Has community forest management affected forest cover in Nepal?: a medium density time series analysis at multiple scales

Authors: Alexander Smith*, Oregon State University, Jamon Van Den Hoek, Oregon State University, Kaspar Hurni, University of Bern, Sumeet Saksena, East-West Center, Jefferson Fox, East-West Center
Topics: Remote Sensing, Human-Environment Geography, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Remote Sensing, Community Forestry, Nepal, South Asia, Governance, Forest Change
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

One-third of Nepal’s forests have been under community forest (CF) management since the late 1980s. However, research is limited on how forest cover has changed under CF management as well as how its adoption has affected forest cover outside CF management.
To assess community forestry’s direct and indirect impacts on forest cover, this project: 1) used Landsat imagery to generate a yearly (1985-2017) time series forest cover data set for Nepal, 2) mapped the boundaries of a nationally representative sample (489) of Nepal’s 18,439 community forests, 3) mapped all CFs (105) in three watersheds and 4) conducted interviews with CF executives to identify founding dates of 591 sample CFs. To evaluate community forestry’s direct impact on forest cover, forest change trajectories for the nationwide sample were calculated from the Landsat time series data set and compared pre- and post-CF establishment. Additionally, the indirect impact of community forestry on forest cover change was assessed at the watershed scale.
Preliminary results indicate that land under CF management had above average rates of forest regeneration. Also, as the number of CFs and area of land under CF management increased, forest condition outside CF management also improved. These results suggest: 1) CF management directly improved forest condition and 2) the benefits of CF management are not limited to areas under CF management. Furthermore, interviews with CFs leaders indicate that grazing controls and reforestation efforts initiated in CFs were also implemented in surrounding areas. This observation may help explain improvements in forest condition outside CFs.

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