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According to the Karnataka state action plan on climate change, climate change would affect around 38% of the state’s forest acreage by the 2030s. Climate change will also have an impact on forests in the central and northern Western Ghats, according to the report.

The study anticipated changes in vegetation in seven districts — Bijapur, Raichur, Koppal, Bellary, Chitradurga, Kodagu, and Hassan — in both the short and long future. According to the report, climate change will influence the wooded grids in these seven districts.

According to the Forest Survey of India’s State of Forest Report (2019), the documented forest area in Karnataka is 38,57,548 sq km, accounting for 20.11 percent of the state’s geographical area. According to forest canopy density classifications, the state has 4,501 square kilometers of extremely thick forest, 21,048 square kilometers of moderately dense forest, and 13,026 square kilometers of open forest.

“Change in the extremely thick and moderately dense forest is expected solely for the Western Ghats district of Udupi in the medium and long term timeframes,” according to the research.

Dr. Indu K Murthy, a principal research scientist at the Center for Project of Science, Technology, and Policy (CSTEP) Bengaluru collaborated on the study with Prof NH Ravindaranth of the Indian Institute of Science. Indu, who has worked with UN agencies, told DH that interventions were needed to prepare areas, particularly farmers, by integrating climate-resilient crops. She claims that even though some places are expected to receive more rain in the future, this may not result in improved vegetation. “We can only hope that the abundant rains transform the scrub area into wooded land.” However, experience has shown that such events are more likely to result in floods. “Weather extremes will have a significant influence on agriculture and the agricultural economy,” she said, adding that long-term research was required to understand the consequences of such changes.

According to the report, forest and agriculture policies should be changed as soon as possible, with steps implemented to increase biodiversity at all levels. Monoculture plantations, particularly in social forestry, are not only prone to pests but also disastrous for biodiversity. “Letting the market determine such measures will result in monocropping and monoculture.” Instead, policies governing social and agroforestry, as well as agriculture, must include measures that actively encourage biodiversity. This can also help farmers plan for the future,” she says.

To analyze the influence of climate change on forests, the experts employed the dynamic global vegetation model, which takes into consideration large-scale terrestrial vegetation dynamics as well as land-atmosphere carbon and water exchanges.

Kesiya Kattukkaran.

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