Social Science Baha

Biodiversity-Livelihood Conflict: A Case from Western Terai, Nepal

Suman Dhakal, Ripu M Kunwar, Ram P Acharya and Bijendra Basnyat

Conservation friendly livelihood, an outcome of biodiversity conservation, livelihood improvement and institutional development at landscape level, is commonly adopted. However, the challenges are emerged due to biodiversity-livelihood conflict. Initiation of leasing degraded and barren forestlands to pro-poor community for farming and cropping in the western Terai region of Nepal led positive changes in livelihood. However the farming and cropping impeded natural regeneration and restoration and posed threats to conversion in agricultural lands. Opportunistic invasive aliens Ageratum conyzoides, Cassia tora, etc. were widespread in such cropped and abandoned forest areas, threatening native species and endangering landscape biodiversity. Introduction of high and fast yielding exotic varieties (chamomile, lemongrass, mentha, palmarosa) was devised to generate subsistence, household and commercial economy, and was multi-plicated because of high and immediate cash return compared to conventional cropping. The introduction was found to jeopardize the native biodiversity and extraction of essential oil from the crops consuming a huge amount of firewood largely extracted from nearby forests aggravated the situation further.

Keywords: Landscape conservation, livelihood conflict, invasive species, western terai