Hariyo Ban Program: Cross-sector Collaboration

Threats to Nepal's biodiversity and ecosystems impact the 80 percent of the population that depends on natural resources for their livelihood. The Government of Nepal, recognizing this reality, has demonstrated a strong commitment to environmental management, biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation.

Hariyo Ban works in two contrasting landscapes
Hariyo Ban works in two contrasting landscapes: the low-lying east-west Terai Arc Landscape, and the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape which covers the Gandaki river basin in Nepal and ranges from nearly sea level to more than 26,000 feet in the Himalayas.

Context

Nepal is considered a model for community management of forests, with over 18,000 community forest user groups that have contributed to increased forest cover throughout the country. However, Nepal still faces serious environmental threats to its biological resources due to exploitative practices, unplanned urban expansion and infrastructure development, illegal logging and poaching, human-wildlife conflict, forest fires and erratic rainfall. The most vulnerable populations' high dependency on forest resources—such as timber, firewood and other non-timber forest products—is a driver of deforestation and forest degradation. These problems are further compounded by poor governance, political instability, social exclusion, poverty, illiteracy and an increasing demand for forest and for farming.

Hariyo Ban Program

The Hariyo Ban, or Green Forest, Program aims to increase ecological and community resilience in two large landscapes in Nepal. Funded by USAID/Nepal in 2011, it is now in its second phase, with Biodiversity and Global Climate Change earmark funding. The project aims to help communities build resilience and to improve the livelihoods of some of Nepal’s most impoverished communities. Closely aligned with the government’s 2014–2020 Nepal Biodiversity Strategy and the National Adaptation Program of Action, Hariyo Ban provides policy support at the national and sub-national levels and field level support to promote biodiversity conservation, sustainable forest management and climate change adaptation.

Hariyo Ban is implemented by a consortium of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), the Federation of Community Forest Users Nepal and the National Trust for Nature Conservation.

Biodiversity conservation

Biodiversity conservation is a central component of the Hariyo Ban project. Tiger and rhino populations are healthier due to USAID’s work with habitat management, human-wildlife conflict mitigation, and rhino translocation, as well as efforts to strengthen community-based anti-poaching units. Hariyo Ban partners with community forest user groups (CFUGs) and other community-based organizations (CBOs), such as soil conservation and collaborative forest management committees, to build capacity and to promote strategic approaches for conservation.

Ecosystem services for development and disaster risk reduction

he confluence of the Trishuli and Seti rivers in the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape
The confluence of the Trishuli and Seti rivers in the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape. River valleys like these are important biodiversity corridors linking the low-lying Terai through the mid-hills to the high Himalayas. © WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/Judy Oglethorpe

Links between ecosystem services and human wellbeing are fundamental in Nepal, where the rugged topography, risk of natural disasters and environmental change make life precarious for many communities. Healthy, well-managed forests stabilize steep slopes and retain water, providing water supplies and reducing the risk of landslides and flooding—hazards that are increasing with more intense rainfall. Forest restoration and adaptation often go hand-in-hand with improving livelihoods by finding alternatives to damaging and vulnerable livelihood practices. With forest restoration and alternative energy promotion, women’s workloads are reduced, and they can devote more time for economic activities and community initiatives like forest management.

Many of the climate adaptation plans that Hariyo Ban supports—like in Churiyamai, in the foothills of the Churiya range in central Nepal—have a disaster risk reduction focus. Hariyo Ban works with several sectors and many partners, including the Government of Nepal, civil society organizations, NGOs, private sector and academia, to provide specialized inputs for planning and implementation.

Hariyo Ban supporters
Hariyo Ban supports restoration of many landslide sites. After the 2015 earthquake the Program promoted environmentally sound recovery and reconstruction across many sectors involved in earthquake recovery, including housing, food security, WASH and education.

 

Adding value for biodiversity and people

Within the Terai Arc landscape and the Chitwan-Annapurna landscapes, Hariyo Ban works strategically in biodiversity-rich areas. Community-level work in places like Churiyamai contributes to restoring river basins and biodiversity corridors, including those that facilitate plant and animal movement. Higher level conservation efforts also include the promotion of environmentally-sound infrastructure design—for example, better planned and constructed roads to reduce soil erosion, landslides, sedimentation, loss of forest and farmland and downstream flood risk.

Women managing their forests

Water supplies in Churiyamai
Women are managing their forests in Churiyamai, intent on restoring water supplies and reducing disaster risk. © WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/Nabin Baral

"Earlier, you could find water here even during the winter if you dug a little in this stream bed,” said 83-year-old Avatar Singh Moktan of Churiyamai, Makwanpur District, in south-central Nepal. “But now the water level has really gone down. It is difficult to find drinking water, and we have very little water for irrigation.” He blamed deforestation—caused by excessive extraction of firewood and open livestock grazing. Climate change has only made water availability worse. Inadequate water supplies also caused significant hardship for local women, who had to walk longer distances to collect water. Now, however, the women in the Churiyamai villages have joined together to restore their forests, to adapt to climate change and, ultimately, to improve their lives.

Thuli Maya Moktan
Thuli Maya Moktan uses drip irrigation with harvested rainwater to grow tomatoes. © WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/Nabin Baral

Through the Bhabishya Buffer Zone User Committee, and with support from Hariyo Ban, the women met weekly in a learning and action center to discuss local issues and to build their confidence, empowering action. They learned about the links between environmental degradation, climate change and their living conditions, including water supply availability. The project supported the community to prepare a participatory climate vulnerability assessment and community adaption plan of action, which identified the main climate risks, such as increased water shortages, forest fires and flooding caused by erratic and intense rainfall. With their neighbors, the women learned to implement new water efficiencies and alternative irrigation methods by harvesting rainwater and employing drip irrigation. They have also started off-season cash crops in plastic greenhouses. Funds from the farming activities, as well as new off-farm ventures like embroidery, are replacing the need for lower-income families to sell wood from the forest.

Twenty-three women are now actively managing their forests to restore springs and reduce the risk of floods by controlling forest fires and patrolling against illegal extraction. They have trained cow herds to regulate grazing, fenced forest areas from livestock to promote natural regeneration, and planted fast-growing trees in degraded areas. The community has also planted bamboo to stabilize a river bank. Their dried-up springs are already reviving. Emboldened by their achievements, the women requested installation of piped drinking water supplies from the District Drinking Water and Sanitation Office and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which resulted in 10 additional water taps in their communities.

For more information

WWF Nepal Hariyo Ban Program
USAID/Nepal Environment and Global Climate Change