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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Examining forest transition and collective action in Nepal's community forestry

Poudyal, Bishnu Hari; Khatri, Dil Bahadur; Paudel, Dinesh; Marquardt, Kristina; Khatri, Sanjaya


Nepal is going through a major socio-economic transition in rural areas and hence in forest management practices, leading to changes in and evolution of new forest-people relationships. Community forests are experiencing an ecological transition resulting a new pattern of growth, regeneration and diversity in forest composition. The ecological transition of forest corresponds to the shifting local collective actions in community forestry which are emerging from the new socio-economic dynamics in rural areas such as income diversification, declining subsistence utilization of forest resources and outmigration of the rural population. However, these changes are highly differentiated and variable. The hilly areas are experiencing remarkable forest cover changes than in the lowlands of Terai. In this paper, we examine the evolving intersection between new forest transition and community collective action in Nepal. We draw our analysis on the comparative case study of four villages from three different ecological regions. Our findings show that the forest transition is not static, but a dynamic process shaped by diverse local and external factors. Further, declining utilization of forests for subsistence uses has led to a new dynamic in community collective action which has played a central role in driving forest transition. Community participation in forest management is also declining. Hence, we call for reconceptualizing local collective action in this changed context which can help revise forest policies and reimagine forest institutions that can better respond to the socio-economic changes of the mountain landscape and revitalize local collective actions.


Collective action; Community forestry; Forest transition; Himalayan livelihoods

Published in

Land Use Policy
2023, Volume: 134, article number: 106872