Community based forest management in the Himalayas III

Description

This project uses and expands unique time-series data to study household-level climate change adaptation strategies in Nepal. The project is jointly developed and implemented by the Institute of Forestry, the Department of Forest Research and Survey, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Nepal and the Global Development Unit at the Department of Food and Ressource Economics, Copenhagen University.

The project aims to contribute towards improved livelihoods through sustainable and equitable management of forest resources in Nepal, and follows a two-pronged approach:  (i) providing improved understanding of dynamic livelihood-forest interactions in response to climate change through integrated studies in three physiographic zones of Nepal, and (ii) developing increased capacity for undertaking high quality climate related research on forest and natural resources management at key forestry research institutions in Nepal.

A long-term study is implemented to reach the research objectives; it takes place in 3 sites since phase I, a 4th site was added in 2008 (phase II)

Research methodologies include livelihood analysis, institutional analysis and social-ecological modelling. Data collection methods include social household surveys, forest surveys, semi-structured interviews and dendrochronological measurements.

Capacity building is mainly based on joint research development, implementation and dissemination. Additional capacity building activities include topical trainings (e.g. methods for dendrochronological analysis) and trainings in general academic skills (scientific paper writing), competitive allocation of small grants to Strategic and Small-scale Nepalese faculty research and PhD scholarships.

This third phase of the project benefits greatly from capacity building activities undertaken in previous phases - institutional procedures for research at the Institute of Forestry have been streamlined and support implementation of high-quality competitive research.

Target: 10 Nepalese PhD students, 20 international papers (10 by PhD students), 3 regional papers, 10 national papers, establishment of unique time-series socio-economic and biophysical databases documenting changes in livelihoods and forest resources in case areas practicing community based forest management.
 

Outputs

Completion Report - Summary:

Project results include research and capacity building. Joint research was undertaken in four sites across the physiographic zones of Nepal where forests are managed by local communities. The data collected includes (i) the third round of quarterly interviews used to construct a total of 2162 individual total annual household income accounts, including 427 with three waves and 247 with two waves; (ii) the third round of repeated measurements in 240 randomly located permanent forest sample plots that yielded information on forest growth from 2010 to 2013; and (iii) aerial and satellite image data analysis that yielded long-term changes in area under forest cover. Environmental resources were found to be important to all, and with income equalizing effects. In 2012 the average relative cash and subsistence contribution from forest and non-forest environmental income to rural livelihoods was 9%. Forests appear to have neither served as a temporary income gap remedy, nor to have provided a pathway out of poverty. Part of the reason such functions were not observed may be the quite rigid and conservative national restrictions on forest 5 of 16 product harvest and the contribution of forest income to rural livelihoods could have contributed much more to rural livelihoods within limits of sustainable forest management, as documented by data from the permanent sample plots. The harvest of woody biomass was within ecologically sustainable limits and the research found local forest managers to be knowledgeable and inclined towards sustained forest management. In terms of capacity building, 3 PhD studies were completed, 1 PhD thesis submitted. 13 small-scale research projects, granted through a competitive process, were completed by Nepalese partner researchers. Total published scientific papers: 19 international, 3 regional, 11 national. 1 joint scientific paper is currently accepted for publication and a further 7 manuscripts have been submitted for international publication, 8 are in preparation.