protected and restored by communities across the North East of India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal under the historic initiative announced this week, a FRIENDSHIP press release said on Monday.

This initiative aims to raise US$1 billion, plant one billion trees, and protect and restore one million hectares of land while placing the Eastern Himalayan ecosystem - and the one billion people who rely on it - on the global conservation agenda.

Runa Khan, Founder Executive Director of FRIENDSHIP, said: "Mangroves are a source of livelihood for millions. The communities living near the Sundarbans know the value of mangroves and indigenous communities can balance the biodiversity and ecosystem".

Uncontrolled demographic growth and over extraction of resources and land depletes the forest ecosystem, weakening the natural protection provided to lives and land against cyclones and natural disasters, destroying livelihoods in the long run, she said.

Partners from every corner of the Eastern Himalayas are putting forward oven-ready plans for the urgent scaling of their work to protect and restore their forests for the benefit of people and the planet. All the conservation work undertaken through this mission will prioritise the lives and livelihoods of local people, with a pro-nature, pro-economy approach.

The Great People's Forest of the Eastern Himalayas, one of the largest reforestation and conservation efforts in the history of South Asia, is a partnership between Conservation International and the Balipara Foundation of Assam, India.

 This initiative seeks to raise US$ one billion to plant one billion trees and restore and protect one million hectares of land across the Eastern Himalayas, from the mountains to the mangroves, indirectly benefiting around one billion people who depend on this connected ecosystem.