Natural Resources of Nepal

1. Land

Land is one of the important natural resources of Nepal. As there is variation in the geography and vegetation, the condition and quality of the soil is also very different here.

According to the Land Resource Mapping Project (1978/79), the percentage of arable land in Nepal is 18%.

Some Land Management Practices in Nepal
Raikar Land

The word ‘Raikar’ comes from two meanings. The word ‘Rai’ means the state and ‘Kar’ means the mandatory amount of money to be paid to the government. So, Raikar land denotes the land owned by the government and the person using it is liable to pay the tax.

The person keeping and using such land under his/her control has to pay the tax to the government as state revenue.

Birta Land

The land provided to a government employee for his/her bravery or to a person who has proven good with respect to state administration as ‘subsistence’ is called Birta land. The distribution of such land was in practice during the Rana regime.

The land presented to a Brhamin as donation was called Kush Birta, the land presented to a government employee for doing a good job was called Fikdar Birta and the land presented to the family of soldiers died during the war was called Marwat Birta.

The giving of land to any of their followers was in practice during the Rana regime. As a result, about 35% of arable land was distributed as the Birta land. With the promulgation of Birta Abolition Act, 2016, all the Birta land was converted into the Raikar land.

Guthi Land

The institutional land used as trust for the fulfillment of a specific public or common goal is called Guthi land. The word ‘Guthi’ originates from the Sanskrit word ‘Gosthi’,
meaning ‘council’.

Guthi land exists in Nepal as the resource provided to conduct worship in temples and shrines and to protect the religious heritages. Many temples and shrines in Nepal, especially like; Pashupatinath, Jayabageshwori, Ramjanaki have Guthi lands.

The income is regular from such lands and it is easy to conduct religious activities and to build and to renovate the temples and shrines. Among the Guthis, Raj Guthi, Duniya Guthi, Pilakrana Guthi, Bakas Guthi are commonly found.

As per the Land Reform Act, 2021, the Guthi Sansthan (Guthi Corporation) has been established to control and manage all types of Guthi in Nepal.

Kipat Land

This type of land system was in practice in the eastern hills of Nepal. The users of such land are not required to pay tax.

Prithivi Narayan Shah had given Kipat land to the Rais and Limbus of eastern Nepal. In return, the people obtaining such land were supposed to support the government or the king as per the requirement.

People were not allowed to sell the Kipat land. But, after the execution of the Land Reform in 2021 BS, Kipat lands were allowed to be bought and sold as Raikar land.

Types of Soil Available in Nepal
A) Alluvial Soil

Alluvial soil is found in the Terai region and in basin. Formed with the mixture of the soil deposited by rivers and decomposed leaves, the soil has an equal proportion of sand and hard soil.

This type of soil contains the mixture of minerals like lime, phosphorus and  potassium etc. Thus, this type of soil is regarded as the most suitable for agriculture.
Paddy, jute, sugarcane, tobacco, pulses/lentils etc. grow lusciously in this type of soil.

B) Sandy Pebbly Soil (Balaute Pattharilo Mato)

This type of soil is found in the Bhawar region, Inner Madhesh and in Chure hill. This soil is made up of the sand piled up by rivers, pebbles, loose and rough rocklike material.

This type of soil which has the low proportion of fertile soil and low organic matter, the water doesn’t retain in this type of soil and the fertility of this type of soil is also very low.

Irrigation in the land with this type of soil is difficult. Since economically important trees like; teak and sissoo flourish in this type of soil, most parts of the land with this type of soil is covered with forest.

C) Red Gray Soil

The soil that is formed by the mixture of decomposed weeds in the broken rocks of steep cliff of the Mahabharat is called Red Gray soil. The soil of the region is red, gray
or yellow because the soil contains low amount of organic matter and ozonized iron.

The minerals like lime, nitrogen and phosphorus and the layer of the soil are low; paddy, sugarcane, jute, tobacco are not cultivated in this type of soil. But the soil contains the minerals like acid, iron etc. and thus it is suitable for the cultivation of fruits, tea, potatoes, maize and millet.

D) Talaiya Soil

The soil formed due to the drying out of the lakes of valleys is called Talaiya soil. This type of soil contains a lot of decomposed weeds so the color of the soil is black. Since the layer of the soil is thick and the soil contains a lot of organic matter, the Talaiya soil is the best for agriculture.

Paddy, wheat, vegetables in particular grow well in this type of soil. Cultivation in this type of soil can be done even in the less rain water. This type of soil is found in Kathmandu valley.

E) Himali Soil

Himali soil is formed with the mixture of soil, sand, pebbles, conglomerates and rock deposited by glaciers. This type of soil is mainly found at the foot of inner and high Himalayan region.

The climate is cold and dry, the layer of the soil is thin and there is less organic matter in this type of soil so the fertility in this type of soil is low. Only the crops like; maize, barley, potato, finger millet are grown in this type of soil.

2 Forests

The landscape, climate, soil etc. affect the vegetation of a particular place. Since climate affects vegetation, there is an interdependent relationship between these two. Forest resources have an important role in conserving and balancing the environment. However, there has been a widespread decline in forest resources in the past few decades.

According to the statistics of 1954 AD, more than 45% of the land was covered by forests but around 1979 AD, it was 43%. It was 37.4% in 1986 AD. A survey carried out in 1998 AD showed that the coverage of the forest area was 39.6% whereas the survey in 2014 AD revealed that the forest area had reached 44.74%.

During the past decades, the forests in many places were cleared for settlement and re-settlement and in some places the forests were encroached. The vegetation in Nepal can be divided into five groups on the basis of the Nepal’s diversified landscape and forests.

The realm of forests in Nepal can be categorized into 5 groups on the basis of the landscape and diversity of forests.

A) Sub Tropical Evergreen Forest

Found at an altitude up to 1,200 meter in the Terai, Bhawar Doon, Chure hill, the trees in the subtropical evergreen forests are taller, larger, stronger and evergreen since there’s plenty of rainfall and it’s hot there.

Running parallel from east to west and extending over an area of four kosh (8 miles) in the past, the forest is known as Charkoshe Jhadi. Along with the main vegetation like; Teak, Sissoo, black cutch and Silk Cotton tree, Sanwe, Dhaddi, Gaanj are also found there.

Since the wildlife like elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, bears, deer are found there, the forest is considered very important from economic and biological point of view.

B) Temperate Deciduous Forest

Found at an altitude between 1,200 meters and 2,100 meters in the upper and central part of the Chure hill and in the lower part of the Mahabharat hill, the trees in the temperate deciduous forests are tall and big.

Although the lower part is densely shady, the upper part is cool and there occurs frost causing the falling of leaves and thus the forest is called deciduous forest. In the higher places, a mixture of forest containing deciduous and coniferous trees is found to some extent.

Among the evergreen, deciduous and coniferous trees of hard and soft types found here, Teak,Pine-trees, Himalayan Cedar, Golden Michelia, Chestnut, Walnut, Rhododendron, Bodhi tree, Needle-wood, Banyan, Silk Cotton Tree, Alder, Bastard Teak are the major ones.

This type of forest is taken as of lower quality than the subtropical evergreen forest.

C) Coniferous Forest

The coniferous forest is found in the upper part of Mahabharat hill and in the lower part of Himalayan mountain at an altitude from 2,101 to 3,350 meters. Since it is cold and there is snowfall throughout the year, the shape of trees and their leaves are pointed like angle.

The soil is damp and thus there is evergreen forest. Average soft type trees are found here and among them too, Golden Michelia, pine tree, Himalayan Cedar, chestnut, Chirpine, Silk Cotton Tree, Needle-wood, Betbaans, Alder, bamboo, Rhododendron, Birch etc. are mostly found.

D) Alpine Forest

The vegetation found in the hilly and lower Himalayan region at an altitude from 3,351 meters to 5,000 meters where there is low temperature and less rainfall, is called alpine forest. Since the climate is cool and dry at this height, the tall, big and hard type of trees cannot grow well here.

Among the alpine vegetation, smaller trees like hododendron, reed and some bush like trees are found up to the altitude of 3,600 meters and above that large grasslands are found. In the upper part multi-colored Buki flowers and herbs are found.

E) Tundra Vegetation

Since snowfall occurs at an altitude above 5,000 meters, plants can’t grow here. Only algae and fungi grow in the slopes where snow cannot stop. The algae and fungi that grow here where other plants cannot grow are called tundra vegetation or cold desert vegetation.

3 Minerals

Minerals are one of the most important natural resources. The things like copper, coal, lime stone, petroleum products, gas, marble, Ochre, lead, magnesite, slate etc. that are inside the earth are called minerals. Nepal is a rich country in natural resources.

The contribution of this sector in gross domestic product in the fiscal year 2064/65 was 0.54%. The history of the efforts made for excavation of minerals in Nepal is not so long. The Department of Geology was established in 2024 BS to make the excavation of minerals more effective. However, the minerals underneath the land of Nepal cannot have been utilized.

Probable Areas of Minerals in Nepal

S. N. Available Minerals Places Where Minerals are found
1 Iron

Fulchoki, Those, Chitwan, Kulekhani, Bhaise, Pyuthan, Bajhang, Doti, Jantar, Labdhi, Pharping

2 Copper

Tamakhani, Simakhani, Kulekhani, Buddhakhola, Wapsa, Barhabise, Marpha, Bandipur, Okhaldhunga, Ilamdanda, Myagdi

3 Mica Bhojpur, Doti, Chainpur, Sindhuligadhi, Jyamire, Nibuwa Gau, Rasuwa, Bajhang, Lamjung, Gosaikunda, Sundarijal
4 Limestone Chobhar, Bhainse, Dhankuta, Morang, Chitwan, Makwanpur, Palpa, Godawari, Surkhet
5 Lead Ganesh Himal, Phulchoki, Makwanpur, Baglung, Marphu, Galkot, Tipling, Baitadi
6 Zinc Ganesh Hhimal, Phulchoki, Majer Khola, Nampa
7 Sulphur Chisapani Gadhi, Gosaikunda, Barahakshetra
8 Khari Sindhupalchok, Khotang, Bhojpur
9 Slate

Bandipur, Bagmati, Lumbini, Gandaki, Janakpur

10 Marble Godawari, Mahabharat mountain range
11 Ochre (Geru) Sindhupalchok, Chautara
12 Coal Dang, Salyan, Chautara, Chitwan, Makwanpur, Kathmandu valley
13 Petroleum

Koilabas, Nepalgunj, Dhangadhi, Muktinath, Dailekh, Pyuthan, Dang, and more likely to be found in wider areas of Terai, Chure hill and Mahabharat

14 Gas

Wider areas of Terai, Mustang area and Kathmandu valley

15 Gold

Sunkoshi, Budhigandaki, Riu Khola, the bank of Kaligandaki, Bering, the placer gold has been found in Koshi

16 Silver Chisapanigadhi, Baglung, Phulchoki
17 Cobalt Palpa, Gulmi, Arghakhanchi, Dhankuta
18 Soda Salyan, Doti
19 Rock salt Rasuwa, Syaphrubesi
20 Niwoberus and other stone (Rare metal) Gorkha, Dadeldhura, Jajarkot
21 Nickel Khokling, Nampa, Tungthang, Bhorle
22 Magnesite

Kharidhunga of Dolakha, Kamughat of Udayapur, Nunkhani of Mustang

4) Water Resources

Although Nepal is deprived of maritime facilities, it is the second prosperous country after Brazil and the first in Asiain water resources.

There are over 6,000 rivers in Nepal. The three major rivers of Nepal, Koshi, Gandaki and Karnali have water storage of capacity of 1,48,000 cubic meter.

It is 74% of the total water storage capacity. The total hydroelectricity generation capacity of Nepal is 83,000 MW.

The rivers of Nepal can be categorized into the following three categories on the basis of their flow, water storage and utilization:

A) The First Level Rivers

The big rivers like Saptakoshi, Saptagandaki and Karnali originating from the melting of snow or Himalaya and flowing with large volume of water are the first level rivers. These rivers are considered useful for bigger hydroelectricity and irrigation projects.

B) The Second Level Rivers

The rivers; Mechi, Kankai, Troyuga, Kamala, Bagmati, Banganga, Tinau, Rapti, Babai, Mohan etc. originating from the Mahabharat mountain range below the Himalaya Mountain which never dry up and flow continuously and have large volume of water in the monsoon but very low volume of water in the winter are the second level rivers.

C) The Third Level Rivers

The rivers originating from the Shiwalik mountain range which become very big in the monsoon and have very little water in the winter or the rivers of temporary nature that dry up in the winter are the third level rivers. Sirsiya, Tilabe, Jamuni, Hardinath, Duduwa, Arjun Khola come under this type . These rivers are useful for short term irrigation and for farming in the monsoon season.

5 Lakes, Pools and Ponds
1) Tilicho Lake

Located at the highest altitude in the world, the Tilicho lake is at an altitude of 4,919 meters above the sea level on the lap of Mt. Phakche. This beautiful lake lies in Manang district, on the border of Mustang and in the northern part of Mt. Annapurna.

tilicho taal
Tilicho Lake

The lake is about 4 km long, 1.2 km wide and about 200 meters deep. The lake is also called Tiri-cho or Tilijo. Mt. Nilgiri lie to the north of the lake and Mt. Annapurna to the south. Since it opens up against the beautiful snow, water and rock, the lake is very captivating.

2) Phoksundo Lake

Phoksundo lake is located in Dolpa district of Karnali state. Located on the southern foot of Mt. Kanjirowa and on the lap Kagmara hill, the head of the Jagdulla river, the main tributary of the Bheri, Phoksundo lake lies at an altitude of about 3,613 meters above the sea level. The lake spreads north to south in length and east to west in width. The lake is about 4.82 km long and 1.61 km wide.

से फोक्सुण्डो ताल डोल्पा
Phoksundo Lake

The local name of the lake is ‘Rigmo’. The lake is triangular and is elongated in its shape. This is the second largest lake after Rara and this is the deepest lake in the country and its estimated depth is 650 meter. Since the water of the lake is very cold, no living creatures is found there. Functioning as the outlet of the lake, the Suligaad river has a 176 meter tall water fall.

3) Rara Lake

Located in Mugu district, the Rara lake is famous as the largest lake of Nepal. The lake is 5.2 km long, 2.4 km wide and 167 m deep.

Mugu Rara Lake
Rara lake

The lake is located at an altitude of 3,200 m above the sea level and the lake is also called Mahendra lake. The lake is very pleasing.

4) Cho-Rolpa Lake

This lake is located in Dolakha district. It lies at an altitude of 4,580 meters above the sea level. The lake is 3 km long, 0.5 km wide and 100 m deep. The lake is estimated to have 80 million cubic meters of water.

Being at the risk of outburst, a siphon has been installed to drain the water out to save it from out bursting.

5) Phewa Lake

Located in Pokhara of Kaski district, the lake is 4.8 km long, 1.5 km wide and 24 m deep. Since there is the reflection of Mt. Machhapuchhre on the lake, it’s very captivating and is important from tourism point of view.

फेवा ताल
Phewa Lake
6) Ranipokhari

Ranipokhari was built by King Pratap Malla to console his queen Anantapriya, who had been in deep sorrow over the death of her son. The pond is 180 m long, 140 m wide and it covers an area of nearly 32 Ropanis.

rani pokhari

There are Bhairab in the north-east and north-west corner, Mahalaxmi in the southeast corner and 16-armed Ganesh in the south-west corner of the pond.

7) Ghodaghodi Lake

The Ghodaghodi lake is spread over 1.5 hectare in the shape of a palm and situated to the north of Mahendra highway in Kailali district. There are four to five mini-islands in the lake. The lake is named after the Ghodaghodi temple located nearby it.

ghodaghodi taal
Ghodaghodi Lake

Apart from the rare bird Hornbill, several birds and animals are found in the nearby forest of the lake. Fish, Crocodile, tortoise etc. and other animals are found in the lake.

8) Taudaha

At the time when Kathmandu Valley was immersed in water, Manjushree cut the gorge of Chobhar with his sword or Lord Krishna cut the gorge of Chobhar with his disc/Chakra and the water drained out and that also caused the serpents go out. As a solution, a pond was built at a place called Bhutkhel in Chobhar and the Karkotak, the king of serpents, was let to reside there.


Therefore, Taudaha is also called the residence of Karkotak serpent. Taudaha is spread over 96 Ropanis (1 Ropani = 5,476 sq feet) with 84 Ropanis with water area.
Dozens of types of birds are found there and thus it’s an attractive place for the study and research of birds.

9) Gosaikunda

Gosaikunda where thousands of pilgrims visit on the day of Janaipurnima and a very popular pilgrimage is located in Rasuwa district of State Number 3. The clear water lake, set on the hard Himalayan black rock, lies at an altitude of 4,602 m above the sea level. Gosaikunda is formed by Suryakunda (east) and northern waterfall.

गोसाइकुण्ड रसुवा
Gosaikunda Lake
10) Rupa Lake

The Rupa lake is situated at the foot of Pachbhaiya hill to the north of Pokhara of Kaski district. The lake is located at an altitude of 701 m above the sea level. The 4.5 m deep lake occupies an area of 120 hectares. People have started to gain economic benefit from fish farming in the lake.

Rupa Lake
Rupa Lake
11) Begnas Lake

There lies another lake, Begnas lake, on the other side of Pachbhaiya hill along with Rupa lake. The lake is situated at an altitude of 677 meters above the sea level. The 7.5 m deep lake occupies an area of 225 hectares.

begnas taal
Begnas Lake

Some Popular Lakes, Pools and Ponds of Nepal

S. No. Lake, Pool, Pond Place (District)
1 Rara lake Mugu
2 Phewa lake Kaski
3 Rupa lake Kaski
4 Maidi lake Kaski
5 Begnas lake Kaski
6 Se-Phoksundo or Rigma lake Dolpa
7 Bishajari lake, Nanda Bhauju lake Chitwan
8 Gaidahawa lake Rupandehi
9 Lausa lake Rupandehi
10 Sagrahawa lake Rupandehi
11 Jakhira lake Kapilvastu
12 Ghodaghodi lake Kailali
13 Bulbule lake Surkhet
14 Jagdishpur lake Kapilvastu
15 Rani lake Kanchanpur
16 Jhilmila lake Kanchanpur
17 Tiricho (Tilicho) lake Manang
18 Khaptad pond Achham
19 Gosaikunda Rasuwa
20 Indrasarobar Makwanpur
21 Taudaha Kathmandu
22 Ranipokhari Kathmandu
23 Naagdaha Kathmandu
24 Gangasagar Dhanusha
25 Maharaja Sunbarsi pond Morang
26 Maidiya pond Parsa
27 Surma Sarobar Bajhang
28 Panchase lake Syangja, Parbat and Kaski
29 Giri daha Jumla
30 Suna daha in the border of Dolpa and Baglung
31 Gupha pokhari, Sabhapokhari Sankhuwasabha
32 Mai pokhari Ilam

Source: Government of Nepal Ministry of Communication and Information Technology Department of Information and Broadcasting.

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