At the time that ICIMOD established the Godavari site, the land had been reduced to almost completely degraded forest and shrubland through continuous excessive removal of useful species by people, grazing, and forest fires. The area was once a natural high forest rich in biodiversity and stocked with valuable tree species, but the natural species composition had been replaced through invasion and encroachment by aggressive, hardy, but less useful thorny shrubs, bushes, and weeds. The timber volume was low with very few fuelwood, fodder tree, or other useful species.
ICIMOD embarked on a long-term programme using various assisted natural regeneration techniques to restore the forest. In ten years, the overall biomass more than doubled as did the number of plant species. Agro-forestry models were established, and sightings of wildlife increased. Regeneration is a long-term process and there is still a long way to go in terms of increasing biomass and species diversity – even so the site already has one of the best forests surrounding the Kathmandu valley. This is a living example of what can be done for the degraded forests of the mid hills. Some of the specific approaches are summarised. By their nature, most of the vegetation management activities are also concerned with biodiversity conservation, as outlined in the Biodiversity section of activities.