Climate change vulnerability assessment report: developing a demonstration site in Nepal on community forestry, gender and climate change adaptation

The Asia-Pacific region has some of the highest absolute numbers of people dependent on forests for significant portions of their livelihoods, and also stands to suffer some of the greatest expected economic and loss of human life as a result of adverse climate change impacts. In numerous sites across the region, community forestry (CF) has proven to be an effective approach both for reducing forest loss and degradation and for sustainably managing forests for multiple benefits. These forests, however, continue to be subject to widespread degradation and conversion, and are becoming fragmented within increasingly diverse and intensively used landscapes, often with negative impacts on local people—particularly the poor and excluded—as well as on national and global priorities, such as mitigating and adapting to climate change. CF can be a powerful approach for improving rights, governance and fairer access to benefits for local communities and smallholders; all of which supports the adaptive capacity of communities and the resilience of ecosystems on which they rely. There is increasing policy support for this approach across the region and growing interest in how CF can simultaneously support climate change mitigation and adaptation goals. In this context, RECOFTC and USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific have developed a framework for better understanding and assessing climate change vulnerabilities in a context of multiple competing interests in a CF landscape. The pilot site for developing this approach was a women-led Community Forestry User Group (CFUG) in the Terai of Nepal; the Bishnupur community forest. The context in Bishnupur reflects challenges associated with the ecologically fragile Chure Forest, but also one of growing opportunities for economic development due to the close proximity of the Indian border. The community has served as a valuable, and generous, testing ground for the approach and a continuing pilot site for the implementation of interventions identified through this Vulnerability Assessment process.