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Deforestation in Nepal: Causes, Rate and Consequences

by Bharat Adhikari | 13-04-2018 13:49 recommendations 0

Overall Scenario:

Deforestation, meaning changing forests into other land use and forest degradation, meaning deteriorating in quality of forests, are one of the biggest socio-economic and environmental problem in Nepal. Various report suggests that deforestation and forest degradation, which has occurred in the middle hills, was common for last hundreds of years and rate of deforestation is neither rapid nor of recent origin. However, forest degradation is continuing in the Hills. In the Terai and Siwalik deforestation is wide spread legally due to government resettlement programs and illegally clearing of forest for agriculture. In general, main causes of deforestation are agricultural production, need of firewood, forage for livestock as well as local unemployment and lack of management from the government. There are also other reasons which include political instability, politician?s attitude, fire, shifting cultivation, natural process, forest rewards, attitude of individuals, donors role and government policy.

The rate, causes, and consequences of deforestation are diverse in different countries. Rate of deforestation, however, is considered often debatable because of different ways of defining forests, deforestation, and degradation; and political and economic factors that cause countries to hide or exaggerate deforestation (Miller, 2004). In general, deforestation affects a particular geographic area, but widespread deforestation can have global repercussions. Small-scale loss of forest cover can have adverse effects on the supply of fuel wood for household energy, soil and water resources, and the quality of rural life. Large-scale loss of forest area has been implicated in changes in global wood supply, the hydrologic balance, genetic resource s, and global cycles of carbon and other elements (Allen and Barnes, 1985). The differentiation on forest quality was officially recognized in Nepal since the first Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) conducted in the early 1960s (Acharya and Dangi, 2009). Since then, the causes and consequences of deforestation have been remained a major concern for Nepal.


Causes of Deforestation on Nepal:

Deforestation is one of the major environmental issues in Nepal. Over-harvesting of fuelwood and fodder, forest fire, lopping and grazing, slash and burn cultivation, and timber extraction are generally considered to be the major factors responsible for deforestation and forest degradation. In general, the drivers of deforestation and degradation are the mixture of direct and indirect cause s such as high dependency on forest re-sources, unsustainable harvesting practices, illegal harvest of forest products, infrastructure development, forest fire, natural calamities, encroachment, overgrazing, lack of good governance, and ambiguous policy.

Some major causes of deforestation are listed below:

?         Population Growth

?         Fuelwood as a Major Source of Energy

?         Migration and Settlement in Terai

?         Livestock and Grazing

?         Illegal Timber Harvesting and Trade

?         Developmental Activities

?         Tourism and Trekking

?         Political and Nonpolitical Use and Misuse of Forest

?         Cultural Use of Wood


Rate of Deforestation in Nepal:

Between 1990 and 2000, Nepal lost an average of 91,700 hectares of forest per year. This amounts to an average annual deforestation rate of 1.90%. However, between 2000 and 2005, the rate of deforestation decreased by 28.9% to 1.35% per year. In total, between 1990 and 2005, Nepal lost 24.5% of its forest cover, or around 1,181,000 hectares. 42,000 hectares of its primary forest cover was last during that time. Deforestation rates of primary cover have decreased 10.7% since the close of the 1990s. Measuring the total rate of habitat conversion (defined as change in forest area plus change in woodland area minus net plantation expansion) for the 1990-2005 interval, Nepal lost 7.9% of its forest and woodland habitat.


Consequences of Deforestation in Nepal:

Deforestation has immediate consequences for the local population in terms of increased fuel scarcity, reduced supply of fodder, and leaf-litter manure. The unpredicted erosion, landslide, and lowland flooding due to deforestation are also major concerns in Nepal as well as in downstream countries (Metz, 1991; but also see Ives, 2006).

The following are the major consequences of deforestation in Nepal.

?         Impacts on Forest Structure and Ecosystem Services

?         Increase in Distance to Forest Access

?         Export of Forest Products

?         Environment deterioration

?         Shortage of foreign products

?         Effects on Tourism 

?         Effects on Human life

?         Watershed degradation


There are various effects of deforestation on human life, ecosystem and the whole environment. Deforestation should be stopped and people should be aware to conserve and protect forest.  Various plantation and afforestation programs should be done. Alternatives of firewood should be used. And one of the best way to reduce deforestation is to recycle and reuse the products as much as we can.


Save forest, Save environment. 😊 😊


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  • Dormant user Bharat Adhikari
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  • Joon Ho Mentor says :
    Hello Bharat, your report always inspires us to think of 'environment' and 'environmental issue'.
    Though we simply get to the point or approach deforestation issue in stats and arithmetical progression (like we just add some stats on the past record about level of deforestation), we do not know specific rate or seriousness of the problem.
    As you have mentioned, the overall scenario tells us where we are supposed to look at deforestation of Nepal, and this will definitely trigger us to make actions on this issue, or any other relative issue as well!
    I do learn a lot from you, Bharat
    Posted 15-04-2018 00:43

  • Gyeongrin mentor says :
    Hello Bharat!
    The best solution for every problem that we meet will be to analyze the causation of the action that resulted it. To solve it from the root, we should vanish the need that consequences deforestation. Such as aiding people who cut down trees in the purpose of migration, agriculture, fuel wood ect. If we remove such needs than lesser harm would be done to our beloved forest. Also about illegal tree cutting, a strict regulation and monitoring would be needed!
    Thanks for the report!!
    Posted 15-04-2018 00:13

Aaditya Singh

  • Aaditya Singh says :
    Great report Bharat. I know that deforestation is a topic widely spoken about however the causes and consequences you mentioned are some that I have not seen before in many places. Most people think deforestation is just cutting of trees, forgetting about how it could have happened because of livestock or migration. Thank you for bringing these important points to light in your report.
    Posted 14-04-2018 06:12

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