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Type: Thesis
Title: Evaluating spatial and social factors to effectively implement community forest management operational plans in Nepal
Author: Puri, Lila
Issue Date: 2020
School/Discipline: School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
Abstract: Sustainable forest management is a crucial issue in developing countries where the majority of the rural population relies on forests for livelihoods. While Nepal’s community forestry program is widely recognized for successfully conserving and regenerating forests, its contribution towards enhancing the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities is suboptimal. This is largely due to poor design and implementation of the operational plans for managing community forests. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to understand how operational plans can be designed to optimise forest management and utilisation practices. It achieves this by: 1] assessing the extent to which operational plans are sub-optimal, and this is found to have both biophysical and social components; 2] determining local communities perceptions on those biophysical and social factors influencing forest management; and finally 3] determining how operational plans can be adapted to the needs and practicable management of community forests. The conceptual framework to achieve this aim integrates biophysical, particularly spatial, and social factors to assess the capacity of current operational plans. The thesis employs a mixed methods approach to integrate quantitative and qualitative domains of the research problem in the context of 13 community forests representing natural mixed Schima-Castanopsis (SC) and Schima-Castanopsis-Shorea robusta (SCS) forests in two villages of Lamjung district, Nepal. The data was collected from multiple sources including forest inventory, household interviews, group discussions, expert consultations, operational plans and maps published by government offices. The annual consumption and supply of fuelwood was estimated from household interview and forest inventory and compared with the respective quantities provided in the operational plans. It revealed that the majority of operational plans report fuelwood consumption and supply well below the standard variations of estimated quantities for the same; thus indicating that operational plans are inadequate and inconsistent to estimate the consumption and supply of fuelwood. The analysis of spatial patterns of stump distribution, which also reflects forest management practices, reveals that wood extraction is clustered mostly in timber producing forests like SCS forests. Further, the intensity of wood extraction has confined at the convenient locations close to the settlements, road and foot tracks and in flatter areas. This indicates the poor performance of operational plans to regulate and maintain spatial integrity of forest management and utilization across the forests. The series of group discussions revealed that current state of forest management is at a very basic form, and that several social, biophysical and spatial factors influence management practices. The three primary factors are: low income benefits from forest; consequent reduced dependency on forests; and inadequate capacity for technical forest management. Nine other contributing factors were identified to shape the user groups’ motivation to forest management. Even though current operational plans are information intensive, they are deficient in relevant information on local contextual factors. Consequently, these plans are inadequate for practical use to inform forest management decisions. The thesis offers an improved understanding of community forest management in the changing context of local communities managing forests. It demonstrates that forest users are conditioned by various socio-economic, biophysical and spatial factors that set local context of forest management. Accordingly, it gives a new impetus to reconsider the scope of operational plans in the light of existing capacities and incentives of user groups to effectively implement operational plans for enhance forest management. To move this end, forest policies should emphasise on collaborative research of silviculture based forest management and promote enterprise based forest management to augment the technical capacity and incomes from community forestry.
Advisor: Nuberg, Ian
Ostendorf, Bertram
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, 2020
Keywords: Operational plans
community forestry
spatial factors
forest silviculture
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