Natural Resources of Nepal – Water, Forest, Soil, and Minerals

Natural resources are vital for the economic and social development of Nepal. The natural resources of Nepal are the gifts of the nature of humanity. These gifts include forests, minerals, water, and fertile soil, which are essential for the country’s agriculture and tourism industries. Natural resources are existing in-country play a very significant role in the furtherance of its economy. The utilization of these natural resources of Nepal for various purposes by the people for their well beings called the mobilization of natural resources.

Major Natural Resources of Nepal

Nepal is rich in natural resources. Water, forest, minerals, and soil are the major natural resources of Nepal.

Natural Resources Of Nepal
Forest Resources
Water Resources
Mineral Resources

Forest Resources in Nepal

Forests are an important natural resource in Nepal, providing a variety of ecosystem services such as water regulation, carbon sequestration, and habitat for a wide range of species. Forests also provide a source of livelihood for many communities in Nepal, through the collection and sale of non-timber forest products such as nuts, berries, and medicinal plants. It has been playing a vital role in the economic development of the country. Roughly 37.6% of Nepal’s total land area is currently under forest.

Forest Resources in Nepal

The forests existing in the country vary as it extends from south to north and they may be categorized into the following three major types:

Sub Tropical Evergreen Forests in Nepal

This type of forest occurs in the Terai, Bhabar, Dun, and Churia Ranges up to 1200m. Altitude. Trees are tall, thick, and close together. Sal, Sissoo, Khair, Cane, etc. are the main species of trees found in this forest. They are hardwood trees. Rhinoceros, tigers, bears, elephants, reindeer, and many other animals are found in these forests.

Deciduous Monsoon Forests in Nepal

It is found in the hilly region up to the altitude of 2100m. Oak, elm, beech, birch, maple, etc., are the main species of trees found in this forest. Of low temperatures in winter, trees shed their leaves. Cheetahs, bears, antelopes, etc., are the wild animals found in these forests.

Evergreen coniferous forest Nepal

It is confined to the higher parts of the Mahabharat range and lower parts of the Himalayan region between 2100m. And 3300m. Altitude.

The main species of trees found in this forest are varieties of pines, fires, spruce, deodars, larches, rhododendrons, and accessible. They are softwood trees and are very useful for industries like match, paper, and furniture.

Uses of Forests in Nepal

The forest is of great economic importance to Nepal. It is one of the most important renewable resources indispensable for the economic development of the country. Its use in the modern age is immense and varied.

  1. Forest provides fuelwood, fodder, fruits, medicinal herbs, and timbers.
  2. The exports of timbers and medicinal herbs, horns, and hoofs of wild animals bring in a good deal of revenue to the country.
  3. Forest provides a habitat for many wild animals, birds, and reptiles.
  4. Forest supplies raw materials for the match, paper, and furniture industries.
  5. The jungle helps in causing rainfall by cooling moist air and throw moderating the influence on the local climate.
  6. Forest reduces floods, landslides, and soil erosion.
  7. Forest enhances natural scenery and attracts many people.
  8. It increases the fertility of the soil, adding organic matter.
  9. Forest preserves the natural ecological balance.

Forest Conservation in Nepal

The growing demand for forest products for domestic as well as industrial use has caused the depletion of forests at a fast rate. Partly due to the reckless felling of trees and partially random encroachment, the area under forest seems to be alarmingly decreasing in Nepal. To preserve the forest resources, including varieties of wild lives and to maintain ecological balance, some active measures must be taken in the country.

  1. To stop cutting trees for firewood and timber.
  2. To stop illegal encroachment of forests for settlement and cultivation.
  3. To stop the overgrazing of livestock.
  4. To stop the crime of burning the forest.
  5. To stop the flood and landslides by constructing a dam in various places.
  6. To plant new saplings; carry out afforestation on large areas of barren hills and barren lands according to climate.

Water Resources In Nepal

Water is a vital natural resource in Nepal, with rivers and lakes providing irrigation for agriculture, hydroelectric power, and a source of drinking water for communities.

Water is not only essential to biotic life, and it is necessary for the development of agriculture and industry. Glaciers, snow, rivers and rivulets, lakes, ponds, and springs are the chief sources of water in Nepal. The underground water and wells are primary water sources in the Terai and Inner Terai regions.

There are many rivers and rivulets in Nepal. In general, they flow in a north-south direction. Of the total area underwater, 97% is covered with rivers and lakes. The river is one of Nepal’s most important natural resources.

Depending upon the source and water supply, all the rivers of Nepal are grouped into three grades, as noted below.

The first Grade Rivers

All the rivers that originate from the Himalayas are included in the first-grade rivers. These rivers are snow-fed rivers that contain a massive amount of water for the whole year. Such rivers are perennial and very useful for various purposes.

Top Three first Grade Rive in Nepal
  1. The Sapta Koshi,
  2. The Sapta Gandaki and
  3. The Karnali River

The largest river in Nepal is Koshi

The Second Grade Rivers

Those rivers which originate from the Mahabharat Lekh are second-grade rivers. Springs, wells, ponds, lakes, and rainwater are the sources of water for these rivers. These rivers contain a meager amount of water in winter.

Seven Second-Grade Rivers in Nepal
  1. Kankai River
  2. Kamala River
  3. Triyuga River
  4. Rapti River (Chitwan)
  5. Rapti River (Dang)
  6. Babai River
  7. Mechi River
  8. Bagmati River

The Third Grade Rivers

These are small rivers that originate from the Churia range. All these rivers are short and dry in winter as they depend on rainfall for their water supply. Some of these rivers are

Nine Third-Grade Rivers in Nepal
  1. Tilowe River
  2. Bhangeri River
  3. Sirsiya River
  4. Manusmara River
  5. Hardinath River
  6. Banganga River
  7. Mohana River
  8. Balun River
  9. Ratu River
  10. Duduwa River

Lakes Of Nepal

How many Lakes are there in Nepal?

Lake, Natural Resources of Nepal. There are many lakes situated in various parts of the country.

15 Important List of Lakes in Nepal
  1. The Rara (Mahendra) Lake in Mugu,
  2. Phewa Lake,
  3. Begnas Lake,
  4. Rupa Lake
  5. Khaste Lake
  6. Maidi Lake
  7. Dipang Lake
  8. Gude Lake
  9. Kamal Pokhari (Buduwa) in Pokhara valley
  10. The phoksundo Lake in Dolpa
  11. Satyawati lake in Palpa
  12. Tilicho Lake in Manag
  13. Shyarpo Lake in Rukum
  14. Kasara lake in Chitwan
  15. Barkune Tal in Dang
6 Important Dahas and Kundas Himalayan regions of Nepal
  1. Taudaha and Katuwal Daha in Lalitpur,
  2. Gosain Kund,
  3. Bhirab Kunds,
  4. Saraswati Kunda,
  5. Damodar Kunda and
  6. Dudh Kunda in the Himalayan

Among these lakes, Mahendra Tal is the largest lake, and Phewa Tal is the most beautiful Lake in Nepal. Tilicho Tallies at the highest altitude at 4919 M height above sea level.

Status of Drinking Water in Nepal

Water supply is one of the basic needs of human life. It should be cleaned and purified. But, most people in the country depend upon the local rivers, wells, and streams. The supply of purified drinking water through a pipe has been made available in many parts of the country. But it is limited to only major urban centers and comes from the village development committees.

According to the recently available data is reported that about 61% of the total population of Nepal enjoys the facilities of pipe water. In order to provide safe drinking water to many people, several drinking water projects are being implemented in different parts of the country.

Uses of Water Resources in Nepal

The water resource is another vital resource playing a significant role in the overall economy of Nepal. At present, it is being used for the purposes of drinking and domestic use, irrigation, generating power, recreation, and transportation.


Since Nepal is an agricultural country, irrigation plays a vital role in the agricultural development of country. Till the financial year 2076-2077, only 50% of the total cultivable land of Nepal i.e. 12,52,476 hectares of land has irrigation facilities.

Koshi, Gandaki and Tanakpur are the major multipurpose projects operating in the Terai region of Nepal. Besides these, Chatara, Chandra, Juddha, Wanaganga, Kamala, Bagmati, Rapti, and Babai are some of the other irrigation projects in this region. With the help of tube wells, groundwater is also being used for irrigation in the Terai region.

8 Irrigation projects in Nepal

Farmer-managed irrigation system in Nepal. The main irrigation scheme of Nepal is as follows;

ProjectsIrrigations facility DistrictArea (Hectare)
SharadaKailali, Kanchanpur6,800
BagmatiBara, Routahat, Sarlahi50,200
GandakBara, Parsa, Routahat, Nawalpur51,000
KoshiSaptari, Sunsari, Morang22,000

Others irrigation projects and area

  1. Chaurjhari Irrigation Canal in Rukum
  2. Bijayapur Canels in Pokhara
  3. Seti Canels in Pokhara
  4. Ramgha Tar Canal in Tanhun

Agricultural development without increasing irrigational facilities is impossible. For this reason, in different parts of the country, numerous large and small irrigation projects have been carried out.


The rivers in Nepal possess a very high potential to generate hydroelectricity. It has been estimated that the hydro-power potential in Nepal is about 83,000 megawatts. At present only 2,532.36 megawatts of electricity is being produced in the country.

According to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) there are 32 private sector-run power projects and they produce 552.119 MW of electricity.

Hydropower Station in Nepal

List Of Hydropower Projects in Nepal

S.N.ProjectCapacity (MW)River
1Khimti -I60Khimti Khola
5Sun Koshi10.05Sun Koshi
7Seti1.5Seti Khola
13Andhi Khola9.4Andhi Khola
14Jhimruk Khola12.5Jhimruk
16Modi Khola14.8Modi Khola
17Kali Gandaki A144Kali Gandaki
18Upper Bhotekoshi45Bhote Koshi
20Indrawati -III7.5Indrawati Khola
21Madhya Marsyangdi70Marsyangdi
22Piluwa Khola3Piluwa Khola
23Sunkoshi Small2.6Sun Koshi
24Mailung Khola5Mailung Khola
25Chaku Khola3Chaku
26Khudi Khola4Khudi
27Thoppal Khola1.65Thoppal
28Chameliya Khola30Chameliya Khola
29Mardi Khola4.8Mardi
30Ridi Khola2.4Ridi
31Mai Khola4.5Mai Khola
32Kule Khani Third14Kulekhani
33Hewa khola4.455Hewa Khola
34Lower Chaku Khola1.8Chaku
35Sipring Khola10Sipring
36Lower Modi -110Modi Khola
37Bhairab Kund Khola3Bhairab Kund
38Siuri Khola5Siuri
39Ankhu Khola – 17Ankhu Khola
40Baramchi Khola HPP4.2Baramchi
42Upper Madi25Madi Khola
43Upper Mai Hydropower Project (Panchakanya Mai Hydropwer limi12Mai Khola
44Mai22Mai Khola
45Lower Modi Khola20Modi Khola
46Phawa khola Hydropower Project5Phawa Khola
47Charnawati Khola Hydroelectric Project3.52Charnawati
48Upper Tamakoshi HPP456Tama Koshi
49Upper Trishuli 3A60Trishuli
50Jiri Khola SHP2.4Jiri Khola
51Pikhuwa Khola5Pikhuwa
52Middle Chaku Khola1.8Chaku
53Radhi Small4.4Radhi
54Dordi Khola27Dordi
55Mristi Khola42Mristi
56Tadi Khola (thaprek)5Tadi Khola
57Upper Chaku A22.2Chaku
58Likhu-452.4Likhu Khola
59Upper Marsyangdi A50Marsyangdi
60Thapa Khola11.2Thapa Khola
61Daraundi A6Daraundi
62Jhyari Khola2Jhyari Khola
63Lower Khare11Khare
64Nau Gad Khola8.5Naugad
65Upper Hugdi5Hugdi
66Midim Khola3Midim Khola
67Mai Cascade7Mai Khola
68Hewa Khola A14.9Hewa Khola
69Upper Khimti12Khimti Khola
70Namarjun Madi12Madi Khola
71Sabha Khola3.3Sabha Khola
72Nyadi Khola30Nyadi
73Tungun – Thosne Khola4.36Tugun
74Khani Khola2Khani Khola
75Lower Tadi4.993Tadi Khola
76Jogmai Khola7.6Jogmai Khola
77Daram Khola-A2.5Daram
78Upper Puwa-13Puwa
79Sardi Khola4Sardi
80Upper Mai -C6.1Mai Khola
81Kabeli B – 125Kabeli Khola
82Lower Hewa22.1Hewa Khola
83Mai Cascade HPP8Mai Khola
84Chhandi Khola2Chhandi
85Puwa Khola-14Puwa
86Rudi A8.8Rudi Khola
87Ghalemdi Khola5Ghalemdi
89Madkyu Khola13Madkyu
90Chake Khola2.83Chake Khola
91Solu Hydropower Project23.5Solu Khola
92Upper Dordi A HEP25Dordi
93Dwari Khola SHP3.75Dwari
94Bagmati Nadi22Bagmati
95Molun Khola SHP7Molun
96Upper Khimti II7Khimti Khola
97Upper Hewa HPP8.5Hewa Khola
98Suri Khola7Suri
99Ghatte Khola5Ghatte Khola
100Iwa Khola9.9Iwa Khola
101Theule Khola HPP1.5Theule
102Likhu Khola ‘A’51Likhu Khola
103Singati Khola hydropower project25Singati
104Lower Likhu28.1Likhu Khola
105Taksar Pikhuwa8Pikhuwa
106Bijaypur Khola-2 HPP4.5Bijaypur
107Upper Khorunga HPP7.5Khoranga Khola
108Makari gad10Makari gad
109Upper Naugad Gad Hydropower Project8Naugad
110Upper Mardi Hydropower Project7Mardi
111Rawa Khola3Rawa Khola
112Super Mai Hydropower Project7.8Mai Khola
113Upper Syange Khola SHP2.4Syange
114Rudi Khola-B Hydropower Project6.6Rudi Khola
115Padam Khola SHP4.8Padam Khola
116Sapsup Khola Small Hydro Electric Project7.151Sapsup Khola
117Richet Khola SHP5Richet
118Super Mai-A HPP9.6Mai Khola
119Mai Beni HPP9.51Mai Khola
120Upper Chhyandi Small HPP4Chhyangdi
121Super Mai Khola Cascade HPP3Mai Khola
122Lower Jogmai Khola HPP6.2Jogmai Khola
123Kabeli B1 Cascade HPP9.94Kabeli Khola
124Chepe Khola Small HEP8.63Chepe Khola
125Sunigad HEP11.05Suni Gad
Total capacity for 125 projects = 2185.543 MW


Jhimruk hydropower project is a diesel power station. Besides this, there are many micro-hydropower stations in different parts of the country.

Similarly, various big and small hydro projects are being implemented in multiple parts of the country at present.

Recreation and Transportation

In Nepal, water resources have also been utilized for recreation and transportation. There are many beautiful lakes in Nepal, particularly in the hills, which attract a large number of domestic as well as foreign tourists. Phewa, Begnas and Rupa Tals in Pokhara.

Mahendra Tal (Raradaha) in Mugu and Tilicho Tal in Manag are some examples of such lakes. These lakes have helped a lot to develop the tourism industry in the country. People enjoy boating, rafting and swimming in the river and lakes. Rivers like Marshyangdi, Trishuli, Sunkoshi, etc. are used for rafting.

Some rivers in Nepal are used to transport people and goods. Local people use boats to transport their goods. Sometimes logs (Timber) are transported from one place to another. Sun Kosi, Narayani and Karnali rivers are essential for such purposes.


Rivers like Trishuli, Sunkoshi, Kali Gandaki, Arun, Tamor with fast currents are suitable for rafting. A large number of local and foreign tourists come for water trips in these rivers.

Conservation of Water Resources in Nepal

  1. Water can be conserved in the following way:
  2. The plantation of trees is to be done around the watersheds to prevent the sources of water from getting dry.
  3. The swamps, bogs, and ponds should be cleared of weeds and garbage. These keep the water sources alive.
  4. Washing of clothes, bathing, cleaning of pots and clearing the motion and urinating around the water sources should be prohibited.
  5. The dams and walls are to be constructed to save the watersheds.
  6. Industrial water should not be thrown near the watersheds. The outlet should be arranged.

Minerals Resources in Nepal

Minerals are another important natural resource in Nepal, with deposits of minerals such as limestone, marble, and coal. These minerals are used in the construction, manufacturing, and energy sectors.

Minerals are the one of main Natural Resources of Nepal. These are chemical substances that are dug out from the earth’s crust. Economically, minerals are beneficial as these are used in various ways. Gold, silver, copper, iron, bauxite, sulphur, and petroleum are some of the significant minerals widely used in the world. All the developed countries are affluent in mineral resources. Some countries in the middle east have become very rich because of petroleum resources. Thus, minerals are essential for the economic development of a nation.

The hills and mountains of Nepal are very young in an age that came up during the tertiary period. Therefore, the rocks are still in the process of metamorphism. To Geologists, therefore, are not very sure about the prosperity of the mineral resources until the proper investigation of minerals is thoroughly made.

Minerals Resources in Nepal

List of minerals found in Nepal?

Iron, copper, lead zinc, nickel, mica, magnesite, limestone, and slate are some of the minerals found in Nepal. There is also a possibility of finding natural gas and oil in some parts of Nepal. But, the extraction of minerals is not an easy task for a developing country like Nepal. No detailed exploration of mineral wealth has been made so far. The country also lacks the technological know-how for research and the lack of sufficient finances is another drawback.

Soil of Nepal

Fertile soil is also an important natural resource in Nepal, providing the basis for the country’s agriculture industry. Nepal is a predominantly agricultural country, with over 80% of the population relying on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Soil is the loose material found on the earth’s surface on which plants grow. It is made up of disintegrated and decomposed rock material and contains mineral particles, water, air, dead leaves, roots, worms, bacteria and humus.

Soil formation is a slow process and includes physical, chemical and organic changes. It may take a thousand years to form one centimetre of good soil. Soil is an essential element for a thousand years to create one centimetre of good soil. It is a necessary element for agriculture as soil provides the medium for plant growth.

status of soil in Nepal

5 Major Soil Types in Nepal

How many types of soil are found in Nepal?

Soil Natural Resources of Nepal. Five types of soil are found in Nepal. The soil type in Nepal varies from place to place according to its parent rocks.

  1. Alluvial Soil – The soil brought and deposited by rivers is known as alluvial soil. It is excellent and made up of tiny particles of various organic and inorganic substances. It is very fertile soil. The Terai(Madhesh), Inner Terai and River valleys contain this type of soil.
  2. Sandy and gravelly Soil – In the Bhabar area, Churia range, and most parts of Inner Terai, the soil is sandy and gravelly. This type of soil is not suitable for farming purposes. However, the forest grows well in this soil.
  3. Rocky Soil – This type of soil is formed due to the decomposition of parent rocks exposed to the weathering process. It is shallow in depth and poor in humus. Most of the Mountain areas and Hilly regions contain this type of soil.
  4. Lacustrine Soil – Lacustrine soil forms at the bottom of lakes. It is very fertile, like alluvium, and is suitable for agricultural activities. It is black as it contains a massive amount of humus. The main area of this soil it the Kathmandu Valley.
  5. Glacial Soil – The region of the Himalayas has frozen soil. It is a mixture of sand and stone pieces and is deficient in humus. It is loose and coarse and is not suitable for agricultural purposes. However, potato, buckwheat, millet, barley, and maize are the chief crops that are grown in this soil.

Uses of Soil in Nepal

Soil is the most essential natural resource which favours the growth of plants required for human and animal lives. For an agrarian country like Nepal, soil plays a vital role in the agricultural production of the country.

In Nepal, the soil is widely used for these purposes. The conservation of soil keeps the original qualities of soil, so the fertility of soil does not decline, and the productivity of arable land remains as it is. The conservation of soil saves the environment. Thus, soil conservation is essential to ensure the production of food grains and agricultural raw materials, to discourage soil erosion, and to protect the soil from depletion.

Conservation of Soil in Nepal

Some essential measures for soil conservation are the following.

  1. The fruit-bearing plants and grass are to be planted in steep slopes, hillsides, and the mound. It protects the land from landslides.
  2. To plant new saplings in open field, barren hills, free public ground, and barren lands according to climate.
  3. The dams and protective walls are to be constructed to galchhi at the places where there is more flow of water.
  4. Mobile grazing is to be arranged instead of allowing the animals to graze at one place.
  5. The rotation of crops is to be adopted in cultivation.
  6. The scientific methods of cultivation i.e., contour farming, are to be adopted in the Hilly regions of Nepal. It reduces soil flow.

Land in Nepal

Land provides us with brains for our food, cotton for our clothes, and timber for our homes. The nature of the land varies from place to place. Nepal is known as the country of mountains, as more than 80% of the total area is covered by hills and mountains.

The mountain region is not suitable for agriculture but provides favourable conditions for adventurous sports like mountaineering and trekking. Due to the presence of high mountains, Nepal has become an important tourist centre in the world.

The Kathmandu and Pokhara valleys in the mid-hills are favourable for cultivation and support a large population. The Terai(Madhesh) and Duns are flat and fertile for agriculture where BOTH FOOD AND CASH CROPS ARE GROWN. Significant industries like jute, sugar, and tobacco are located in this part of the country.

Importance of Natural Resources in Nepal and Ways of Preserving Them

To preserve these natural resources, Nepal has implemented a number of measures including:

  1. Forest conservation: Nepal has implemented a number of initiatives to conserve its forests, including the creation of protected areas, such as national parks and wildlife reserves. The country has also implemented policies to promote sustainable forest management, including the promotion of non-timber forest products and the implementation of reforestation programs.
  2. Water resource management: Nepal has implemented policies to manage its water resources, including the construction of dams and reservoirs to store and regulate the flow of water. The country has also implemented measures to protect water quality, such as the regulation of wastewater treatment and the promotion of conservation practices.
  3. Soil conservation: Nepal has implemented measures to protect and conserve its soil, including the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices, such as the use of organic fertilizers and the implementation of erosion control measures.
  4. Mineral resource management: Nepal has implemented policies to manage its mineral resources, including the regulation of mining activities and the promotion of environmentally-sensitive extraction practices.

Overall, it is important for Nepal to preserve its natural resources in order to ensure the sustainability of its economy and the well-being of its people.


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