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Nepal’s Forest inventory: Beyond tree counting - Embassy of Finland, Kathmandu : Current Affairs


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Kathmandu, Nepal
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Nepal’s Forest inventory: Beyond tree counting

Nepal’s forest inventories are conceived from the beginning to enable the measurement on a systematic grid of all the information that are required for the present global need.  The management of forest related data has improved dramatically over the last 25 years. This includes planning, knowledge sharing, legislation, policies - a whole range of important steps that Nepal have been implementing.

Finland has supported two national level inventories in Nepal and developed a uniform system to collect and share information about the forest stock, biomass, non-timber forest products, forest and soil carbon, status of biodiversity and many more. The initiatives have been recently taken further by the government of Nepal by its own resources to complete the inventory of Terai region.

Nepal’s Forest inventory: Beyond tree counting

Second inventory was based on the Finnish funded project called Forest Resource Assessment Nepal (FRAN) The results of the second inventory catalyzed change and created impact at various levels. One of the most significant impacts is spreading information – facilitating other ongoing projects to utilize the created data. FRAN results have empowered forest managers, law enforcement officers and other forest stakeholders with free access to timely and high resolution satellite data about the current status of forests and recent forest change in Nepal. They have provided a consistent and comprehensive approach to describing the forests at national level and how they are changing.

FRAN results have been used to finalize national forest policy, which is a key document leading the amended forest legislation and national forest programs for sustainable forest management. They have also been used in decision-making processes concerning the development of the scientific forest management guidelines, and to provide forest resource information for national and international statistical reporting and to provide with information on forest health, biodiversity and carbon pools.

The most recent inventory adopted systematic and permanent sampling scheme and included national-level statistics on more than 40 parameters on forests, soil carbon, biodiversity and ethnobotany. Hence the scope of the inventories has expanded regularly since the first systematic assessment published in 1960. These inventories make an interesting history of forest related data, both in terms of their substantive content, but also in their changing scope.

New data available for multiple uses

A comparison with findings from 10 years ago revealed big improvements. The cover of the national forests area has positively changed from 39 percent in 1990 to 45 percent in 2016.

The ability of government institutions to conduct field-based inventories has also increased. As a result, GoN has been conducting periodic ecological area level survey and achieved some good results. The permanent sample plots have been established for the implementation of the National Program on Forest Resources Change Monitoring and Evaluation which have offered a very interesting setup for obtaining data appropriate for developing general models for the national-level forest inventories and simulation studies. Satellite data are archived and made available for free.

Nepal's  forest inventories  are inspired from different systems that are currently in use in Nepal and Bhutan. Their characteristics were adapted to the size and the landscape conditions of Nepal. The recent inventory provided with information far beyond the simple forest mensuration. The new inventory was therefore conceived from the beginning to enable the measurement on a systematic grid of all the information that are required beyond the tree measurements for instance carbon reporting under international protocol for REDD, forest biodiversity, payment for ecosystem services and many more.

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Updated 1/10/2017

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