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Unravelling the Local Dynamics of Increasing Fires in Community Forests of Mid-hills of Nepal

Tiwari, S., Paudel, N.S., Sze, J. and Karki, R. 2022. Unravelling the Local Dynamics of Increasing Fires in Community Forests of Mid-hills of Nepal. Journal of Forest and Livelihood21(1): 46-59.

Abstract

Forest fire is a global phenomenon and is having unprecedented impacts across continents. Nepal is not an exception to the increasing impacts, where hundreds of acres of forests is lost, or damaged, to forest fire. The severity of forest fire is on the rise in recent decades, wherein community forests have witnessed effects of the calamity over the recent years. This paper investigates the local factors behind the increasing frequency and severity of forest fires in mid-hills of Nepal. The paper draws on three separate cases from the research sites, involving five years of ‘Enhancing Livelihoods from Improved Forest Management in Nepal (EnLiFT2)’ project’s team observations in Bhumlu rural municipality and Chautara Sangachokgadhi municipality of Kavrepalanchok and Sindhupalchok district respectively. This is complemented by informant interviews taken with 25 individuals. The paper primarily examines forest-people-fire relationship to demonstrate the weakening collective actions among the community forest user groups (CFUGs) as an important factor for increasing forest fires in the mid-hills of Nepal. We found the changing forest-people relationship, weakening CFUG governance, and increasing regulatory impositions as important factors driving the alienation of users from the forest thus, undermining collective action in forest management. We argue that strengthening collective action on better forest management to prevent forest fire is crucial over adopting mitigation techniques. The alienation of forest user groups from their forest in the changing socioeconomic and forest management context can be addressed to strengthening the collective action for better forest management and ultimately to forest fire prevention and management.

Community entrepreneurship: Lessons from Nepal’s Chaubas community forestry sawmill

Shrestha, K.K., Paudel, G., Ojha, H., Paudel, N.S., Nuberg, I. and Cedamon, E. 2022. Community entrepreneurship: Lessons from Nepal’s Chaubas community forestry sawmill. Forest Policy and Economics, 141, August 2022, 102779. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2022.102779

Abstract

Nepal’s community forestry is well studied and widely acknowledged, but its experience of Community Forestry Enterprises (CFEs) as a form of community entrepreneurship has not been part of a robust scholarly debate. While CFEs are considered a means to enhance community livelihoods and reduce poverty, a growing body of literature suggests that it is difficult to establish, grow and sustain economically profitable and socially beneficial CFEs. Across the developing world, many CFEs have emerged, functioned for certain periods of time, and then disappeared. In view of this, several conceptual questions have been raised about the viability and sustainability of CFEs. The aim of this paper is to investigate why CFEs fail and what could make them succeed. By analyzing the Chaubas-Bhumlu Community Sawmill of Nepal (hereafter, Chaubas CFE), this paper demonstrates that CFEs do not necessarily become successful, despite good access to natural resources, reasonable business plans, and significant start-up capital and support from external stakeholders. The Chaubas CFE struggled to sustain the enterprise in the face of changing government policies and politics, persistent conflictual community level dynamics, and the lack of local business capacity. We argue that the confidence on communities to engage in the business of natural resources is not well founded, especially in the context of complex social, political, and environmental realities that underpin business development and operation.

Education and sustainable forest management in the mid-hills of Nepal

Bardsley, D., Cedamon, E., Paudel, N.S., Nuberg, I. 2022. Education and sustainable forest management in the mid-hills of Nepal. Journal of Environmental Management, 319(1). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.115698

Abstract

There are only limited policy levers that governments can use to facilitate sustainable development within remote rural communities. Often marginalised communities are almost uniquely dependent on the exploitation of local natural resources to generate livelihoods. We examine how formal education, both of household heads and more broadly across households, influences perceived opportunities for the conception, management and utilisation of community forests in the mid-hills of Nepal. As societies transition, more sophisticated economies will require education to facilitate effective natural resource management. New challenges are emerging for community forestry as a result. The quantitative socio-ecological data analysis suggests that while the roles of community forests are evolving, education is key to household participation in commercial opportunities. Formal education in the household is shown to be associated with a greater recognition of the importance of the commercialisation of forest timber and food products, and the desire to participate in further commercial forest activities. Education in the household also provides respondents with a more sophisticated understanding of new opportunities, ecosystem services and risks associated with the forest, and the abilities to actively manage the forest and influence planning. Formal education empowers people to become local experts in forest management and participate in new opportunities that forests provide. Any failure to examine household education levels may be neglecting key sociological data on the importance of education for sustainable development outcomes. In the rural margins of the mid-hills of Nepal there are opportunities for further aligning formal education with forestry policy.

Abstract

Multipurpose and ecological forest management frameworks are being increasingly applied across the Global North on public lands. However, the discourse and practice of public forest management in much of the developing world are captured by extreme approaches of single-crop (usually timber) production and strict canopy-cover protection, as exemplified by the case of Nepal. We combine insights from field research with published documents and trace the consequences of prevalent management regimes on the ecology and silviculture of Nepal’s public forests. We find that managing for either extreme of timber production or forest protection can degrade forest ecosystems and affect their capacity to address the increasing number of demands placed on them. A history of narrow management outlooks has erased indigenous silvicultural practices and discouraged the development of novel silvicultural solutions to address today’s environmental concerns. Government initiatives advancing singular objectives, such as Nepal’s Scientific Forest Management program, often crumble under political resistance. Forest users in Nepal are widely interested in generating diverse benefits from their forests, including non-commercial products and services, suggesting a mandate for multipurpose management. We present a decentralized adaptive modality of multipurpose management featuring a silviculture that more closely matches the ecology of forests.

Pathways to forest wealth in Nepal, Australian Forestry

K. Nuberg, K. K. Shrestha and A. G. Bartlett. 2019. Pathways to forest wealth in Nepal. Australian Forestry, 82:sup1, 106-120. DOI: 10.1080/00049158.2019.1614805

Abstract

Nepal is one of the leading countries embracing community forestry with about 45% of households being members of community forest user groups. However, there has been a failure to deliver the full potential of forest wealth because of a lack of proper silvicultural management, a constraining policy environment and a complex socio-institutional context. Meanwhile, mid-hill agriculture has not kept pace with the changing economy and out-migration. Food insecurity is rife in a landscape of under-utilised forests and under-utilised land. Australian development assistance between 1978 and 2006 supported the establishment of 21 000 ha of community forests and significant contributions to community forest institutions. In the light of the under-performance of this sector, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research established the project Enhancing Food Security and Livelihoods through Agroforestry and Community Forestry in Nepal, locally known as EnLiFT, which ran from 2013 to 2018. This paper aims to explain Australia’s contribution to Nepal’s forestry, with a focus on more recent achievements supporting pathways to realise the potential wealth in Nepal’s forests. It begins with an outline of the early Australian support and origins of community forestry in Nepal via the Nepal–Australia Forestry Project, and then the current status of community forestry. It then describes the research process of the EnLiFT project starting with new conceptual models and methods such as: (1) the Pathways Approach to link forest and food security; (2) the EnLiFT Bioeconomic Model of the Farm-Forest Interface; (3) the Silvo-Institutional Model for Scientific Forest Management; (4) Active and Equitable Forest Management; (5) Rapid Silvicultural Appraisal; (6) the Strategic and Inclusive Planning process and (7) EnLiFT Policy Labs. We also highlight many significant development impacts of EnLiFT. The demonstration and training of silvicultural methods released considerable forest wealth into the community. This occurred around the time of the 2015 earthquake when timber was in need for reconstruction. It was also associated with the re-vitalisation of a defunct sawmill by facilitation of community-private partnership. It was responsible for turning the public debate from resistance to acceptance of scientific forest management. It also developed inclusive planning processes for the revision of operational plans of community forests. On privately owned land, EnLiFT demonstrated: (1) the possibility for marked and rapid changes in livelihoods from relatively simple agroforestry interventions based on horticultural commodities and tree fodders; (2) an even greater potential for livelihood enhancement through private forestry and (3) articulated the current institutional and regulatory constraints on sale of trees from private land. We conclude by highlighting the contributions of EnLiFT in policy debate which led to policy outcomes that further the improvement of community forestry, agroforestry and bringing under-utilised land back into productive use.

Contribution of integrated forest-farm system on household food security in the mid-hills of Nepal: assessment with EnLiFT model

E. D. Cedamon, I. Nuberg, R. Mulia, B. Lusiana, Y. R. Subedi and K. K. Shrestha. 2019. Contribution of integrated forest-farm system on household food security in the mid-hills of Nepal: assessment with EnLiFT model, Australian Forestry, 82:sup1, 32-44, DOI: 10.1080/00049158.2019.1610212

Abstract

About half of the households in the mid-hills of Nepal are severely food insecure, and the development of agriculture and forestry sectors could hold keys to reduce food insecurity and achieve other sustainable development goals. This paper presents results from a bio-economic model, Enhancing Livelihood from Improved Forest Management in Nepal (EnLiFT), that estimates a Food Security Index (FSI) across six household types in rural Nepal simulating selected agroforestry livelihood interventions. The FSI is calculated as the ratio between household expenditure capacity and household poverty threshold based on the national per capita poverty threshold. Market-oriented timber production shows strong potential to increase food security across all household types with greater benefits accruing to land-rich households. For land-poor households, remittances from household members working abroad remains the strongest route to their food security despite the underutilisation of agricultural land due to adult male labour outmigration. A drawback of market-oriented timber production is the long-term nature of timber production. As EnLiFT assumes that timber can only be harvested from Year 9, complimentary livelihood strategies are required to address food insecurity in the short term. Complimentary agroforestry interventions with the strongest potential to improve food security include combined high-yielding fodder production and commercial goat production, and production of non-timber forest products. Commercial vegetable production does not improve food security because of the high input costs. Currently, farmers in Nepal cannot yet fully obtain the financial benefits of agroforestry due to the complex and unsupportive forestry regulations surrounding harvesting and marketing of planted trees. While land-poor households are seen to rely on foreign remittances for food security, it is argued that policies encouraging use of remittances to promote agroforestry businesses is needed.

From Forests to Food Security: Pathways in Nepal’s Community Forestry

Karki, R., Shrestha, K.K., Ojha, H., Paudel, N.S., Khatri, D.B., Nuberg, I. and Adhikary, A. 2017. From Forests to Food Security: Pathways in Nepal’s Community Forestry. Small-scale Forestry. DOI 10.1007/s11842-017-9377-y.

Abstract

There is an increasing recognition of the contribution of forests to food security of poor and marginalized people. However, empirical findings remain limited on how forests contribute to food security. Drawing on four case studies of community forestry in Nepal, this paper discusses pathways through which forests are contributing to food security needs of local communities. The evidence presented here was gathered through four years of action research and draws insights from the past 40 years of Nepal’s community forestry practice, which is often regarded as a successful case of conservation and development. It is shown that, there are four distinct pathways through which community forests contribute to food security as a source of: 1] income and employment; 2] inputs to increase food production; 3] directly for food; and 4] renewable energy for cooking. Despite emerging pathways linking forest management to food systems at the local level, forestry policies and institutions have neither explicitly recognized nor strengthened the linkage between forest and food security. The paper highlights that there is a need for a fundamental shift in thinking from the conventional notion of ‘forests for soil conservation’ to ‘sustainable forest management for food security’.

How understanding of rural households’ diversity can inform agroforestry and community forestry programs in Nepal

E. Cedamon, I. Nuberg & K. K. Shrestha. 2017. How understanding of ruralhouseholds’ diversity can inform agroforestry and community forestry programs in Nepal, Australian Forestry, DOI: 10.1080/00049158.2017.1339237

Abstract
Socio-economic diversity can help to bring about innovative development in agroforestry practices. The diversity of households in the mid-Nepal hills was analysed using survey data from 521 randomly selected households in six villages. A cluster analysis derived the following household typology based on socio-economic variablesType 1: resource-poor Brahmin/Chhetri; Type 2: resource-poor Janajati; Type 3: resource-rich mixed-caste households; Type 4: resource-rich Brahmin/Chhetri; Type 5: resource-rich Janajati; Type 6: resource-poor Dalit households. The analysis revealed that social status (caste/ethnicity), household status on foreign employment and landholding are strong predictors of household segmentation in rural Nepal. This paper suggests revision of existing wellbeing ranking approaches using these socio-economic variables for more inclusive and equitable agroforestry and community forestry outcomes.

Agricultural land underutilisation in the hills of Nepal: Investigating socio-environmental pathways of change

Ojha, H.R., Shrestha, K.K., Subedi, Y.R., Shah, R. Nuberg, I., Heyojoo, B., Cedamon, E., Rigg, J., Tamang, S. Paudel, K.P., Malla, Y. and McManus, P. 2017. Agricultural land underutilisation in the hills of Nepal: Investigating socio-environmental pathways of change.  Elsevier.  156-172.

Abstract

Why should a parcel of agricultural land be abandoned when there is a scarcity of food? In this paper, we address this question in relation to the hills of Nepal, where agricultural land is being abandoned at an unprecedented rate, despite looming food scarcity. Responding to studies that have highlighted land abandonment trends, we conducted in-depth case studies in two of Nepal’s hill districts to understand how land abandonment is taking place, and under what circumstances. Using an interdisciplinary lens and transcending linear models of agrarian change which attribute land abandonment to one or more prominent factors, our study unravels complex, cross-scalar processes, involving the interaction among social forces and environmental factors which lead to land underutilisation. The paper shows that land underutilisation happens through what we term ‘socio-environmental pathways’, which operate across scales, yet are deeply rooted in local dynamics of agrarian change. These pathways are triggered by, and embroiled within, three wider socio-economic and political dynamics in contemporary Nepal, namely: socio-cultural changes that favour out-migration; evolving economic opportunities that make farmingless profitable; and a policy context in which the gravity of the land abandonment challenge goes unrecognized. The framework of ‘socio-environmental pathways’ applied here also advances a theoretical lens to explain agrarian change in a way that integrates multiple scales and multiple sectors,emphasising a thoroughly empirical approach. Finally, we identify key policy implications of this research on livelihoods and sustainable development.

Adaptation factors and futures of agroforestry systems in Nepal

Cedamon, E., Nuberg, I., Pandit, B.H. and  Shrestha, K.K. 2017. Adaptation factors and futures of agroforestry systems in Nepal.  Springer.

Abstract

Farmers in Nepal mid-hills have practiced agroforestry for generations as main source or supplement of timber, firewood and fodder from government forests. The nature and extent of agroforestry practice is being challenged by rapid social and economic change particularly in the recent rise of labour out-migration and remittance income. Understanding is required of the critical factors that influence farmers in the way they adapt agroforestry to their circumstances. This paper analyses the relationship of households’ livelihood resources and agroforestry practice to identify trajectories of agroforestry adaptation to improve livelihood outcomes. Using data from a survey of 668 households, it was found that landholding, livestock holding and geographic location of farmers are key drivers for agroforestry adaptation. A multinomial logistic regression model showed that in addition to these variables, household income, household-remittance situation (whether the household is receiving remittance or not) and caste influence adaptation of agroforestry practice. The analysis indicates that resource-poor households are more likely to adapt to terraced-based agroforestry while resource-rich households adapt to woodlot agroforestry. Appropriate agroforestry interventions are: (1) develop simple silvicultural regimes to improve the quality and productivity of naturally regenerating timber on under-utilised land; (2) develop a suite of tree and groundcover species that can be readily integrated within existing terrace-riser agroforestry practices; (3) acknowledge the different livelihood capitals of resource-poor and resource-rich groups and promote terrace-riser and woodlot agroforestry systems respectively to these groups; and (4) develop high-value fodder production systems on terrace-riser agroforestry, and also for non-arable land. The analysis generates important insights for improving agroforestry policies and practices in Nepal and in
many developing countries.

Reframing community forest governance for food security in Nepal

Khatri, D., Shrestha, L., Ojha, H., Paudel, G., Paudel, N. and Pain, A. 2016. Reframing community forest governance for food security in Nepal, 1-9.

Abstract

The growing challenge of food insecurity in the Global South has called for new research on the contribution of forests to food security. However, even progressive forest management institutions such as Nepal’s community forestry programme have failed to address this issue. We analyse Nepal’s community forestry programme and find that forest policies and local institutional practices have historically evolved to regulate forests either as sources of timber or as a means of biodiversity conservation, disregarding food security outcomes for local people. Disciplinary divisions between forestry and the agriculture sector have limited the prospect of strengthening forest–food security linkages. We conclude that the policy and legislative framework and formal bureaucratic practices are influenced by ‘modern forestry science’, which led to community forestry rules and practices not considering the contribution of forests to food security. Furthermore, forestry science has a particularly narrow focus on timber production and conservation. We argue for the need to recognise the importance of local knowledge and community practices of using forests for food. We propose adaptive and transformational approaches to knowledge generation and the application of such knowledge in order to support institutional change and policy reform and to enable landscape-specific innovations in forest–food linkages.

Rapid Silviculture Appraisal to Characterise Stand and Determine Silviculture Priorities of Community Forests in Nepal.

Cedamon, E., Nuberg, I., Paudel, G., Basyal, M., Shrestha, K., Paudel, N., 2016. Rapid Silviculture Appraisal to Characterise Stand and Determine Silviculture Priorities of Community Forests in Nepal. Small-scale Forestry, 1-24.

Abstract

Community forestry in Nepal is an example of a successful participatory forest management program. Developments in community forestry in four decades have focused on the social and governance aspects with little focus on the technical management of forests. This paper presents a silviculture description of community forests and provides silviculture recommendations using a rapid silviculture appraisal (RSA) approach. The RSA, which is a participatory technique involving local communities in assessing forests and silviculture options, is a simple and cost-effective process to gather information and engage forest users in the preparation of operational plans that are relevant to their needs. The RSA conducted on selected community forests in Nepal’s Mid-hills region shows that forests are largely comprised of dominant crowns of one or two species. The majority of studied community forests have tree densities below 500 stems per hectare as a consequence of traditional forest management practices but the quality and quantity of the trees for producing forest products are low. Silviculture options preferred by forest users generally are those which are legally acceptable, doable with existing capacities of forest users and generate multiple forest products. For sustainable production of multiple forest products, the traditional forest management practices have to be integrated with silviculture-based forest management system.

Feminization of Agriculture and its Implications for Food Security in Rural Nepal

Tamang, S., Paudel, K.P. and Shrestha, K.K. 2014. Feminization of Agriculture and its Implications for Food Security in Rural Nepal. Journal of Forest and Livelihood. 12(1): 20-32

Abstract

The rural Nepal is going through unprecedented demographic, socioeconomic and environmental changes. There is a growing pattern of outmigration of male population from villages to urban areas and overseas in search of better opportunities. This is mainly due to the poor economic development processes that could not generate adequate income and employment opportunities at home, political and economic changes, and globalization, concomitant with attractive employment opportunities offered outside the country. Simultaneously, rural communities are facing the disincentives of worsening security in villages, employment opportunities, and subsistence farming becoming less and less rewarding and unable in meeting their basic needs. This has led to a situation where women, in addition to looking after children and the elderly, have to take additional responsibilities in farming within the traditionally male-dominant farming practices. This is not only inappropriate and unfriendly to women, but also has lowered the use and productivity of land; hence perpetuating, if not exacerbating, food insecurity. Women are increasingly adopting less intensive farming practices as well as abandoning agricultural lands. As a result, there is reduction in food production. Therefore, there is need for revisiting the agro-ecological practices to explore the possibility of reintroducing low input and less labour-intensive agro-forestry practices which can substantively reduce the workload of women, as well as ensure food security at local level.

Sustainable Local Livelihoods through Enhancing Agroforestry Systems in Nepal

Pandit, B.H., Shrestha, K.K. and Bhattarai, S.S.2014. Sustainable Local Livelihoods through Enhancing Agroforestry Systems in Nepal. Journal of Forest and Livelihood. 12(1): 47-63

Abstract

Agroforestry has been recognized as one of the important systems for supporting the livelihoods of a large number of rural farmers in the Nepalese hills. However, its conservation and socio-economic values have received little attention. There is no solid information that tells us precisely how the agroforestry system has changed over time and what its drivers are in terms of biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement. This paper aims to investigate the changing impacts and drivers of the agroforestry system to improve people’s livelihoods and deliver the outcomes of biodiversity conservation. This research analyses a case study of two Village Development Committees, viz Mahadevsthan and Mithinkot, in Kavrepalanchok district in Nepal. The mixed method approach was employed to collect data. The results indicate that the agroforestry system has changed considerably over time. As a result, the number of agroforestry species has increased in private lands. A total of 145 different species were recorded, of which 56 species were medicinal plants, followed by fodder trees, grasses and fruit trees. The study further found that species richness has increased, mostly in upland terraces. This resulted in increased livelihood benefts to local people. Production of goat meat and buffalo milk has increased considerably. The high economic benefts are mainly associated with the introduction of various fodder trees and grasses in private farmlands. It is concluded that the various drivers of the agroforestry system need to be carefully attended so as to improve both positive conservation and livelihood outcomes. Enabling policy and practices are needed to initiate and support farming cooperatives in the commercialization of agroforestry products and market the conservation values in a changing climate.

Transforming Land and Livelihood: Analysis of Agricultural Land Abandonment in the Mid Hills of Nepal

Paudel, K.P., Tamang, S. and Shrestha, K.K. 2014. Transforming Land and Livelihood: Analysis of Agricultural Land Abandonment in the Mid Hills of Nepal. Journal of Forest and Livelihood. 12(1): 47-63

Abstract

Land grabbing is often seen as a way, among many ways, to intensify agriculture for food security around the world today. However, in Nepal, a quite opposite phenomenon is taking place. Fertile agricultural lands are being abandoned at an unprecedented degree in recent years. A critical question that then arises is: How and why productive lands are being abandoned by farmers who otherwise had cultivated them for so many generations? The question is much more relevant for a country like Nepal that faces severe food insecurity. The aim of this paper is to investigate the drivers of agricultural land abandonment in the mid hills of Nepal. This study employs a mixed method approach to data collection, using household survey and key informant interview, in four mid hill districts of Nepal. The results indicate three key drivers: frst, sociopolitical instability, which forced people to move out; second, reduced agricultural production, concomitant with availability of more attractive alternative opportunities; third, farming ceasing to be a viable occupation for many farmers to maintain sustainable household economy and being seen as an occupation for those who cannot do much else. Land abandonment has serious social, economic and ecological implications, particularly for the poorest of the poor. The paper concludes by highlighting some ways to address the land abandonment issue.

Rapid Silviculture Appraisal to Characterise Stand and Determine Silviculture Priorities of Community Forests in Nepal

Cedamon, E., Nuberg, I., Paudel, G., Bashyal, M., Shrestha, K., and Paudel, N. 2016. Rapid Silviculture Appraisal to Characterise Stand and Determine Silviculture Priorities of Community Forests in Nepal. Small Scale Forestry, 16(2): 195-218.

Abstract:

Community forestry in Nepal is an example of a successful participatory forest management program. Developments in community forestry in four decades have focused on the social and governance aspects with little focus on the technical management of forests. This paper presents a silviculture description of community forests and provides silviculture recommendations using a rapid silviculture appraisal (RSA) approach. The RSA, which is a participatory technique involving local communities in assessing forests and silviculture options, is a simple and costeffective process to gather information and engage forest users in the preparation of operational plans that are relevant to their needs. The RSA conducted on selected community forests in Nepal’s Mid-hills region shows that forests are largely comprised of dominant crowns of one or two species. The majority of studied community forests have tree densities below 500 stems per hectare as a consequence of traditional forest management practices but the quality and quantity of the trees for producing forest products are low. Silviculture options preferred by forest users generally are those which are legally acceptable, doable with existing capacities of
forest users and generate multiple forest products. For sustainable production of multiple forest products, the traditional forest management practices have to be integrated with silviculture-based forest management system.

Reframing community forest governance for food security in Nepal

Khatri, D.B., Shrestha, K., Ohja, H., Paudel, G. Paudel, N. and Pain, A. 2016. Reframing Community Forest Governance for Food Security in Nepal. Environmental Conservation, 44(2): 174-182.

Summary

The growing challenge of food insecurity in the Global South has called for new research on the contribution of forests to food security. However, even progressive forest management institutions such as Nepal’s community forestry programme have failed to address this issue. We analyse Nepal’s community forestry programme and find that forest policies and local institutional practices have historically evolved to regulate forests either as sources of timber or as a means of biodiversity conservation, disregarding food security outcomes for local people. Disciplinary divisions between forestry and the agriculture sector have limited the prospect of strengthening forest–food security linkages. We conclude that the policy and legislative framework and formal bureaucratic practices are influenced by ‘modern forestry science’, which led to community forestry rules and practices not considering the contribution of forests to food security. Furthermore, forestry science has a particularly narrow focus on timber production and conservation. We argue for the need to recognise the importance of local knowledge and community practices of using forests for food. We propose adaptive and transformational approaches to knowledge generation and the application of such knowledge in order to support institutional change and policy reform and to enable landscape-specific innovations in forest–food linkages.

Adaptation factors and futures of agroforestry systems in Nepal

Cedamon, E., Nuberg, I., Pandit, B.H. and Shrestha, K.K. 2017. Adaptation factors and futures of agroforestry systems in Nepal. Agroforestry Systems, 92(5): 1437–1453.

Abstract

Farmers in Nepal mid-hills have practiced agroforestry for generations as main source or supplement of timber, firewood and fodder from government forests. The nature and extent of agroforestry practice is being challenged by rapid social and economic change particularly in the recent rise of labour out-migration and remittance income. Understanding is required of the critical factors that influence farmers in the way they adapt agroforestry to their circumstances. This paper analyses the relationship of households’ livelihood resources and agroforestry practice to identify trajectories of agroforestry adaptation to improve livelihood outcomes. Using data from a survey of 668 households, it was found that landholding, livestock holding and geographic location of farmers are key drivers for agroforestry adaptation. A multinomial logistic regression model showed that in addition to these variables, household income, household-remittance situation (whether the household is receiving remittance or not) and caste influence adaptation of agroforestry practice. The analysis indicates that resource-poor households are more likely to adapt to terraced-based agroforestry while resource-rich households adapt to woodlot agroforestry. Appropriate agroforestry interventions are: (1) develop simple silvicultural regimes to improve the quality and productivity of naturally regenerating timber on under-utilised land; (2) develop a suite of tree and groundcover species that can be readily integrated within existing terrace-riser agroforestry practices; (3) acknowledge the different livelihood capitals of resource-poor and resource-rich groups and promote terrace-riser and woodlot agroforestry systems respectively to these groups; and (4) develop high-value fodder production systems on terrace-riser agroforestry, and also for non-arable land. The analysis generates important insights for improving agroforestry policies and practices in Nepal and in many developing countries.

Agricultural land underutilisation in the hills of Nepal: Investigating socio-environmental pathways of change

Ojha, H.R., Shrestha, K.K., Subedi, Y., Shah, R., Nuberg, I., Heyojoo, B., Cedamon, E., Rigg, J., Tamang, S., Paudel, K., Malla, Y. and McManus, P. Agricultural land underutilisation in the hills of Nepal: Investigating socio-environmental pathways of change. Journal of Rural Studies, 53: 156-172.

Abstract

Why should a parcel of agricultural land be abandoned when there is a scarcity of food? In this paper, we address this question in relation to the hills of Nepal, where agricultural land is being abandoned at an unprecedented rate, despite looming food scarcity. Responding to studies that have highlighted land abandonment trends, we conducted in-depth case studies in two of Nepal’s hill districts to understand how land abandonment is taking place, and under what circumstances. Using an interdisciplinary lens and transcending linear models of agrarian change which attribute land abandonment to one or more prominent factors, our study unravels complex, cross-scalar processes, involving the interaction among social forces and environmental factors which lead to land underutilisation. The paper shows that land underutilisation happens through what we term ‘socio-environmental pathways’, which operate across scales, yet are deeply rooted in local dynamics of agrarian change. These pathways are triggered by, and embroiled within, three wider socio-economic and political dynamics in contemporary Nepal, namely:
socio-cultural changes that favour out-migration; evolving economic opportunities that make farming less profitable; and a policy context in which the gravity of the land abandonment challenge goes unrecognised. The framework of ‘socio-environmental pathways’ applied here also advances a theoretical lens to explain agrarian change in a way that integrates multiple scales and multiple sectors, emphasising a thoroughly empirical approach. Finally, we identify key policy implications of this research on livelihoods and sustainable development.

How understanding of rural households’ diversity can inform agroforestry and community forestry programs in Nepal

E. Cedamon, I. Nuberg & K. K. Shrestha (2017): How understanding of rural households’ diversity can inform agroforestry and community forestry programs in Nepal, Australian Forestry, DOI: 10.1080/00049158.2017.1339237

Abstract

Socio-economic diversity can help to bring about innovative development in agroforestry practices. The diversity of households in the mid-Nepal hills was analysed using survey data from 521 randomly selected households in six villages. A cluster analysis derived the following household typology based on socio-economic variables—Type 1: resource-poor Brahmin/Chhetri; Type 2: resource-poor Janajati; Type 3: resource-rich mixed-caste households; Type 4: resource-rich Brahmin/Chhetri; Type 5: resource-rich Janajati; Type 6: resource-poor Dalit households. The analysis revealed that social status (caste/ethnicity), household status on foreign employment and landholding are strong predictors of household segmentation in rural Nepal. This paper suggests revision of existing wellbeing ranking approaches using these socio-economic variables for more inclusive and equitable agroforestry and community forestry outcomes.

From Forests to Food Security: Pathways in Nepal’s Community Forestry

Karki, R., Shrestha, K.K., Ojha, H., Paudel, N., Khatri, D., Nuberg, I. and Adhikary, A. 2018. From Forests to Food Security: Pathways in Nepal’s community forestry. Small Scale Forestry, 17(1): 89-104.    

Abstract

There is an increasing recognition of the contribution of forests to food security of poor and marginalized people. However, empirical findings remain limited on how forests contribute to food security. Drawing on four case studies of community forestry in Nepal, this paper discusses pathways through which forests are contributing to food security needs of local communities. The evidence presented here was gathered through 4 years of action research and draws insights from the past 40 years of Nepal’s community forestry practice, which is often regarded as a successful case of conservation and development. It is shown that there are four distinct pathways through which community forests contribute to food security as a source of: (1) income and employment; (2) inputs to increase food production; (3) directly for food; and (4) renewable energy for cooking. Despite emerging pathways linking forest management to food systems at the local level, forestry policies and institutions have neither explicitly recognized nor strengthened the linkage between forest and food security. The paper highlights that there is a need for a fundamental shift in thinking from the conventional notion of ‘forests for soil conservation’ to ‘sustainable forest management for food security’.

Transforming Land and Livelihood: Analysis of Agricultural Land Abandonment in the Mid Hills of Nepal

Paudel, K.P., Tamang, S. and Shrestha, K.K. 2014. Transforming Land and Livelihood: Analysis of Agricultural Land Abandonment in the Mid Hills of Nepal.Journal of Forest and Livelihood, 12(1).

Abstract

Land grabbing is often seen as a way, among many ways, to intensify agriculture for food security around the world today. However, in Nepal, a quite opposite phenomenon is taking place. Fertile agricultural lands are being abandoned at an unprecedented degree in recent years. A critical question that then arises is: How and why productive lands are being abandoned by farmers who otherwise had cultivated them for so many generations? The question is much more relevant for a country like Nepal that faces severe food insecurity. The aim of this paper is to investigate the drivers of agricultural land abandonment in the mid hills of Nepal. This study employs a mixed method approach to data collection, using household survey and key informant interview, in four mid hill districts of Nepal. The results indicate three key drivers: first, sociopolitical instability, which forced people to move out; second, reduced agricultural production, concomitant with availability of more attractive alternative opportunities; third, farming ceasing to be a viable occupation for many farmers to maintain sustainable household economy and being seen as an occupation for those who cannot do much else. Land abandonment has serious social, economic and ecological implications, particularly for the poorest of the poor. The paper concludes by highlighting some ways to address the land abandonment issue.

Sustainable Local Livelihoods through Enhancing Agroforestry Systems in Nepal

Pandit, B.H., Shrestha, K.K. and Bhattarai, S.S. 2014. Sustainable Local Livelihoods through Enhancing Agroforestry Systems in Nepal. Journal of Forest and Livelihood, 12(1).

Abstract

Agroforestry has been recognized as one of the important systems for supporting the livelihoods of a large number of rural farmers in the Nepalese hills. However, its conservation and socio-economic values have received little attention. There is no solid information that tells us precisely how the agroforestry system has changed over time and what its drivers are in terms of biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement. This paper aims to investigate the changing impacts and drivers of the agroforestry system to improve people’s livelihoods and deliver the outcomes of biodiversity conservation. This research analyses a case study of two Village Development Committees, viz Mahadevsthan and Mithinkot, in Kavrepalanchok district in Nepal. The mixed method approach was employed to collect data. The results indicate that the agroforestry system has changed considerably over time. As a result, the number of agroforestry species has increased in private lands. A total of 145 different species were recorded, of which 56 species were medicinal plants, followed by fodder trees, grasses and fruit trees. The study further found that species richness has increased, mostly in upland terraces. This resulted in increased livelihood benefits to local people. Production of goat meat and buffalo milk has increased considerably. The high economic benefits are mainly associated with the introduction of various fodder trees and grasses in private farmlands. It is concluded that the various drivers of the agroforestry system need to be carefully attended so as to improve both positive conservation and livelihood outcomes. Enabling policy and practices are needed to initiate and support farming cooperatives in the commercialization of agroforestry products and market the conservation values in a changing climate.

Feminization of Agriculture and its Implications for Food Security in Rural Nepal

Tamang, S. Paudel, K.P., and Shrestha, K.K. 2014. Feminization of Agriculture and its Implications for Food Security in Rural Nepal. Journal of Forest and Livelihood, 12(1).

Abstract

The rural Nepal is going through unprecedented demographic, socioeconomic and environmental changes. There is a growing pattern of outmigration of male population from villages to urban areas and
overseas in search of better opportunities. This is mainly due to the poor economic development processes that could not generate adequate income and employment opportunities at home, political and economic changes, and globalization, concomitant with attractive employment opportunities offered outside the country. Simultaneously, rural communities are facing the disincentives of worsening security in villages, employment opportunities, and subsistence farming becoming less and less rewarding and unable in meeting their basic needs. This has led to a situation where women, in addition to looking after children and the elderly, have to take additional responsibilities in farming within the traditionally male-dominant farming practices. This is not only inappropriate and unfriendly to women, but also has lowered the use and productivity of land; hence perpetuating, if not exacerbating, food insecurity. Women are increasingly adopting less intensive farming practices as well as abandoning agricultural lands. As a result, there is reduction in food production. Therefore, there is need for revisiting the agro-ecological practices to explore the possibility of reintroducing low input and less labour-intensive agro-forestry practices which can substantively reduce the workload of women, as well as ensure food security at local level.