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Dr Gairola is the Country Director of the Forest Stewardship Council India. Previously he was the Head of Forest Force Maharashtra in India. With 38 years of experience as a forestry expert, he provides valuable knowledge on the important topic of climate change and carbon sequestration.


Dr Gairola is a forestry expert with 38 years’ experience in forest conservation and management, wildlife management, public policy, environmental law, forestry research and administration. He joined Indian Forest Service in 1982 and currently serves as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) India Country Director.

He retired in June 2020 as Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force. He was the Technical Advisor to Government of Maharashtra on forestry matters and dealt with all policy matters including policies related to wildlife conservation, and overall control and supervision of all the wings of forest department.

Prior to that, he has worked for three years as Director General, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education with the mandate to generate, disseminate, advance and coordinate forestry research, education and extension in the country. Concurrently, he was the Chancellor of Forest Research Institute Deemed University Dehradun. He has also taken the posts of ex-officio Director (Wildlife Preservation) under Wildlife Protection Act, CITES Management Authority of India and Whaling Commissioner of India; and Managing Director of Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra, State Nodal Officer for forest conservation, Group Coordinator (Research)/Director at Institute of Wood Science and Technology Bangalore, Joint Secretary and Divisional Forest Officer.

Dr Gairola is an alumnus of Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and National Law School of India University Bangalore. His PhD is in forest management. Dr Gairola has a number of research papers to his credit. He was awarded Brandis Prize in 2005 and 2015 by Indian Forester for best research paper. He is on the Editorial Board of Forest Ecosystems, an international journal publishing scientific communications. He is India Country Representative in International Council of IUFRO and Chairman, Research Advisory and Monitoring Committee of Zoological Survey of India.

He has served on the Boards of Wildlife Institute of India, National Institute of Himalayan Environment, Indian Institute of Forest Management and IPIRTI. He is also a member of the Commonwealth Forestry Association, International Society of Tropical Foresters, Society for Ecological Restoration, and Asia Society of Researchers. He is also a member of IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, and Commission on Ecosystem Management.

Forests and Climate Change in India: Innovative Approaches for Carbon Sequestration

Forestry sector contributes significantly to global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and at the same time provides significant mitigation and adaptation opportunities. With present forest and tree cover standing at 24.56 % of the geographical area, India is one of the few countries where it has increased in recent years transforming country’s forests to net carbon sink owing to national forest policies aimed at conservation and sustainable management of forests. Nationally determined contribution of India under UNFCCC includes creation of an additional carbon sink of 2.5 – 3.0 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

The first forest carbon estimation in the country done in 2002-03 for the period 1984-1994 was 6071 million tonnes (mt), followed by 6663 mt in 2004 and 7125 mt in 2019. The annual increase of carbon stock is estimated 21.3 mt, which is 78.1 mt of CO2 equivalent. Soil organic carbon is the largest pool (56.2%). The per hectare carbon stock of open forests is 59 tonnes per hectare and 85 tonnes per hectare for moderately dense forests.

Innovative initiatives like forest landscape restoration of 26 mha land under Bonn Challenge, sustainable forest management through National Working Plan Code, addressing drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, National REDD+ Strategy, combating desertification, devolution of compensatory afforestation funds to states, rejuvenation of major river systems through forestry interventions, intensive fire management, strengthening legal framework and societal engagement are set to achieve national goals and international commitments. This aims at improving productivity of national forests and expanding tree cover outside forests through the implementation of national policies.

This paper discusses these innovative interventions for increasing and monitoring India’s carbon stock.

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