Communities Develop Demonstrable Agroforestry Systems with Poulownia Plantation in Sushare Gaun, Gorkha, Nepal

Poulownia plant in Sushare Gaun, Gorkha, Nepal
(Nabin Bhattarai/ICIMOD)

Agroforestry is practiced in both tropical and temperate regions where it produces food, fiber and biomass energy, contributes to food and nutrition security, sustains livelihoods, contributes to reduction in poverty and promotes productive and resilient cropping and grassland environments. Agroforestry systems may also enhance biodiversity and water quality and control soil erosion. In addition, when strategically applied on a large scale, agroforestry enables agricultural lands to withstand weather events, such as floods and drought, and climate change. It is an essential element of the green and sustainable economy, in rural, urban and peri-urban environments. 

With this understanding, ICIMOD’s REDD+ Initiative introduced paulownia plantation in three pilot districts of REDD programme namely Gorkha, Dolakha, and Chitwan. This will not only sequester carbon but simultaneously make available timber from agriculture land and reduce the pressure on natural forest, thereby contributing to biodiversity conservation as well. After receiving great enthusiasm in testing a new agroforestry system as demonstration to farmers, a total of 2000 Paulownia (Paulownia tomentosa) were distributed to four sites of Gorkha district namely Ghale Danda, Sushare Gaun, Kattel Danda, and Biren Chowk in June 2015 and continuous monitoring of the sites was carried out. Beside Kattel Danda, survival and growth of planted saplings on three other sites was satisfactory. The prolonged dry spell might be one of the reasons for loss of planted Paulownia at the Kattel Danda site. The present measurement and monitoring of Paulownia was carried out on Sushare and Birenchowk sites. In addition, saplings of Ghale danda are surviving but with minimal growth rate as compared to other two sites. The average height of the Paulownia was found to be 1.6 m and 2.02 m in Sushare and Birenchowk respectively. Similarly, average DBH was found to be 0.11 cm and 0.12cm in Sushare and Birenchowk respectively. The highest tree that was observed had the height of 4.8m in Sushare Gaun. The survival rate of the saplings was 62% in Sushare Gaun and 20% in Birenchowk. Now, the next survey should come up with the silvicultural interventions necessary in plantations which depends foremost on the main production objective (e.g., conservation, fuelwood, fibre, or sawlog production). 

ICIMOD staff carry out the monitoring and measurement of Paulownia tree planted post-earthquake in 2015.
(Nabin Bhattarai/ICIMOD)

Communities developed demonstrable agroforestry systems in their farm land and also reforested degraded lands in community forest. It is a great achievement that this activity has fostered a deeper bonding between communities of the REDD+ sites and ICIMOD and partners. Even the earthquake affected villages saw this as a great opportunity for rebuilding their farmlands. Agroforestry is fast becoming recognised as a land use system which is capable of yielding both wood and income while at the same time conserving and rehabilitating ecosystems, and contributing equally to soil improvement and conservation.