- Learning Network
Challenges · Agroforestry · Water
Coffee, Fruit, Millet, Rice
Elevation in the Begnas & Rupa watershed ranges from 600-1400 masl representing a wide range of micro climatic variation & ecological niches. Besides the two lakes, the landscape has community forests, rice terraces (> 50 local varieties), agroforestry, maize & millet based rainfed farming system & organic coffee farms. The 309 hectare Begnas lake is fed by Syankhudi river from the north, while the 122 hectare Rupa lake is fed by the rivers Dobhan khola & Chisa khola from the east. The Rupa lake & its surrounding wetlands harbor 24 species of fish, 30 species of birds & 11 species of mammals. Agriculture is the primary source of income for a third of the households. Rice, maize & finger millet are the main cereals; cowpea, blackgram & beans are the main legumes; banana & papaya are the currently popular fruits. Mandarin orange & guava are also common but their population has declined since disease outbreak. Sponge gourd, broadleaf mustard & taro are the most common vegetables.
I studied Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland and Biology and Philosophy from the College of Wooster. I have previously worked at EcoAgriculture Partners and am currently coordinating LI-BIRD’s program on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services. People long for aesthetic meaning in their lives, they value local culture, diversity and wild things. Yet, development tries to suppress this instinct by emphasizing solely on production and ignoring the negative externalities on diversity and culture. My motivation is to show that people can have it both ways, and thus lead more meaningful lives.Sajal Sthapit Programme Coordinator, LI-BIRD
The local groups have created incentives for land use diversification, which contribute to lake restoration. It created a revolving fund that farmers can access to invest in income generating activities. In return for no collateral & low interest loan, each recipient is assigned a conservation task. Soil erosion was tackled through reforestation, funded by the profits from the fishery, and the planting of fodder and fruit trees and perennial grasses. To protect the wetland species, areas around the lake were designated as habitat for wetland birds, white lotus, wild relative of rice and indigenous fish. The conservation work is financed by the profits from the local fishery and the in-kind contribution of the local communities.
There is a network of local farmer organizations, cooperatives and womens' groups that are planning and working together to achieve their joint conservation and development goals. These groups span across the landscape and are able to take lead on different aspects of conservation, from management of cereal and vegetable diversity, to orchid diversity to protection of habitat for wetland birds and plants. These groups organize monthly meetings, monitoring visits and annual general assemblies.