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|Buffer Zone Resources, Livelihood and Conservation Practices in Kumroj Buffer Zone Village Development Committee, Chitwan National Park
|Shrestha, Dhan Bahadur
|Protected area;Wildlife management;Community forest;Forest yield
|Department of Environmental Science
|Central Department of Environmental Science
|Buffer zone (750 Km 2 ) of Chitwan National Park (932 Km 2 ) was declared in 1996 to balance biodiversity conservation and human needs through devolution of resource use rights to the local communities. Kumroj buffer zone VDC of Chitwan National Park was examined as a case study to understand conservation practices through interfacing ecology, economic and social attributes of local communities. Methods included were stratified random samplings of households and analysis of vegetation and land use change. The annual demand and supply for green fodder and fuel wood from the buffer zone community forest do not match and deficits were met through national park, private land and private forest. Out of the total demand, buffer zone forest can supply only 36.49 % of green fodder and 15.58 % of fuelwood. Fuelwood was extracted four times and green fodder 1.2 times more than community forest could supply suggesting over harvest and forest degradation. Only 10% of regenerating tree species attaining height above 1m also suggests high anthropogenic pressure on buffer zone community forest. Majority of poorer households were dependent on park for forest products while richer households mostly on their private land, although these households were also dependent on park resources. Per capita fuelwood consumption and green fodder need per unit livestock was more in poorer households than rich households, mainly due to access on modern energy sources and large farm size of rich households. Poor and indigenous people were further prone to continuous marginalization by losing their ownership on land and livestocks, and were also excluded from better opportunities and decision making process. A great majority of households reported insufficient resources, wildlife occurrence, and poor management in the buffer zone community forest. However, one third of the households were not well informed about buffer zone activities. Household representatives emphasized on enforcing strict management, incentives for investment to mobilize community and plantation in the buffer zone community forest. All these suggest that conservation and development efforts at Kumroj were less compatible in meeting the twin goals of conservation and development goal.
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