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Co-evolving dynamics in the social-ecological system of community forestry—prospects for ecosystem-based adaptation in the Middle Hills of Nepal

  • Prativa Sapkota
  • Rodney J. Keenan
  • Hemant R. Ojha
Original Article

Abstract

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). We 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. In doing so, we 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. We find that community forestry provides multiple pathways for both reactive and anticipatory adaptation, often reinforcing community resilience. Our finding also shows 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, we recommend that ecosystem-based adaptation is fully informed by, and takes account of, local power dynamics. For instance, aligning governance and decision-making with the needs of marginalized groups can increase the resilience and adaptive capacity of social-ecological systems.

Keywords

Ecosystem-based adaptation Dynamics Forest-people interactions Ecological resilience Socio-political barriers 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the University of Melbourne and Australia Awards.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Prativa Sapkota
    • 1
  • Rodney J. Keenan
    • 1
  • Hemant R. Ojha
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Melbourne, School of Ecosystem and Forest ScienceParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Institute for Studies and Development Worldwide (IFSD)SydneyAustralia

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