Investments in forestry, ecotourism and organic agriculture could help in resilient recovery from the pandemic
Besides leaving a huge impact on public health, the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions to control its spread, have affected the economy, environment, and livelihoods. The consequences have been particularly severe for low- and middle-income countries like Nepal since the economy and livelihoods are highly dependent on agriculture, and a few industries, and services such as tourism and trade. The restrictions on these and other small-scale enterprises have resulted in widespread loss of jobs and earnings and increase in poverty. Due to the loss in jobs and income, people are returning to their villages from cities and towns. As a result, rural populations are having to increasingly rely on natural resources and forest produce for subsistence as well as income.
The growing dependence on natural resources has led to over extraction and resource degradation and an uptick in the number of cases of illegal logging, hunting, and forest encroachment in different parts of Nepal. Poor security during the lockdown has also led to a spurt in illegal activities even in conservation areas and community forests. On the other hand, the revenues generated from tourism, crucial for supporting conservation activities in protected areas, have dried up given the restrictions on travel.
Assessing costs and recovery pathways
The costs of the pandemic and restrictions on the economy, livelihoods and the environment have been very high. This has forced a rethink on business as usual and there is a growing global consensus on the need to reorient t our consumption patterns, production systems and the overall economy in more environmentally friendly and sustainable ways. More importantly, the pandemic has forced us to re-examine our relationship with nature, given that there are clear links between emerging infectious diseases, habitat degradation and wildlife trade.
This is an excerpt from an article by Lily Shrestha and Nabin Bhattarai, originally published by MyRepublica.