Restoring ecosystems and building climate-resilient communities in the mountains of Nepal

Restoring ecosystems and building climate-resilient communities in the mountains of Nepal

QUOTE: “I am very satisfied with the EbA Programme. I am grateful for this work and the opportunity. I look forward to these plants providing us with financial and health benefits.”

Tara Gurung, Falgu Committee Forest User Group, Chairperson

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THE ISSUE

The region is characterized by open, degraded areas, where too many livestock were allowed to graze in the past, causing serious environmental impacts on the grassland ecosystem and neighboring forest areas. Preferring cooler temperatures, the timur plant gives better yields when planted at higher altitudes. With climate change expected to cause increased temperatures at lower altitudes, the range for growing timur (historically between 1200 – 2200m) is also likely to get higher. With proper land use planning to conserve areas of original forest, timur can be grown on higher slopes in appropriate areas, providing a valuable and climate-resilient livelihood option for the communities living in the foothills of some of the highest mountain ranges of the world

Timur (Zanthoxylum armatum), virtually unknown outside of the Himalaya, is an important and highly sought after plant in Nepal. Timur is an indigenous plant whose fruits is aromatic and holds medicinal value and are commonly used as a spice in Nepali cooking either fresh or in dried form. If you have a toothache, a cold, a cough, or a fever, the timur fruit is often prescribed as the antidote. Common stomach complaints are treated with timur soup. Young shoots of the timur plant can be used to form toothbrushes and the powder of the dried fruit can also be used as toothpaste. Pilgrims visiting shrines often seek out timur sticks to burn due to their fragrance. In recent years, some pharmaceutical companies have started purchasing timur fruits in bulk, leading to competitive commercial activity among villages.

INTERVENTION

Working with the Falgu Community Forest User Group (CFUG), and with support from the Mountain Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EbA) Programme, led by the Department of Forests and UNDP, the community has established a timur plantation, on abandoned grazing land.

SUCCESSES

A full grown timur plant can yield more than 1 kilo of fruit per year, and once the plant is fully grown (within 3-4 years of planting), the fruit can be harvested every year. One kilo of timur fruit can generate 10,500 Nepalese Rupees, which amounts to about $100 USD – a significant amount of money for people who tend to live on less than $2 USD per day.

Community members have also constructed compound walls to control open grazing of livestock, protect grassland and forests, and ensure the survival of the newly established timur plantation. The plantation has significant buy-in from the local community; more than 25 percent of the labor involved in the construction of the compound wall came from local volunteers.