Eak Rana is a Nepalese expert on sustainable development. He joined International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu in November 2009 as Project Coordinator for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. The project is being run in developing countries to protect forests. Rana coordinates with partners and liaise with local ministries and stakeholders to institutionalise forest carbon accounting, monitoring, and registration and help develop a national forest carbon fund.
Rana gained extensive experience in forest resources management and livelihood improvement during many years of work. His recent experience included working for an initiative in Nepal where he was involved in various activities implemented by the Forest Ministry’s REDD Forestry Cell under the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility scheme. He has rich experience working with government, civil society, and NGOs. Rana has a Master of Science degree in sustainable resource management from Technical University of Munich, Germany, specialising in forest ecosystem management. He is project coordinator; REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) Ecosystem Services at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu. The News on Sunday had the opportunity to interview Rana. Excerpts follow:
The News on Sunday (TNS): Tell us about your work at REDD?
Eak Rana (ER) Globally, REDD is considered a new approach for climate change mitigation and adaptation. We think that forest policies will have to align with the incentives of and the public interest. However, a challenge is made more difficult by the complex causes of deforestation, many of which are external to forestry sector. Nepal still does not have a concrete framework in terms of a policy under REDD, but is part of two programmes: the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, and the United Nations REDD Programme. The country has gotten $200,000 for a readiness preparation proposal and an additional $3.5 million from the World Bank to work on six different components related to REDD.
TNS: What is the purpose of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development?
ER: The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, ICIMOD, is a regional knowledge development and learning centre serving the eight regional member countries of the Hindu Kush-Himalayas — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and is based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Globalisation and climate change have an increasing influence on the stability of fragile mountain ecosystems and the livelihoods of mountain people. ICIMOD aims to assist mountain people to understand these changes, adapt to them, and make the most of new opportunities, while addressing upstream-downstream issues. The center supports regional trans-boundary programmes through partnership with regional partner institutions, facilitates the exchange of experience, and serves as a regional knowledge hub. It strengthens networking among regional and global centres of excellence. Overall, it is working to develop an economically and environmentally sound mountain ecosystem to improve the living standards of mountain populations and to sustain vital ecosystem services for the billions of people living downstream now, and for the future. To adapt to the changing scenario, ICIMOD has set up a demonstration centre in the Jhikhu Khola watershed at Lamdihi village, farmers are taught the techniques of roof-water harvesting, making farm ponds, drip irrigation, composting and terracing. From growing one maize crop a year, some farmers now harvest rice, potato and vegetables thrice a year.
Under this project we are working hard to stop forest degradation and deforestation. Community foresting is one of the ways to save forests. Such foresting was adopted three decades ago under which forested areas were handed over to local communities. In 1988, community-based forest management groups were formally approved, with the Kavre and Sindhupalchowk districts being the pioneers. There are now 16,000-20,000 community-managed forests in Nepal, covering 25 per cent or 1.2 million hectares of the country’s forest land. This policy really yielded positive results and many degraded landscapes rejuvenated after the communities imposed management regime allowing natural regeneration. Communities also earn revenue by selling non-timber forest produce (NTFP), rejuvenating the land.
Forests are very important for the Nepalese people especially those living on high lands. One of the studies conducted by the project indicated 70 per cent of forest users depend on forest biomass based household energy as a source in project sites. We are of the opinion that they should use this source of energy in a sustainable way. Recognising this, the project has introduced alternative energy technologies such as bio Biogas and improved cooking stoves so that pressure on the forest could be reduced. Similarly, there has been enrichment plantation of native and culturally valuable tree seedlings in community and private forest land within three watersheds. Trees planted on farms will eventually reduce pressure on local forests. In one year, the community forests in three watersheds increase carbon offset of carbon dioxide of 2.67 tonnes per hectare. The entire project covers about 10,266 hectares of community forest area. In voluntary market, the price per tones of carbon dioxide is between US$ 3 and 5. However, the market price can go above US$ 20 for per tones of carbon dioxide internationally.
TNS: How Nepal was affected by climate change?
ER: Like other states of developing world, the countries of South Asia have been hit by climate change and Nepal is no exception. The country known for its high mountains and rich forests is facing droughts on the one hand and floods on the other hand. This drought leads to forest fires that is not only destroying livelihood of the people living on highlands but also causing damage to environment. Eighty per cent people in Nepal depend on agriculture but because of drought and floods agriculture yield has greatly been affected. Our country is facing two types of floods — glaciar lake outburst and overflow in regular rivers. Glaciers lake outburst flood the local lakes. This has also led to an overflow in rivers. The country is also witnessing irregular rainfall, which is also contributing to floods. These irregular rainfalls have been caused by temperature rise, which is a global phenomenon now and Nepal is no exception. This temperature rise has created many difficulties for the Nepalese people; the lowland people face drought and floods while the specter of forest fires and drought keep haunting the people of highlands. In Panchakhal area of the country, it now rains in May though traditionally rainfall occurred during June-September. With help from an NGO, the village has dug a 250-foot borewell and pumps water to a tank. Villagers get 80 litres a day for their use, but the 11-hour load shedding does not help. Most families use biogas to reduce dependence on forests.
TNS: How people are dealing with this changed situation?
ER: This phenomenon has forced people the way they used to live. Earlier people in highland would live in houses made of wood but now there has been a trend to make metal houses to escape the devastating consequences of forest fires. Peasants also find it hard to decide as to which crop they should grow. Since they are not sure about rainfall, they have diversified the means of their livelihood. Earlier all people would be dependent on agriculture and would grow crops to meet both ends but now one or two members of a family choose to go to urban centers in search of livelihood. Farmers are employing pre-sowing methods of agriculture. Because of irregular rainfalls farmers sow seeds before time, for instance potatoes grow in five months but now it may take seven months and the peasants sow its seeds before time. Earlier they would cut potatoes into four and sowed it but now they sow a whole potato to combat moister.
TNS: What has Nepalese government done to deal with this situation?
ER: We have launched National Plan of Adaptation Actions in 2011 under the United Nations Framework Covenants on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We will get fund from the UN agency for the five areas that we have identified as being hit by climate change and we will work to improve situation in these five areas.
This article was originally published at: The News
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.