“Harnessing Synergies between Agriculture and Forest Restoration’
Communities work together to restore forests – an example from Nepal
By Lila Nath Sharma, PhD
Blog from IUFRO Member Organization ForestAction Nepal
Jalthal forest is a 6,000 ha forested land in the densely populated region in the lowland of Southeastern Nepal. It is a remnant moist tropical forest with diverse ecosystems and habitats comprising swamps, rivers, ponds, hillocks and plain areas. It is an important biodiversity hotspot with several threatened floras and faunas including the Asiatic elephant and pangolin. The forest has unique assemblages of tropical and subtropical plant species found in the sub Himalayan tract. Floristic elements from different bio-geographical regions – Sino Himalayan, East Asian and Indian, for example – makes the forest diverse and unique.
The forest is an important source of environmental services including fresh water and multitudes of forest products for people living around the forest. It is currently managed by 22 Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs) and is an important livelihood source for over 80,000 people. In spite of high ecological and social significance, the Jalthal forest is subjected to multiple pressures. These include invasive species, human-wildlife conflict (particularly human-elephant), wildlife poaching, illegal felling of trees and timber focused forest management.