Effects of management and disturbance gradients on a bird fauna in Chitwan National Park and its Buffer zone

University essay from SLU/Swedish Biodiversity Centre

Abstract: Chitwan National Park pioneered a participatory model of conservation as a buffer zone management programme in Nepal. Buffer Zone Community Forests have been handed over to the community for sustainable use of resources, and provide benefits to both wildlife and people. However, there is inadequate evaluation about the impact of buffer zone programs on conservation of wildlife. This study aimed at evaluating the effect of different disturbance gradients and forest management practices on the bird community in three management regimes; the National Park, Buffer Zone Community Forests and Buffer Zone Forests. The study also evaluated the peoples’ perceptions regarding the biodiversity conservation and forest management through group discussions and key informant surveys. Point counts of birds were made in Sal and Riverine forest within the three forest management types. Habitat and landscape variables related to forest structure, human disturbance and management were also recorded. A total of 129 species of birds were recorded in 66 plots in seven different sites. The study showed that there were large effects of a disturbance gradient (distance to settlement, grazing) on the bird community composition. A few abundant species and the total abundance of birds were positively associated to the disturbance gradient. In contrast, forest bird species were negatively associated to the disturbance gradient. Common species were positively associated to a forest management gradient (collection of dead wood, small trees), but most of the forest species avoided the managed sites. Buffer Zone Community Forests and Buffer Zone Forests harboured almost as many species as the National Park, although different species preferred the different forest management types. People were willing to conserve the biodiversity for tourism and sustainable use of forest products and also had a positive attitude towards the national park, but requested more alternative resources and the inclusion of people in the park planning processes.

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