Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biology/Environmental Biology

First Advisor

Kamaljit S. Bawa

Second Advisor

Michael Rex

Third Advisor

Robert D. Stevenson


Community forestry (CF) in Nepal, a pioneering and successful community based conservation program, aims to provide management and utility rights to the local people to support their livelihoods as well as conserve forest. In Nepal about 1.8 million hectares of forest areas of the country are managed by ~19000 forest user groups in the form of community forests (CFs). A market based climate change mitigation mechanism to provide payments to developing countries by developed countries to reduce carbon emission, Reducing Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), which is still under global negotiation, was piloted in the community forests of Nepal from 2010 to 2013. In this pilot program, REDD+ payments were distributed to the local households involved in community forestry for forest conservation and poverty alleviation. This study was guided by two research questions: what role has CF played in forest conservation? What are the social and economic contributions of REDD+? The study also examined the effect of CF on forest cover change particularly the effects of socio-economic drivers at national scale. At local scale, it analyses the contribution of economic incentives of REDD+ to households and the household participation in forest governance and management of community forests.

Although deforestation has been increasing in the country, the districts with more CFs showed a greater forest gain indicating a positive contribution of CFs in reducing deforestation. At the local level, forest areas in the CFs increased while the forest areas outside the CFs decreased. It was found that REDD+ payment provided economic benefits to the households but the economic contribution of the payment to the household economy is very nominal and insufficient to invest in livelihood enhancement activities. Likewise, economic payment did not enhance household participation in community forest governance and management. Therefore, alternative payment models—either investment in community projects or building a context-specific incentive mechanism rather than paying to an individual—might yield better outcomes.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.