Sustainable Development Success Stories

Bahmara Community Forest: Bufferzone plantation programme

Location  The Royal Chitwan National Park (RCNP), Terai Region, central Nepal.
Responsible Organisation Nepal Conservation Research and Training Centre (NCRTC) of the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation (KMTNC).
Description The Royal Chitwan National Park is famous for its unique diversity of flora and fauna. Recognizing the importance of this vast array of biological diversity, UNESCO declared the park a World Heritage Site in 1983. While the number of animals in the park increased as a result of an effective conservation effort, their habitat decreased due to succession, erosion and encroachment. The animals subsequently ventured into farmland outside the park in search of food, intensifying conflicts between the park and the local communities. The nearly 300,000 people residing in the 36 village development communities (VDCs) adjacent to the park are highly dependent on forest resources for fuelwood, fodder and timber. The supply of these resources from outside sources is limited, which has resulted in illegal collection within the park. Although the park enjoyed a flourishing tourist industry, the local residents did not benefit greatly from tourism, with only 2% of the local population employed by the tourist trade. The impact of the sale of products and services was also marginal. Consequently, the people did not generally recognise the value of conserving biological diversity. Furthermore, the privilege of the local people to collect firewood, wild edibles, herbs, fodder and other useful plants from the park was prohibited, but the increased number of animals in the park raided their crops. In some areas, villages that were once located within the park were moved out during the establishment of the national park boundaries. To address these conflicts, the Nepal Conservation Research and Training Centre (NCRTC) of the King Mahendra Trust Fund for Nature Conservation (KMTNC) initiated a bufferzone plantation programme in 1989. The main objective of the programme is to increase habitat for the endangered wildlife while providing fodder, fuelwood and timber for the local people. Furthermore, by opening the community forest area for eco-tourism, the project aims to demonstrate to the local people the economic value of conservation. The project was launched in the Baghmara Forest of the Bachhauli Village Development Committee (VDC) located on the northeast boundary of the park, an area that had become degraded and overgrazed due to a lack of attention from government authorities and increasing needs of the local people. The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) helped the project by providing technical assistance and materials for the plantations.
Issues Addressed Eco-tourism, biological diversity
Results Achieved
  • Under Nepal’s Forest Act of 1993, Forest User Groups (FUGs) have been established as independent organisations allowed to manage forest area for their own use and benefit. The Baghmara FUG established its own operational plan to manage the community forest

  • Regeneration of the Baghmara Community Forest. While in 1990 an area of 32 ha was covered with fast-growing indigenous tree species, by 1997 the total area increased to 4000 ha, comprising pure plantation, mixed plantation, natural regeneration forest, grasslands and lakes. The plantation area was officially handed over by the government authority to the chairman of the Baghmara Community Forest on June 15, 1995.

  • Biological diversity. The FUG spent money on habitat management, and hired forest guards and one FUG staff-member to assist with protection activities. To further combat the major threats to biological diversity (such as the high demand for fodder and fuelwood), the Baghmara FUG has planned to introduce a livestock programme, a livestock insurance programme and an alternative energy programme.

  • Benefits to the community. The area has provided the community with grass for thatching, fuelwood, woody biomass which is also used for fuel, and fodder. Villagers are allowed to freely collect fodder from the plantation area. Timber from the forest is also available for sale, with first priority given to people of the first four wards, and second priority to the remaining wards of the Bachhauli VDC. Only after these two groups’ needs are met is it publicly auctioned. The community forest has also become a natural buffer zone benefiting the local residents and the incidence of crop raiding by rhinos has decreased significantly.

  • The FUG has invested its income in several community development projects to provide benefits to the local people, such as assisting the construction of a bridge and series of levels on the Budi Rapti River, and supporting three local schools in infrastructure development.

  • Employment and financial benefits have also been generated due to increased tourism (local people are being employed as nature guides or have opted to open hotels and guesthouses). To attract more tourists and to increase revenues, the village constructed "manchans" (view towers) in the community forest in 1995. In order to diversity tourism activities, the community also started canoe and nature guiding programmes. The KMTNC / NCRTC started conduction nature guide training for youths, and more than 300 people participated in this type of training.

Lessons Learned

Community managed ecotourism in the Baghmar has been able to generate local guardianship in the conservation of the biological diversity of the area. The community forest has also increased the animal habitats, while still meeting a large percentage of the villager’s demand for fuelwood and fodder.

The economic incentives created from tourism also help to decrease pressure on the park because when people are economically well off they will be able to afford alternatives.

The Baghmara is a model which is economically and ecologically sustainable. Other VDCs in the vicinity of the RCNP also have the potential for similar long-term, self-sustaining programmes whereby wildlife conflicts can be overcome by economic opportunities generated by ecotourism. The Baghmara project has become known as a model of sustainable community forest conservation. Subsequently, the NCRTC has the potential to develop it as a regional training center. By working with the Biodiversity, Conservation Network (BCN) Monitoring Program, the training center can use the Baghmara Community Forest as a learning vehicle to teach conservation approaches to participants from other countries.


Mr. Arun Rijal, Senior Botanist
King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation
G.P.O. Box 3712, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel. 977-56-29362, 977-1-526571; Fax 977-1-526570

Mr. Micahel Victor
RECOFTC (Regional Community Forestry Training Center)
Kasetsart University
P.O. Box 1111
Bangkok, 10903, Thailand
Tel. (66-2) 9405700 (ext.1222)
E-mail: ftcsss@nontri.ku.ac