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An international meeting on Twenty-five years of community forestry: Mapping tree dynamics in the Middle Hills of Nepal

 Hotel Himalaya, Kathmandu, Nepal,

November 29-30, 2018 

Meeting location: Hotel Himalaya, Kathmandu, Nepal

Meeting dates: Thursday November 29 to Friday November 30, 2018

Regional Support Organizations: Resources Himalaya Foundation and ForestAction

International Support Organization: NASA South Asia Research Initiative

Dates: November 29-30: Science meeting

December 3-4: Hands-on workshop with Google Earth Engine; training in accessing and analyzing annual, nation-wide tree cover data. Led by Jamon Van Den Hoek (Oregon State University), Kaspar Hurni (University of Bern), and Alexander Smith (Oregon State University)


Science Meeting


Science Meeting – November 29-30

Meeting Objectives

Since the 1980s, Nepal has gained worldwide recognition for path breaking achievements in community forest management. Forests account for upwards of 45% of Nepal’s national land area (nearly 6.5 million ha) and are one of the country’s major productive resources, contributing about 10% to the gross domestic product. In 1988, Nepal’s Department of Forests (DoF) identified 61% of the nation’s total forest area (3.5 million ha) as forest that could be transferred legally to local communities and managed for their benefit. Today, community forests occupy nearly 23% of Nepal’s total forest area (1.8 million ha), the management of which involves over 22,000 community forest user groups comprising 1.8 million households and nearly 40% of Nepal’s population. The spatially-explicit impacts of this transition in forest management have not been documented in part due to the difficulty of mapping tree cover in mountainous environments where remote sensing imagery analysis is hindered by topographic effects, e.g., shading, the presence of clouds, snow, and ice, and the inaccessibility of areas of rugged terrain for ground truth data collection. Indeed, only a few national scale forest surveys have been conducted. Mapping Nepal’s forest transition and developing a comprehensive understanding of factors underlying observed changes in tree cover are critical if Nepal is to improve upon its already successful resource initiative. We distinguish between tree cover and forests because in the Middle Hills a number of unirrigated agricultural lands have been abandoned and replaced with tree cover. Our remote sensing work does not distinguish between closed canopy forests and tree canopy so where possible we prefer to use the term ‘tree cover’. This meeting seeks to quantify the rate, extent, and socioeconomic importance of Nepal’s tree transition based on three decades of Landsat satellite data and spatial modeling. The meeting has four overarching themes: 

  1. Describing project methodologies (satellite image processing, census and interview data analysis, and spatial modeling)
  2. Documenting annual tree cover change since 1990 at 30m spatial resolution
  3. Identifying physiographic and socioeconomic variables associated with tree cover change and quantify their respective influences, and
  4. Assessing how foreign labor migration and remittances correlate to tree cover and the future of community forestry in Nepal

Meeting Venue

Hotel Himalaya Kupondole Height, Lalitpur, Kahtmandu, Nepal 1-866-599-6674

Meeting Registration


Main Scientific Organizers

  • Dr. Ram Chhetri, Resources Himalaya. Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Dr. Naya Sharma Paudel, ForestAction, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Dr. Jefferson Fox, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

Draft Agenda

Scientific Presentations

  • Background/overview from ICIMOD? (1990 and 2010 forest cover products)
  • Terrain correction and image compositing
  • Tree cover change and geographic analysis
  • Socioeconomic change
  • Spatial modeling
  • Integration of tree cover change

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