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4. Annotated Bibliography

1. Bajracharya, MK. 1986. Forestry in Nepal (An introduction). Kathmandu.

There are three main forests zones: the Terai zone, comprising the southern plains and Siwaliks; the mid-land zone, including Mahabharat and the southern Himalayan foothills; and the high mountain zone, including the Himalayas and inner Himalayas. Local categories for each zone and particular characteristics are included in the document.

The process of gradual extension of agriculture land by clearing the forests was too rapid and did not allow forest adjustment to population growth and the subsistence farming communities in the middle Hills. In the Terai, the migration from the Hills to this area after the malaria eradication programme was the main cause of forest deterioration.

Forest change in the Terai


Forest cleared, ha

Number of families


16 187

5 000

First plan period (1957-62)

26 564

5 213

Second plan period (1962-65)

20 234

6 000 target

Third plan period (1965-70)

13 900

6 000 target

Fourth plan period (1970-75)

25 000

8 000 target

Fifth plan period (1975-80)

62 900

35 400 target

Sixth plan period (1980-85)

17 985

16 350 target

Thus, 182 770 hectares of Terai forests have been officially cleared for 409 800 emigrants. There are an additional several thousand hectares of forest illegally encroached upon and cultivated by migrants. The author refers to a map prepared by Forest Service Regional Office in 1974 for the eastern Terai. It shows that 258 316 ha of forest present in 1928 was reduced to 187 171 ha by 1953, to 130 352 ha by 1964 and 82 962 ha by 1972, which represents 28%, 30% and 36% as the rate of deforestation for the corresponding periods.

Other causes of deforestation are land use change from forest to pasture, agriculture or settlement; grazing, including fodder collection; and fuelwood collection for cooking and heating. Fire is another primary factor that has a considerable influence, especially during the dry season. Logging for industrial wood and house construction is another form of exploitation but in general is not a major cause of forest deforestation.


2. Barraclough, S. Ghimire, K. 1990. The Social Dynamics of Deforestation in Developing Countries: Principal issues, and research priorities. United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Discussion Paper 16. ISSN 1012-6511. Switzerland.

In a preliminary review of literature there was considerable controversy about the rates, causes and social consequences of deforestation. There has been little systematic and comparative analysis of the interaction of deforestation processes at local levels with associated changes in livelihood of different social groups and individuals. In the developing world, expansion of commercial agriculture and cattle ranching, migration to agricultural frontiers and rapid urbanisation are the main processes that stimulate deforestation.

The author expresses the belief that the easy explanations that poverty, population growth or wasteful consumption are the primary causes of the deforestation process are tautological. To confuse these symptoms or styles of development with the causes of deforestation tends to be unhelpful for practical solutions and policy elaboration. The generalisation of deforestation as a consequence of poverty distracts attention from other issues that may lend themselves to solutions in a relatively short period of time.

The document reports the total and agricultural population changes 1975-1988, per capita GNP as of 1987 and annual rates of deforestation 1981-1985:

Total Population, 1988 (1 000)

Percent Change, 1975-1988

Agricultural Population, 1988 (1 000)

Percent Change, 1975-1988

Per Capita Gross National Product, 1987 (US$)

Deforestation, Annual Rate, 1981-1985

18 237


16 772




Sources: FAO, 1987, 1988; World Bank, 1989.

The land tenure system, the broader agrarian system and socio-economic structures are the institutions that have a direct influence on the deforestation process. State and community ownership cannot guarantee that resources will be used for the public interest and made available to the poorer strata of the population. Property relationships have to be understood in specific socio-economic, political, cultural and historical contexts. State programmes to promote export crops, commercial livestock production and national forest industries have frequently led to accelerated rates of deforestation.

Particularly for the mountain areas of Nepal, fuelwood gathering, grazing and fodder-lopping, combined with shifting cultivation in some locations, are considered to be the main factors responsible for deforestation. In recent years this process has been further exacerbated by activities related to road construction, dam building and the proliferation of administrative centres. The open border between Nepal and India and the higher prices of wood in India have also stimulated exports.


3. Bhavan, R. 1990. The effects of Nepal-India Trade and Transit crisis on Fuelwood and Forest in Nepal. New Era. Kathmandu.

The chapter related to forest destruction and degradation in Nepal points out that forest resources are important to meet the energy requirements of domestic and rural industries and also for the production of many kinds of material goods such as timber, poles and posts, bamboo, fibre, fodder and medical herbs. The rapid destruction and degradation of forest resources in the country is based on short-sighted policies and actions of the government on forestland conversion as well as exploitation and the non-professional administration and management of forest resources.

Forest resource destruction in Nepal is classified by the author into two categories; loss of forest land due to clearing for cultivation, settlement, etc. and, secondly, loss of growing stock as indicated by a decrease in measurable tree crown density or percent cover.

The author reports that, before 1957, clearance of forestland for expansion of cultivation was modest an occurred mostly in the Hills where population density was high. Since then, most of the Terai and the Siwaliks zone became habitable due to control of malaria under a joint programme of HMGN/US-AID/WHO. After a few years, uncontrolled encroachment into forests for settlement and cultivation spread all over the Terai and Siwalik region.

Man-caused damage is slower but, over time, greater in extent and more long-lasting than natural disasters. Such damage may include regular collection of fuelwood, hacking or poaching of various forest products, continual grazing and lopping and the collection of poles and timber by people to fulfil their basic needs.

Forest destruction, degradation, and damage can be measured by (1) loss of forest land; (2) degradation in quantity and /or quality of forest products; and (3) a gradual decrease in the productivity of material, products and services.

Between 1956-76 the main causes of destruction and deterioration of forest in the Terai were:

During the period 1976 to 1990, large-scale destruction of the Terai and Siwalik forests have ceased. Minor clearing of forest under planned land use changes (cultivation for cotton, herbs, etc) continues. There are also allocations of forest land for various infrastructure and other development schemes (transmission lines, irrigation canals, etc) and clear felling of natural forests for conversion to plantations (e.g. the Sagarnath forest plantations). The most devastating loss of forestland is the damage due to continued illegal extraction of timber and fuelwood.

The primary development programmes for forest protection are:

The author concludes:


4. Gurung, H. 1989. Regional Patterns of Migration in Nepal. Papers of the East-West Population Institute. Number 113. Kathmandu.

The author references a report prepared by Zelinsky in 1970 that refers to the factors influencing out-migration from rural areas due to the growth of the local population beyond the carrying capacity of the land. Kosinski and Prothero (1975) also mention that excessive pressure on land resources and increasing poverty generate a large amount of migration.

In Nepal, where migration is rural-rural, several surveys indicated that there is higher mobility among the most deprived groups. This pattern may be related to the low cost of moving. Migrants in Nepal are mainly in the "subsistence" category rather than people who are more well off. The forces that influence migration in Nepal may be categorised as economic dislocation, population pressure, effective malaria control, land settlement and regional income disparity.

The international boundary between Nepal and India is not regulated. International migration across the boundary is primarily an outward expansion of population into similar ecological niches: Nepalese eastward to the subtropical Hills in India and Indians northward into the tropical Terai.

The author prepared a multiple regression analysis using land at origin and destination as variables. This showed that the effect of land available at the destination was always positive and highly significant. The more people in an area the more the movement; the more the land available the more in-migration.

The lowlands of Nepal formerly constituted a malarial zone. The Hill people traversed the lowlands during the winter. The fear of malaria imposed a work schedule whereby the people retreated to upland settlements at dusk after working in the valley fields. During 1955 a program for malaria control was introduced in Nepal and successfully implemented. As a result, large number of Hill settlers began to move to the Terai. The initial target was to resettle a population of 30 000 by reclaiming 20 240 hectares of grassland and forestland. During the period between 1970 and 1983 the number of households resettled was 50 859 on 33 733 ha of land that were mostly reclaimed from the forest. The results of the settlement program were (1) a decline in the area of land for settlement from 4 322 ha in 1974-1975 to 1 011 ha in 1982-1983; (2) increasing demand for land led to a decrease in plot size allotted to each settled household from 1 ha in 1974-75 to 0.34 ha in 1982-1983 and (3) the depletion of forestland for resettlement in the densely populate Eastern Terai meant a shift in program emphasis to the Western Terai.

Forest resource surveys estimate a total loss of approximately 120 000 ha of forestland during 1964-1972; of this 56 000 ha was due to spontaneous migration and illegal settlement. Other significant reasons given for migrating to the Terai were land distribution by government (10.9%), more productive land (7.8%), cheaper land (7.1%) and availability of timber for construction and other purposes (3.7%).

One of the most visible consequences of migration to the lowlands has been the change in land use. Since most of the movement has been rural-rural, it has involved large-scale forest encroachment for agricultural settlement. For the period 1962-1974 the official figures reported by the Nepal Forestry Ministry for deforestation range from 120 000 to 340 000 ha. The first inventory of forest resources (1963-1964) for the Terai and adjacent regions, covering 3 million ha, indicated that 51.1% of the area was under forest. The 11 Terai forest divisions, excluding the Inner Terai, had 1.5 million ha of forest of which 23 278 ha were encroached upon.

Change in land use in the Terai: 1963-1964 and 1978-1979

Area and Land Use








Forest land

631 800


626 037



112 845


249 062



133 371


52 905


Subtotal, West

878 016


928 004


Forest land

240 293


232 070



211 323


261 903


Subtotal, Central

492 006


518 631


Forest land

654 298


404 883



826 028


927 392



137 126


111 074


Subtotal, East

1 617 452


1 443 349


Forest land

1 526 391


1 262 990



1 150 196


1 438 357



310 887


188 637



2 987 474


2 889 984



5. His Majesty’s Government of Nepal. 1999. Economic Survey, Fiscal Year 1998-1999. Unofficial Translation. Kathmandu.

A preliminary estimate is that gross domestic product grew 3.4% in the current fiscal year and reached Rs 84 315 million, with a agricultural growth of 2.4%. The problem of poverty alleviation has been acute in the country due to the lack of expected improvement in production, income, skills, employment generation and development of socio-economic infrastructure. The lack of satisfactory reduction in the population growth rate and the failure to sustain a high rate of economic growth have been the main reasons for the persistence of poverty. Out of the 42% of the population below the poverty line, 41% and 42% were found living below the poverty line in the mountains and Terai, respectively, whereas 56% were below the poverty line in the Himalayan region.

The majority of the country’s population is dependent on agriculture, and this remains the backbone of economic development. In the context of Nepal, agriculture has been the main basis of income and employment generation and the major source of production. The difficult geographical setting, dependence on the monsoon due to the lack of irrigation facilities and the traditional subsistence-oriented agriculture system have been the main problems of development in this sector.

The tourism industry plays a large and significant role in Nepal’s economy. Tourists visiting Nepal increased by 7.2% compared to last year. The majority of tourists are interested in trekking and mountaineering. A total of Rs 8 581.5 million was earned from the tourist sector, representing 35.9% of the foreign exchange earnings of the country.

Energy consumption is increasing with the corresponding increase in population. The majority of the population is dependent on traditional sources of energy such as fuelwood and animal residues. Despite implementation of a number of projects in the government and private sectors to decrease the dependence on traditional sources of energy, progress on this front could not be made to the desired degree. Deforestation has increased substantially. Co-ordination to conserve forest resources is lacking, especially in the context of unsystematic urbanisation and settlement as well as the development of infrastructure and industrialisation.

During the review period exports (excluding those to India) of two items – ready-made garments and carpets – comprised 83.1%. The share of these two items was Rs 7 069.8 million and Rs 7 027.1 million, showing an increase of 38% and 18% respectively.

In FY 1997-1998, bilateral assistance increased by 4.7% in comparison to the previous fiscal year and reached Rs 6 297.7 million, comprising 38.3% of the total aid disbursement. Multilateral assistance increased by 12.6% in comparison to the previous financial year and stood at Rs 10 159.4 million, or 61.7% of the total disbursement.


6. His Majesty’s Government of Nepal. 1999. Forest and Shrub Cover of Nepal 1994. Forest Survey Division. Department of Forest Research and Survey. Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation. Forest Resource Information System Project/Government of Finland. Publication 72. Kathmandu.

This study combines the results of three different types of inventory. Fourteen Terai districts were assessed with Landsat TM satellite imagery. The remaining 51 districts in the Hilly area were assessed by aerial photo interpretation.

Forest and shrub covers 39.6% of the total area (including protected areas) of Nepal. Forest (crown coverage more than 10%) covers 29% of the total area and shrubs occupy 10.6% of the area. According to photo point sampling the lowest percentage of forest and shrub in the Hilly area was found at altitudes of 1 000 to 2 000 meters.

In 1978-1979 the Land Resource Mapping Project (LRMP) estimated that forest and shrub cover was 42.7% of the total area (forest 38% and shrub 4.7%). LRMP also suggested that deforestation would not be common in the Hills. Nevertheless, loss of density of forest crown cover has taken place according to the LRMP report. The analysis in this study indicates that forest and shrub cover (together) in Nepal has decreased at an annual rate of 0.5% from 1978-1979 and that the decrease of forest cover has been 1.7% annually. The main trend in the Terai lowlands is that forest and shrublands have been turned into other uses, mainly agriculture (at an annual rate of 1.3%), while in the Hills the trend has been toward forest recovery. In the 51 Hilly districts that were analysed by photo-point sampling, forest cover has declined from 34.2% in 1978-1979 to 23.7% in 1992-1996 (a 2.3% annual rate). This does not support the conclusions of the LRMP.


7. His Majesty’s Government of Nepal. 1999. Forest Resources of the Hilly Area in Nepal. Forest Survey Division. Department of Forest Research and Survey. Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation. Forest Resource Information System Project/Government of Finland. Publication 73. Kathmandu.

This report includes 51 Districts and the Hilly part of the Terai District that were not inventoried previously. The work is part of the ongoing National Forest Inventory (NFI) in Nepal. The fieldwork was carried out during 1994-1998.

The volume and biomass estimates presented in the study were compiled for reachable forest. Forest is not reachable when it is located on a slope of more that 100% (45 degrees) or if it is surrounded by steep slopes, landslides or other physical obstacles. Forest inside protected areas is considered as non-reachable. The definition of reachable forest in this inventory differs from the definition of accessible forest as used in the Master Plan for the Forestry Sector of 1988 based on distance from the nearest village to the forest. In that case, all forest close to a village was accessible (i.e. within 3 km).

The total land in the Hilly area is 11.1 million ha. The total forest area is 2.9 million ha and the total shrub area is 1.57 million ha. They cover 26.1% and 14.2% of the total land area of the Hilly area, respectively. The reachable forest of the Hilly area totals 1.38 million ha. The total biomass including stems, branches and leaves is about 305 million tonnes (air-dry). The most frequent non-timber forest product collected is Phoenix humilis. The most frequent human impact in the Hilly Area is cattle grazing, which was recorded on 32% of the plots, and fuelwood collection and lopping on 28%. Human impact is frequent at all altitudes.


8. His Majesty's Government of Nepal. 1988. Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation. Master Plan for Forestry Sector Nepal. FINNIDA. Kathmandu.

The Master Plan for the Forestry Sector in Nepal is the basic document for forestry issues in the Country. Officially, Nepal has around 35 percent forest cover, although at least a quarter of the forest area is heavily degraded. Although most of Nepal lies within the sub-tropical monsoon climatic region, the wide range of topographic conditions allows for a wide variety of forest types. The distribution of natural forests generally follows altitudinal zones. The most common, below 1 000 metres, are tropical sal forests, predominantly of Shorea robusta. Sub-tropical forests occur between 1 000 and 2 000 metres and may be coniferous or broad-leaved. The principal coniferous species is chir pine (Pinus roxburghii). The broadleaved forest is mainly a mix of chestnuts, alders and chilaune (Schima wallichii). Temperate forests, between 2 000 and 3 000 metres, include a mix of oak, pine and rhododendron. Sub-alpine forests are found from around 3 000 metres up to 4 200 metres with a mix of firs, beech, rhododendron and juniper. Nepal has a modest area of plantation forest. Almost 15 percent of the country's land area is in national parks, wildlife reserves or conservation areas.

Forest Cover as of 1995-1999
1,000 ha


482 235

South Asia

7 713 718


345 438 226

Fuelwood is a major source of domestic energy consumption. The sawn wood and wood-based panel mills are small, labour-intensive and face material shortages. The paper industry uses non-wood fibres, mainly grass and straw.

Nepal's important non-wood forest products include medicinal and aromatic plants; paper; pine resin; fodder; grasses for thatching, matting and rope making; lemongrass and essential oils.

As part of the Nepal Master Plan for the Forestry Sector, an institutional development plan was written in 1989. The documents established that "increasing numbers of people, their dependence on fuelwood for energy and timber for construction and other economic uses, their reliance on forests for fodder to maintain a large number of livestock and the scarcity of agricultural land have together put heavy pressure on Nepal's forest resources and brought about their decline. In turn, it has become increasingly difficult for the population to meet their basic need for forest products. Pressure on the remaining forests has intensified further, creating a vicious cycle and aggravating the already serious problem of environmental deterioration and declining farm yields."

Forests Acts and Rules: In 1957 forests in Nepal were nationalised as a move to reduce the power of large landowners wanting more land to be converted to agriculture. Pasturelands were similarly nationalised in 1967. The government, however, did not have the means to protect and manage the forests and an administrative vacuum was created. Simultaneously, population growth put more pressure on the forests. The adverse effects were accelerated by misunderstood cadastral survey rules that gave the impression that only treeless areas could be privately owned.

The Forest Act of 1961: In the Terai there were increasing demands on the easily accessible forests because of railway construction and other development in India. The favourable climate, good soils and eradication of malaria attracted migration from the Hills as well as from outside the country, creating additional demands to convert forested land to cultivation. HMGN promulgated the Forest Act of 1961 to regulate and systematise forest utilisation. Today, it is still the basis of most forest-related subsidiary legislation.

Forest Protection Special Act, 1968: It was an official practice to resettle people from the Hills in the Terai while unofficial encroachment of the forests was also tolerated, and this led to increasing wanton destruction of the forest. In response the Forest Protection Act was passed in 1968 giving police and judicial powers to forest officials. By the late 1970's, however, with the development of the decentralisation policy and its application in community forestry it was officially recognised that in many areas the adverse consequences of this Act were greater than its occasional successes. This act was made stricter through the Forests Products Sales and Distribution Rules passed in 1971.

The National Forestry plan of 1976 Panchayat Forestry Decentralisation recognised that there was a critical situation in the forestry sector. In accordance with this plan, the Panchayat Forest and Panchayat Protected Forest rules were promulgated in 1978. Their intention was to hand over parts of the government forests for management by local communities. The rules specify which forests can be handed over to Panchayats, criteria to prohibit certain activities and the way in which revenue can be utilised. Since then a more general policy of decentralisation of development activities has been announced and the Decentralisation Act of 1982 has been put into effect through the Decentralisation Rules of 1984.

The Leased Forest Rules of 1978 that allow barren or highly degraded areas to be leased have not been applied on a significant scale. If not removed, the restriction that only barren lands can be leased may encourag e the cutting of the trees so that areas can be claimed.

The Private Forest Rules of 1984 entitle owners of private forests to free supplies and planting materials as well as technical assistance from forest officials. However, the bureaucratic procedure is difficult to utilise.

The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1973 makes provision for the protection and conservation of flora and fauna, together with their habitats, for control of hunting and proper management of protected areas.

The Soil and Watershed Conservation Act 1982 empowers HMGN to declare any area to be a protected Watershed Area. In such areas measures for afforestation and forest protection may be taken and official permission is required for cutting or planting trees. Land use, including cultivation and planting of trees, may also be subject to official controls.

The Land Act of 1963 has an indirect negative impact on forestry development because government land includes forests. Its provisions have encouraged people to cut trees so that the treeless land can be unambiguously claimed as private land.

The Pastureland Nationalisation Act of 1974 is applied all owners of pasturelands. The local village Panchayat is responsible for protection and improvements and must not use the land for any other purpose.


9. His Majesty’s Government of Nepal. Not dated. Biodiversity Profile of the High Himal High Mountains Physiographic Zones. Biodiversity Profile Projects. Kathmandu.

The Highlands of Nepal cover 43% of the territory with just 6% of the population. The people of the Highlands are more dependent on natural resources than those living in the Middle Hills because there are few employment and income-earning opportunities. Although the population is sparse, the per capita demands on the natural resources are great.

Thirty-eight ecosystems are found above 3 000 meters in the Highlands. The altitude distribution is split into three zones. The Sub alpine zone, (3 000 to 4 200m) is heavily forested due to the sparse population and its forests are still largely in good condition. The Alpine level is the area between the tree line and the region of the perpetual snow. The conditions here are too harsh for trees and other vegetation. The Nival level (above 4 500 m) has permanent snow cover. Large areas of the highlands in western Nepal lie to the north of the Himalayas. The main influence on the vegetation of these areas are the strong winds and low levels of rainfall caused by the rain shadow effect of the Himalayas.

The document reports that there are three main areas of concern with high altitude forests:

Settlements are widely distributed and it is difficult to accurately identify users.

Forests are often in good condition and a valuable resource. There is therefore the danger that the local elite will appropriate commercially valuable forest products for themselves.

Appropriate silvicultural applications may well be different for the high altitude forests where some forest types regenerate less easily that lower altitude forests.

Eco-tourism, especially in the Annapurna National Park, needs to be effectively managed to reduce the negative impact of this activity.


10. His Majesty’s Government of Nepal. Not dated. Biodiversity Profile of the Middle Hills. Physiographic Zones. Biodiversity Profile Projects. Kathmandu.

The Middle Hills in Nepal have the greatest number of ecosystems within five physiographic zones. With the high and increasing population density and utilisation of every accessible niche for subsistence farming the natural ecosystems of the Middle Hill are depleted or under serious threat. The population is projected to increase by 50% in the years between 1995 and 2005.

Much of the degradation in the Middle Hills is due to overexploitation for grazing, fodder, firewood collection and timber harvesting. With sound management these areas can recover some of their biodiversity value but as long as they are managed for subsistence needs of the local people their biodiversity cannot approach that of undisturbed forest. These areas are poorly represented (at an elevation of between 1 000 and 2 000 meters) in the protected areas system because this is the area of the country longest settled, with the highest population density and the least remaining forest cover.


11. His Majesty’s Government of Nepal. Not dated. Biodiversity Profile of the Terai and Siwalik Physiographic Zones. Biodiversity Profile Projects. Kathmandu.

The Terai/Siwaliks biodiversity is entering a stage of crisis, especially in the Terai. The human population density is high and increasing annually by about 3%. Most of the people have subsistence demands.

Development across the Terai, including road improvement programmes, irrigation and hydropower projects, and the decentralisation of industry and government from Kathmandu to the Terai has major environmental implications for the protected areas in this region. The Siwaliks are threatened mainly due to the increasing population in the Terai and Middle Hills. The frontier for pioneer settlement of Nepal’s poor landless people is shifting to the fragile ecosystem of the Siwaliks. These areas are rapidly degraded due to over-exploitation and conversion of forest into farmlands.


12. ICIMOD. 1998. Mountains 2000 and Beyond. Second Regional Collaborative Programme for Sustainable Development of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region (HKH) 1999-2002. Kathmandu.

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) was established due to increased concern about environmental degradation and poverty in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region. This document builds upon the successful experiences of the First Regional Collaborative Programme and the needs expressed by 200 institutions in the HKH area. The document presents the way in which ICIMOD intends to implement its programme in the coming four years.

The document emphasises that mountain ecosystems are fragile and susceptible to soil erosion, landslides and loss of genetic diversity. Physical isolation has excluded the mountains and their population from development, resulting in political and economical marginality. Mountain people suffer from unemployment, poverty, poor health, and inadequate sanitation. Among the world’s mountainous areas, Asia contains the largest, highest and most populated systems. More than 200 million people live in mountain and upland areas of Asia. Another one billion people downstream are affected by mountain conditions.

The document reports that 37% of the country’s area is under forest cover, while that under agriculture is about 20%. Around 75% of the country’s energy requirements are met by fuelwood.

Rising population pressure on the land and deterioration of the environment have been recognised as the main challenges to sustainable development in Nepal. Land degradation, deforestation and pollution cause the major environmental problems. Land and forest resources are overexploited because of heavy dependence on the natural resource base, while water and mineral resources are under-utilised owing to lack of financial resources and infrastructure. Soil erosion, fertility decline, sedimentation and floods continue to degrade the scarce land resource.


13. ICIMOD. 1995. Community Forestry the Language of Life. Report of the First Regional Community Forestry Users’ Group Workshop. Kathmandu.

This report summarises how community forestry has gained importance in planning for sustainable mountain development. Life and livelihood are intricately linked and the forest areas in the HKH remain a critical source of diverse products that make an invaluable contribution to household survival in mountain areas.

Participatory forest management has emerged as the key to sustainable management of forest resources in the Himalayas. The process of democratisation, decentralisation and the emergence of people-oriented approaches provided the opportunity to reflect on strategies needed to unleash the latent potential of community forestry so that it can be an effective vehicle for sustainable mountain development.

Participants in the workshop identified key issues that would be necessary to make community forestry an effective mechanism. These included developing strategies to strengthen local institutions, establishing conceptual understanding of advocacy, enhancing the role of community institutions in influencing policy and strategies to give women and the poor more control over natural resource management.

The document reports that over 3 300 community user groups were legally registered and were managing about 135 151 ha of forestland. More that 4 000 community forestry user groups were in the process of being formed.


Number of User Groups

Area (ha)


2 987

112 189



22 962


3 307

135 151

The process of handing over management to user groups includes:

Steps for handing over include:


14. Jackson, W. Tamrakar, R. Hunt, S. Shepherd, K .1998. Land-use changes in Two Middle Hills Districts of Nepal. Mountain Research and Development. 3 (18). pp 193-212.

This document presents four comparative land use studies in the Sindhu Palchok and Kabhre Palanchol districts of Nepal that evaluate the impact of Australian development assistance in community forestry over a continuous 19-year period. The studies made use of sets of aerial photographs taken in 1978 and 1992 to assess land use change. The samples covered almost 15 percent of the 400 000-ha land area of the two districts; ranging between 600 and 4 000 m in altitude. Land use change based on photo interpretation and groundwork was implemented by rapid rural appraisal (RRA) and by information obtained from local villagers.

The study found that community forestry activity within certain areas at lower altitudes is having a beneficial effect on the balance of land use as part of a broader process of agrarian change. Shrublands and grasslands are being converted to more productive categories of forestland, reflecting the care of communities in managing and conserving their forest resources. On upper slopes, however, there is evidence that forest cover is being rapidly denuded and that the shrubland and grassland areas are expanding at the expenses of forest cover. Many current land use practices need to be changed or modified.

Land use for agricultural purposes appears to be stable. Reliance on subsistence farming is declining as opportunities increase for off-farm income. It appears that community forestry has reduced the pressure on the land at the lower altitudes of Sindhu, Palchok, and Kabhre Palanchok.

Sustained population pressures combined with the lack of coherent and co-ordinated land management policies and practices have resulted in a rapid decline in forest resources on the upper slopes together with loss of catchment stability.


15. Gilmour D. 1992. Not Seeing the Trees for the Forest: a re-appraisal of the deforestation crisis in Hill Districts in Nepal. Readings in Social Forestry and Natural Resource Management for Nepal edited by Messerschmidt, D. Rai, and N. HMGN Ministry of Agriculture-Winrock International. Research Support Series. Number 10. Kathmandu.

The author challenges the commonly accepted premise of disastrous deforestation in the Hills of Nepal. These arguments are commonly used to create alarm and to provide convincing arguments why projects should receive government or aid agency support. Most investigators have concentrated their efforts on documenting the decline of Hill forests and have overlooked the fluid nature of tree cover on private farmland. This study is based on oral history of two districts in Central Nepal and illustrates how the Hill peasant farmers have increased the tree cover on their farmland during the last 20 years.

Several studies indicate that forest boundaries have shown very little change in the last century. The most recent and probably most accurate assessment of the condition of Nepal’s forests was made by the Land Resource Mapping Project, which pointed our that during the years of 1964 to 1978 there was no detectable loss of forest area. There has been a decline in density of around 2.1% of tree crown cover. This period coincides with the period of maximum conversion of forestland to agriculture land in the Terai, which means that the figure for the Hills could be lower.

In the context of the village setting the author suggests that there is a broader dimension to the whole question of deforestation and that this dimension takes in the whole landscape (not just the forest) and specifically includes the villagers. In this context, he found that in many areas substantial changes are taking place in the number of trees on private land. The author used the available quantitative data together with oral history for the study. He found that Hill peasants responded to a changing situation resulting from the decrease in availability of forest products from nearby forests. In villages still close to areas of accessible forest there has been little incentive for farmers to encourage trees to grow on their private land. On the negative side the author reports that during the past 20 years the two research districts lost about 29 000 ha of forest. On the positive side, about 6 700 ha of new forests have been established during the past 10 years, and these areas are expanding at the rate of 2 000 ha per year (1 500 ha of effective forest).

The author does mention that there are still problems in managing the natural forest in the Hills that have been ignored by the government and the aid agencies.



16. Kanel, K. K. 1998. Leasing Public Land to Poor and marginal Families: an initial assessment of Baramchi site. Hills Leasehold Forestry and Forage Development Project IFRI case study. FAO-IFAD. Nepal.

This document relates to the Hill Leasehold Forestry and Forage Development Project (HLFFDP) that aims to alleviate the poverty of poor rural households and restore the ecological balance of the degraded Hills. The objective of the study is a long-term study that:

The study is based on eight groups and their leasehold forests and one national forest used by a household area (46.2 ha).

The authors state that the composition of the forest indicates that the users attempted to plant multipurpose trees on the leasehold forest. Many trees, shrubs and seedlings have regenerated naturally. The only planted species that appear to survive successfully are Pinus roxburghii and Choerospondias axillaris.

The document summarises the different species, together with the size of trees, shrubs and saplings in the study areas and compares this data with the 1974 study. The condition of the Karangkurung Pakah National Forest appears to have improved in terms of stems per unit area and the average DBH. The condition of the forest is also improving in the case of the Salmarang forest. The study mentions that people’s awareness of the importance of conserving and utilising forests for local need have decreased timber extraction from the national forests as well as promoted the establishment of plantations and the protection of natural regeneration.

Method and model: International Forestry Resource and Institutions (IFRI) research method. There are 12 case studies developed in the HLFFP area. Ten research protocols have been developed to assess the impact of institutional arrangements and socio-economic conditions on vegetation in the area. The method can be used to monitor and examine long-term impacts of projects and other interventions on the condition of the vegetation. The research program is conducted in multiple countries over time and examines relationships among the physical, biological and cultural worlds. The research protocols include: site overview, forest form, forest plot, settlement form, user group form, forest association form, forest user group relationship, forest products, non-harvesting organisations, organisational inventory and inter-organisational arrangements form.


17. Ohler, F. 1999. Discussion Paper on the Future of the Hills Leasehold Forestry and Forage Development Project. Electronic Conference on Mountain Trees and People: Strategies Balancing Local Management Land. Kathmandu.

The author reports that the leasehold forestry project has had a positive environmental impact through:


18. Partap, T. 1998. Managing Agro-biodiversity in the Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH) Region. ICIMOD. Newsletter. (31) 1998. Kathmandu.

The author’s initial conclusion is that the boundaries between biodiversity and agro-biodiversity are not clearly demarcated. ICIMOD conducted several studies related to agro-biodiversity agriculture transformation, including farmers’ seeds supplies. These studies revealed that in the HKH region, agro-biodiversity and its management is under pressure. Transformation of agriculture systems resulting in land use changes is having an adverse impact on native agro-biodiversity. Farmers are transforming their lands and farming methods to achieve better production and increased benefits. Traditional agro-biodiversity is the loser in this process. There is little knowledge about the biodiversity of unique ethnic mountain cultures and their small-scale agro-ecosystems or the changes affecting them. In the absence of knowledge it is difficult to assess the appropriate institutional responses needed to contain the loss of agro-biodiversity in the HKM Region. There is regional interest in encouraging co-operation in the conservation and protection of agro-biodiversity.

Diverse horticultural resources and their use in the HKH Region

Crop type

Number of species in cultivation

Approximate number of species used locally





Fruit trees




Fruit shrubs








Tuber vegetables












Medicinal and aromatic plants




Other plant resources





19. Pelenick, E. 1998. Community-focussed Approaches to Biodiversity Conservation. ICIMOD. Newsletter. (31) 1998. Kathmandu.

The author refers to the different indicators that government and communities use to monitor forests. National institution use biodiversity rankings and communities use their daily needs; for example, dense forest with grasses or quality of broad-leave forests compared with availability of leaf, litter, mushrooms, and medicinal plants.

He points out that biodiversity conservation should focus on effective integration of natural and social capital. Considering both natural and human-influenced ecosystems, four broad categories of landscape were identified in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region:

The author mentions that in these ecosystems it is mainly people who have influenced the conservation of plants and animals.

The lessons learned from community based approaches were presented as:


20. Sakurai, T. Raymahi S. Pokaherl R. Otsuka K. 1999. Communal Vs Private management of Timber Forest: a case study from inner Terai of Nepal. Forest Management and Agriculture in the Hills of Nepal. Kathmandu.

The study identifies the extraction of forest resources by local people as the cause of deforestation. The nationalisation of the forests of Nepal made the government responsible for the costs of monitoring and controlling the forest area, which the DoF could not afford.

This study compares management efficiency of timber plantations under collective community management and private management systems and natural forests under collective and centralised community management systems.

The document argues that collective management is more efficient for protection of planted trees. Cost for protection of seedlings and control of the area is shared by the members of the community. Silvicultural practices are more efficient under centralised management because decisions are made by one person and do not need the approval of all members of the community.

In communally managed forests, the benefits of the plantation are invested in community development actions. Under centralised management, more funds are allocated to the management of the area, especially for hiring personnel.


Shengi-ji , P. Sadeque S. Myint A. Richard C. Not dated. Training Manual on Application of GIS and RS to Assessment, Monitoring and Management of Mountain Natural Resource. ICIMOD. Vol. (1). Kathmandu.

This project took place in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) Region, which is the largest mountain system in the world and has a unique function and role in the context of the natural environment. The region covers approximate 3.5 million square kilometres. Geophysical features include elevations that vary from a few meters above the sea level to the highest point on the earth at 8,848 meters, with more that 50 peaks. The area includes the following topographical subdivisions: Baluchistan, Assam Himalayas, Hengduan, Arakom Yoma, Shan Plateau, Gongga Shan and Yulongxue Shan. The HKH Region is spread over eight Asian countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan, and has a population of about 120 million people.

Large-scale human activity in the region over the past few decades has resulted in overall environmental degradation and/or depletion of forests, soil erosion, decline in soil fertility, a growing scarcity of water resources and loss of biological diversity. These activities include extensive deforestation and intensive farming activities on steep slopes, heavy population pressure on soil, land, water and biological resources, and the adverse impacts of large development projects in mountain environments.

Also mentioned were changes in value systems due to recent socio-economic developments, improvements in transportation and communication and the influence of modern culture. The subsistence economy is changing to a market economy and more natural forests are now being utilised for cash-crop cultivation and plantations.

The authors mention the need for complementary actions between the mountain and plain economies, which through appropriate management could guarantee sustainable use of the natural resources in the mountains. Such complementary development actions that guarantee a flow of benefits to both upland and lowland populations are the best hope and probably the only alternative to halt the destruction of the environment and to conserve natural resources in the mountains.

The document refers to the theory of Himalayan degradation (Ives and Messerli, 1989). It concludes that the general degradation of the Himalayan environment is a result of increasing population pressure on its natural resource base. The degree and extent of such degradation as well as its impact on the upland environments are largely unknown, mostly exaggerated and based on myths rather that on reliable and pertinent facts and figures. Data is needed in order to do away with prevalent myths and confront the problems of the Himalayan environment.

Data on the geography of the HKH region shows the area of forest, pasture, national parks and protected areas, agriculture, population, and livestock (areas in 1 000 ha, population and livestock in thousands).


Master Plan for Forestry Sector, Nepal (1988):

In relation to ownership there are three categories reported: State or Government Forest, Community or village forest and private forest. In relation to function there are protected forest, production forest, multiple use forest and national parks.

Natural forces, especially those affecting highly fragile ecosystems, include: mass wasting, landslides, riverbank cutting, heavy rains, floods, droughts, hailstorm, avalanches and glacial lake outburst.

The impacts of human pressure relate to livestock grazing; the conversion of forest land to farm lands and pasture; settlements and infrastructure uses such as roads, irrigation canals, channel dams, power lines, industrial sites, mining and other development projects. Furthermore, there is continual removal of biomass to meet the growing day-to-day need for fuelwood, fodder, timber, minor forest products and industrial raw material for the increasing human and livestock population.

Estimated average annual rates of deforestation and reforestation in the HKH region of Nepal, 1970’s and 1980’s:

The authors present information on forest cover and deforestation rates. Martens (1983) estimated that the forest was being eliminated at the rate of 2% annually. Joshi (1984) estimated that the rate was 3%. The LRMP (1986) and WECS (1986) indicated that between 1964 and 1979, 3.3% of the forests and shrublands (382 000 ha) were converted to other land uses, tree cover decreased by 1.8% and shrubland increased by 4% per year. Tiwari (1991) observed an annual rate of deforestation of 0.3% and an increase in cultivated land of 1.7%. Rautianinen (1991), based on aerial photographs taken in 1972-1986, calculated the average annual loss of forest area at 0.9% and the decrease in crown cover as 1.2%. Dense forest declined by 2.4%, medium density forest by 12.7% and scattered forests by 5.5%. Grassland has increased by 18.7% and shrubland by 12.7%. The area of natural forest decreased by 570 000 ha between 1964-1985 (or 0.4% per year) (MPFS, 1988). The Forestry Master Plan (1988) estimates that, based on present trends, 0.6 million ha of forest will be lost during the next 25 years. Banskota et al (1990) estimates the average annual deforestation rate at 44 000 ha (or 0.8% annually) and the average annual reforestation accomplished in all categories of plantations (government, community, private) at 7 900 ha which, at a 60% survival rate, amounts to a meagre 5% of the area deforested.

The document mentions that infrastructure development in Nepal creates conditions 200 times more likely to cause land movement compared to other human activities. The socio-economic factors in rural areas and the dependency of local people on the forests is a cause of forest depletion. There is a great need for investment in these areas that will provide alternative sources of income. Only in this way will it be possible to break the cycle of poverty and forest depletion.

The role of foresters and the Forestry Department is still not clear, which creates confusion among the personnel.

There are also problems related to the lost of biodiversity. Deforestation usually takes place in fragile mountain ecosystems, while reforestation programmes take place in the plains. Afforestation programmes are oriented to economic benefits and that means that species are usually selected with this perspective in mind and indigenous flora are not considered. Product extraction is a selective process tied to economic benefits. Protected areas are vulnerable to poaching and encroachment. Local communities have used traditional shifting systems of agriculture.

Cost-benefit analysis overestimates the benefits of exploitation and underestimates the value of conservation. When land, species or ecosystems do not have clear ownership and value, they are overexploited.

Overview of mountain natural resources and status of National Parks/protected areas and flora and fauna in HKH as of 1991*

Total area

14 080 000 ha

National Parks/protected areas

11 000 ha

Number of protected areas


Protected areas with wildlife habitat

1 094 (958**)

Original tropical wildlife habitat

11 707 ha

Remaining tropical wildlife habitat

5 285 ha

Tropical wildlife habitat lost


Number of mammal species threatened


Number of bird species threatened


Number of reptile species. threatened


Number of plant species occurring

6 500

Endemic flora


Rare and threatened plant species


* Master Plan Forestry Sector Project, 1988.

**Estimate by the author, 1991.

The authors suggest some appropriate mechanisms for forest management and biodiversity conservation using a sustainable approach:

The document refers to the forest types analysed using 1994 NOAA satellite data and reports mixed and coniferous forest covers 41.6% of the country, excluding 14.5% of degraded forest.

The document describes the problems in rangeland areas. The main issues relate to:


22. Shresta, R. 1986. Socio-economic Factors Leading Deforestation in Nepal. HMGN/USAID-GTZ-IDRC-WINROCK Project. Research and Planning Paper Series. Number 2. Kathmandu.

This document presents the results of research conducted in the Terai and Hill areas of Nepal. The study explores forest dependency, evidence of deforestation and attitudes of farmers, local leaders and foresters. The results show a correlation between ownership of forest land and family size.

The main factor leading to deforestation is fodder collection. Dependence on forests for fodder is inversely related to farm size. Small farmers are less willing to plant fodder trees. In some National Forest areas the damage is so great that regeneration is impossible.

About 87% of the country’s total energy is derived from wood. The average per-capita consumption is one cubic meter per year. In addition to home heating and cooking, large quantities of wood are consumed in the Kathmandu Valley to heat brick kilns.

Timber requirements for each household depend on altitude and ethnic group but no additional details are given in the document.

Land clearing in the Terai is increasing because it has fertile land, easy communication and transport, and an effective malaria eradication programme. Migration into this area is estimated to be 0.7 percent annually.

There is a lack of co-ordination between forestry development programmes and the resettlement programme.


23. Subedi, B. Das, CH. Messershmidt, D. 1993. Tree and land Tenure in the Eastern Terai, Nepal: A case study from Sirha and Saptari District, Nepal. FAO-CFU Community Forestry Case Study 9. Edited by Daniel Shallon. Rome.

Subedi et al conducted a case study of tree and land tenure the Eastern Terai area. Several causes of deforestation in the Terai are mentioned. The Terai was once a dense forest belt. After the anti-malaria programme in the 1950's it was opened to clearing and farming and now very little natural forest remains. In the early 1980’s, with the support of the Sagarmatha Integrated Rural Development Project, some forest plantations were establish on 1 338 ha of land, including the natural forest. The intent was to upgrade the existing forest, provide more timber and fuelwood resources and stabilise streams and riverbanks.

The author develops an interesting analysis on how tenure issues and dependency might motivate a group to plant or cut trees. Patch planting is done on private farmlands larger that 2 to3 ha and on common properties. Line planting usually is done on boundaries, especially with Moringoa oleifera and Delonix regia, to avoid shade that can affect the adjacent cultivated fields. Scattered planting is done in home compounds and by small farmers and the near-landless (nut trees, fuelwood and timber trees). Hedges are planted as protection against livestock.

The authors classify land tenure as private, common or government reserves. The way that people relate to these areas are different depending upon their social status, economic condition, gender or caste.

The common land is divided into village forests (used by a community with an authorised management plan) and wasteland. The wasteland concept is applied to those areas in which agriculture crops, trees or other profitable products (bamboos and grasses) are not viable and not grown. In the subsistence economy of Nepal, common land can be used as a source of fodder, fuel wood collection, medicine plants, roots, tubers, etc.

Government areas are established to exclude the community from the forest area.

Religious and cultural factors also contribute to the management of forests. Funerals in Nepal need specific trees for the ceremony and these are protected and well managed by communities.


24. Tachibana, T. Pokharel R. Raymajhi S. Otsuka, K.1999. Dynamics of Common-Property Forest Management in the Hill Region of Nepal. Seminar on Forest and Agriculture in the Hills of Nepal. NAES, CEAPRED. Kathmandu.

This study analyses the causes and consequences of forest user group management in the Nepal Hills. The study used aerial photos to determine forest condition. However, the authors found that in the Nepal Hills this technology is inappropriate. The reason is that user groups collect minor products such as fodder and branches but not timber, and these products cannot be evaluated with this technology.

The authors postulated that the lower crown cover they observed as of 1978, the greater the probability of forming a user group. Similarly, the smaller the size of the community the more likely it is to form a user group. They also found that formal user group management leads to improved forest condition. Complete prohibition of tree cutting and grazing by formal user groups are the major factors affecting forest resource condition.

The authors proposed to conduct more research on the impact that the caste system has on forest management and enforcement of rules and regulations inside user groups.


25. Upadhyaya H. Otsuka, K. 1999. Community Forest Management in the Hill Region of Nepal: Rules and Practice in Firewood Collection. Seminar on Forest and Agriculture in the Hills of Nepal. NAES, CEAPRED. Kathmandu.

The authors state that one of the critical factors leading to deforestation is the absence of clear ownership rights to forestland and resources. They argue that, without ownership rights, incentives to protect or regenerate natural resources do not exist. They mention that traditional economists have proposed private ownership as an alternative but the cost of management is high. Other authors cited believe that local communities have the potential to perform effective management of natural resources, particularly if they are granted formal and assured land rights.

The study attempts to explore statistically how effectively the management rules for common property forests are enforced in practice by estimating labour allocation, firewood extraction and labour-sharing functions. The study was conducted in 99 forests in the Hills of Nepal. Special emphasis was given to the analysis of scarcity of resources, forest area, household organisation and numbers, fuelwood as the main forestry resource extracted from the forest area and rules and regulations.

The main conclusions of the study are: