This paper examines the factors influencing the fuelwood collection and its impact on forest management and livelihoods of poor families in one of the mountain watersheds of Nepal. The annual per capita fuelwood collec tion ranged widely and had a median of 683 kg. The proportion of total fuelwood collected from private sources was a low 17% compared to 45% of government and 39 % of Community forests. Membership in a community forest user group had no influence on the proportion of fuelwood collected from private forests, suggesting that when faced with regulations over fuelwood collection, users tend to increase collection rates in unprotected national forests instead of investing in private fuel-wood. Those having larger land holding and a smaller family size of 5.5, benefited more from private trees, whereas the relatively poorer ones, with smaller land and a higher mean family size of 6.6 had the highest dependency (92%) on the public forests causing their rapid degradation especially in watersheds dominated by them (55%). The poorer ones also had to access the public forests in distant locations thereby increasing the collecting time and reducing time available for other livelihood activities. Therefore, private sources of fuel-wood should continue be promoted, and this will have positive impacts on both livelihood and forest conservation by reducing the need to extract from public forests and Community forestry, being crucial for marginalized households for generating income from their sales in local markets, must be managed such that equitability of access in community forests is maintained.
Nepal Agroforestry Forestry Foundation (NAF), Nepal