Access to forest increased for the landless poor …….
The UNDP Western Terai Landscape Complex Project (WTLCP) has facilitated the formation of three new community forest users’ groups in Kanchanpur, a far-western terai district. With this initiative, 886 additional households comprising of 5965 people will have access to forest resources.
Many members of this new community forest users’ group were earlier illegally settled inside the biodiversity rich area, exploiting the forest resources. Negotiation with the illegal settlers resulted in evacuation of 752 hectares of forest area— within the Pipladi, Daiji and Krishnapur Village Development Committees and national forest of Laljhadi Corridor in Kanchanpur district.
The communities, after taking official responsibility of the handed over forests are now legally binded to conserve and sustainably use the forest resources. The evacuated areas are very critical areas for ecological integrity and connectivity of Laljhadi biological corridor with the Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve in Kanchanpur— which is rapidly losing its forest due to encroachment for settlement and expansion of agricultural land.
The WTLCP has supported the construction of 12 kms long trench with bio-fencing and planting of 3500 plants along the evacuated area. The trench and plantations have helped to control excessive grazing and to mark the boundary of forest areas. The project has been regularly supporting the mobility of the District Forest Office for anti-encroachment campaigns and community interactions.
Simultaneously, the project has been organising public awareness campaigns for biodiversity conservation and anti-encroachment through different local FM stations .
The WTLCP has also been organising fairs in selected biodiversity rich areas to assess agro-biodiversity and associated knowledge maintained by the local communities.
In the recent biodiversity fair organised in Shankharpur VDC of Kanchanpur district— 16 new varieties of local rice were recorded in one day, in addition to the 32 varieties earlier identified.
In the fair, the nine farmers’ groups exhibited 65 varieties of cereals, 98 varieties of vegetables, 285 varieties of medicinal plants, 49 varieties of pulses and 22 varieties of oil yielding crops. The seeds of all these displayed varieties are collected and stored in the local community seed bank that the community has established with partial support from the WTLCP. The seed bank has to a great extent helped the farmers to conserve good quality seeds and to retain their cultural heritage and farming patterns.
The fair is also an event to exchange local seeds amongst the farmers which they have been conserving for generations. In order to motivate the farmers, a biodiversity related cultural programme was organised and cash prizes were awarded as incentive to the participating farmers.