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Community Based Adaptive Learning and Action in Management of forestry Resources in Nepal (2017)

Client Organization: 
Forest Action in Nepal
Project Location : 
Patan, Nepal
Summary of Project Idea: 

The purpose of this project is to understand how to improve livelihoods of rural communities in Nepal who rely on forestry resources for livelihoods through improved community forestry management. In particular, through community based adaptive learning and action process. This Master’s project will contribute to the ongoing research project on improving governance of Community Forestry Users Groups (CFUGs). The large research project examines and addresses these questions: how can we improve community based forestry governance through adaptive learning and action process and how can we improve livelihoods for forestry-dependent groups?

Goals and Objectives:
The main objectives include: 1) Improved management of community forestry systems including improved institutional and government models. 2). Organizing and empowering local community and their networks to claim their access and to control over land, water and natural resources through raising their voices and engage in the policy formulation. 3). Expanding markets for forestry products and small-scale forestry enterprises. 4). Developing new projects such as eco-tourism that increase the income of forestry communities.

Theoretical Justification, Social Benefit, or Significance:
People living in rural areas of Nepal are largely deprived of the basic support from government. About 38% people are living under the poverty line. Due to extremely limited resource and access to government budget allocation and credit finance, poor people in remote areas are largely relying on community or government managed forests for their livelihoods. To improve their livelihoods, study of how to effectively take advantage of forest resources and how to manage and provide access to the poorest and marginalized groups in Nepal are essential in poverty reduction. Information about the institutional, political, and social factors that drive governance failures will help decision makers in providing more effective forest governance.

Specific Activities & Duration:

 January – May 2016:

i. Conduct a background literature review to understand the extent of previous relevant research
ii. Finalize principal research questions
iii. Identify existing models that are suitable for this project
iv. Define initial model parameters for community based forestry governance
v. Identify institutions, communities, government and other stakeholders in forestry management
vi. Plan logistics for summer 2016 field research

May – August 2016:

i. Training and collaboration workshop with partners in Nepal (May), to exchange an develop skills and knowledge
ii. Students collect and analyze forestry data in Koshi Hills area

September 2016 – May 2017:

i. Perform data analysis to measure effectiveness of adaptive learning and action in forestry governance
ii. Prepare a final report summarizing findings and assessing methods in improving community livelihoods through adaptive learning and action

Integrative Approach
This project approaches the problems of effective community based forestry governance from both a technical and a policy perspective. Understanding the political and economic context of community forestry governance will form a key foundation of the project. Data will be collected through a variety of methods, including stakeholder interviews. The project will enhance scholarship in the area of community adaptive learning and management in natural resources with an explicitly practical purpose—to determine the usefulness and effectiveness of community based forestry management in terms of improving livelihoods for forestry-dependent communities.

SEAS Program Areas: 
Conservation Ecology (Aquatic Sciences, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Conservation Biology)
Environmental Policy and Planning
Behavior, Education, and Communication
Environmental Informatics
Environmental Justice
Sustainable Systems
Role for each program area: 

Conservation Ecology: Define specific field measurements needed to form an accurate analysis of the forestry area that governed and management by local communities. Perform field assessments.
Environmental Policy and Planning: Engaging with local communities, local government, and forestry institutions to access the effectiveness of multi-stakeholder management of forestry resources.
Behavior, Education, and Communication: Assess social and economic pressures in local communities in managing forest resources and empowering them to have their voice to be heard in policymaking process.
Environmental Informatics: Using GIS and remote sensing technologies to assess the succession and change of forests.
Sustainable Systems: Identify and analyze other ways such as water systems to find alternative income sources for local communities.

Professional Career Development Benefits: 
  • Opportunity to develop contacts with international and national nonprofit organizations 
  • Field work in Nepal
  • Opportunity to develop research and interview skills
  • Hands-on experience with greenhouse gas emissions modeling
  • Opportunity to present policy recommendations to an international audience.
  • Publication of findings in a peer-reviewed journal
Identify expected products/deliverables: 

The student will be expected to deliver a final report including an analysis of adaptive learning and action in forestry governance and its effectiveness in enhancing livelihood

The student's findings will be shared at workshops at a professional, international conference. Findings will be shared with the CGIAR research network, as a CCAFS Working Paper, and submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.

Contact full name: 
Birendra Karna
Job title: 
Institutional Development Specialist
State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Arun Agrawal
Contact Phone: 
Contact e-mail: 
Contact information: 
SNRE student
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Yihan Wang
SNRE student contact: Yihan Wang (
Project Status: 
Past Project