CARE BLOG

Impact of Climate Change in Wild Fruit-based Cultural and livelihood system of IPLC in Nepal

10/13/09

Dil Raj Khanal

FECOFUN, Nepal

1. Background

Scientifically, all people are agreed that the impact of climate change is wider and it has affected the livelihood system of vulnerable communities of particularly in LDCs. Actually, if we sincerely investigate the impact of climate change at community level of LDCs, we can find strong evidence of this reality. Last week of Sep., 2009 the Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal (FECOFUN) has organized a workshop on Climate change and REDD in the context of Nepal in western part of the country. All participants of this workshop were representatives of Community Forestry User Groups (CFUGs). After brief discussions on the concept of climate change and REDD, the workshop organizer has provided opportunity them to express their experience on the impact of climate change on the forest-based livelihood and cultural system Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC). In a plenary discussion participants have focused the discussion on the impact of climate change in following wild fruits, in which their cultures and livelihood is depending from last immemorial period:

Wild Fruit-based Culture of Nepal

SN

Name of Wild fruits

Cultural value/use

Nepali Name

Botanical Name

1

Bayer

Zizyphus jujuba

· General use: Use as a nutrient food for all age of peoples

· Cultural use: Use for worship for Goad Shiva (a goad of Himalaya)

2

Bel

Aegle marmelos

· General use: to produce of natural juice and herbal tea

· Cultural use: Leaf uses for all type of cultural program of Hindus and fruit also use for worship of various goads of Hindu culture

3

Mahuwa

Bassia latifolia

· General use: to produce domestic alcohol

· Cultural use: Use for worship for various goads of particularly IPs (e.g. Tharu)

4

Jamun

Eugenia jambolana

· General use: Use as a nutrient food for all age of peoples

· Cultural use: Use for worship for various goads of Hindus

2. Change in collection time of wild fruits

Participants have expressed that from last few years the collection time of many wild fruits (including above mentioned) is changing and generally the wild fruits collection time is shifted earlier, which is not naturally. According to them, the above mentioned wild fruits collection times are also changing as following:

SN

Name of Wild fruits

Collection times

Nepali Name

Botanical Name

Previous years (around 10 years before)

Now ( around from last 5-7 years)

1

Bayer

Zizyphus jujuba

1st week of April

1st week of March

2

Bel

Aegle marmelos

May

April

3

Mahuwa

Bassia latifolia

End of May

April

4

Jamun

Eugenia jambolana

1st week of July

June

3. Impacts

1. Bayer (Zizyphus jujube): Bayer is an important fruit to use for the worship of Goad Shiva in a Shivaratree which is a cultural festival of Hindus in Nepal and India. According to Hindu calendar, this festival generally celebrates in April. Hindus were using fresh (not stored in any place or cold store) Bayer from immemorial period for the worship of Goad Shiva, however from last few years the collection time of this fruit is changing, therefore, due to lacking of this fresh Bayer, Hindus are feeling uneasy. In this situation, there may be requiring to change the psychology or technology for the adaptation.

2. Bel (Aegle marmelos): The Bel is also an important wild fruit for production of juice and herbal tea. Generally, poor people of Local Communities have collecting this fruit in May by utilizing their remaining time, because in this month generally farmers take rest from the farming activities. However, from last few years, the collection time of Bel is shifting earlier (generally in April), in which time farmers may be not allocate enough time for the collection of Bel from natural forests. Participants of the WS expressed that, therefore poor farmers (who work as agricultural labor) are losing income of this wild fruit.

3. Mahuwa (Bassia latifoli): Mahuwa is an important wild fruit to produce domestic alcohol by the IPs (Particularly Tharu) of Terai-Madesh (low land of the country). This fruit is highly nutrient for all age of peoples. Therefore, generally, people also eat fresh Mahuwa in the hot weather condition (day time). According to participants of the workshop, due to the shifting of collection time earlier, local people are wondering and trying to adopt the changing situation.

4. Jamun (Eugenia jambolana): Jamun is a famous nutrient wild fruit for particularly school children of rural community in Nepal. After closing the school, generally all most school children of rural communities goes to collect the Jamun in the nearby natural forest areas. The collection time of this wild fruit was generally July; however, participants of the WS said that the collection time of this fruit is also shifting earlier or in June. Therefore, sometime regular routine of students is also disturbing, because students may express their interest to go to collect the Jamun even in class time. In this situation, the school teachers are trying to adopt the changing situation. In the workshop, even they expressed that, due to the changing of wild fruits collection time, the mobility time of birds are also changing.

4. IPLC response and community voice

The local people of indigenous and local communities have no ideas about the scientific matters of climate change; however they have experience of climate change and its impact on vulnerable communities, forest and biodiversity as well as cultural/livelihood systems of forest-dependent peoples. To adopt this situation, there is necessary to invest and change in long cultural and livelihood practice of local people which may be more expensive and painful to the local peoples. Further study is necessary to identify the real impact of climate change in forest, biodiversity and forest-based/dependent cultural and livelihood systems of LDC”s peoples. The IPs and members of local communities are expecting that the new regime on climate change will justifiably response to the impact of climate change particularly in developing countries.

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