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Case Studies on Measuring and Assessing Forest Degradation - Forest Resources Assessment Working Paper 163
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Forests provide a wide range of provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services for human well being collectively known as ecosystem services. The sustainability of forest ecosystems depends on sustained management, efficient utilization and effective protection measures against deforestation and forest degradation. Present global discussions on forest degradation have been focused on reduction of emissions from source and removal of enhancement from the sink i.e. carbon services. In Nepal, the role of other ecosystem services such as water harvesting, soil conservation, biodiversity conservation are also equally important for sustaining rural livelihoods and maintaining environmental condition. Hence, it is imperative to develop common understanding on forest degradation among the forest users, professionals, policy makers, and the politicians. This will be helpful developing appropriate public policy to address the problem of forest degradation. This paper aims to review the past forest resource assessments, methodologies and findings on forest degradation. The study observed that differentiation on forest quality was recognized since the first forest resources assessment in the early 1960s. Similarly, all forest resource assessments have identified criteria and indicators for capturing forest degradation. Forest degradation has been understood as reduction in production capacity of commercial timber volume. Change in tree canopy cover was used as a key criterion in assessments. Degradation was assessed through canopy closure, tree density, regeneration capacity, stand maturity, lopping, species dominancy, grazing, and soil surface erosion. Forest with no well defined stems has been defined as a shrub land which increased at a rate of 5.57 percent per year from 1978/79 to 1994. The assessment methodologies include field survey, satellite images, aerial photography, ground checks or a combination of these. Finally the paper concludes by offering potential methods for assessing forest degradation in Nepal. These assessments focused on investigating the association of canopy cover with the commercial timber volume. This approach neither recognizes ongoing degradation within the dense canopy forests nor the under storey degradation. In addition, the trade off of different kinds of ecosystem services was not considered. The use of satellite images with field survey could be a suitable approach for assessing forest degradation based on the resultant outcomes of all kinds of forest ecosystem services. A participatory valuation approach using Ecosystem Service Index (ESI) to assess forest degradation is recommended rather than accounting of individual services. Finally, the paper argues that the scale of forest services should be understood comprehensively to prevent the emergence of new drivers of degradation.
#ForestsForFoodSecurity #ForestsForLivelihoodSustainability #ImportanceOfForestsResources #EffectsOfForest degradation
FAO ,   (2009 )
Type / Script:
Progress Report in English
Thematic Group:
 FAO : Food and Agriculture Organization
04.05.00  -  Forestry
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