How Himalayan communities can benefit from protecting their forests
Nepal is one of the first countries in the world to include community forest management in the national forestry policy.
This confers authority to local communities to manage forest resources as forest user groups of an autonomous institution.
With support from Norad, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in partnership with Federation of Community Forestry Users’ Nepal (FECOFUN) and Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bio-resources (ANSAB), is piloting a REDD+ project in community forests in three watersheds of Nepal covering over 10,000 Hectare since 2009.
This action research based REDD+ pilot project aims to set up a (national) demonstrational governance and payment system for emission reduction through sustainable forest management, from which local communities and indigenous people benefit.
It facilitates strengthening the civil societies’ capacity to ensure their significant contribution in national REDD policy process.
Contributions by local communities and civil societies into policy process, first requires local information systems relating to communities’ abilities to measure carbon, their understanding – the role of climate change mitigation and adaptation and role of forest in sequestering atmospheric carbon as well as communicating to multi-stakeholders.
Thus the project developed carbon monitoring guidelines and trained local communities in its application in forest measurement.
It tested REDD+ payment in community forestry for the annual incremental carbon by setting up a pilot Forest Carbon Trust Fund (FCTF) which is operated by a multi-stakeholder advisory board.
The FCTF duly integrates equity related concerns while making payment to local communities, whereby rights of poor, women and indigenous peoples are safeguarded in REDD+.
This project has illustrated, that when social safeguards are ensured, REDD can dovetail carbon and livelihood benefits.
Multi-stakeholder monitoring committee in each watershed ensures proper utilization of REDD payment under the following activities relating to:
- Reducing deforestation, forest degradation and promoting forest conservation by promoting alternative energy technologies as well as sustainable management of forests that enhance carbon stocks
- Improve livelihood and awareness raising activities
- Monitoring forest carbon, auditing trust fund and verify forest carbon data
However, the expense of Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) mechanisms in future carbon trading, sustainability of the FCTF after the project period (mid 2013) and non-permanence activities such as forest fire are key challenges in the pilot sites.
To combat forest fire, communities have established forest fire lines. Local communities in three watersheds claim there has been no forest fires this year.
The attached maps showing community forests of Chitwan, Dolakha and Gorkha respectively validate the voices by communities.
Incremental forest carbon stocks and no recorded forest fires in the piloted sites are clear indications that the incentivized REDD mechanism accelerates climate change mitigation and adaptation at a local level by securing their livelihood options.