This document presents the results of an evaluation of an IFAD project aimed at preventing land degradation in Nepal. The project is based on leasehold forestry, an innovative approach introduced by IFAD in the early 1990s. It works by providing forty-year leases to groups of households and giving them user rights over plots of degraded forest land. They then rehabilitate the land by banning grazing and by stall-feeding their livestock, and use and sell forest products such as timber, fuel wood and fodder.Outcomes of the project include:1,800 household groups were given user rights over plots of degraded forest land totalling 7,400 hectaresonce restored, the forest areas are a rich source of fodder, timber, and fuel as well as trees and plants that the groups use and sellgoat ownership has increased from an average of two to five per household, as has revenue from goat salesincome from grasses, grass seeds and other forest products is now significantweak market linkages and inadequate information concerning demand and market prices have limited sales in some areasthe 120 leasehold inter-groups and 18 multi-purpose cooperatives created during the project have been instrumental in tackling these issues due to their strong bargaining power and success in creating market outlets.Key insights from the evaluation include:the leasehold approach adopted so far is costly and needs adapting into a simpler, cheaper solution if it is to be scaled upcontinued collaboration and policy dialogue between the donor agencies supporting "community forestry" and IFAD, which supports the leasehold approach, is necessary to try to establish common ground between the two approachesforage improvement packages need to be more flexible, to focus on local knowledge and the natural regeneration of plants and trees rather than importing species that are costly and often unsuited to the soils and climate of the Nepalese hillsidesbetter use of technical assistance grants (for IFAD-supported projects) to strengthen project management capacities, train government staff and build sustainable organisations of leaseholders is crucialleasehold groups and cooperatives played a crucial role in creating market linkages, improving access to marketing information and providing financial, training and advocacy services.[adapted from author]
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