What benefits do community forests provide, and to whom? A rapid assessment of ecosystem services from a Himalayan forest, Nepal

Jennifer C. Birch*, Ishana Thapa, Andrew Balmford, Richard B. Bradbury, Claire Brown, Stuart H M Butchart, Hum Gurung, Francine M R Hughes, Mark Mulligan, Bhopal Pandeya, Kelvin S H Peh, Alison J. Stattersfield, Matt Walpole, David H L Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In Nepal, community forestry is part of a national strategy for livelihoods improvement and environmental protection. However, analysis of the social, economic and environmental impacts of community forestry is often limited, restricted to a narrow set of benefits (e.g. non-timber forest products) and rarely makes comparisons with alternative land-use options (e.g. agriculture). This study, conducted at Phulchoki Mountain Forest Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) in the Kathmandu Valley, used methods from the Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment (TESSA) to compare multiple ecosystem service values (including carbon storage, greenhouse gas sequestration, water provision, water quality, harvested wild goods, cultivated goods and nature-based recreation) provided by the site in its current state and a plausible alternative state in which community forestry had not been implemented. We found that outcomes from community forestry have been favourable for most stakeholders, at most scales, for most services and for important biodiversity at the site. However, not all ecosystem services can be maximised simultaneously, and impacts of land-use decisions on service beneficiaries appear to differ according to socio-economic factors. The policy implications of our findings are discussed in the context of proposals to designate Phulchoki Mountain Forest IBA as part of a Conservation Area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-127
Number of pages10
JournalEcosystem Services
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2014

Keywords

  • Beneficiaries
  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Community forestry
  • Equity
  • Livelihoods
  • Participatory management

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