NEPAL: FORESTRY AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS
Nepal constitutes a mere 0.1% of global land area, but possesses incredibly diverse biological resources and has rich and unique cultural heritage. Forests provide a wealth of resources for daily subsistence and income generation for local communities in Nepal, including fuelwoods, fodder and non-timber forest products; livelihood of rural communities is dependent on forests. Community forestry in Nepal has been a major success in improving the livelihoods of local communities in many parts of the country and now deeply engrained in the Nepalese traditions. The shortage of funding, inadequate training to local community forest user groups, rapid urbanization, no timely intervention of government policies and programs, and lack of environmental awareness however, have all become major hurdles in promoting community based forest management in rural areas of Nepal. As in many countries, there is considerable regional disparity in Nepal, and over half of the population lives below poverty line (i.e. less than a dollar a day) and therefore not all rural communities have been able to access resources through initiatives such as community forestry. Additionally, problematic issues that plague forests worldwide also exist in Nepal, namely pollution, deforestation and forest degradation, poaching, encroachment and habitat loss through land conversion.
Recognizing the need to build sustainable alternatives, Forests without Borders has developed a project in Nepal that focuses on Forestry and Environmental Education within Schools, particularly in remote areas of the country. Learning from successful lessons from Forests without Borders’ past projects, specifically in Zambia and investigations in Haiti, we have developed pilot projects in three high-schools in the mid-hills of Nepal: Kolma Baraha Chour School, Divya Prakash School, and Bhabishya Nirman School. The project aimed to establish multi-purpose forest tree nurseries (composed of local tree species) and are set to be linked into the school curriculum, teaching valuable lessons in forestry and sustainable management. Not only will students be given the opportunity to benefit from the program; entire communities and families will also become stewards and beneficiaries of the nurseries. With a target of 3000-4000 tree seedlings in the first year, nurseries will serve both as a foundation for education, and furthermore, provide uses for timber, fuel, fruit, fodder and other local needs. Over the long-term, these nurseries will become self-sufficient and supply additional tree seedlings that can be utilized through community and ecological or small business ventures.
Providing the knowledge base and skill-set for sustainable management of forest resources will undoubtedly curtail deforestation rates in Nepal. Moreover, the establishment of community-based projects has the opportunity to facilitate economic gain, and social benefits, enhancing local livelihoods.
2015 project update.