Climate resilient community forestry in Eastern Himalayas
In the Eastern Himalayas region of Nepal, forests are being fragmented by rapidly growing infrastructure, hydropower, and urban expansion. Further, climate change promotes the increasing coverage of invasive species, resulting in forest degradation and threatening biodiversity. The project aims to counter these developments in two ways. It aims to strengthen the climate resilience of fifty Community Forestry User Groups (CFUG) through political advocacy, awareness building and trainings. At the same time, it implements concrete agroforestry and fodder management measures to enhance local carbon sinks coupled with biodiversity conservation.
The Eastern Himalayas landscape in Nepal is classified as a global biodiversity hotspot. However, forests in the region are being fragmented by rapidly growing infrastructure, hydropower, and urban expansion. In addition, climate change is leading to an increasing spread of invasive species, exacerbating forest degradation and threats to biodiversity. Some of these forests are managed by local inhabitants through a formal community forest mechanism. There are more than 300 of these community forest user groups in the project area, most of whom manage the forest based on traditional knowledge and practices. As they have limited knowledge of silvicultural practices, they have not been able to optimise their benefits from forest products or to include climate resilience plans and measures in their management plan.
Target beneficiaries of the IKI Small Grants project are poor and marginalised households of the selected community forest user groups. The project activities target 50 community forest user groups covering 4,000 hectares. Further indirect beneficiaries are 4,600 households.
APPROACH AND ACTIVITIES
This IKI Small Grants project aims to build the resilience of community forestry institutions for adapting to climate impacts and to enhance their role for carbon mitigation and biodiversity conservation through appropriate operational plans that are endorsed by local communities and the government.
To build a climate-resilient community forest institution, the organisation selects 50 community forest user groups for project implementation, prepares standard procedures for forest assessment, multi-stakeholder consultations and climate-resilient planning. It also trains and mobilises local forest user group staff in forest inventory and provides technical support to forest user groups in implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation plans.
The project also seeks to improve the livelihoods of marginal and very poor households of community forest user groups through agroforestry and fodder management. For this purpose, 20 forest user groups are selected based on interest and feasibility for introducing agroforestry activities, from which 60 households or farming groups will be selected. For all 60 households, the project establishes ten improved fodder plots on private land for livestock on which a total of 600 fodder tree species are planted on ten ha of land.
By connecting ecological corridors between community forests, the Federation of community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN) enriches the biodiversity. To this end, the organisation identifies critical bottlenecks for red panda and pangolin habitat with GPS and conducts awareness-raising activities at community level. Selected habitats are then enriched with native species. One hectare in each of the three areas is planted with native nigalo species, adding up to a total of 6,000 nigalo seedlings.
IKI Small Grants supports FECOFUN in their organisational capacity development through:
- Leadership capacity building
- Establishing a platform for learning and sharing success stories
- Establishing and implementing an online accounting system
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION
he Federation of community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN) is a formal network of forest user groups from all over Nepal that was founded in 1995. Its mission is to promote and protect the rights of community forest users through capacity strengthening, economic empowerment, sustainable resource management, technical support, advocacy, policy development, and national and international networking and to uphold the values of inclusive democracy, gender balance, and social justice.