Supporting Communities to Conserve Forest Biodiversity and Environment

A pilot initiative in Shivamandir VDC, Nawalparasi, Nepal

This project consists of a joint initiative between the Asian Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources (ANSAB) and our foundation. By supporting local forest-dependent communities, Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung is pursuing the goal of establishing a pilot case for the conservation of forest biodiversity and protection of environment within the fragile transition zone of the Terai plains and Himalayan foothills. In the long term, the  recognition as a biosphere reserve can be a possibility.

Background

The project

Background 
Representing only 0.1% of the earth’s surface area, Nepal is home to more than 2.6% of all the flowering plant, 5.1% of gymnosperm, 9.3% of all bird, and 4.5% of all mammal species. Nepal has 35 forest types, 75 vegetation types and 118 ecosystem types (HMGN & MFSC, 2002).

This unique and important biodiversity of Nepal is at threat! With population growth and rising needs for income generation, intensified land-use practices have been adopted over the last decades. Particularly the forests inside the Terai and foothill region are subject to high anthropogenic pressure, leading to an alarming rate of degradation, continuous deforestation, and the loss of unique and valuable biodiversity. Slash and burn farming, fire-induced clearing of understorey, unintentional forest fires, detrimental and inefficient livestock management, unmanaged harvesting of forest products, and poaching of wild animals are imposing unbearable stresses onto these rich ecosystems. Incidences of forest fire are rampant; towards the end of the dry season skies are overcast with haze from forest fires and dust of bare soils.

Many old-established communities still live in a sense of balance with their environment. The integrity of their forests plays an integral part in their life. Traditional knowledge encompasses the utilization of a large array of forest products as food and medicine, and for the crafting of tools, materials, and clothes. Well-managed and protected forests are and will be the greatest security for these communities. Their traditional knowledge about the use of forest resources bears great potentials for the future development of conservation-oriented enterprises.

In the face of the rapidly changing environmental and socio-economic landscape, it is vital for these communities to receive support and to develop new paradigms for the conservation of their forests. Trends of rural economic development need to be shifted away from exploitative practices towards sustainable and conservation-orientated income options by addressing poverty, conflicts over land management rights, needs for education, environmental awareness, lack of skills and capacities, and external market demands.

The Project 
In this project, we are working with 4 forest dependent communities in the Nepali foothill region. Within the framework of the Nepali Community Forest Programme, we assist them in the process of obtaining community forest management rights over their local forests, restoration of community forests, and the creation of local conservation-oriented enterprises. Our intention is to design an economically rewarding model for sustainable forests management and conservation in this region.

At the same time, we are working with the local authorities on the establishment of a regional forest fire prevention and control scheme, and are incorporating corresponding measures into the management concept of our project site.

Objectives

  • Assess the state of the local ecosystem and the threats to conservation
  • Hand-over of forest to local communities and restoration of degraded forest areas
  • Design and field-test key interventions to create economic incentives for conservation
  • Raise the awareness on the importance of biodiversity and the protection of nature
  • Establish a regional forest fire prevention and control initiative
  • Synthesize lesson learned and develop a model for up-scaling

Together with the UNESCO office in Nepal, we will carry out an evaluation to determine the possibility of establishing biosphere reserves in Nepal. Our project area will play a pioneering role here! 

Further information: www.ansab.org


Preparation of cultivation beds / Papaya plantation of the municipality on public land