In a recent study of forest management practices in India, it is stated that the ongoing community-based forest management (CBFM) programme could strengthen community livelihoods and avoid loss of biodiversity. They could also help to vastly increase the carbon storage potential of Indian forests. The study argues that CBFM of degraded (low carbon) forests to increase their potential carbon storage capacity should be formally recognised as a carbon mitigation strategy and accepted as a way for countries to earn carbon credits.
Conserving a diverse range of species is important because it increases the chance that enough will survive to form the basis of a stable, healthy ecosystem - meaning that, theoretically, at least some species will be able to adapt to their changing environment. Previous research has demonstrated that ecosystems containing higher numbers of different species are more resistant to extreme environmental conditions.
The study suggests that local communities should be involved in biodiversity conservation as they can provide a source of in-depth local knowledge about the habitat preferences of different species. Communities may also be keen to be involved in forest management to gain access to various non-timber products, including valuable resources such as fruits, fodder and handicraft materials which can help alleviate poverty.
CBFM could represent a viable strategy for increasing the carbon storage potential and economic value of forests, particularly in poor countries. It is predicted that emissions from rapidly developing countries such as India will soon begin to counteract the achievements of developed countries in reducing their carbon emissions. As emissions increase due to energy consumption in these countries, other strategies will need to be employed to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Forests as carbon sinks may therefore prove to be valuable resources.