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Forestry in Nepal: Preliminary findings of two research projects in Nepal


ICIMOD Headquarters

Date & Time

18 March 2024

Organisers: ICIMOD, SANDEE, Forest Action, Paris School of Economics


About the event

ICIMOD’s Action Area on Restoring and Regenerating Landscape, in collaboration with SANDEE, is hosting a one-day workshop to share the preliminary findings of two research projects related to forestry in Nepal. These projects are ‘Local Governance of Forest Resources: Development, Environment and Political Economy in Nepal’ (GoLFor-DEEPN) led by the Paris School of Economics (PSE) and ‘Economics of Forest Restoration’ led by SANDEE. ICIMOD will also be sharing some of our work on the use and application of EO and GIS (under the SERVIR-HKH Initiative) and incentive measures for forests landscape restoration to reinforce positive forest landscape management decisions. The idea is to also explore future research innovations and outlook.


This workshop will share research results with stakeholders involved in community and other types of forests and with those working on energy access and livelihoods in Nepal. ICIMOD, SANDEE, and Forest Action have been collaborating to examine the economics of private tree planation in Madhesh Province of Nepal, where some preliminary findings are now available for sharing and feedback. PSE has been engaged in the GoLFor-DEEPN project in Nepal and intends to share the preliminary findings from the research. The workshop plans to engage a discussion on some of the new knowledge – some of it being produced within these research projects – about private tree planting (trees outside forests), community forestry, mapping of forests managed by CFUGs and their temporal monitoring, etc.


In Nepal, after decades of continuous deforestation, forest cover has increased over the last 20+ years, but yet there are limited studies that adequately explain this growth scientifically. Economic growth, expansion of rural roads, migration from rural areas and associated remittances, conflict, alternative energy development, and plantation of trees on private land are some of the factors that could explain why there is a change in deforestation and forest degradation and even reversal of the part trend. SANDEE has been evaluating the impact of private tree plantation program in Madhesh Province of Nepal in collaboration with Forest Action. The research project, GoLFor-DEEPN aims at evaluating at the national level, the effect of handing over the management of forest from the Nepal Department of Forest to Community Forest User Groups on (i) forest cover, (ii) public good provision at the local level, and (iii) local (political) governance.

Related to the seminal work about collective action (Olson, 1965), the tragedy of the commons (Hardin, 1968), and the governance of commons by communities (Ostrom, 1990) or their failure (Diamond, 2005), GoLFor-DEEPN builds on the results of Kosfeld and Rustagi (2015), Mansuri and Rao (2013), Baland et al. (2010a) and Somanathan et al. (2009). Both of these projects (led by SANDEE and PSE) innovate in several dimensions: the methodologies do take into account the environmental and institutional spillovers on areas not managed by communities combining advanced methods in remote sensing with econometrics techniques; they combine qualitative work in villages to country-wide scale statistical analysis at the frontier of the most recent standards in economics research; and analyse how local governance can shape an emergent democracy at the local level, a bottom-up approach that is not much discussed in the literature.

At ICIMOD, we are promoting measures to protect and manage critical mountain ecosystems and ecosystem services through a dedicated Action Area on Restoring and Regenerating Landscape. In relation to forest landscape restoration, there are efforts to understand and compare the economics of various forest landscape restoration programme in countries, understand landcover dynamics, forest loss, forest carbon stock and more. We have applied and demonstrated the remote sensing applications in supporting ICIMOD’s regional member countries (RMCs) and their decisions since 1990 (Bajracharya et al, 2021). Monitoring of land cover and forest resources change is remained one of the many priorities of SERVIR-HKH Initiative. Most recently, we have developed land cover monitoring (RLCMS & NLCMS) products utilising the available free online satellite data and cloud computing platforms. These products provide annual landcover maps from 2000-2022 and will continue upcoming years. Similarly, we also developed forest fire detection and monitoring system (FFDMS) of Nepal which provides real time satellite-based forest fires observation and fire outlook for next two days. Methodology development for tracking of forest carbon stock is progressing. All these efforts are contributing RMCs to analyse forest cover change and ecosystem condition with high frequencies and accuracies.

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