Forests play a vital role in combating climate change and mitigating its effects. In Nepal, they are a source of livelihood for the country’s growing population. With impacts on forests growing due to climate change, forest degradation, and deforestation, it has become even more necessary to develop a reliable climate resilient forest management system. To combine science with practice, the SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya (SERVIR-HKH) initiative at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), in collaboration with the Department of Forests, Government of Nepal (DoF/GoN), recently organized a consultation workshop on the system design and methodology framework for climate resilient forest management in Nepal.
The workshop brought together district forest officers (DFOs) from the high mountains, mid-hills, and the Terai, and staff working at DoF in ICIMOD Headquarters, Kathmandu, on 9 March 2018 to discuss ground-based information about vulnerable systems and the stressors they are exposed to.
The resilient forest management approach focuses on identifying the hotspots of degradation and climate sensitivity in forests in Nepal using an integrated approach . The assessment of vulnerability and degradation was completed at the landscape level for the Chitwan Annapurna Landscape and the Koshi basin, which together cover more than 60% of Nepal’s area. Activities to use the products to enhance knowledge of forest management have been planned in six priority districts.
During the workshop, ICIMOD’s Director General Dr. David Molden and Department of Forests, Deputy Director General (DDG), Dr Rajendra K.C., signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) to enhance the planning and management of forests by prioritizing management and adaption decisions to access the impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems in Nepal.
“The LoI signing ensures our strong partnership and commitment to make our forests climate resilient and sustainable. ICIMOD’s expertise on GIS technologies and our networks in the grassroots level will play a significant role in improving evidence based decision making while implementing the climate resilient forest management system,” said Dr Rajendra K.C., DDG, Department of Forests, Government of Nepal.
The implementation of the climate resilient forest management system will include an assessment of the impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems using past and future climate data and the impacts of degradation using data on resource availability and extraction. This assessment will produce a forest degradation map, climate sensitivity map, vulnerability map, and adaptation footprint map. It will also result in a web-based decision support tool that will focus on improving decision-making capacity and will add value to the planning and management of forests at the district level, which will be integrated into the district forest management and operational plans, which are revised every five years.
ICIMOD’s Director General Dr David Molden said, “Forestry work in Nepal stands out and is exemplary. I believe through this collaboration we will go a long way together in co- creating knowledge and tools with our vast knowledge on science and technology and DoF’s presence on the ground. The climate resilient forest management system will be a very good example of co-creation which can be replicated in other countries in the HKH.”