A Reflection on the Role of Community Forest User Groups to Enable Vulnerable Communities to Adapt to Climate Change in Nepal

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"In Nepal, community forest user groups (CFUGs) as local institutions have demonstrated appropriate institutional arrangements to manage forest resources as commons. The characteristics, functions and roles of CFUGs required to manage commons are well studied and have been translated into practice. Less is known about the role of CFUGs, as local institutions, in managing local adaptation to climate change and climate variability, particularly the key characteristics and functions required to support vulnerable communities. Case study research on the issues of development of adaptation strategies by CFUGs and villagers of differing well-being groups in the mountains of Nepal is reported through qualitative and quantitative research methods. This research examines the role and potential of CFUGs as key local institution to enable vulnerable communities, individually or as a collective to promote actions for climate change adaptation in the rural hills of Nepal. Of interest are the mandates, roles, functions and capacity of CFUGs required to facilitate climate change adaptation to assist the most vulnerable communities. The research identifies that improved governance, enhanced capacity, knowledge and skills in mediating external services, and support mechanisms in knowledge and information are key factors to optimize the role of CFUGs in adaptation to climate change. More importantly, the research suggests that the success of CFUGs to assist the most vulnerable in communities depends largely on institutional ability to transform organizational policies, structure and practices, and delegate authority and power. These actions are pathways to build trust, empower, engage and allow the most vulnerable populations to use their rights to an equitable share of the productivity of the commons."
climate change, adaptation, vulnerability, institutions, community forestry, collective action, IASC, IASC