Government of Rajasthan and USAID Launch New Initiative to Increase Tree Coverage in Rajasthan

February 7, 2023 Jaipur (Rajasthan) — The Government of Rajasthan’s Forest Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on February 6 announced the launch of the “Trees Outside Forests in India (TOFI)” program in Rajasthan, which will bring together farmers, companies, and other private institutions to rapidly expand tree coverage outside of traditional forests in the state.  The new initiative will enhance carbon sequestration, support local communities, and strengthen the climate resilience of agriculture, thereby supporting global climate change mitigation and adaptation goals.

The State of Rajasthan has long placed a high priority on improving tree cover outside forest areas, as demonstrated by its promotion of agroforestry, or integration of trees into farming systems, in its State Action Plan on Climate Change.  TOFI will build on the state’s progress and harness agroforestry to bolster the resilience of farming systems, while also further increasing the income of farmers in Rajasthan.  Importantly, TOFI will leverage India’s private sector to promote and scale tree-based enterprises and the sale of carbon credits, helping to create jobs and boost incomes.

U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Elizabeth Jones said, “The United States is proud to support the Trees Outside Forests in India program, which builds upon decades of U.S.-India cooperation in forestry and climate-smart agriculture.  Expanding tree cover outside of forest areas will contribute to our mutual climate change goals, increasing carbon sequestration as well as farmer incomes.”

Dr. D.N. Pandey,Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Head of Forest Force, Government of Rajasthan, said, “Trees are the key for our survival. We need to adopt *‘Ghar se Van tak’* approach i.e. planting trees at home, surroundings, and in farms, respectively for enhancing trees outside forests in the state and across the country.”
The Trees Outside Forests in India program was launched in September 2022 by Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Secretary Leena Nandan and then-U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Patricia Lacina.  The program will allocate up to $25 million U.S. dollars in seven states including Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh and is implemented in partnership with the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF, also known as World Agroforestry).  With the goal of rapidly expanding tree coverage outside of traditional forests by 2.8 million hectares, the program will contribute to India’s Nationally Determined Contribution target of creating an additional “carbon sink” of 2.5 to 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030.  This new program builds on the enduring U.S.-India partnership to tackle the climate crisis and bolster resilience in the face of climate threats and extreme weather events.