Publication Information


The Map of Potential Vegetation of Nepal - a forestry/agro-ecological/biodiversity classification system


Jens Peter Barnekow Lillesø
Thirta B. Shrestha
Lokendra P. Dhakal
Ratna P. Nayaju
Rabin Shrestha






Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning, KVL

The natural vegetation of Nepal provides a very important basis for sustaining the livelihoods of people in Nepal’s rural society, which accounts for over 90% of the nation. The description of the variation in the different landscapes that varies from tropical forests and grasslands to alpine meadows and deserts has long been a challenging task. This paper introduces the Potential Vegetation Map as a potential tool in Nepal in the fields of Forestry, Agriculture, Horticulture, Livestock, and Biodiversity/Conservation.



The introduction in chapter 1 explains that the purpose of this paper is to inspire people working with natural resource management in Nepal to discuss what constitutes a good framework for understanding the tremendous variation of climate, vegetation, farming systems, and biodiversity in Nepal.

Chapter 2 explains how the Potential Vegetation Map is based on work carried out in Nepal over a period of more than 30 years by a large number of people and organisations, and how the method of vegetation mapping relates to other vegetation classifi cation carried out in the rest of the world. The chapter also gives a brief account of the work of the main authors at the different stages of development of the map.

Chapter 3 introduces a new climate classifi cation in Nepal based on 261 meteorological stations in the country and extensive analysis by an expert from the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (the co-author of the present paper). The classifi cation is based on more stations than any previously published account. The classifi cation presents the climate in the context of the Potential Vegetation Map.

Chapter 4 presents the physiographic classifi cation of Nepal. This is a classification used by practically all Government Departments, Donors, Non-government Organisations and fi eld workers in Nepal. It divides Nepal into 3 to 5 'horizontal sections'.

Chapter 5 presents some of the important requirements of an agro-ecological classifi cation and also shows that the physiographic classifi cation only partly fulfils the requirements of an agro-ecological classification. 

Chapter 6 presents a brief account of agroecological classification in Nepal and how the Potential Vegetation Map relates to these other classifications.

Chapter 7 looks at the major objectives of the Forest Sector Policy (2000), the Agricultural Perspective Plan (1995), and the Nepal Biodiversity Action Plan (2000) and briefly outlines how these programmes would benefi t from utilising the potential of the Potential Vegetation Map.

Chapter 8 discusses how the power of the Potential Vegetation Map can be increased by utilising the map and by incorporating more information into the system by establishment of a cross-sectoral Board to spearhead the continuous updating.



Lillesø, J-P.B., T.B. Shrestha, L.P. Dhakal, R.P. Nayaju and R. Shrestha, 2005. The Map of Potential Vegetation of Nepal - a forestry/agroecological/biodiversity classifi cation system. Forest & Landscape Development and Environment Series 2-2005 and CFC-TIS Document Series No. 110



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