Hariyo Ban Program – Cross-sector Collaboration that Benefits People and Forests

Threats to Nepal's biodiversity and its varied ecosystems impact the 80 percent of the population that depends on natural resources for their livelihoods. 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 the increase of 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 high dependency of the most vulnerable sectors of the population 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 (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 is designed to help communities build resilience and improve the livelihoods of some of Nepal’s most impoverished communities. Closely aligned with the Nepal 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 for poverty alleviation and economic growth.

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 on improving the management of their habitat, human-wildlife conflict mitigation, and rhino translocation, as well as efforts to strengthen community-based anti-poaching units. Hariyo Ban partners with Community Forests User Groups (CFUGs) and other Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), such as soil conservation and collaborative forest management committees, to build capacity and promote strategic approaches for biodiversity conservation.

Using ecosystem services for human 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 which are increasing with more intense rainfall. Forest restoration and adaptation often go hand-in-hand with improving livelihoods through 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 such as forest management.

Many of the climate adaptation plans that Hariyo Ban supports, like that of Churiyamai in the foothills of the Churiya range in Central Nepal, have a major disaster risk reduction focus, in addition to reducing vulnerability through improving agriculture and other livelihood activities, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), small-scale infrastructure and forest management. 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.

Landscape approach – adding value for biodiversity and people

Within the Terai Arc Landscape and the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscapes, Hariyo Ban works strategically in biodiversity-rich areas. Work at the community level in places like Churiyamai contributes to restoring biodiversity corridors and river basins planned under ten-year landscape strategies Including corridors to facilitate the movement of plant and animal species. Higher level conservation efforts also include promoting environmentally sound design of new infrastructure: 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,” remembered 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 for sale and open grazing by livestock—for the loss of water sources. Climate change has only made water availability worse. Inadequate water supplies 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, adapt to climate change, and ultimately 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

With support from the Hariyo Ban Program starting in early 2013 through the Bhabishya Buffer Zone User Committee, the women met weekly in the Parijat community learning and action center to discuss local issues and build their confidence, empowering them to act. 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 more erratic and intense rainfall. Together with their neighbors, the women learned how to develop alternative irrigation water supplies and water efficiency through harvesting rainwater and employing drip irrigation; they have also started off-season cash crops in plastic greenhouses. Cash from the farming activities, as well as new off-farm ventures such as embroidery, are replacing the need for lower-income people to sell firewood 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 regularly 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. Further, bamboo has been planted to stabilize a river bank and reduce the risk of flooding. 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

http://www.wwfnepal.org/hariyobanprogram/
https://www.usaid.gov/nepal/environment-and-global-climate-change