The Terai Arc Landscape Project (TAL) - Forest Restoration
Increasing the forest cover of Nepal again
Nepal has lost quite a bit of its forest cover, but thousands of people are now working to bring it back. In an area where the climate ranges from subtropical to tropical, seedlings are quick to grow, and will soon thank their planters by turning into a real forest.
There are 2 ways of bringing a forest back to life: collect seeds of native tree species for planting - or to fence the forest to keep the grazing livestock out, to allow natural regeneration of the forest. Both ways have been successfully used by the TAL project.
One example is the Khata area, which is located between Bardia National Park and the Katarniyaghat Wildlife Sanctuary across the Indian border. By fencing forests to allow natural re-growth, and by planting trees, the local people have seen a drastic change in forests in just 4 years. What's more, two tigers have settled in the area, finding the newly appeared forests convenient enough to have settled permanently in.
Corridors and bottlenecks allow necessary gene flow
Forest restoration also has an important role in saving some of the most endangered species in the country, like tigers and elephants. As the protected areas in Terai are far from each other, animals face the risk of being isolated in small populations, with no gene flow between different protected areas.
In the long run, this can be fatal as small inbreeding colonies are often not viable. Thus, some kind of pathways for animal movement and gene flow have to exist, connecting the Nepalese protected areas as well as those on the Indian side.
The areas that are most critical in this sense have been identified. Called corridors and bottlenecks, they are especially focused on regenerating forests. The wildlife has been quick to thank its helpers as tigers and elephants have been observed to use some of these corridors.