Sustainable Forestry in South Asia – Current Status, Science and Conservation Priorities 7-9th November, 2019, New Delhi, India

Meeting Location: 
New Delhi, India
Meeting date: 
11/07/2019 to 11/09/2019



The countries of South Asia span an area of about 5.2 million km2 and have a population of 1.81 billion. They contain almost 25% of the world's population. In South Asian countries, population growth and urbanization have caused immense pressure to convert land from forest to agriculture and from agricultural areas to residential and urban uses with significant impact on ecosystem services. Forests have an increasing human footprint through deforestation/afforestation. In South Asia, trends in forest area from 1985–2014 suggest that in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, forest area decreased considerably whereas it increased in India and Bhutan (FAOSTAT, 2019). These changes cannot be directly linked to population growth alone; for example, although population increased significantly in India, the forest cover did not decline—in contrast, it increased. Although several direct causes such as agricultural expansion, overgrazing, timber extraction, demand for fuelwood, urban expansion and conversion to monoculture plantations, are well known, it is now widely recognized that multiple processes work simultaneously or sequentially to impact forest cover. Recent studies also suggest that in addition to subsistence-driven deforestation such as in northeast India, expansion of large- and small-scale plantations such as Eucalyptus, Casuarina, pines, rubber, oil palm, etc., can drive forest conversions. Economic development, agricultural subsidies, timber concessions, and global economic factors such as a country's foreign debt, etc., can also drive deforestation. Thus, quantifying the drivers of deforestation/afforestation and understanding the impact of these changes on the ecosystem services forests provide requires a more holistic approach. Sustainable forest management involves addressing issues that directly benefit people as well as the environment. Forest conservation involves consideration of environmental, social, political, and ecological aspects; these aspects are well recognized in the land use/cover change community, the NASA LCLUC program ( and SARI (

Meeting Objectives       

The purpose of the international meeting is to discuss the latest updates in the forestry sector covering the South Asian countries (India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Myanmar). Myanmar is included as the country links South with Southeast Asian countries. The meeting will be organized around the following sessions with presentations and panel discussions. Specifically, the themes include:

a). Mapping/monitoring of forest cover, plantations, and trees outside forests including degradation in South Asian countries
b). REDD+, GHG emissions in the forestry sector and other land uses
c). Forest fires, post-fire vegetation recovery and dynamics
d). Forest carbon inventory and management 
e). Forest ecosystem functions
f). Impact of land use change on forest biodiversity
g). Social forestry, community forest management, and conservation

Local Host

Prof. J.K.Garg, Senior Fellow, TERI School of Advanced Studies, 10, Vasant Kunj Institutional Area, New Delhi 110078, Email: Jai Garg <>

US Scientific Support

Dr. Krishna Vadrevu, Remote Sensing Scientist, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, USA; Email:

Dr. Randolph Wynne, Professor, Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech, USA; Email:

Dr. Forrest Fleishmann, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, USA; Email:

Dr. Ruth DeFries, Denning Family Professor of Sustainable Development Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (E3B), Columbia University, New York; Email:

Dr. David Skole, Professor, Global Ecology, Remote Sensing and GIS, Department of Forestry, Michigan State University, USA; Email:

Dr. Peter Leimgruber, Center Head, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Virginia, USA; Email:

Dr. Atul Jain, Professor, Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA; Email:

Dr. Jeff Fox, Senior Fellow, East West Center, Hawaii, USA; Email:

Dr. Valerie Thomas, Associate Professor, Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech, USA; Email:

Dr. Peter Potapov, Research Professor, Dept. of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland College Park, USA; Email:

Dr. Aditya Singh, Assistant Professor, Institute of Food and Agriculture and Biological Engineering, University of Florida, USA; Email:

Meeting Venue

Institute for Studies in Industrial Development (ISID) Auditorium, 4, Institutional Area Phase II, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, 110 070, INDIA

Logistics Contact:

Prof. J.K.Garg, Senior Fellow, TERI School of Advanced Studies, 10, Vasant Kunj Institutional Area, New Delhi 110078, Email: Jai Garg <>

Dr. Krishna Vadrevu, Remote Sensing Scientist, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, USA; Email:

Meeting Agenda and Presentations


7:30     Registration

9:00     Welcome Introduction – Garg JK, Local Host (TERI School of Advanced Studies, India)

9:05     Welcome Remarks – Krishna Vadrevu (SARI Lead, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, USA) 

9:10     Inaugural Address – Ajay Mathur (Director General, The Energy and Research Institute, India)

9:15     Welcome Remarks – Manipadma Datta (Vice-Chancellor, TERI School of Advanced Studies,India)

9:20     Welcome Remarks – Siddhanta Das (Director General of Forests and Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Govt. of India)        

9:25     Welcome Remarks – Prakash Chauhan (Director, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, India)

9:30     Welcome Remarks – Randy Wynne (Professor, Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech, USA)

9:35     South/Southeast Asia Research Initiative (SARI) and meeting objectives – Krishna Vadrevu (SARI Lead, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, US [SARI_Krishna.pdf ]

9:50     Group Picture

10:00   Coffee Break

10:30-12:30 Session-2. Status of Forest Cover/Resources in South Asia Countries Chair: Prakash Chauhan (Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, India) Rapporteur: Srishti Solanki (GGS Indraprastha University, India)

Keynote Presentation (20-Minutes) 
10:30 Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) remote sensing activities in forestry and land use including capacity building activities - Prakash Chauhan (Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, India) [Dr.Chauhan.pdf ]
Technical Presentations (15-Min Presentations; 5-Min Discussion)
10:50 Forest cover/resources status in India - Subhash Ashutosh (Forest Survey of India) [FSI_Dr.Subhash.pdf ]
11:10 Forest cover/resources status in Myanmar – Myat Su Mon (Forest Department, Myanmar) [Myat Su Mon_SARI.pdf]
11:30 Forest cover/resources status in Bangladesh – Zaheer Iqbal (Forestry Department, Bangladesh) [Zaheer_REDD.pdf ]
11:50 Forest cover/resources status in Bhutan – Pankaj Thapa (Sherubtse College, Bhutan) [Forestry_Bhutan_5.pdf ]
12:10 Forest cover/resources status in Nepal – Rabin Niraula (Helvetas International, Nepal) [Forest_Nepal.pdf]
12:30 Lunch
1:30 Forest cover/resources status in Sri Lanka – Ajith Gunawardane (Central Environmental Authority, Sri Lanka) [Forestry_Srilanka.pdf ]
1:50-2:30 Session-3. Panel Discussion: Remote Sensing of Forestry Research Priorities; Chair: Randy Wynne (Virginia Tech, USA); Rapporteur: Sumalika Biswas (Smithsonian USA); Panel members: Subash Ashutosh (FSI, India); Myat Su Mon (Forest Dept. Myanmar); Rabin Niraula (Helvetas, Nepal), Jeff Fox (East-West Center, US), Pankaj Thapa (Sherubtse College, Bhutan), Zaheer Iqbal (Forest Department, Bangladesh), Ajith Gunawardane (Central Environmental Authority, Sri Lanka)    
2:30-5:40 Session-4. Mapping and Monitoring of Forest Cover and Wetlands Including Degradation; Chair: Subhash Ashutosh (Forest Survey of India) Rapporteur: Ridhi Saluja (Wetlands International, New Delhi)
Keynote Presentation (20-Minutes) 
2:30 Review of South Asian regional forest cover change and temporal biomass assessment – Dadhwal V (Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, India) [ Dr.Dadhwal.pdf]
2:50 Does migration enhance or reduce forest degradation in central India? – Ruth DeFries (Columbia University, USA)  [DeFries.pdf]
Technical Presentations (15-Min Presentations; 5-Min Discussion)
3:10 Linking essential biodiversity variables from space for Wetland management - Garg JK (TERI School of Advanced Studies, India) [JKG_Wetlands_SARI_2019.pdf]
3:30     Tea Break
4:00     Twenty-five years of forest dynamics in Nepal - Jeff Fox (East-West Center, Hawaii, USA) [FoxforDelhiNepal.pdf ]
4:20     Geoinformatics for Mangroves habitat site suitability assessment towards their restoration – Areendran Gopala (Worldwildlife Fund, India) [Areendran_Geoinformatics.pdf ]
4:40     Remote sensing of forest canopy biochemistry and function, recent advances and applications in India - Aditya Singh (University of Florida, USA) [Aditya_Singh.pdf ]
5:00 Predictive modeling of afforestation spending in Indian Himalaya – Pushpendra Rana (Indian Forest Service/University of Illinois, USA) [Pushpendra.pdf ]
5:20  Modelling forest land use of SAARC countries in response to climate change – Vinay Sinha (TERI SAS) [ Vinay Sinha.pdf]
5:40 Adjourn
9:00-12:30 Session-5. Trees outside forests, Plantations and REDD+ Chair: Ruth DeFries (Columbia University, USA) Rapporteur: Satish Prasad (GGS Indraprastha University, India)
Keynote Presentation (20-Minutes) 
9:00  Bringing trees outside of forests into the climate change mitigation and adaptation agenda – David Skole (Michigan State University, USA) [Skole_TOF.pdf ]
9:20    Mapping smallholder forest plantations: A case study using multi-temporal harmonized Sentinel Landsat and PlanetScope data in Andhra Pradesh – Randolph Wynne (Virginia Tech, USA) [Wynne_Thomas.pdf ]
Technical Presentations (15-Min Presentation; 5-Min Discussion)
9:40 Forest reference level for REDD+ in Myanmar: Methodologies, results and challenges – Myat Su Mon (Forest Department, Myanmar) [Myat Su Mon.pdf ]
10:00 Status of REDD+ implementation in Bangladesh - Zaheer Iqbal (Forestry Department, Bangladesh) [Zaheer_REDD.pdf ]
10:20   Coffee Break
10:50 Mapping forest cover changes for jurisdictional REDD+ project development in Sikkim, India – Swapan Mehra (IORA Ecological Solutions, India) [ ]
11:10 The economics of land-use transitions from agriculture to forest crops: a cross-sectional survey of households in Andhra Pradesh, India – Kelly Cobourn (Virginia Tech, USA) [Cobourn_SARI.pdf ]
11:30 Extent and Impacts of government tree plantations on livelihoods in Himachal Pradesh – Forrest Fleischman, University of Minnesota, USA) [Fleischman-NASA-TERI.pdf ]
11:50   Mapping of trees outside forests and strip forests in Haryana with high-resolution satellite data – Mothi Kumar (Haryana Space Applications Center, India) [HARSAC.pdf ]
12:10  Wetlands - structure, functions and landscape integration - Ritesh Kumar (Wetland International, South Asia) [Ritesh Kumar.pdf ]
12:30 Lunch
1:30-2:10 Session-6. Panel Discussion: REDD+ Priorities; Chair: David Skole (Michigan State University, USA) Panel: Siddanta Das (Indian Forest Service); Varghese Paul (USAID), Myat Su Mon (Forest Department, Myanmar), Swapan Mehra (IORA Ecological Solutions, India), Zaheer Iqbal (Forest Department, Bangladesh)                      
2:10-5:20 Session-7. Forest Carbon Cycle, and Ecosystem Functions; Chair: Vinay Dadhwal (Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, India); Rapporteur: Sangeeta Bansal (GGS Indraprastha University, India)
Keynote Presentation (20-Minutes) 
2:10 South Asian forests and carbon sequestration – Atul Jain (The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA) [AtulJain_Final.pdf]
2:30 Biodiversity of Indian Himalayas: A synthesis - Rawal RS (GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Sustainable Development)
Technical Presentations (15-Min Presentations; 5-Min Discussion)
2:50 Emerging issues in forest ecosystem research in India with special focus on Himalayan mountains –Negi GCS (GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Sustainable Development, India) [Dr.Negi_.pdf ]
3:10 Quantitative monitoring of Indian forests and its biomass pools and fluxes – Jha CS (National Remote Sensing Center, India) [ ]
3:30 Tea Break
4:00 Mitigating carbon footprint considering forestry in product mix – Sandeep Gupta (Shiv Nadar University, India) [ Sandeep_Gupta_SARI_PPT.pdf]
4:20 Ecosystem services and the drivers of change in a deforested area in Bangladesh: tradeoffs, changes of land use, soil properties and plant biodiversity –Rahman M (Jashore University of Science and Technology, Bangladesh)                [MMRahman_SARI2019.pdf]
4:40 Total ecosystem carbon stocks of mangroves across regional scales: Implications for conservation and management- Sahadev Sharma (University of Malaya, Kaula Lumpur)
5:00 Ecosystems for development: Context of forestry sector business continuity resilience (against disasters and climate extreme events – Anil Kumar Gupta (National Institute of Disaster Management, India) [Dr.Anil_Gupta.pdf]
5:20 Adjourn
9:00-10:20 Session-8. Fires and Air Pollution Chair:  Krishna Vadrevu (NASA MSFC, USA); Rapporteur: Ayushi Vijhani (TERI SAS, India)
Keynote Presentation (20-Minutes) 
9:00 Vegetation fires and research priorities in South Asia – Krishna Vadrevu (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, USA) [Fires_Krishna_Delhi_Use.pdf ]
Technical Presentations (15-Min Presentation; 5-Min Discussion)
9:20 Changing fire activity in the Western Ghats, India in response to climate and human factors – Narendran Kodandapani (Center for Advanced Spatial Environmental Research, India) [Narendran.pdf ]
9:40 Impact of biomass burning on regional aerosol optical properties – Yogesh Kant (Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun)
10:00 Real-time monitoring of forest fires and burnt area assessment in India – Sunil Chandra (Forest Survey of India, India) [Sunil_Chandra.pdf]
10:20 Coffee Break
11:00:-2:40 Session-9. Social Forestry and Community Forest Management Chair: Jeff Fox (East-West Center, USA)    Rapporteur: Nandita Singh (TERI School of Advanced Studies, India, India)
Keynote Presentation (20-Minutes) 
11:00  Complex forest landscapes and sociopolitical drivers of deforestation - The interplay of land-use policies, armed conflict, and human displacement in Myanmar – Peter Leimgruber (Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, USA) [ Peter_Leimgruber2.pdf]
11:20   Do local rights matter for forest conservation? And does it matter? – Sharachchandra Lele (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment, India) [SLele_Final.pdf ]
Technical Presentations (15-Min Presentation; 5-Min Discussion)
11:40 Characterizing the relationship between forest-dependent peoples and state forest management institutions in the Global South – Sudha Vasan (Delhi University, India) [Vasan.pdf ]
12:00 Causes and consequences of increasing forest cover: examining the role of intermediaries and pastoralists in sustainability of Himalayan forests – Vijay Ramprasad (University of Minnesota, USA) [Ramprasad.pdf]
12:20   Lunch
1:20 Implementation of Forest Rights Act-2006 and some emerging conflicts in Telangana State: Implications for sustainable forestry development – Gopinath Reddy (Center for Economic and Social Studies, India) [Dr.Gopinath.pdf]
1:40 Revisiting governance of forest resources through the recognition of Forest Rights Act and Geoinformatics perspective – Varun Alluri and Sivaramakrishna P (SAKTI, India) [Sakti.pdf ]
2:00 Pathways to institution and resource sustainability: Lessons from FRA implementation in India – Smriti Das (TERI School of Advanced Studies, India) [Dr.Smriti_Das.pdf ]
2:20  Characterizing the relationshop between forest dependent peoples and state forest management institutiions in the Global South - Sudha Vasan (University of Delhi, India) [ Vasan.pdf]
2:40-3:20 Session-10. Discussion: Social Forestry and Community Forest Management Chair: Jeff Fox (East West Center, USA); Panel:  Sarath Lele (ATREE, India), Gopinath Reddy (Center for Economic and Social Studies, India), Sivaramakrishna (SAKTI, NGO), Sudha Vasan (Delhi University, India), Rabin Niraula (Helvetas, Nepal); Rapporteur: Chandrasekhar Azad
3:20 Vote of Thanks – Sudipta Chatterjee and Garg JK (TERI School of Advanced Studies, India)
3:25 Vote of Thanks – Randy Wynne (Virginia Tech, USA)
3:30 Vote of Thanks – Krishna Vadrevu (NASA MSFC, USA)
3:30 Tea Break and Adjourn