Thapa S & Chapman DS (2010) Impacts of resource extraction on forest structure and diversity in Bardia National Park, Nepal. Forest Ecology and Management, 259 (3), pp. 641-649. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2009.11.023
Repeated biomass harvesting for human livelihood needs can cause significant changes in forest structure, composition and diversity. Such impacts have often been associated with the distance to villages and their size, but the effects of individual villages in relation to their characteristics have been little studied. Focussing on the issues around communities’ impacts on the forest, this research aimed to understand how resource extraction by two Buffer Zone villages in Nepal's Bardia National Park affects forest structure and diversity. Tree density, basal area, diameter at breast height (DBH), species richness, two diversity indices and disturbance indices were recorded in 108 plots in 12 transects, from March till May 2005, within the park along the village boundaries, where resource extraction occurs, and in the core park area which is isolated from human disturbance. Forest subject to resource extraction had a lower density of trees, smaller DBH and lower species richness and diversity. Forest disturbance declined with distance from the villages but the two villages differed widely in their impact on the forest. Resource use was more intensive in Shivapur village and percentage of trees lopped, average lopping intensity and numbers of dung piles were statistically significant. This was mainly due to the lack of access to Buffer Zone community Forest for Shivapur households. Interviews with villagers suggested that there have been changes in species availability compared to 5 years ago. Households also underestimated the impact of their resource extraction, which may prevent them from changing their behaviour to benefit conservation. It is clear that understanding rural communities’ needs, their framing of resource extraction and utilisation, and dependence on forest resources will be very helpful for long term conservation measures.
Biomass extraction; Forest structure; Disturbance; Human use; Protected areas; Nepal
Forest Ecology and Management: Volume 259, Issue 3