Supporting communities to conserve forest biodiversity and environment: A pilot initiative in Shivamandir VDC, Nawalparasi, Nepal

Starting Date: July 2013
Ending Date: December 2015
Location: Nawalparasi, Nepal
Donor(s): Manfred Hermsen Stiftung (MHS), Germany
Implementation Partner(s): NA

ANSAB and Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung Foundation (MHS) have jointly developed a program and been working since 2013 with the aim to establish in cooperation with local Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs) and other stakeholders a pilot case for sustainable landuse and forest conservation at the Churiya Hills in Nawalpur, Nepal. The experiences and outcomes of this pilot project have shown that community-based forest conservation provides dual benefit of biodiversity conservation and local economic development in one of the highly threatened landscapes, while maintaining social harmony, equity and justice. Major outputs attained through this project include: 
 
  1. Assessed the state of the local ecosystem, identified threats to conservation, and effectively restored and protected 882 ha of forest that has been highly threatened and in parts severely degraded at the start of the project.
  2. The technical support and capacity training provided by ANSAB to the local communities resulted in the official formation of 4 CFUGs, and the collaborative development of forest management and restoration plans. This, in turn, enabled the CFUGs to formally acquire use rights over 882 ha of their forest.
  3. Designed and field-tested key interventions to create economic incentives for conservation. The interventions were: i) plant nursery development and plantation of timber and fodder trees in community forests and private lands; ii) conservation-oriented enterprise development, such as ecotourism and sustainable use of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs); iii) cultivation and restoring natural stocks of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs); iv) organic farming on community and private land and marketing of the products; and v) management of the impacts of livestock on the forests by way of introducing fodder plants and trees in private land and along the boundaries of the community forests.
  4. Raised awareness on the importance of biodiversity and protection of nature through school students, youth clubs, women groups and CFUGs.
  5. Demonstrated forest fire prevention and control measures through training and mass media campaign, silvicultural practices, including fire-line construction inside the forests and formation of rapid response team.
Major lessons learnt from the implementation of conservation activities so far include: i) communities become more motivated to conserve natural resources once they receive assurance of use rights and get direct benefits from these resources; ii) introduction of suitable alternative income generation activities to the forest dependent communities lead to reduce forest degradation and deforestation; iii) raising awareness, adding value to NTFPs, and providing essential technical capacities to the local people lead to the reduction of annual burning of the understory and forest fires. Building on the achievements made and lessons learnt so far, ANSAB and MHS are jointly working to carry out preparation activities around the area for the development of a conservation program along with some community support activities for meeting immediate conservation needs and alternative income options.
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