Shrestha, Uttam Babu; Bawa, Kamaljit Sangha (2014): Economic contribution of Chinese caterpillar fungus to the livelihoods of mountain communities in Nepal. PANGAEA, https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.833518, Supplement to: Shrestha, UB; Bawa, KS (2014): Economic contribution of Chinese caterpillar fungus to the livelihoods of mountain communities in Nepal. Biological Conservation, 177, 194-202, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2014.06.019
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Harvesting of Chinese caterpillar fungus, one of the most expensive biological commodities in the world, has become an important livelihood strategy for mountain communities of Nepal. However, very little is known about the role of Chinese caterpillar fungus in household economy. We estimated the economic contribution of Chinese caterpillar fungus to the household income, quantified the extent of "Chinese caterpillar fungus dependence" among households with different economic and social characteristics, and assessed the role of cash income from the Chinese caterpillar fungus harvest in meeting various household needs including education, debt payments, and food security. Results show that Chinese caterpillar fungus income is the second largest contributor to the total household income after farm income with 21.1% contribution to the total household income and 53.3% to the total cash income. The contribution of Chinese caterpillar fungus income to total household income decreases as the household income increases making its contribution highest for the poorest households. There is significant correlation between Chinese caterpillar fungus dependency and percentage of family members involved in harvesting, number of food-sufficient months, and total income without Chinese caterpillar fungus income. Income from Chinese caterpillar fungus is helping the poorest to educate children, purchase food, and pay debts. However, reported decline of Chinese caterpillar fungus from its natural habitat might threaten local livelihoods that depend on the Chinese caterpillar fungus in future. Therefore, sustainable management of Chinese caterpillar fungus through partnership among local institutions and the state is critical in conserving the species and the sustained flow of benefits to local communities.