© WWF Nepal/Hariyo Ban Program
Hariyo Ban Program

© Nabin Baral/Hariyo Ban Program/WWF Nepal

हरियो वन, नेपालको धन

The Hariyo Ban Program aimed to reduce adverse impacts of climate change and threats to biodiversity in Nepal by empowering Nepal's local communities to safeguard the country's natural heritage while adapting to climate change through sound conservation and livelihood approaches.

The Program emphasized the links between people and forests and was designed to benefit nature and people in Nepal. At the heart of Hariyo Ban lay two interwoven components – biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation; including market based livelihoods. These were supported by governance, and gender and social inclusion as cross-cutting themes.

The Hariyo Ban program also supported the broader conservation and development objectives and strategies of the Government of Nepal, working closely with government and non-government stakeholders at the national, district and sub-district levels, alongside local communities, several national and international resource partners from the civil society, private sector, academia, and media.

The Hariyo Ban program strategically prioritizes two landscapes that are critically important for ensuring effective conservation and sustainable livelihoods in Nepal – Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) and Chitwan Annapurna Landscape (CHAL).

The Program's objectives in Phase I were to:

  • Reduce threats to biodiversity in target landscapes
  • Build the structures, capacity and operations necessary for an effective sustainable landscape management, especially reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) readiness; and Increase the ability of targeted human and ecological communities to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Meanwhile Phase II built on the foundation of Phase I, applying lessons learned and scaling up promising approaches aiming to increase ecological and community resilience through two objectives:
  • Improving the conservation and management of CHAL and TAL landscapes; and
  • Reducing climate change vulnerability in CHAL and TAL.
The first phase of the Hariyo Ban Program ended on 31 December 2016 after a ten year run, whereas the second phase ended on 30 June 2021 after a five year run. 

Working Areas

Chitwan Annapurna Landscape

Biodiversity is seriously threatened in many parts of CHAL, including poaching of wildlife species such as the endangered snow leopard. Much of the national forest in the middle and lower CHAL is fragmented, including sub-watersheds and potential corridors. This is mainly due to encroachment, over exploitation of forest resources, livestock pressure and infrastructure.

Human-wildlife conflict is common resulting in negative local attitudes towards key wildlife species. Freshwater biodiversity is also severely affected due to construction of hydro dams, water diversion and extraction, sand and boulder mining, electro-fishing and fish poisoning in most of the major rivers.

The impacts of climate variability and climate change on people and biodiversity are poorly understood in this area, though it is known that temperatures are rising faster at higher altitudes. Severe drought, unusual rainfall patterns and heavy landslides have adversely affected both human and ecological communities in the landscape.

Terai Arc Landscape

TAL has several critical sites, including the fragile Churia ecosystem (the youngest of the Himalaya foothills). TAL has important corridors and bottlenecks that connect isolated core protected areas used by rhinoceros, tiger and elephant. The settlements close to these areas are inhabited by poor indigenous communities with limited livelihood opportunities and high dependency on forest resources. Often these communities come into conflict with wild animals incurring significant human casualties, loss of crops and livestock, and damage to property. 

Encroachment and degradation of forest, forest fire, poaching and timber smuggling, and increase in invasive alien plant species is seriously threatening the biodiversity of TAL forests and the livelihoods of those who depend on them. Aquatic life is affected by pollution, poisoning and excessive harvesting of river and wetland resources, as well as large infrastructure developments. Many areas and people in TAL are vulnerable to climate variability and climate change. Hazards due to complex causes include widespread flooding, frequency of fires, unpredictable changes in the monsoon and rising temperatures, with impacts on agriculture.

Over the past few years Nepal has experienced enormous challenges in conserving the country’s biodiversity, from the mountains to the Terai. Globally significant wildlife species such as Bengal tiger, greater one-horned rhinoceros, Asian elephant, gharial, Gangetic river dolphin and giant hornbill in Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) and snow leopard, red panda and musk deer in the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape (CHAL) are under threat.

Species-specific regional conservation strategies are required to ensure their long-term survival. There are also major forest ecosystems in both TAL and CHAL that require protection. TAL supports tall alluvial floodplain grasslands, riverine forest, and khari-sissoo (Dalbergia-Acacia) association in the riverbeds, to mixed hardwood and Sal forests in the drier uplands.

CHAL vegetation includes a narrow section of lowland TAL vegetation in the southern proximity, dry deciduous sal forest in the Churia foothills; broadleaf subtropical forests with sal and pine forest in the middle mountain; temperate forest in the high mountain; and birch dominated alpine forest and open rangelands in the high Himalayan region.

The main threats to Nepal's biodiversity are (Nepal Biodiversity Strategy, 2002):

• Encroachment/fragmentation and degradation of habitat
• Poaching and illegal trade of key wild animals and plants
• Unsustainable use of natural resources
• Spread of invasive alien plant species
• Human-wildlife conflict
• Climate change (direct impacts)
• Overgrazing by livestock
• Fire, flood and landslide
• Pollution of aquatic environments and changes in river flows
• Large infrastructure development

While the above mentioned are direct threats, there are number of indirect drivers and root causes that interact in complex ways to cause human induced changes in biodiversity. Indirect drivers including inequitable access to forest benefits, lack of economic alternatives, population growth, and cultural and religious factors that influence local communities' behavior in ways that impact biodiversity. And climate change is having increasing impacts on people and nature, in some cases exacerbating indirect drivers of biodiversity loss.

The Hariyo Ban Program recognizes the key role that local communities play in biodiversity conservation. Hence the biodiversity component aims to strengthen governance in natural resource management, improve livelihoods of forest dependent communities and improve local stewardship in conserving natural resources. This includes promoting meaningful participation and equitable benefit sharing for poor and marginalized groups, and for women. The program will focus efforts in areas critical for biodiversity including biological corridors, catchments and refugia, working to link protected areas through corridors to meet the ecological requirements of focal species. The program will also work to reduce threats to biological resources by improving understanding of the ecology and behavior of focal species and applying it in management; addressing site specific threats to species and habitats; strengthening anti-poaching operations; improving habitats; and creating a more enabling policy environment. Since this component is very closely linked with the REDD+ and climate change adaptation work, it will work to establish climate-resilient conservation landscapes for biodiversity conservation.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from different sources are the main cause of global warming. Deforestation and forest degradation are major sources of GHG. Nepal ranks eleventh in the world for GHG emissions from deforestation and other land uses (World Resources Institute, 2008). Forest and grassland conversion alone are estimated to represent 80% of national carbon emissions in Nepal (Initial National Communications Report 2004).

REDD+ stands for 'reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation' and carbon sequestration through conservation, sustainable management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. REDD+ is an important part of international policies to address climate change, maintaining biodiversity and improving the livelihoods of local communities. Recent developments in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) indicate that REDD+ presents an opportunity to promote forest conservation and sustainable landscapes, and enhance the well-being of forest-dependent communities in Nepal. It is a mechanism that provides an incentive to developing countries for protecting and using their forests wisely by paying them for carbon offsets.

The Hariyo Ban Program will support the Government of Nepal in developing national policies and strategies for REDD+ Readiness. It will initiate capacity building on GHG emission monitoring, and identify and address drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. It will support piloting of payments for ecosystem services (PES) mechanisms in REDD+ and other ecosystem services. Feasibility assessments will be carried out on PES and promising mechanisms will be tested and replicated. The Hariyo Ban Program will support developing a new biogas Verified Emission Reduction (VER) project in TAL using Gold Standard methodology to generate payments from carbon credits. National and local stakeholder consultations will be sought to discuss on carbon revenue generation in the near future.

Climate change is advancing more rapidly in the high Himalayas than in many other parts of the world, affecting both people and natural systems (Synthesis Report, IPCC, 2007). Climate-induced hazards that are expected to increase in the future include more erratic rainfall, flash flooding, drought, forest fire, and landslides. Nepal is more vulnerable than many countries to climate change because of factors such as high poverty and low adaptive capacity. If action is not taken now to build resilience and adaptive capacity, climate impacts are likely to be greatly exacerbated in the future.

Limited capacity and weak economy create great challenges to adapt to climate change. Human vulnerability to climate change is linked with poverty, exclusion, reliance on rain-fed agriculture, lack of basic services and limited alternative livelihoods. It is also linked with social inequalities, limited access to information, and exclusion from key decision-making process. Ecosystems and individual species are also vulnerable, and in Nepal this is likely to be exacerbated by rapidly rising temperatures and non-climate pressures. Adaptation is now recognized as an essential part of the global response to climate change. Development actors are increasingly promoting a community based approach that recognizes the unique risks faced by poor and marginalized people, and an ecosystem based approach that has evolved to use biodiversity and ecosystem services as a part of an overall adaptation strategy to help vulnerable people to adapt. CARE and WWF have been pioneering an integrated approach that combines both ecosystem- and community-based approaches to adaptation, and this is being piloted by the Hariyo Ban Program.

The Hariyo Ban Program will enable better understanding of climate change impacts and adaptation priorities for people, ecosystems and species; develop processes for community led adaptation that are rooted in local institutions; identify equitable, inclusive and cost effective actions for integrated adaptation approaches; and explore how best to link with bottom up and top down adaptation efforts in line with Nepal’s National Adaptation Plan for Action (NAPA) and Local Adaptation Plan for Action (LAPA).

Approximately half of Nepal’s population of 28 million people is female (Central Bureau of Statistics Nepal, 2010). A strongly patriarchal culture adversely affects women’s position in society. Yet many rural women need forest resources for the wellbeing and livelihoods of their families. In addition, Nepal's poorest and most disadvantaged people depend heavily on forest resources or rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods. Inequitable distribution of rights, resources and power, and repressive cultural rules and norms constrain women, poor, Dalit, marginalized Janajatis and youth from fully engaging in and benefitting from natural resource management and climate adaptation.

In light of this, the Hariyo Ban Program has gender and social inclusion (GESI) as a key cross-cutting programmatic approach, helping empower both women and men to challenge and change deeply rooted inequalities and improve the policy environment. Systematic efforts will enhance the capacity of women and socially excluded groups in taking leadership to claim their rights to productive resources and services. This will help ensure their meaningful participation as power agents in sustaining conservation and climate change adaptation together with strengthening equitable benefit sharing mechanisms.

The Hariyo Ban Program’s three cross-cutting themes - Gender and Social Inclusion, Livelihood Improvement, and Governance - will ensure that the program focuses on poor and marginalized groups including women, Dalits, and Janajatis. The cross-cutting themes will contribute to addressing two prominent agendas of Nepal-in-transition: poverty alleviation and social justice.

The Hariyo Ban Program’s livelihoods approach is an essential and intrinsic cross-cutting element in all three thematic components (biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation/payments for ecosystem services and climate adaptation). The economic empowerment of poor and excluded people is vital to increase their power and participation in local governance institutions. It also increases their resilience to climate variability and climate change by building their capital and capacity to better withstand shocks. Hariyo Ban’s interventions in gender and social inclusion issues and improved governance of natural resource management groups will create a conducive environment for livelihood improvement activities.

The Hariyo Ban program will follow the Livelihood Improvement Planning (LIP) approach to promote forest-based small enterprises and allocation of community forest land to poor and marginalized people for non-timber forest product (NTFP) cultivation. In addition, ecotourism, piloting of an innovative payment scheme for wildlife presence in community-managed forests, and activities that build climate resilience such as community seed banks, rain-water harvesting and drip irrigation will also be supported to increase food security and reduce disaster risk. Where appropriate, the Hariyo Ban Program will work closely with the private sector, promoting sustainable activities in the two landscapes that contribute to the local economy and livelihood development.

The Hariyo Ban Program’s three cross-cutting themes - Gender and Social Inclusion, Livelihood Improvement, and Governance - will ensure that the program focuses on poor and marginalized groups including women, Dalits, and Janajatis. The cross-cutting themes will contribute to addressing two prominent agendas of Nepal-in-transition: poverty alleviation and social justice.

Strengthening internal governance of Natural Resource Management (NRM) groups and their networks is critically important, to enhance their role as custodians of natural resources and ensure equitable benefit sharing amongst the group members, particularly the most marginalized. The practice of good governance is also important in making the accountability of government line agencies (public authorities) more effective. Hariyo Ban sees the process of improving governance of both NRM groups and government line agencies as a state-citizen interface that promotes democratic practices.

Participatory Governance Assessment (PGA), Community Learning and Action Centers (CLACs), Participatory Well Being Ranking (PWBR), and Public Hearing and Public Auditing (PHPA) are a few of the planned activities the Hariyo Ban Program will undertake to strengthen governance of NRM groups and government line agencies. It will also support NRM groups to enhance their organizational capacity by providing training on group management and leadership, financial management and record keeping, and gender and social inclusion. It will facilitate coordination and interaction with district-level government line agencies.

The Hariyo Ban Program’s three cross-cutting themes - Gender and Social Inclusion, Livelihood Improvement, and Governance - will ensure that the program focuses on poor and marginalized groups including women, Dalits, and Janajatis. The cross-cutting themes will contribute to addressing two prominent agendas of Nepal-in-transition: poverty alleviation and social justice.



Funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Hariyo Ban Program was undertaken in two phases for ten and five years respectively; implemented by a  consortium of four partners:

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE)
National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC)
Federation of Community Forestry Users in Nepal (FECOFUN). 

Disclaimer: The Hariyo Ban Program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this website are the responsibility of WWF and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.