Why Justin Langer is recharged and ready for pandemic summer


All out for 207 before an empty venue in Manchester there was barely anyone but Australia’s players and staff around to hear what Langer had to say. But it didn’t take too long for word to filter back to Australia that he had given the team both barrels in an old-fashioned spray.

More than two months later, Langer’s version of events is a little less theatrical but he does not deny he was unhappy and let the team know.

Justin Langer has embraced the period in which cricket has been impacted by COVID-19.Credit:Getty Images

“We lost an almost unlosable game and if you remember, I think it was the first T20 game, we lost an almost unlosable game,” Langer told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in an interview this week.

“It was just giving our guys a reminder that we’ve got to get better at it.

“When I spoke to the guys after that game, there was nothing personal in it. We were talking about how we can get better as a group and chasing runs is one of those areas.

“It wasn’t a personal spray at any of our players. I’ll never get personal with any of our players, never, ever. It’s not my style.”

I say this with great respect and compassion but the only thing I haven’t loved about COVID is COVID

Justin Langer

Australia went on to win that series 2-1, reversing the narrative dramatically when Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey pulled them out of the fire in the decider three days later with a century apiece to reel in an England total of 302.

Maybe Langer was on the right track then with the spray/rev-up/dressing down/performance review after game two?

“We ended up winning the series in England so it was an awesome result,” he said.

“I think in two and a half years I’ve got grumpy with the team two or three times, maybe. The thing about it and it’s something I’ve learnt and I’ve reflected on it … it’s like when I used to get out, every now [and then] you’d throw your bat and you’d swear and you’d regret it straight after. What I’ve learnt is [that] emotion in sport is really important. What isn’t important is getting emotional … you’ve got to be very careful how you do that.

“There are different pressures that go with the job – you’ve just got to make sure you can control them. Hopefully, like in the Dettol ad, 99 per cent of the time I do. Every now and then you get a little bit emotional but my gosh I am human and my players are human as well.”

Langer addresses the Australian team at the SCG this week.

Langer addresses the Australian team at the SCG this week.Credit:Getty Images

Two and half years into the post, Langer has approached Australia’s COVID-19 summer as a very different head coach to the one who had just taken over in the aftermath of the Cape Town scandal when India were last here.

With viewers treated to a compelling look beneath the hood of the Australian team in The Test documentary, the challenges of Langer’s introduction to the post and first year were laid bare for all to see. Usman Khawaja told him he was being too negative and later that players were walking on eggshells. He kicked over a bin in the frantic final moments of the third Ashes Test at Headingley before immediately and amusingly picking it up and putting the empty water bottles that fell out of it back in.

Away from the doco, he got a little hot under the collar at a press conference at the SCG in January 2019 when queried about the selectors’ treatment of Maxwell. In classic Langer fashion he introduced himself to the reporter straight afterwards and made peace. But the pressure on him that summer was so intense it drove his wife Sue to tears.

With players and coaches living in a bubble and having had to quarantine upon re-entry to the country, you might think this season looms as the most difficult yet of the Langer era. He may not see his own family until April due to Western Australia’s hard border and his preference that they not have to serve time in quarantine if they leave and return there.

But ask the Australian opening batting great and what’s ahead looms as far more appealing than the summer when Virat Kohli’s team visited two years ago.

“My development as a coach and a person through going through some tough times has been huge. But also we’ve been together as a team for two and a half years,” Langer said.

“That first six months they were feeling out me, I was feeling out the players, we were trying to work out who we were going forward with. So there were huge challenges.

“There are going to be some challenges [this summer] but we’re well equipped to face those challenges because we’ve been together a long time. We’ve got incredibly capable people working behind the scenes to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.

Australian players have spoken about the mental rigours of quarantine.

Australian players have spoken about the mental rigours of quarantine.Credit:Wolter Peeters

“We’re in a much better position now than we were two and half years ago.”

Langer used the coronavirus-induced hiatus in the international cricket schedule this year well. He wrote a children’s book, Cricket – The Aussie Way, which has just been released, he read widely, listened to a stack of podcasts and generally rejuvenated.

It’s not nothing for someone who has spent much of the last 25 years on the road.

“I say this with great respect and compassion but the only thing I haven’t loved about COVID is COVID,” he said.

“Last year I think we were on the road for nearly 300 days for different things and through that England period [the World Cup and Ashes in 2019] I saw my family for two weeks in four and a half months.

“It was like a blessing, like a gift for our players. I was sleeping in my own bed, eating home-cooked meals, I was with my kids every day, I was in my garden training.

“So whilst I’m not going to see my family potentially until April, and it’ll probably be the first time ever that I haven’t been with my family for Christmas, I feel recharged and ready to go.”

How long that lasts for Australia’s coaches and players is the question. With international cricket back up and running, there is once again a busy calendar ahead next year, taking in, among other commitments, a return to South Africa for Test matches for the first time since the sandpaper scandal, a likely appearance in the first World Test Championship final at Lord’s and, for some, the Indian Premier League.

With the biosecurity and quarantining demands associated with travel and elite sport in a pre-vaccine world, the likes of Steve Smith, David Warner and Josh Hazlewood have already forecast that players will look to take breaks during 2021, such is the unsustainability of cricket in a bubble and its mental and emotional toll.

Langer is ready for that, and is already talking to players about it, the concern for their welfare paramount.

At the same time, he is just getting on with it himself. In his mind, aside from having to be trapped in a hotel room for two weeks at a time, there is not a great deal different to life as an international player now than there has been for a quarter of a century.

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“The hub life … in a sense we’ve done it our whole adult life, haven’t we?” Langer said. “When I first started playing I’d go to England and my wife never came to England. And they were long tours.

“My wife, who I’ve been going out with since I was 14 years old … throughout my whole career she came to England twice. Not during county cricket obviously, when we lived over there, but on Australian cricket tours. My wife came for two one-week trips on an England Ashes tour in 15 years. And she never went to any other country around the world to watch me play cricket because it never used to happen. It wasn’t the done thing.

“The only difference now is quarantine and with the hub life as we know there is less choice. But we’re also very lucky now the wives and partners and the kids can come into the hotel.

“It’s a choice we make. No one is making us do it. We’re making a few sacrifices but we’re still doing what we love doing. We’re putting smiles on people’s faces, we’re ensuring that the health of cricket around the world continues economically … it’s a good challenge and we’re all ready for it.”

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Carlton’s forgotten first rounder ready to go


Carlton are expected to make a serious tilt at the top eight in 2021 after adding Zac Williams, Adam Saad and Lachie Fogarty during the trade period.

However, they remain uncertain as to when key forward Charlie Curnow will be ready to resume full training after having a series of operations to repair a knee. His latest setback means he is not expected to start running until next year.

Meanwhile, Hawthorn expect young midfield gun James Worpel to hit the ground running after having shoulder surgery in September when first-to-fourth-year players return.

The 21-year-old who won Hawthorn’s best-and-fairest award in 2019 required an operation after he hurt his AC joint in round 16 and missed the final two games of the season.

Worpel returned from the club’s hub in Adelaide to have surgery in Melbourne, but has been back at Waverley Park ahead of the official resumption of training in recent weeks, with the club confirming his rehabilitation process has been successful with only a minor infection slowing his progress for a week in the past three months.

The Hawks are looking to rebound from a disappointing 2020 when they struggled to win after moving into a hub outside Victoria losing 11 of their final 13 games.

They added free agent Kyle Hartigan and Tom Phillips during the trade period and attempted to secure Braydon Preuss from Melbourne as a ruckman before he headed to the Giants after revealing that Jonathon Ceglar was battling a knee issue.

They will also be without key defender James Sicily for most of next season as he recovers from an ACL injury and will need to replace retired captain Ben Stratton with Jaeger O’Meara and Jack Gunston among the leading candidates to fill that role.

The club also lost Isaac Smith to Geelong, while James Frawley will play for St Kilda after initially retiring when the Hawks did not offer him a contract. Triple-premiership forward Paul Puopolo also retired.

Hawthorn have picks four, 24 and three picks in the 40s ahead of the national draft on December 9 and they will also have the right to match any bid on next generation academy graduate Connor Downie as they look to a new generation to take the Hawks forward.



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Wilson not ready for Wallabies leadership


Thinking more about cake than captaincy, young Wallabies star Harry Wilson says he’s not ready to be in the leadership mix.

There has been talk that the Wallabies should look to a new captain to lead them through to the 2023 World Cup, with Michael Hooper better served focusing on his own game.

The 29-year-old handed over the captaincy reins at the Waratahs for 2020 and had one of his best Super Rugby seasons.

Under Hooper, who became skipper in 2014, the Australians have a miserable record of 20 wins from 51 Tests, leading to talk that coach Dave Rennie should look for a fresh start.

As well as Hooper, only No.8 Wilson, halfback Nic White and lock Matt Philip have started each Test this year.

Injured playmaker Matt Toomua is a captaincy possibility but is almost two years older than Hooper.

Wilson turned 21 last Sunday and had a mini celebration with his Wallabies teammates serving up a chocolate cake as they started preparations for their final Tri Nations clash with Argentina on December 5.

Despite Hooper taking over as full-time skipper when he only 22, Wilson says he isn’t ready.

“Definitely not for the next few years,” Wilson said on Thursday.

“I’m just focused on trying to get my spot in the team each week.

“In this squad there are a lot of good leaders and there’s a lot of people who help out Hoops (Hooper) a lot so I’m just focused on trying to stay in the team.”

Wilson said it was a compliment that he could be considered as a future Australian captain but it wasn’t on his radar.

He said he had already eclipsed his own expectations this year by playing regular Test rugby.

“I’m just having the best time of my life at the moment playing for the Wallabies and that’s all I really want to do. I’m not focused on any leadership aspirations at the moment.

“I just want to keep playing good footy for my country and try to do it as long as I can.”

In team news, five-eighth James O’Connor is firming to return from injury for the final Pumas match at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium.

O’Connor trained with the team on Thursday and was rated a strong chance after missing the past three games with a knee and then foot injury.

The Wallabies are hoping for a big finish to try to secure the Tri Nations trophy.





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Aussie run-machine ready for the Indian bowlers out to take him down


Marnus Labuschagne knows the Indian bowlers will be coming for him this summer, so he’s spent six months getting ready for it.

The Queensland run machine has made a rapid ascension into the elite group of international batsmen, first through his Test exploits and now in the one-day arena where he has entrenched himself in the Australian side.

Labuschagne knows that with every hundred he scores against a red or white ball, and he has five in a short time, the target on his back, and his helmet, grows.

That’s why he expects the Indians will come to the ODI and Test series “well rehearsed” in their plans to curb his growing influence.

But for every bit of research the tourists have done on Labuschagne, he’s matched that by watching the Indian bowlers at work, using his time in a winter lockdown to prepare himself for every challenge set to be thrown his way this summer.

I would assume just like any other team that if someone was doing well we would be doing more research and trying to find out ways we can get them out, where they have been scoring runs. So they are going to come in well rehearsed,” Labuschagne said on Thursday, the eve of the opening ODI clash in Sydney.

“But that’s what the last six months have been for. I’ve had the last six months to think about how they are going to bowl, what they are going to do and how I am going to play them.

“They are coming prepared, no doubt. I am coming to the series making sure I am ready for them too.”

Labuschagne said he had watched his “fair share” of the Indian Premier League in recent months, zoning in on which bowlers were in form, assessing their strengths, and working through his own way of combating them.

He showed his readiness for the summer with two big Sheffield Shield hundreds for Queensland in Adelaide, a possible entree to more against India.

Those runs only heightened expectations for Labuschagne to continue his run spree against India.

He conceded he felt that pressure but said it was part and parcel of international cricket.

“I love the pressure. You need to like the pressure if you like international cricket because there is never really time you are not under pressure,” he said.

“If you are going well, you are under pressure to keep going well, and if you‘re not, you’re under pressure to go well. There’s never really a gap where you go ‘oh geez, this is really nice now’.”

The 26-year-old conceded preparation for the ODI series had been “different” while the Australian squad was split in half in Sydney because of quarantine restrictions.

But he said he had got all the work done he wanted and was ready to leap into what looms as a frantic few months of cricket.

“It feels like it’s gone a bit slow leading up. Everything is ticking along, but you just want the game to start,” Labuschagne said.

“Looking at the schedule, it’s going to ramp up really quick and get busy going from one-dayers to T20s to Test cricket, it’s going to happen in a short space of space of time.

“I’m just excited to get out there and play.”



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Joe Biden says US is ‘back and ready to lead’ as cabinet picks are introduced


US president-elect Joe Biden says his foreign policy agenda will see the United States retake its global leadership role and strengthen its alliances in the Asia-Pacific.

Speaking as he introduced his cabinet picks to the nation, Mr Biden said his selection for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, would rebuild morale and trust in the US State Department.

He said his team would pursue the belief “that America is strongest when it works with its allies”.

In addition to Mr Blinken, Mr Biden’s security team includes Obama White House veteran Jake Sullivan as national security adviser; veteran diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield as US ambassador to the United Nations; lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas to be homeland security secretary; and Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to serve as director of national intelligence.

Lisa Thomas-Greenfield was the former assistant secretary of state for African affairs.(AP: Carolyn Kaster)

Ms Haines, if confirmed in the Senate, will be the first woman to hold that post.

Former secretary of state John Kerry will be special envoy on climate change.

‘We can’t solve all of the world’s problems alone’

You view a man of Caucasian descent with grey hair wearing a navy suit and blue tie while talking at a lectern.
Antony Blinken says the US “needs to be working with other countries”.(AP: Carolyn Kaster)

Speaking about his calls with world leaders, Mr Biden said he had been struck by “how much they’re looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader over the Pacific, as well as the Atlantic, all across the world.”

He also vowed to strengthen alliances in the Asia-Pacific while touting the diplomatic experience of his team, which he said had secured “some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory” with American allies.

“That’s how we truly keep America safe. Without engaging in needless military conflicts, and our adversaries in check,” he said.

Mr Blinken also stressed the need to work with allies, who Mr Trump often made a target for public criticism as part of his “America First” approach to foreign policy.

“We need to be working with other countries, we need their cooperation, we need their partnership.”

Biden’s picks will face Republican Senate opposition

You view a Caucasian woman wearing a dark suit and yellow scarf talking into microphones at a lectern.
If confirmed in the Senate, Avril Haines would be the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence.(AP: Carolyn Kaster)

Mr Biden, who is due to take office on January 20, said he hoped the presently Republican-dominated Senate would give a prompt hearing to his nominees.

Mr Kerry and Mr Sullivan’s roles will not require Senate confirmation.

With the Senate’s balance of power hinging on two run-off races in Georgia that will be decided in January, some Senate Republicans have already expressed antipathy to Mr Biden’s picks as little more than an extension of the Obama administration.

Arkansas Senate Republican Tom Cotton labelled the picks as “panda huggers” who would go soft on China.

Florida Republican Marco Rubio, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that will consider Mr Blinken’s nomination, also poured cold water over Mr Biden’s picks.

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But Mr Biden’s transition team hailed the president-elect’s selection as a group of “crisis-tested leaders”, be ready to hit the ground running in the new administration.

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John Barron explains the transition of power to president-elect Joe Biden.

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Blues ready for unprecedented AFLW season


Carlton are ready to begin the AFLW season in quarantine hubs but are confident it won’t come to that.

Women’s footballers could be forced away from home for the upcoming season as the league attempts to get the semi-professional competition back up and running.

With the COVID-19 situation improving across Australia, chances of a regular fly-in, fly-out fixture are increasing.

But the Blues, who were denied a shot a maiden AFLW premiership when the season was cancelled in March ahead of their preliminary final against North Melbourne, are taking an anywhere, anytime mentality into 2021.

“We’re ready to play tomorrow, we’re ready to go,” Blues coach Daniel Harford said.

“If it needs to be in a hub for four, five or six weeks, however long it may be, we’ll make it happen.

“That’s a last resort, in what we’re led to believe at the moment.”

A fixture is still at least a week away from being released, but the nine-round season is expected to get underway in early February.

Adding to the complexity of staging a season is most AFLW players have jobs outside of football and might struggle financially if they are away for long periods of time.

But star Blues forward Tayla Harris is confident most players will be up for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of heading away if it eventuates.

“I love playing footy and I love playing for the (Blue) baggers,” she said.

“If I get to hang out with my friends for an extended period of time I’m fine with that.”





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When You’re Ready for a Big Career Move


November 23, 2020

Sometimes you want to make a career change. Not the next logical step on your current career path, like a more senior title or taking on more responsibility, but a leap to a new path altogether. Research shows that women are less likely to put themselves out there for opportunities unless they feel completely qualified. We want to tick all the boxes before we raise our hand for that exciting new job or a stretch role in our current company. But why should we limit ourselves?

One woman’s decision to make a bold career move prompts us to explore what it takes to transition into a role that’s really different from what you’re doing now. Then, we talk with an expert about how we can clarify our goals, prepare to make a leap, and articulate our proposal to a boss. She also explains how to respond when we don’t get an immediately enthusiastic response.

Guest:

Hana Ayoub is an executive and career coach.

Resources:

A complete transcript of this episode will be available by November 30.



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All Blacks ready for redemption rugby Test


The All Blacks say they’re not feeling more pressure from the “haters” than they already put on themselves ahead of Saturday’s crucial Tri Nations clash with Argentina.

The Kiwis are out for redemption at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium after suffering their first loss to the Pumas.

That came on the back of a loss to the Wallabies – their first consecutive defeats since 2011.

Courtesy of the Wallabies-Pumas draw last round, the All Blacks are still in the hunt to add the Tri Nations trophy to the Bledisloe Cup, with victory required in their last Test of the year.

Despite their two losses, the teams are all on six points with New Zealand on top of the ladder due to two bonus points and a superior points-differential.

Veteran Sam Whitelock said there was always pressure – internally and externally – to win, so they wouldn’t approach Saturday’s match any differently.

“For us as All Blacks, we always put ourselves under immense pressure, whether win, lose or draw and I think we always demand of ourselves that we go out and play really well,” Whitelock said on Monday

“There is a bit of pressure there at the moment but the reality is that there’s pressure every week and you have to embrace it.”

His teammate Patrick Tuipulotu said they were aware that their record had put new coach Ian Foster in the firing line, and he felt they owed him the win as much as they owed it to themselves.

“As the coach he’s always the face of the squad and if we lose two in a row (to Argentina) he’s always going to get the blame,” the lock said.

“In this day and age you’re going to get a lot haters, as we call it, but we just move on.

“It’s on us to get a result and perform well.”

With two weeks to stew over the 25-15 Pumas scoreline, Whitelock said it had also given them time to have work through the lacklustre performance and really fine-tune for their game.

“It has been good to use last week differently and we’ve had extra time to have those little conversations that during a normal Test are hard to have because you don’t have time,” he said.

“We’re in a better spot going into this last game and we’re excited to get out there and show the improvements we’ve made over the last eight or nine days.”





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Manhattan ready for revenge



In the early days of the Trump presidency, New Yorkers protesting against the actions of the new government would sometimes appeal to Ivanka Trump or Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, as allies of “the resistance”.



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Forest restoration: How ready is India?


Forest landscapes play a critical role in tackling climate change and provide a broad range of ecosystem services. Article 5 in the 2015 Paris Agreement urges countries to act on deforestation and forest degradation for enhancing sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases. This reflects in the climate pledges of most countries, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which include those from the forestry sector to tackle climate change.

The Government of Germany and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) launched the voluntary Bonn Challenge in 2011 with the target of restoring 150 million hectares (mha) of degraded and deforested landscapes by 2020 and 350 mha by 2030. India joined the Bonn Challenge in 2015 with a pledge to restore 21 mha of degraded and deforested land. This was raised to target of 26 mha by 2030 during the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification Conference held in Delhi in September 2019.

Moreover, India’s NDC target mentions creation of an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent from additional forest and tree cover until 2030. These national targets on restoration support implementation of national priorities on Sustainable Development Goals while contributing to the achievement of international commitments on climate change, biodiversity and land degradation.

Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) is a long-term process to regain ecological functionality, enhance human well-being in deforested or degraded landscapes and deliver a broad range of goods and services for a wide range of stakeholders and across different land-uses. Given this global and national momentum there are several ongoing and planned initiatives by various actors on FLR in India.

Coordinated implementation

However, effective implementation of these FLR initiatives calls for establishing common understanding and coordinated implementation approaches on FLR in India. Key aspects of FLR in India — such as defining and identifying landscapes for FLR, establishing baseline, monitoring, as well as stakeholders and institutional arrangements — need to be arrived at if India is to meet its international and national commitments.

Currently, there are several definitions and figures regarding FLR potential which demonstrates a need to identify or develop standard documents with common definitions and methods on FLR in India. The Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas (2016) by Space Applications Centre (SAC), ISRO, identifies 96.4 m ha as undergoing the process of desertification/land degradation. This is almost 30 per cent of India’s geographical area.

Forest Survey of India’s reports identify 63 m ha of potential areas for restoration across different categories, namely, open forest, recently impaired forests, cultural wastelands, agro-forestry plantations, and potential for plantations along roads and railway tracks. However, remote sensing-based area delineation can only point towards potential areas for FLR. It’s the situation on ground which will determine what can be done for landscape restoration.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and IUCN India have constituted a Bonn Challenge Consultative Committee with a view to guide the progress and achievements in respect of commitments under the Bonn Challenge. This committee could steer the process of providing guidance and aligning the vast amount of literature available on definitional aspects on landscapes and restoration activities, thereby reducing ambiguity for FLR implementation in India.

Another concern is around establishing a baseline for FLR to demonstrate transformational change and assess progress against business as usual scenario. Baseline year could be considered as 2011, the year when the Bonn Challenge was launched, or 2015 when India made the Bonn Challenge pledge. It may also be considered appropriate to consider the year when an individual FLR initiative starts implementation of activities as the baseline year. In the absence of this clarity, achievement of various initiatives on FLR will be interpreted differently.

Choice of indicators

Monitoring and reporting are important to understand what worked and what did not, to better support adaptive management and see how local communities benefit from restoration. Choice of indicators and their measurement depend on many variables including technical capabilities, financial resources and specific goals, among others. Proceeding with monitoring in a low data environment might be the key challenge.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, it would be wise to utilise and enrich existing national monitoring frameworks on which significant amount of capacity has already been developed. The Green India Mission (GIM) monitoring framework with its simple and broad indicators could be one such starting point.

The question also arises on stakeholders and institutional arrangements required at the landscape level for FLR. Social benefits under FLR would differ from place to place and are best decided by stakeholders affected by such initiatives. Adequate institutions have been developed over the past three decades under the Joint Forest Management, the Forest Protection Committee, Van Panchayats and Gram Sabhas for bringing stakeholders together at the ground level, in addition to district and State level coordination committees. To ensure permanence of restoration, efforts need to be made towards forces driving stakeholder participation and sharing of responsibilities.

Present day forest management in India has a three-fold objective, which should guide FLR in India as well. The first is managing forest for water, which includes enhancing groundwater recharge as well as maintaining surface flows and sub-surface flow in rivers and springs. This also leads to other co-benefits such as reduction in forest fires.

The second is managing forests as a carbon sink. And, third, managing forests for ensuring livelihood and sustenance of millions of people dependent on forests. Clarity on objectives and removing ambiguity on key aspects will be essential for India to achieve forest related national and international commitments.

Burnwal is Advisor, and Bharat is Technical Expert, at German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) India



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