Lopping regimes in community-managed sal (Shorea robusta) forests of Nepal : prospects for multiple-product silviculture for community forestry (2001)
AuthorsGautam, Krishna Harishow all
Forest management decisions may contribute little to sustainable forest management if those decisions do not consider the interests of different socio-economic classes and ecological actions and reactions. Recently, an immense need has arisen for forestry to have multifaceted objectives i.e., to provide multiple products with due attention to environmental effects. This study explores the potentiality of managing sal (Shorea robusta) forests for multiple products. The research looked into two aspects - experimental and ethnographic. The experimental aspect involved lopping (0, 40, 60 and 80% lopping) and litter (with or without litter) treatments. The experiments were conducted in two community-managed sal forests in western Nepal, and examined treatment effects on stem growth (tree and plot level) and the regeneration of the forests. One-event lopping up to 80% produced no adverse effects on diameter-at-breast-height (dbh), height, basal area or volume growth in two experimental forests in one year following the lopping, except the mean dbh and volume of dominant (tallest) trees and the mean volume of non-sal trees in younger and denser forest. Dominant (tallest) trees sustained up to 60% lopping but non-sal trees only 40% lopping before growth reductions. In contrast, lopping (40% and 60%) increased the growth in some instances in younger and denser forest. Litter removal produced no adverse effect on the growth. The main effects and the interaction between lopping and litter removal did not adversely affect regeneration in either forest, but increased the frequency of regeneration in most of the cases. The ethnographic study involved understanding the extent of the use of sal forests, and the indigenous knowledge of forest use and ethnosilviculture among users of three sal forests. Nine-hundred and sixty-five statements (each statement makes a piece or block of information) from 111 key informants formed the basis of information. The ethnographic study identified 637 uses and 328 blocks of ethnosilvicultural information. The relationships between indigenous knowledge status and socio-economic status (gender, age, ethnicity, income, and landholding) of respondents were analysed. Analyses showed a significant association at various levels, between types of information and socio-economic status; however, all socio-economic groups of the users held some sort of knowledge relating to forest management. Based on a one-event lopping, experimental study has shown the possibility of lopping in producing foliage and litter from sal forests without adversely affecting the growth of the tree. The importance of lopped foliage and litter has been highlighted by ethnographic study. Furthermore, ethnographic study indicated importance of several other products from sal forests for various socio-economic groups. Devaluing any product in forest management may lower the interest of particular groups within the community. Excluding any group in management decisions will lower the effectiveness of management practices. The practical importance of this research and future research needs are discussed.