Forest fire management in Nepal: Status, emerging challenges and response strategies

Forest fire pose threats to the ecosystem and human lives every year in Nepal. The problem is exacerbated with rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and prolonged droughts. Despite efforts from multiple agencies, forest fire remains a threat due mainly to high accumulation of fuel load in the forests and poor forest management practices. This calls for effective forest fire management strategies with a combination of prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery measures. In this backdrop, ForestAction Nepal in collaboration with Nepal Forester’s Association (NFA), Global Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies (GIIS), and Institute for Study and Development Worldwide (IFSD) organized a half day dialogue to identify key gaps and challenges pertinent to forest fire management in Nepal.

Some key takeaways from the dialogue are:

– With changing patterns and intensity, it is important to understand the forest fire dynamics to reduce the hazards.

– In recent years, local communities are losing interest and motivation in getting involved in extinguishing forest fire in nearby community forests. Though several reasons can be attributed to this, the primary factor has been increasing regulatory requirements for the user groups to acquire timber and other benefits from the forest.

– Declining interest and involvement of user groups in forest management activities has resulted in high deposition of burning materials/biomass in the forests, thus triggering the risk of fire. This demands for a radical rethinking on the use of forest biomass.

– While technological innovations have proven to be effective in some cases, policies and strategies should largely focus on engaging community institutions and their participation in management of forest fire in Nepal. In addition, adequate focus should be laid on reducing risks of communities who get involved in forest fire management.

– While problems and issues pertinent to forest fire in Nepal are largely understood, prioritizing research and piloting will provide a solid ground for scaling out strategies and options for forest fire management.

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Our dream: localization of food, livelihood and economy

In a remarkable display of community spirit dedication towards Sustainable agriculture, representatives from alliance of agriculture, civil society and media organizations gathered on June 30, 2023, to celebrate 4th International Localization Day and 20th National Paddy Day at Kavresthali, Kathmandu. This event aimed to promote the age-old practice of rice transplantation, emphasizing its importance in ensuring the food security and financial stability of the agricultural community in Nepal, as well as its overall positive effects on the environment. The collective effort of all the stakeholders made this event a resounding success, creating awareness and inspiring a positive campaign.

Bestowed by the hazy day, the event commenced with an opening ceremony led by the agriculture experts, representatives from different organization and media outlets, along with local farmers, highlighting the importance and necessity to promote sustainable farming practices and provide support to local farmers. The event kicked off with informative session, where famers shared insights and knowledge techniques related to rice transplanting.  The session emphasized the ecological advantage productivity associated with this method. Following the session, participants eagerly ventured into nearby paddy fields to engage in hands-on experience. Guided by experienced farmers and experts, enthusiastic representatives’ donned traditional farming attire, rolled up their sleeves, and joined the local famers in the muddy fields. This active participation fostered collaboration and knowledge exchange among the attendees.

The media played a crucial role in amplifying the events impact with journalists from mainstream media documenting the activities and interviewing participants. Through their coverage, they aimed to raise awareness globally, showcasing the significance of traditional farming methods and the efforts made by different related organization, and local farmers in promoting sustainability. As the day drew to a close, local farmers and affiliated officials expressed their gratitude to all the attendees for their unwavering support in promoting sustainable agriculture in the region.

The National Rice Transplanting Day served as a remarkable example of the positive impact, by paving the way for promotion of strategic intervention and support while simultaneously honoring the rich cultural heritage of traditional rice cultivation.

 

Joint Meeting on sharing emerging findings, reflections and learnings

Women around the world are disproportionately stressed by unpaid care work and the effects of shocks, especially in emerging and rural economies. However, much of the work being done to transition to a net-zero economy is frequently fragmented, biased against women, and does not take into account their specific needs and interests. The Gender Equality in a Low-Carbon World (GLOW) research programme was initiated by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in response to this pressing knowledge gap. GLOW funded 12 initiatives in 17 low- and middle-income nations to investigate into how to incorporate women’s economic empowerment into low-carbon, climate-resilient transitions. Nepal was successful in bagging the two out of twelve projects which are implemented by  ForestAction Nepal-, Economic Empowerment of Women through Forest Solutions  in Sindhupalchok and Nawalparasi district while  SIAS  implementing Co-production of Shock Resilient Business Ecosystems for Women Engaged Enterprises (CREW) in Ramechhap, Dolakha and Arghakhanchi districts.

In order to share emerging findings, reflections and learnings between two above mentioned IDRC funded projects in Nepal under (GLOW) program and to identify the areas for collaborative outputs and synergy building for a better enabling environment on women’s economic empowerment in natural resource management sector, ForestAction Nepal along with the SIAS Nepal and their consortium partners organized the joint meeting on 28 June 2023 in the presence of the Dr. Bhim Adhikari, Senior Program Specialist /Sustainable Inclusive Économies – IDRC Canada.

ForestAction Nepal’s consortium partners, HIMAWANTI Nepal, AFFON, and FenFIT, presented their perspectives on approaches and strategies adopted in the project, reflected the achievements, issues and opportunities on women empowerment using forest solutions. The session specifically focused on enterprise and entrepreneurship, socio-political empowerment, sustainable forest management, knowledge dissemination. The research ideas were shared on the impact of forest-based enterprises, challenges of adopting feminist approaches in the consortium, procedural and policy challenges and societal issues, and key learnings encountered during the project interventions.

Similarly, SIAS’ partners (NIMS College, ARIA Solutions, and Himalayan Bio Trade Limited (HBTL)) reflected on 18 months into the CREW Project: Interventions, Approaches, and Reflections in its 3 districts under themes like understanding barriers and constraints, enterprise development through technological and institutional innovations, capacity enhancement to amplify voices and agency, and knowledge dissemination and policy uptake.

The common issue identification and discussion for synergy building were moderated by Dr. Naya Sharma Poudel and Dr. Dil Bahadur Khatri. The majority of the discussions centered on community forest users committee dynamics, policy-level constraints, and the joint collaboration between the consortium might be groundbreaking; the need for meso-level government engagement; societal-level constraints, challenges, and barriers; reflections; open dialogue; Intersectionality within the feminist approach; integrating the productive economy and the care economy; all these for ensuring the sustainability of the forest and agri-best enterprises.

Dr. Bhim Adhikari concluded with the emphasis on the dire need for comprehensive research shifting sectoral policy into macroeconomic policy, deeper analysis of the contradictory policies that restrict the use of the resources on which they are heavily dependent, taking all these stories of learning and co-learning into the global context, exploring how people perceive the upgrading of technology in society, exploring the stories of more incorporation of the private sector, fair trade, branding, and labelling for the sustainability of enterprises—all these for ground-breaking outcomes. He emphasized that now onwards he would appreciate a common outcome of learning from both FAN and SIAS on the research reports. His words of encouragement and critical feedback have opened up the path for both projects to pave their way in a more inclusive, sustainable, and productive way, analyzing them through a feminist approach with an intersectional lens.