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Historical analysis of wildfire frequency, intensity, size, season, and type helps to determine the fire regime and the impacts of human activity in a region. Information about the temporal and spatial distribution of forest fires can help guide the formulation of integrated fire management policies. Mt Kenya Forest provides ecosystem services that sustain the livelihoods of local communities. However, forest fires have negatively affected sustainability of these services. This study describes recent fire patterns in the Mt Kenya forest. Field observations recorded by the Kenya Forest Service from 1980 to 2015 are analyzed. In addition, trends in fire occurrence over time and in relation to vegetation type are described. Key findings evidence a fire-prone period in February and March and a decrease of total burned area during the study period. Bush and grassland were the most fire-prone vegetation, and the fire regime varied in each forest station. Further, field observations were compared with satellite data. Some discrepancies between the field and satellite fire data were observed, especially for larger fires. These findings confirm the importance of monitoring efforts by the Kenya Forest Service to inform wildfire management. Recommendations are made on ways to improve fire monitoring and fire suppression efforts.
Environmental products can contribute to livelihoods through support of current consumption and provision of an economic safety net. But what is their role in lifting households out of poverty? Here we investigate the absolute and relative economic importance of commercial medicinal plants, including the high-value Chinese caterpillar fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis), to rural livelihoods in the high mountains of Nepal. We assess their role in providing a household-level pathway out of poverty. Data are derived from a structured household survey (n = 72) conducted in Jumla District and covering a 9-year period (2006–2015), supplemented with key informant interviews. We found that income from selling wild-collected medicinal plant products constituted an average of 58% of the total annual household income and 78% of cash income. Medicinal plant income increased in the observation period—even though medicinal plant income per collection day decreased, income at the community level doubled. We argue that medicinal plant commercialization is a rare opportunity to increase locally derived and controlled incomes with a range of positive outcomes, such as supporting livelihood strategies and mitigating the negative effects of outmigration.
Widespread community forestry practices in Nepal's mid-hills catchments involve removal of forest products—including firewood, litter, fodder, and medicinal herbs—by the local communities. Uncertainty is growing about how sustainable the management of these catchments is and whether it can meet traditional needs and maintain ecosystem services, particularly water. As part of a broader study on the hydrological effects of community forestry practices, we measured selected soil properties, including saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks), bulk density (BD,) and soil organic carbon (SOC) across 4 depths (0–10, 10–20, 20–50 and 50–100 cm) in 3 types of community forest sites—broadleaf, pine-dominated, and mixed—in the Roshi Khola catchment of Kavre district. The same measurements were made at a minimally disturbed religious forest site in the catchment that had higher Ksvalues than the mixed and broadleaf sites, signifying a lower degree of forest use-related disturbance. Likewise, SOC values for the religious forest were significantly higher (P < 0.05) and BD values significantly lower than the pine-dominated and mixed forest sites, particularly at shallower depths (0–50 cm). Importantly, comparison of the median Ksvalues (16–98 mm h–1) with rainfall intensities measured at the catchment showed the less intensively used pine-dominated site to be conducive to vertical percolation with possible greater contributions to subsurface storage even during high-intensity rainfall events. These results highlight the critical role of forest use practices in landscape hydrology and have implications for the management of the forested catchments in the broader Himalayan region, particularly in relation to the negative local perceptions of the role of pine plantations on declining water resources.
Mountain agricultural systems (MASs) are multifunctional and multidimensional sociocultural systems. They are constantly influenced by many factors whose intensity and impacts are unpredictable. The recent Hindu Kush–Himalayan Assessment Report highlighted the need to integrate mountain perspectives into governance decisions on sustaining resources in the Hindu Kush–Himalayan region, emphasizing the importance of sustainable MASs. Our reflective literature review identified 3 barriers to advancing the agenda for sustainable MASs: (1) the disconnect of normative orientations for sustainability at differen scales, (2) inadequate alignment between stakeholders' sustainability orientation and scientific evidence, and (3) weak integration of scientific evidence into the formulation of mountain specific solutions for sustainability. To address these barriers, we propose a conceptual, regional (mountain specific), transdisciplinary framework with an interscale science–policy interface. This will help scientific evidence to be incorporated in future policies and programs on sustainable MASs while being responsive to the needs of mountain farming communities and stakeholders who benefit from broader services. The framework emphasizes the connection between normative orientations for sustainability, science evidence, and solutions for sustainability through the use of iterative transdisciplinary knowledge-generation and knowledge-integration multiscale feedback processes. Thus, the key to advancing the agenda for sustainability of MASs lies in aligning scientific evidence with existing normative orientations for sustainability at local, subnational, national, regional, and global levels. The alignment triggers sustainability-oriented solutions. This should highlight MASs globally, increasing investment while acknowledging MAS specificities and niche opportunities. In turn, this will strengthen national policies and programs specific to MASs and facilitate integrated farm management through interdisciplinary extension and delivery services.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has played a leading role in sustainable mountain development within the United Nations system. It was appointed task manager for Chapter 13 of Agenda 21 in 1992 and acted as the lead agency for the International Year of Mountains in 2002. Since 2003, FAO has been mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to lead the annual observance of the International Mountain Day on 11 December.
Both the Secretariats of the Mountain Partnership and the European Forestry Commission Working Party on the Management of Mountain Watersheds are hosted by FAO in Rome, Italy, by the Water and Mountains Team in the Forestry Department. The aim of the Water and Mountains Team in FAO's Forestry Department is to assist in enhancing the resilience of mountain communities and environments. Its expertise lies in resilient watershed management, sustainable mountain development, and forest and water. The team advocates support for mountain environments by calling for targeted investments and mountain-related policies, and by collaborating with local communities to develop their capacity for sustainable development.