Enhancing livelihoods from improved forest management in Nepal


The Middle Hills of Nepal are home to 44% of Nepal’s population, 66% of whom derive their livelihood from a combination of agriculture and forest products. Forests and agriculture are closely linked systems providing food, fodder, fuelwood, timber, and non-timber forest products.  Over the last 40 years, under a Nepali national program, 25% of forest lands have been handed over to 19,000 Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs) (DoF 2017). However, the management of community forests and associated agricultural systems in the Middle Hills is sub-optimal. Livelihood opportunities remain limited with the result that food insecurity is widespread. As planning practice for CFUGs is about 40 years old, forest management has not responded effectively to new socio-ecological risks, nor integrated advances in planning and governance knowledge. Underlying these problems are inequitable planning and governance of community forestry; gender inequities in decision-making; and an emphasis on protection rather than active management and sustainable use of forest products – all leading to rural development situations that have remained unchanged despite the democratic transition and improved forestry opportunities.

This project builds on the success and lessons of the 5-y project FST/2011/076, Enhancing livelihoods and food security from agroforestry and community forestry in Nepal, also known as the EnLiFT project. The key successes of EnLiFT are: the demonstration of the silvicultural management package called Active and Equitable Forest Management (AEFM) as a desirable pathway to achieve the Government of Nepal’s goal of ‘Forests for Prosperity’; influencing the policy agenda for future silviculture and treatment of under-utilised land (UUL); and developing a critical understanding of the community dynamics underpinning forestry planning and decision-making.

Key research gaps have been identified as needs for: understanding of the socio-ecological impacts of AEFM; improving local government planning in the context of rapid social, economic and political change; strengthening the CFUG system in the context of new local government powers; reducing gender inequality in community forest decision-making; low-labour input activities that are suitable for time-poor women; tree-based enterprises that could be deployed on UUL; a new institutional framework for regulatory and institutional cooperation between the CFUGs and local governments; pro-poor forest-based enterprises models; alternative regulatory structures for marketing forest products; and responses to the disconnection between research and policies for improving livelihoods.

Craig Johns of GFAR will lead the forest industry survey and facilitation of forest-based enterprises.  The activities will also include the forest industry analysis along with GFAR Research Fellow Ying Xu and other project partners and in country partners in Nepal and in facilitation of forest-based enterprises that address social disadvantage.  GFAR will also contribute to the concerning Community Forest planning and governance with market issues, and in development of market-related policies.


Project objectives

The project has three key objectives

  • To enhance adoption and benefits from Active and Equitable Forest Management (AEFM) and improved private forestry practices
  • To develop and institutionalise community forestry planning, governance and gender equity frameworks within the new local government system
  • To design and facilitate the establishment of pro-poor small-scale forest enterprises

Project partner

Lead institution

Collaborating institutions


Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR): FST/2017/037 (2018-2023)


GFAR researchers involved in this project

Tagged in Projects:International development, Active projects