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16 Jun 2015 | News

REDD+ Initiative: Agroforestry demonstration plots established in Gorkha and Chitwan

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Agroforestry, the cultivation of trees and agricultural crops in close combination with one another, is an ancient practice used by farmers throughout the world. It produces food and sustains livelihoods, while also enhancing biodiversity and conservation, improving soil and water quality, and controlling erosion. In addition, when strategically applied on a large scale, agroforestry enables agricultural lands to withstand weather events, such as floods and droughts, and even climate change.

In recognition of the benefits of agroforestry, ICIMOD, through its REDD+ Initiative, is promoting the intercropping of paulownia, a deciduous hardwood, and coffee on agricultural lands in Gorkha and Chitwan. A total of 5,000 paulownia (Paulownia tomentosa) trees and 5,000 coffee (Coffee Arabica) saplings have been distributed in Gorkha and Chitwan. Paulownia was ordered from the Himalayan Parbat Nursery at Godavari, while coffee saplings were bought from the Organic Coffee Nursery at Thula Pokhara, Arghakhanchi district. The paulownia saplings will be planted by local communities on farm land and in degraded community forests, religious forests, and school compounds, where they will sequester carbon and provide timber, thereby reducing the pressure on natural forests and contributing to biodiversity conservation. The coffee saplings will be planted on private land only and will generate income after four years.

ICIMOD will monitor these agroforestry demonstration sites every four months for up to two years. By 2016, it is expected that many of these sites should be well established, as local communities have shown great enthusiasm for testing this new agroforestry system. If this system is successful, then bee hives and coffee beans processing machines can be co-financed by the project. The success of this model will determine its replicability. This activity has fostered a deeper bond between ICIMOD and the communities in the REDD+ sites. Even earthquake-affected villages have seen this as a great opportunity for rebuilding their farm lands. Such agroforestry systems is one REDD intervention strategy with local co-benefits.

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