We have shared plenty of stories about Nepal, but until now no story about Nepal involving trees or forests. We welcome this one:
How Nepal Grew Back Its Forests
An effort decades in the making is showing results in Nepal, a rare success story in a world of cascading climate disasters and despair
KANKALI COMMUNITY FOREST, Nepal — The old man moved gingerly, hill after hill, cutting dry shrubs until he was surrounded by trees that had grown from seedlings he had planted two decades ago. He pointed to a row of low peaks above the Kathmandu valley that were covered with dense foliage.
“You see that? They were barren mounds of red mud 15 years ago,” said the man, Khadga Bahadur Karki, 70, tears of pride fogging up his glasses. “These trees are more than my children.”
This transformation is visible across Nepal, thanks to a radical policy adopted by the government more than 40 years ago. Large swaths of national forest land were handed to local communities, and millions of volunteers like Mr. Karki were recruited to protect and renew their local forests, an effort that has earned praise from environmentalists around the world. But the success has been accompanied by new challenges — among them addressing the increase in potentially dangerous confrontations between people and wildlife.
Community-managed forests now account for more than a third of Nepal’s forest cover, which has grown by about 22 percent since 1988, according to government data. Independent studies also confirm that greenery in Nepal has sprung back, with forests now covering 45 percent of the country’s land.
“When the forests were common property, people abused them,” said Jefferson Fox, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu and a principal investigator on a NASA-funded study that found Nepal’s tree cover had doubled between 1992 and 2016. “Now, you’ve got the community saying, ‘No, you don’t go there!’ So, the trees are coming back.”
Back in the early 1980s, the government couldn’t persuade people to stop cutting trees for farmland and for firewood. The deforestation made floods and landslides more frequent, alarming the country’s leaders…
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