February 1, 2023
Lucknow — The Government of Uttar Pradesh’s Environment, Forest and Climate Change Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on January 31, 2023, announced the launch of the “Trees Outside Forests in India (TOFI)” program in Uttar Pradesh, 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.
Uttar Pradesh has long placed a high priority on improving tree cover outside forest areas, as demonstrated by its integration of agroforestry, or integration of trees into farming systems, in its State Action Plan on Climate Change, and through its work to link farmers to carbon markets. 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 Uttar Pradesh. 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.”
Announcing the launch, the Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Independent Charge) Government of Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Arun Kumar Saxena said, “The government of Uttar Pradesh is giving a major thrust to agroforestry and plantations on lands outside the notified forest areas. With only 9 percent of total green cover, the State has massive potential to increase it to 15 percent in the next five years. Thanks to TOFI program, which will certainly help boost agroforestry and tree cover in tree-less landscapes, aid the farmers in choosing the right tree species at the right place while enhancing their income, livelihood security and overall ecosystem services.”
Highlighting the importance of the program, Mr. Manoj Singh, Additional Chief Secretary, Environment, Forest and Climate change Department, Government of Uttar Pradesh, said “Uttar Pradesh has been a pioneer in implementing agroforestry practices. The state has set a target of 175 Crore plantations in the next five years and also working towards developing agroforestry policies that link to wood-based industries. The state government is also working on the relaxation and simplification of transit rules. Further initiatives would be undertaken to establish one hi-tech nursery in each of the Commissionerates and village-level nurseries in every Nyaya Panchayat. Agroforestry practices would not only be beneficial for mitigating climate change, but also doubling the farmers’ income.”
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. 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.