Small-scale Forestry

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 89–104 | Cite as

From Forests to Food Security: Pathways in Nepal’s Community Forestry

  • Rahul Karki
  • Krishna K. Shrestha
  • Hemant Ojha
  • Naya Paudel
  • Dil B. Khatri
  • Ian Nuberg
  • Anukram Adhikary
Research Paper


There is an increasing recognition of the contribution of forests to food security of poor and marginalized people. However, empirical findings remain limited on how forests contribute to food security. Drawing on four case studies of community forestry in Nepal, this paper discusses pathways through which forests are contributing to food security needs of local communities. The evidence presented here was gathered through 4 years of action research and draws insights from the past 40 years of Nepal’s community forestry practice, which is often regarded as a successful case of conservation and development. It is shown that there are four distinct pathways through which community forests contribute to food security as a source of: (1) income and employment; (2) inputs to increase food production; (3) directly for food; and (4) renewable energy for cooking. Despite emerging pathways linking forest management to food systems at the local level, forestry policies and institutions have neither explicitly recognized nor strengthened the linkage between forest and food security. The paper highlights that there is a need for a fundamental shift in thinking from the conventional notion of ‘forests for soil conservation’ to ‘sustainable forest management for food security’.


Food security Forest management practices Forest policy Forestry institutions Livelihood 



This study draws on the findings from a research project entitled ‘Enhancing Livelihoods and Food Security from Agroforestry and Community Forestry in Nepal’, project FST/2011/076, also called EnLiFT (, funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). We are grateful to Tony Bartlett, ACIAR Forestry Program Manager, for his support throughout this project, and Madan Bashyal, Kamal Bhandari and Mitra Jirel for their support in field data collection. We would also like to express our gratitude to the local communities in the research sites for providing us with information in relation to this research.


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Copyright information

© Steve Harrison, John Herbohn 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ForestAction NepalKathmanduNepal
  2. 2.University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Swedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  4. 4.University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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