photo by Ghintang (source: Flickr Creative Commons)

Populations who see the benefit in preserving their own natural resources are better equipped to take care of them. That is the logic behind community forestry or CF. Successful community forestry should not only conserve and revive vital natural forests, but also contribute to alleviating extreme poverty for those who live near and depend on those forests.

An article from Inter Press Service details the achievements of the Kafle Community Forest project near Katmandu in Nepal. What was once a dying forest in danger of becoming a desert has now been revived into lush, green woodland by community forestry. Locals who once scavenged firewood and other vegetation now independently manage the forestland. This local system of forest management and conservation has proven much more effective than previous methods of direct government control, according to data from ICIMOD, a regional organization dedicated to preserving healthy mountain ecosystems in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas region.

At present 1.6 million households are involved in the conservation and sustainable management of forests across the country. Together they make up 15,000 community forestry groups across the country, based on data from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

– Inter Press Service

Besides supporting local human and animal populations, healthy forests serve as important carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change. Locals populations who preserve forests – like those in Nepal – might financially benefit and be aided in their preservation efforts by carbon offset schemes such as the UN’s REDD program.

Additional resources:

More on REDD from CNN: Vanishing forests, carbon sinks and money pits

Forestry Nepal article on community forestry