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Contested Grounds: The Battle over Forest Resources in Nepal in a Time of Maoist Uprising

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Chaudhury, Moushumi
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/2212
Sector: Forestry
History
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
transboundary disputes
forest management--history
land tenure and use
medicine
property rights
access
revolutionary movements
Abstract: From the Introduction: "...The issue of how access to natural resources is being affected by civil war in Nepal is a new area of research. This paper will make a rudimentary attempt to demonstrate how such a political movement has the potential to change the lives of migratory collectors of medicinal plants in the early stages of the commodity chain relating to harvesting (see Annex 1 for Commodity Chain of Medicinal Plants in Nepal). This paper will reveal how access to forests has evolved through different tenure regimes over time. It will show that overlapping forest tenure systems of common, state, and open property rights that the state and collectors maintained, never completely limited access to forests for the collectors, until the Maoist insurgency, which started in 1996. The current Maoist movement, through extortion and fear, may seriously threaten access to forests, and therefore, the ability of collectors, who are most dependent on the medicinal plant trade, to harvest them for their income. This is likely to take place in Eastern Nepal where preliminary research on the affect of Maoists on natural resources was conducted. In order to fully understand this situation, the relationship between major players such as the state, Maoists, and collectors of medicinal plants, will be analysed through a political ecology and 'bundle of rights' approach. The paper will also provide a synopsis of the ways in which the medicinal plant trade is being promoted in Nepal and a discussion about the extent to which migrant collectors within a national park context may continue to benefit from this trade by perhaps overriding the challenges the Maoist situation has created in Nepal."

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