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Jahn, Tina, 2023. What is a “good” forest? : a case study from Nepal to understand local women’s values for people-centred restoration. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Restoration is seen as a key strategy to counteract global issues of the climate crisis, deforestation, and land degradation. However, restoration initiatives are being criticised for failing to consider social and political dimensions, leading to negative effects on ecosystems and people.

To make restoration more people-centred, it has been argued that we need explicit strategies and rights that enable local communities to make authorized decisions about forests they depend on. Community forestry offers a model that could contribute positively to those practices, as community-based approaches involve a decentralisation of power that goes beyond merely increasing participation, and often allow for the creation of formalised local institutions that are backed by rights recognised in legislation. A generally successful community forestry program is seen in Nepal, with overall positive outcomes for people and the environment, despite some challenges. It therefore offers an opportunity to study the impact of community-based reforestation programs on local resource users. Special attention is given to understanding how different rural women that use forests in their everyday life, perceive community forests and which aspects they value in their surrounding landscape.

In this thesis, it is therefore asked: What can we learn from community forestry projects in Nepal about inclusion of women and creating local social benefits that can contribute to broader people-centred restoration approaches? How is community forestry in Nepal perceived by different local women and what specific aspects of the surrounding landscape do individual female resource users value?

Two villages in the middle hills of Nepal, providing the context of community forestry, are used as a case study. Semi-guided interviews served as the main source of data collection.

The empirical findings show that, although there are inequalities in community forestry in the study sites, and women are not always equitably included in seemingly participatory decision-making, the female respondents in this study are overall very supportive of community forestry as a way of governing forests. Respondents generally credit the way of governing forests for allowing more trees to grow. Specific aspects that women value in terms of a “good” forest in this study and that they perceive as benefits are: a variety of broadleaf tree species that provide products with domestic use value; availability and easy accessibility of products for domestic use; close, easy, safe and most importantly sustained access to collection sites to fulfil people’s daily needs; forests that serve as social places; forests that serve for provisioning shade, air, coolness, or water, and for protection from landslides/erosion. Community forestry can help to support these aspects. At the same time, if the dimension of inclusion is to be a priority for people-centred restoration approaches, work needs to be done to make local institutions more equitable over the long term.

Main title:What is a “good” forest?
Subtitle:a case study from Nepal to understand local women’s values for people-centred restoration
Authors:Jahn, Tina
Supervisor:Fischer, Harry and Khatri, Dil
Examiner:Hajdu, Flora
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2023
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM011 Sustainable Development - Master's Programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:people-centred restoration, forest restoration, community-based forest management, community forestry, social inclusion, gender inclusion, equity, livelihood benefits, participation
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Deposited On:28 Jun 2023 08:40
Metadata Last Modified:29 Jun 2023 01:05

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