We develop community-based initiatives that benefit the livelihoods of local people. We partner with local non-profits and community organizations throughout the implementation of our red panda conservation programs.
Nepal has a unique Community Forestry approach to forest management where Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs) protect, manage and utilize surrounding forests. We are currently working with 45 CFUGs and 72 Forest Guardians in monitoring red panda habitat and increasing red panda awareness among local communities.
We identify unprotected red panda habitat with viable populations of 100 individuals or more and work with local stakeholders to establish them as community-based protected areas. Utilizing this method, we are establishing our first community-based protected area, the PIT Red Panda Protected Forest: the World’s First Protected Area Dedicated to Red Pandas.
Our goal now is to replicate this community-based model to Western Nepal where red pandas were confirmed during our national red panda survey. Unfortunately, local conservation efforts are lacking and we have identified five districts in Nepal’s western region that are critical to the survival of this species. Our #GoWest initiative will include the hiring and training of local people to monitor and protect red panda habitat and nearly doubling our national Forest Guardian team!
Conservation cannot happen on an empty stomach. Poverty levels are very high among the communities in our project area and it is not effective to ask people to conserve local wildlife when they are struggling to feed and warm themselves.
We are committed to long-term sustainability by working from the bottom up and conducting deliberate, incremental project development that takes into account local wants, needs, and capacity. We promote sustainable development and provide alternative economic opportunities for local communities. Our Forest Guardian program, along with ecotourism, anti-poaching network, alternative energy production, organic farming. and medicinal plant cultivation programs enhance local livelihoods in ways that foster red panda stewardship.
Habitat Protection and Restoration
RPN works with local CFUGs in protecting and restoring core red panda habitat and critical wildlife corridors. We work with local people in adopting sustainable livestock grazing and forest resource harvesting practices. We reforest degraded areas and plant red panda food species (including bamboo) and restore important water sources.
We are working on establishing a network of CFUGs throughout the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) corridor in eastern Nepal. This network will be responsible for managing all Community Forests in the region. RPN will also work with District Forest Offices and CFUGs in integrating conservation measures into CFUG Operational Plans.