Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 73–95 | Cite as

Socioeconomic Impacts of Public Forest Policies on Heterogeneous Agricultural Households

  • Bhubaneswor Dhakal
  • Hugh Bigsby
  • Ross Cullen


Nepal has a long history of returning public forests to local people as part of its community forestry programme. In principle the community forestry programme is designed to address both environmental quality and poverty alleviation. However, concern has been expressed that forest policies emphasise environmental conservation, and that this has a detrimental impact on the use of community forests in rural Nepal where households require access to public forest products to sustain livelihoods. To study the effect of government policies on forest use, an economic model of a typical small community of economically heterogeneous households in Nepal was developed. The model incorporates a link between private agriculture and public forest resources, and uses this link to assess the socioeconomic impacts of forest policies on the use of public forests. Socioeconomic impacts were measured in terms of household income, employment and income inequality. The results show that some forest policies have a negative economic impact, and the impacts are more serious than those reported by other studies. This study shows that existing forest policies reduce household income and employment, and widen income inequalities within communities, compared to alternative policies. Certain forest policies even constrain the poorest households’ ability to meet survival needs. The findings indicate that the socioeconomic impacts of public forest policies may be underestimated in developing countries unless household economic heterogeneity and forestry’s contribution to production are accounted for. The study also demonstrates that alternative policies for managing common property resources would reduce income inequalities in rural Nepalese communities and lift incomes and employment to a level where even the poorest households could meet their basic needs.


Community forestry policy Poverty reduction Linear programming Agroforestry 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abdelaziz FB, Martel JM, Mselmi A (2004) IMGD: an interactive method for multiobjective group decision aid. J Oper Res Soc 55: 464–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adhikari B, Falcol S, Lovett J (2004) Household characteristics and forest dependency: evidence from common property forest management in Nepal. Ecol Econ 48(2): 245–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adhikari B, Williams F, Lovett J (2007) Local benefits from community forests in the middle hills of Nepal. For Policy Econ 9(5): 464–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Agrawal B (2001) Participatory exclusion, community forestry, and gender: an analysis of South Asia and a conceptual framework. World Dev 29(10): 1623–1648CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Alig RJ, Adams DM, McCarl BA (1998) Impacts of incorporating land exchanges between forestry and agriculture in sector models. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 30: 389–401Google Scholar
  6. Amacher G, Hyde W, Joshee B (1993) Joint production and consumption in traditional households: fuelwood and crop residues in two districts in Nepal. J Dev Stud 30(1): 206–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Anthon S, Lund JF, Helles F (2008) Targeting the poor: taxation of marketed forest products in developing countries. J For Econ 14: 197–224Google Scholar
  8. Aune J, Alemu A, Gautam K (2005) Carbon sequestration in rural communities: is it worth the effort?. J Sustain For 21(1): 69–79Google Scholar
  9. Baland J, Platteau JP (1999) The ambiguous impact of inequality on local resource management. World Dev 27(5): 773–788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bardhan P, Urdy C (1999) Development microeconomics. Oxford University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Buongiorno J, Gilless J (2003) Decision methods for forest resource management. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  12. CentralBureauof Statistics (CBS): (2003) National sample census of agriculture Nepal, 2001/02. National Planning Commission, KathmanduGoogle Scholar
  13. Das R, Shivakoti G (2006) Livestock carrying capacity evaluation in an integrated farming system: A case study from the mid-hills of Nepal. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology 13(3): 153–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dhakal B (2009) Carbon liability, market price risk and social impacts of Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Programme. J For Live 8(1): 67–77Google Scholar
  15. Dhakal B, Bhatta B (2009) An institutional model to explain utilization problems of community forest products. Int J Soc For 2(2): 23–48Google Scholar
  16. Dhakal B, Bigsby H, Cullen R (2011) Forests for food security and livelihood sustainability: Policy problems and opportunities for small farmers in Nepal. J Sustain Agric 35(1): 86–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. DOF (2000) Guidelines for inventory of community forests. Ministry of forest and soil conservation. Department of Forest, Community and Private Forest Division Kathmandu, NepalGoogle Scholar
  18. FAO (2000) FRA 2000-forest resources of Nepal country profile. FAO
  19. FAO (2004) Food and Agricultural indicators.
  20. Graner E (1996) The Political Ecology of Community Forestry in Nepal. Saarbruken: Verlag fur EntwickungspolitikGoogle Scholar
  21. Graner E (1997) The political ecology of community forestry in Nepal. Verlag fur Entwickungspolitik, SaarbrukenGoogle Scholar
  22. Hjortso C, Straede S, Helles F (2006) Applying multi-criteria decision-making to protected areas and buffer zone management: a case study in the Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal. J For Econ 12(2): 91–108Google Scholar
  23. Kayastha B, Pradhan S, Rasaily N, Dangal S, Arentz F (2001) Community forest product marketing options for timber and non-timber forest products 2001. Discussion paper. Nepal Australia Community Forestry Management Project. No-Frills ConsultantsGoogle Scholar
  24. Karky BS, Skutsch M (2010) The cost of carbon abatement through community forest management in Nepal Himalaya. Ecol Econ 69: 666–667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kumar S (2002) Does “participation” in common pool resource management help the poor? A social cost–benefit analysis of joint forest management in Jharkhand, India. World Development 30(5):763–782Google Scholar
  26. MacEvilly C (2003) Cereals. In: Caballero B, Trugo LC, Finglas PM (eds) Encyclopedia of food science and nutrition, 2nd edn. Academic Press, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  27. Maskey V, Gebremedhin TG, Dalton TJ (2006) Social and cultural determinants of collective management of community forest in Nepal. J For Econ 11(4): 261–270Google Scholar
  28. Master Plan (1988) The Forestry Sector Master Plan. Ministry of Forest, KathmanduGoogle Scholar
  29. McNeely J, Schroth G (2006) Agroforestry and biodiversity conservation—traditional practices, present dynamics, and lessons for the future. J Biodivers Conserv 15(2): 549–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Montagnini F, Nair P (2004) Carbon sequestration: an underexploited environmental benefit of agroforestry systems. J Agrofor Syst 61–62(1–3): 281–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Murshed S, Gates S (2005) Spatial–horizontal inequality and the maoist insurgency in Nepal. Rev Dev Econ 9(1): 121–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Narain PR, Singh N, Sindhwal NS, Joshie P (1997) Agroforestry for soil and water conservation in the western Himalayan Valley Region of India: runoff, soil and nutrient losses. J Agrofor Syst 39(2): 175–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. NPC (National Planning Commission) (2003) The tenth plan 2002–2007 (poverty reduction strategy paper). His Majesty’s Government. National Planning Commission, Kathmandu. Downloaded on 10 Dec 2003.
  34. Oli KP (1987) On-farm research methodologies for livestock development at Pakhribas Agricultural Centre. PAC Working Paper 03/87. Pakhribas Agricultural Centre, DhankutaGoogle Scholar
  35. Paudel K (1992) Implication of forage and livestock production on soil fertility. In: Abington JB (eds) Sustainable livestock production in the mountain agro-ecosystem of Nepal. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nation, Rome, pp 155–170Google Scholar
  36. Paudel K, Tiwari B (1992) Fodder and forage production. In: Abington JB (eds) Sustainable livestock production in the mountain agro-ecosystem of Nepal. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nation, Rome, pp 131–154Google Scholar
  37. Shen Y, Liao X, Yin R (2009) Measuring the aggregate socioeconomic impacts of China’s natural forest protection program. In: Yin R (ed) An integrated assessment of China’s ecological restoration programs. Springer, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  38. Shrestha K, McManus P (2007) The embeddedness of collective action in Nepalese community forestry. Small Scale For 6(3): 273–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stenberg LC, Siriwardana M (2007) Forest conservation in the Philippines: an economic assessment of selected policy responses using a computable general equilibrium model. For Policy Econ 9: 671–693CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Strassburg B, Turner RK, Fisher B, Schaeffer R, Lovett A (2009) Reducing emissions from deforestation—the “combined incentives” mechanism and empirical simulations. Glob Environ Change 19: 265–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Taylor E, Adelman I (2003) Agricultural household models: genesis, evolutions, and extensions. Rev Econ House 1(1/2): 33–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Thoms CA (2008) Community control of resources and the challenge of improving local livelihoods: A critical examination of community forestry in Nepal. Geoforum 39(3): 1452–1465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Varughese G, Ostrom E (2001) The contested role of heterogeneity in collective action: some evidence from community forestry in Nepal. World Dev 29(5): 747–765CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of CommerceLincoln UniversityLincoln, CanterburyNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations