Why

Global Trend

According to World Resources Institute, a global research organization, the world loses 7.6 million hectares of forest every year. It also gains 4.3 million hectares of forest annually as a result of planted or naturally regenerated forests, with a net loss of 3.3 million hectares every year. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates a total of 2 billion hectares of degraded and deforested land worldwide awaits reforestation-based restoration. FAO also estimates that the self-sustaining economic benefits of restoration at $5,600/hectare created from wood products, non-wood forest products, carbon sequestration, and additional crop yields are more than twice the $2,400/hectare costs. This vital prospect of creating economic benefits has opened up an opportunity for tree-planting enterprises across the globe, ranging from reforestation (completely planting a deforested area with trees) to agroforestry (establishing agricultural systems that incorporate trees). The underlying environmental challenge can be used to create economic benefits in underdeveloped regions.

8848 Trees wants to make use of this challenge to create economic benefits for impoverished communities in Nepal - a region of greater needs in South Asia. 

Need in Nepal - A Glance

Unemployment*

Total population: 30 million

Labor force: 8 million

Employed population: 7 million

Unemployment rate: 11%

Working-age population (age 15+): 21 million

% of working-age population (unemployed): 66% 

% of working-age population (outside labor force): 61%

*figures obtained from Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Nepal

Gender Employment Gap*

Female to male population ratio: 104 (per 100 males)

Female to male employment ratio: 50 (per 100 males)

Female to male ratio outside labor force: 200 (per 100 males)

Gender inequality index: 0.476 (ranked 115th globally)

*figures obtained from from CBS Nepal and UNDP

Although the nationwide unemployment figure is only 11%, a large portion of the working-age population remains unaccounted for outside the labor force, simply due to lack of job opportunities.

Gender employment is biased against females, with females making a significantly larger proportion of the population outside the labor force.

Poverty*

*figures obtained from from CBS Nepal and UNDP

Despite recent economic upward mobility due to foreign labor migration, Nepal remains a poor nation. Poverty in Nepal is mainly a rural phenomenon. 1/3rd of the total population is forest-dependent, the majority of which lives in poverty.

GDP per capita @ current price: $1,034
Population below poverty: 19% (living on less than $0.50 per day)
Multidimensional Poverty: 28% of the total population
Rural population: 80% of the total population
Human Development Index: 0.579 (ranked 147th globally)
GDP contribution (agriculture and forestry): 27% of the total GDP
Labor force (agriculture and forestry): 69% of the total labor force

Forests*

Total area: 147,181 km² (14.7 million hectare)

Total forest area: 45% of the total area (40% forest and 5% scrubland)

Tree density: 430 trees/hectares

*figures obtained from from CBS Nepal and UNDP

Although forest land is 45% of the total area, tree cover within forests is 1/4th of optimum.

A significant portion of the population in Nepal is poor, rural, and forest-dependent. 19% of the total population in Nepal lives below the poverty level on less than $0.50/per day. 80% of the entire population lives in rural areas and 1/3 are forest-dependent. 61% of the working-age population remains outside the labor force, simply due to lack of job opportunities. With a dismal gender inequality ranking of 115th globally and a female-to-male ratio outside the labor force of 2-1, females make up a significant portion of Nepal’s unemployed population that is poor, rural, forest-dependent. These challenges contribute to two key interdependent problems.

1. Economic Hardship

Rural villagers in Nepal are amongst the poorest people in the world. Lacking a consistent source of income, combined with gender inequality, they suffer considerable economic hardship. They often depend on their natural environment and forests for food, shelter, and sustainable income. This often leads to misuse and exploitation of natural resources, leading to environmental degradation.

2. Environmental Degradation

Natural devastations like floods, landslides, and droughts are frequent problems in Nepal. Besides human interference, these factors further lead to environmental degradation. Deforestation and/or lack of adequate forest is often identified as the single root cause of these problems.

Area of Opportunity

Environmental degradation contributes to economic hardship and poverty. Poverty, in turn, contributes to environmental degradation. By addressing the two as a single, unified issue, one can break the cycle that perpetuates economic and environmental distress at the local level.

Our Response

We view reforestation-based restoration by planting trees at the community level, as an environmental solution to this humanitarian problem.

In a key landmark report concerning the environment and sustainable development – “Our Common Future”, published in 1987 by the Brundtland Commission, it is noted that ‘Programmes to preserve forest resources must start with the local people who are both victims and agents of destruction, and who will bear the burden of any new management scheme. They should be at the center of integrated forest management, which is the basis of sustainable agriculture.’ Our organization aims to focus on the front end of this forest management – planting trees at the community level.

“Community Forestry works”. A study conducted by an international team and published under ‘Reductions in deforestation and poverty from decentralized forest management in Nepal’, documents a simultaneous reduction in deforestation and poverty. The study showed that between 2000 and 2012, community forest management led to a 37% relative reduction in deforestation and a 4.3% relative reduction in poverty.

It is also noteworthy to add that the government of Nepal, in a bid to enhance green coverage across the country, has declared 2014 - 2023 as “forest decade”; and has encouraged participation from the private sector, development partners, and organizations. We believe that our small effort too will feed into this larger goal.

 

Furthermore, by empowering women as agents of this reforestation process, we can use trees and women’s empowerment as the backbone to create socio-economic and environmental benefits at the community level.

Our response also supports 4 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - a call for action to promote prosperity while protecting the planet, adopted by the United Nations in 2015.

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Creates

Employment

Tree-Planting

Restores

Forests

Protects Environment

Generates

Self-sustaining

Income

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