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Community Forestry and REDD+ in Nepal

Title: Global Environmental Initiatives in the Local Forest Management: An Analysis of REDD+ Implication in Community Forestry in Nepal

People:  Harisharan LuintelRandall Bluffstone, Robert Scheller

Status: Ongoing
Funding: The World Bank

Background and Rationale

Considering the significance of forest in emission reduction and carbon sequestration, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has proposed a novel carbon offset program called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, including Conservation and Sustainable Management of Forests and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks in developing countries (hereafter referred as REDD+). REDD+ demands a range of sophisticated, western-scientific knowledge based new requirements and standards to ensure additionality, control leakages, maintain permanence, and ensure social and environmental safeguards.

Globally, local communities are using approximately 18% forest; approximately 15.5% is under the control of local communities. The governments in many developing countries have been formally transferring forest management responsibilities and use rights to rural people through decentralization policy reforms i.e., community forestry (CF) programs and therefore the trend of community control of forest is increasing. In Nepal, CF has been the priority forestry program and more than 18,000 communities (approx. 35% population) have been managing approximately 32% of the Nepal's forest.  

Because the primary objectives of CF and REDD+ often contradict, the intended outcomes of REDD+ in CF may imply trade-offs, depending on the community, resource, policy and institutional contexts.  Different scholars have observed REDD+ at international and local levels and indicated the possibility of both positive and negative implications for CF.  However, very few of these observations are empirically based. 

Study Objectives: Our objective was to examine ecological and socio-economic implications of REDD+ in the Community Forests of Nepal.  We bring insights on how REDD+ could be interpreted and applied at the local level and that may shape the condition of community forest, the dynamics of forest governance, and the economic outcomes of CF. 

More specifically, our study aims to:

Objective 1: Examine how REDD+ initiative affects community forest management and therefore the condition of forest;

Objective 2: Examine how REDD+ initiative reinforces or transforms existing power relations between government forest institutions and communities, and between community members; and

Objective 3: Examine how and to what extent the benefits flow to the forest dependent communities under REDD+ scheme.

Study Sites

The research was carried out in Nepal. A total of 65 community forests were selected randomly across 42 districts. To match with selected community forests in terms of forest/ecological types and socio-economic characteristics of communities, 65 non-community forests were also selected. 

  Figure 1. Geographical locations of the sampled communities and community forests