Ecosystem restoration reduces community vulnerability to water-induced disasters: Need to rethink Chure conservation in Nepal

Paudel et al., 2023


Disaster risk reduction strategies are often accompanied by conventional adaptation approaches, involving high costs and limited flexibility. Conversely, ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) has been advocated as a sustainable approach because it is cost-effective, efficient and provides co-benefits (e.g., ecosystem services). However, there is limited awareness and understanding among both disaster risk reduction professionals and ecologists about the linkages of ecosystem restoration to disaster risk reduction. Here, we assessed people's perceptions towards the availability of ecosystem services in the highly degraded and fragile landscape to floods and soil erosion in Central Nepal. We then assessed vulnerabilities at household level in both pre- and post-restoration periods, using indicators such as distance to the river, land cover composition (ratio of forest to non-forest), occupation, availability of ecosystem services, and effectiveness of the restoration projects in the vicinity. Our results show that vulnerability as a function of adaptive capacity and sensitivity decreased even though there were no significant improvements in some of the provisions of ecosystem services we assessed. Since our results showed restoration projects were not integrated following the principles of EbA criteria, careful integration during project design and implementation would strengthen community resilience in future. Our work provides new insight into the restoration response to disasters and provides a basis for future research and policy development.