Community forests are a crucial component of farming systems and people’s livelihoods in the rural middle hills of Nepal, where the population depends upon the forest for fuelwood, fodder, and leaf litter for their daily needs. This study aims to assess the perception
[...] Read more.
Community forests are a crucial component of farming systems and people’s livelihoods in the rural middle hills of Nepal, where the population depends upon the forest for fuelwood, fodder, and leaf litter for their daily needs. This study aims to assess the perception of community forest user groups towards their postearthquake situations by using the five forms of capital from the sustainable livelihood framework. It further analyzes whether forest user’s attitudes towards forest conservation have changed or not. In addition to household interviews with 68 earthquake-affected households and extensive visits to the study area, key informant interviews and focus group discussions were conducted. This study confirms that the community forest user groups perceived negative effects on the natural, physical, human, and financial capitals, whereas they perceived a positive effect on social capital after the earthquake. Controlled access to forest products, such as timber collection during the recovery phase, restricted their resilience, although nontimber forest products supported it. Low agricultural production because of the scarcity of water for irrigation, as well as the soil infertility because of the landslides, caused local people to shift towards nonagricultural activities for income generation. Further, out-migration for job opportunities resulted in an inflow of remittances and, thus, manpower shortages were observed. Our results show that, despite facing the postdisaster impact on their livelihoods, 92% of the respondents were found to be positive towards forest conservation. This was because of their emotional attachment to the forest and the benefits received from the forest in the past. Local institutional policies and mechanisms must be strengthened to provide communities with the knowledge, skills, and practices for effective postdisaster recovery or for upcoming disasters, as well as the benefits of promoting sustainable forest conservation.