Protected gullies – a traditional sustainable land management practice

Protected gullying is a sustainable land management practice initiated and maintained by the traditional community approach; it is based on indigenous knowledge and uses only locally available materials.

Sustainable land management aims to prevent soil erosion and to increase productivity; it can take on different forms depending on the exigencies of the terrain. In Kabhrepalanchok District, where the slope of the land is not too steep, farmers use gullies controlled using indigenous techniques to protect fertile agricultural land, to minimize erosion, and to help prevent landslides near villages.

For more than two hundred years, land users in jagidol (jagi=rice, dol=gully) villages practiced gully control and they have developed innovative methods for deployment and maintenance of gullies. Periodically, the whole community is involved in discussions for planning and implementation of new measures, but for the most part only routine repairs are needed and the individual farmers whose properties border the gullies shoulder the main responsibility for maintaining them. When severe flooding events cause many gullies to collapse, materials are collected locally and the whole village cooperates in the rebuilding. Both men and women are involved; men usually help with the heavy digging when new gullies are established or during crises when many gullies collapse at once and women are involved in the day-to-day maintenance of the gullies. Communities in villages higher up in the hills have used this approach for a long time; their gullies are more mature and well-entrenched and are reinforced by mature bio-engineering measures. Gullies in villages situated lower down the slope are usually more recently established and typically still require regular maintenance.

WOCAT database reference: QA NEP 25

Location: Sharada Batase VDC, Kabhrepalanchok District, Nepal

Approach area: Approximately 1 km2

Land use: Waterways, drainage lines, ponds, and dams

Type of approach: This is a traditional approach that has been practised for at least 200 years.

Focus: Mainly on conservation with religious, cultural, and ecological significance

Related technology: Sustainable land management using controlled gullying in 'jagidol' areas (QT NEP 25)

Stakeholders/target groups: Land users, individuals and groups

Compiled by: Sabita Aryal Khanna, Kathmandu University

Date: November 2010, updated March 2013