Strategic Policies to Manage Land Resources for
Addressing Growing Social, Economic and
Environmental Problems in Nepal’s Mountain Region
SECOND KNOWLEDGE CONVENTION
Diaspora For Innovation And Prosperity In Nepal: Post COVID-19 Scenario
9-11 OCTOBER 2020
Non-Resident Nepali Association (Global) and the Nepal Government in
Collaboration with Kathmandu University, Nepal
Bhubaneswor Dhakal (PhD) (Bhubaneswordhakal@gmail.Com)
1. The mountain setting and resource economic realities.
2. Changes in land resource management and emerging
3. Potential policy solutions.
▪Abused resources and opportunities; biodiversity loss; exploited
poor people; exacerbated food insecurity and economic
hardship; community institutionally locked out; indigenous
institution loss; resources locked.
T.1: Agricultural land and rural population: Nepal in
comparison with neighboring countries
Total Ag land
land area %
Arable land per
Note: *A large section of the population depends on fisheries of their ocean resources
T.1: Agricultural land & rural population: Comparison with developed countries
Total Ag land %
land area %
Arable land per
Note: * Countries with access to fisheries of ocean resources for people’s livelihoods and national economy.
# Countries funding and advising to increase forest and protected area in Nepal
Their economic development
founded on the livestock business.
Geo-ecological reason to be small private landholding.
❑Mountain Communities used geologically
safe lands for arable farming.
❑Managed very sensitive lands in
common (public) for livestock
grazing and other forest uses.
❑Made convenient to survive in the harsh
❑No private pasturelands (unlike European and other dev countries).
❑Therefore, forestlands -De Facto private property and pasturelands
of the mountain community
The practice resulted in sustainable mountain land use systems
◦Private land and forests mixed landscapes.
◦Small private landholding.
◦Environment of coexistence of wild animals and
human in same territory.
◦Evolved mountain agrobiodiversity on forest
resource complemented agricultural production
◦Developed human activity induced forest
Otherwise, hardly any native forest and wild
mammals would be left as in the UK and other
❖Evolved mountain social-ecological systems (-
❖-a backbone of sustainability of mountain life.
❖Its foundation is livestock farming
❖The livestock is an engine and inspiration of mountain life.
❖The mountain community requires managing the forest resources
for multipurpose use to sustains mountain farming and economy
Increase forest area for carbon storage
reduce forest based livestock for
GHG emission reduction
, ADB, FAO, ICIMOD#
bilateral agencies# (e.g. AUSAIDS, DFID,
USAIDS, FINIDA, SDC and DANIDA)
for wild life
protection, outdoor adventures
recreation and carbon storage
, WWF#, UNDP, FAO, ICIMOD#
and other small INGOs
One or multiple ways: advocacy, lobbying, funding and
T.3: Iinternational experts/agencies blamed on the land use practices
as “causes of environmental disasters” and did strategic intervention
on the resource management policies and practices in their interests
M#1 Declared protected areas -mostly in highest mountains area. Wild animal
habitat in this difficult/remote terrains was moderately degraded and much less serious than
in the lower hill and other regions.
The high hill region is economically disadvantaged area where mainly indigenous
ethnic groups lived on public land resource based livestock.
Why more protected area lands in the high mountain area
a. Due to special adventurous recreation interest of
international advising experts & funding agencies.
b. Expanded more land area than actually needed for endanger
species conservation. Its hidden interest is to offset GHG
emission –high concern problem of advising experts’ countries.
c. Managed the habitat resources in intact model instead of
productive model to contribute more to GHG emission offset.
d. Advising international agencies instituted to use more areas
with the principle of “wherever possible” to meet their global
target of total land use in protected area.
e. The more land use in protected area would bring more foreign
aids which provided personal benefits mostly to government
officials and related professionals.
T.4: Protected area: International comparison
Most protected areas in OECD countries are in accessible sites and used to address recreational interest of people.
T.5: India vs Nepal: land use difference between
economically conscious and bad governments
Protected area in
Protected area in
Recently, the Prime-minister KP Oli declared to make 30 % national
areas under protected area by 2030. International agencies and
environmentalists insisted to make the protected areas 40 to 50 % land
territory by 2050 (Leclère et. al. 2020).
1) Global resources use data was retrieved from world database:
2) Centre Bureau of Statistics Nepal. Various issues including 2017,
3) HMG. 1988. Forestry Sector Plan 1988 MOF, Kathmandu
4) WWF, MOFP/Nepal and GEF. 2018. Integrated Landscape Management to
Secure Nepal’s Protected Areas and Critical Corridors. WWF/GEF Project 9437.
5) Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MFSC) 2016. Conservation
Landscapes of Nepal. Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Singha Durbar,
6) Cox, J. 2017. To Kill a People: Genocide in the Twentieth Century, New York and
Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp 258.
7) Leclère, D., Obersteiner, M., Barrett, M. et al. Bending the curve of
terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy. Nature
M#2 Government plan: Landscape scale decarbonization,
livestock control and wild animal corridor zones
Other forest resources uses
▪Grazing lands are forested for “reducing and controlling livestock numbers”
as per Forest Sector Master Plan 1988, (p.148).
▪Livestock grazing is restricted in most communities.
▪Communities are locked out from the forest resources by externally induced
regressive institutions. International agencies declared to induce such
institutions in 1970s. The hidden intension was to use the forests for offsetting
▪Now trees in the forests: over-stocked, under-utilized & decayed.
▪Nepal buys construction timber from overseas.
▪Forest Act (2076) dictated to retain existing carbon stock and other
ecosystems services while utilizing forest resources. Uses of the forest
products with meeting the conditions is technically impossible.
✓Induced institutions have acted as slow poison in
sustainable mountain systems.
✓Hampered livestock business and the mountain life style
based farming systems.
✓Exacerbated food insecurity, economic hardship and
✓The farmers lost food sovereignty and depended on
foreign companies and corporate for farming inputs
✓Destructed the mountain social-ecological systems.
Impacts on mountain systems
✓Prosperity of the mountain rests on grazing livestock. But the
community loosing the breeds adaptable to mountain steep
terrains and smart to escape from carnivorous wild beasts.
✓Lost of farm biodiversity evolved in marginal lands and
sustained on forest resources use.
✓Destroyed millenniums old pristine human settlement, a
centre of enriching and conserving mountain agrobiodiversity.
✓Loss of community natural heritages.
M#3. Human migration effect of the protected area activities.
•Human depopulation in hard conservation activity region (north east).
•Population increased in soft conservation activity region (even north west).
Region potential to be used under protected
area by 2030 to meet recent 30% target . To
regulate community harvest of Ophiocordyceps
M#3 Indigenous ethnic groups settled in the mountain since 15000 years. Aryan
(Bahun & Chhetri etc) ethnic groups arrived & settled on fertile lands in lower hills
and valleys. Then the indigenous groups squeezed to uphills & marginal land areas.
If these groups had used the resources like others, most biodiversity resources would
had gone as it happened in some European countries
1. Displacement of Adhibashi (indigenous groups) from their original
2. Some of the communities are frequently maltreated by government
3. Exacerbated economically and socially suffering of poor
communities and indigenous ethnic communities.
4. Destroyed their pristine social and cultural systems and resources.
5. Drove them to be involved in the job with high life risk and social
Intolerable issues: Cont’d
❖Declined populations of almost all tribes of the indigenous ethnic
❖Some of the tribes are dwindling to extinction, a human
❖Resulted in partnership political activities and institutions of local
elite ethnic group and international agencies supported by
❖Increased risk of ethnic violence and armed conflict.
❖The disgusting outcomes on poor communities resulted by
political actions and for luxury or other benefits of powerful
groups can be called agenocide.
❖Note: Study showed hardly any agency say genocide intension.
Processes and outcomes of interventions should be evaluated to
determine whether or not genocide (cox 2017)
Policy strategies: Forest related problems
a. Radical land use planning and implementation for
complementary uses of agricultural and forest resources.
b. Radical changes in the regressive laws and practices related to
the land resource management.
c. Halt current landscape scale decarbonization policy and program.
d. Manage community based forest resources for multipurpose uses.
e. Forestlands should be managed in farming friendly model.
f. Farm-forest integrated production systems.
Policy strategies: Protected area problems
a. Down size current protected areas,
b. Radically Amend protected areas laws and other policies.
c. Habitat resources management model: Give up naturally intact
model and practice productive model similar to other countries.
d. Target on endangered species.
e. Multipurpose management of resources allows coexistence of wild
animals and human in same territory.
f. Provide GPS based real-time information of roaming location of
harmful wild animals to farmers to reduce their crop and livestock
Policy strategies: Mountain farming
a. Foster transhumance practice to utilize alpine resources (pastures,
medicinal plants and other herbs) which requires easy access to the
resources including livestock grazing in transalpine forests during winter
b. Promote the activities fostering the mountain social-ecological systems.
c. Manage the community forest resource to promote mountain lifestyle
based farming system. Many households in the mountain communities
have meagre of land resources or other individual circumstances to take
advantages of market or commercialization. They would be better off
from the lifestyle based farming system. The farming system conserves
mountain agrobiodiversity resources.
Policy strategies: Endangered human tribes
The indigenous ethnic groups have strong cultural, natural
behavioural and social attachment with forest resources.
a. Adopt their need and interest focused forest management
model in the localities of the endangered ethnic tribes.
b. Foster special local economic and social activities to retain
youths of endangered ethnic tribes in communities.
c. Awareness the communities on dwindling position of their
society and potential halting measures.
Policy strategies: Inappropriate practices/ institutions
a. International organizations are often served as vehicles and shelters of vested
interest people or societies.
b. Some people at government policy decision level have helped to achieve the
mission of the agencies/people for personal benefits.
c. Professional and other intellectual groups should watch and evaluate their
activities. Sharing the information in social forums makes the culprits shameful
and guilty feeling which internally discourages them to repeat the mal-practices.
d. The professional education of forest officials is strongly founded on institutional
settings and social values of developed countries. Its mismatch with local
context has hindered them to work better for the community and nation.
Educational change and institutional reorientation alleviate the problems.
e. Requires fair and well informed public hearing practices to endorse any
international policy. Consider strategic development position of the nation.
The end of the presentation.
A recapping cartoon