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ITC social forestry project on greening of wastelands
The Hindu Business Line - 26 Sep 2007

ITC Ltd, in a bid to achieve ‘greening of wastelands’ through its ongoing social forestry programme executed by the Bhadrachalam Paper Division, has, as on September 15, reportedly promoted 74,427 hectares of plantations (both Eucalyptus and Subabul trees) by distributing 313 million saplings in Andhra Pradesh.

And in the process, has succeeded in registering as many as seven CDM (clean development mechanism) projects (three large scale and four small), accounting for nearly one million CERs (certified emission returns). The programme also ensures a steady supply of hard wood for the paper and specialty papers division (PSPD).

Talking to Business Line here recently, Dr H.D.Kulkarni, Chief Scientist attached to the company’s R&D unit at Bhadrachalam, said the company’s Forestry CDM project, accounting for 57,792 CERs, has recently achieved validation by UNFCCC, the accredited agency, and was due for registration. The social forestry project involves reforestation of severely degraded landmass in Khammam district.

Mr R. Srinivasan, Member, Corporate Management Committee, and Head, Paper and Packaging Group, ITC Ltd, said “for every tree that is cut down and bought for pulping, two more are getting planted ensuring that while green cover is constantly going up, soil erosion and water run-off are arrested”. He said the target was to cover 1 lakh ha by 2010.

He pointed out that as farmers in the area were benefiting from shorter gestation and replantation, more employment was being created with the help of NGOs like ‘Outreach’ who work on wastelands development as a part of ITC’s Sunehra Kal programme.

He said if ITC, working with PwC (on the CDM projects), is able to convince UNFCCC with its satellite picture data of the increase in green cover and reforestation of degraded lands, and thereby affirm carbon sequestration, it would be a breakthrough in securing carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol.

The moneys realised, he informed, would go into a common trust of the farmers to help forestry through more plantations. Stressing on the Chairman, Mr Y.C.Deveshwar’s vision of “Making markets work for CSR”, he said the cross-linkages from R&D in plantations to consumer preferences in end-use markets go to demonstrate precisely that.

Dr Kulkarni informed that following years of research by the company in survival and productivity of plantations in and around the Khammam mill area, the farmers today harvest nearly 100 tonnes of wood per ha in four years from clonal plantations as against the earlier 40 tonnes in seven years from seedling plantations.

He said the ‘ITC Bhadrachalam’ clones were being adopted by forest departments, forest development corporations, other paper companies and farmers across the country.

The strategy followed by PSPD, combining CSR initiatives with import substitution efforts for raw material supplies, involves promotion of plantations in the closer vicinity of the mill in Khammam district.