Climate Change and India's Forests. In: India in a Warming World
Forest ecosystems are linked to the climate change problem in several ways. Standing forests are repositories of carbon and growing forests can be net carbon sinks. So, conserving existing forests and creating new or denser forests helps in the mitigation of global climate change. Forests also mediate other climatic processes that are being infl uenced by global climate change, such as rainfall. However, climate regulation—whether global or regional—is not the only benefi t that forests provide to society, especially in a country like India. An exclusive focus on the climate benefi ts can therefore aff ect other forest-related benefi ts. Simultaneously, forests are being aff ected by climate change, thereby infl uencing their ability to provide these other benefi ts. To understand the relationship between forests and climate change in India, we begin by fi rst elucidating the socio-ecological nature of forests in general, and the ongoing contestation in India over the control and management of these forests in particular. We then look at the possible role of India’s forests in mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration, and also their role in other climate processes. Finally, we discuss how looming climate change may, in turn, shape India’s forests and forest-related benefits.