Authors: Prativa Sapkota, Rod Keenan, and Hemant Ojha

This paper analyses prospects for ecosystem-based adaptation, through examining diverse forest-people interactions in Nepal’s community forestry as a social-ecological system (SES). They examine the linkage between social-ecological resilience and societal adaptation in the Middle Hills of Nepal and, based on this, discuss the prospects of this system for climate adaptation. They also discuss the prospects of community forestry for ecosystem-based adaptation in the rural agrarian context, focussing on a few attributes of resilience: diversity, modularity, and flexibility.

Their findings show that community forestry provides multiple pathways for both reactive and anticipatory adaptation, often strengthening community resilience. They show that, while ecological processes in community forestry (CF) are being managed by local institutions with an explicit goal to enhance the overall resilience of the SES, the underlying social and political dynamics of CF tend to be neglected in adaptation policy and planning. This prevents local organizations from harnessing the benefits of ecological resilience to enhance their adaptive capacity. The contribution of ecological resilience to societal adaptation has been constrained by large scale social and political drivers, especially bureaucratic structures underpinning the governance of forest in Nepal.

Based on these findings, they recommend that ecosystem-based adaptation efforts should fully consider local power dynamics. One key strategy could be aligning governance and decision-making with the needs of marginalized groups – this can increase the resilience and adaptive capacity of social-ecological systems, the authors argue.

To read the full paper, please visit the Journal page.