The forests of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region play a major role in maintaining the mountain ecosystem and supporting people’s livelihoods. On a global scale, the important role of forests as sinks and sources of carbon is gaining increasing recognition as a major issue for climate change. However, notwithstanding their crucial role, forests across the region remain under threat from overexploitation and conversion of land to other uses.
The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism offers a promising approach for protecting and enhancing the world’s forests. But implementing REDD+ will only be possible if appropriate cost-effective ways can be developed to measure forests and accurately assess changes in forest area and biomass.
This publication presents the findings of the geospatial component of a three-year study on the design and establishment of a governance and payment system for Nepal’s community forest management under REDD. The publication describes the development and testing of a method for delineating forest area using a participatory GIS approach with high resolution satellite images in three watersheds: Kayar Khola in Chitwan District, Ludi Khola in Gorkha District, and Charnawati in Dolakha District, representing the three regions of plains, hills, and mountains. This study provides baseline data for comparison in future studies as well as a method for delineating permanent representative sample plots. It also shows that biomass and carbon stocks can be assessed from satellite images with integration of only a small amount of data from the sample plots. Comparison with results from field-based measurements showed that optical remote sensing can provide usable values for forest biomass over a large area and in a timely and cost-effective manner.