Assam, French agency sign 50-mln euro forest restoration pact


Guwahati: Assam on Monday signed a pact worth 50-million euros with a French agency to help restore the state’s forests and preserve its biodiversity, officials said.

The partnership marks the launch of the second phase of the Assam Project for Forest and Biodiversity Conservation (APFBC).

The agreement between the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Assam government will also strive to build capacities of the state’s forest department, particularity its frontline staff, they said.

The APFBC aims to reforest an additional 12,000 hectares, scale up efforts in biodiversity conservation and skill the members of 135 more communities in different trades.

The second phase of financing will continue for five years with the aim of increasing the project’s coverage area and corresponding impacts, the officials said.

The first phase of the project was implemented with support from AFD to reforest 21,000 hectares, build 33 flood refuge sites for wildlife, and train over 6,000 members of the local communities in alternative livelihoods.

Chief Minister Sonowal, who was present on the occasion, said responding to the call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to turn the north eastern region into an organic hub, the Assam government has already initiated a number of steps.

Ambassador of France to India Emmanuel Lenain said the project reinforces the commitment of the two countries towards the restoration and preservation of rich and diverse natural ecosystems.

“Biodiversity conservation will remain a priority for our 2020 bilateral agenda, and we look forward to lessons from this collaboration, which has already yielded tangible results, being shared in India and international forums,” Lenain said.

The APFBC works closely with the women of local communities, empowering them through participatory planning and training them in new skills, the officials added.