Forest management in Nepal
Community forestry has contributed to restoring forest resources in Nepal. Forests account for almost 40 per cent of the land in the country. Although this area was decreasing at an annual rate of 1.9 per cent during the 1990s, this decline was reversed, leading to an annual increase of 1.35 per cent over the period 2000 to 2005.Community forestry occupies a central place in forest management in Nepal. In this approach, local users organized as Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs) take the lead and manage resources, while the government plays the role of supporter or facilitator. Forest management is a community effort and entails little financial or other involvement on the part of the government.
Since 1980, about 14,000 CFUGs have been formed. About one-fourth of Nepal’s national forest is now managed by more than 35 per cent of the total population. Community forestry is now the second-largest forest management regime after government-managed forests. Forest user groups develop their own operational plans, set harvesting rules, set rates and prices for products, and determine how surplus income is distributed or spent. There is evidence of significant improvement in the conservation of forests (both increased area and improved density) and enhanced soil and water management.
Benefits from community forestry management
The advantages of community forestry include employment and income generation from forest protection, tree felling and log extraction, as well as non-timber forest products. Additional economic benefits are in the form of sustained wood fuel sources, which contribute more than three-quarters of energy needs to households. Improved forest management and cover also contribute to nature conservation.
Community forestry promotes inclusive growth. Some community forest activities have initiated a scholarship programme for low income people, as well as savings and credit operations among members, including loans to finance income generation activities. Community forestry also empowers CFUGs with greater influence over decision making through participation in planning and management.
Policies to protect deforestation
The Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MFSC), as the lead institution for creating an enabling environment for forest resource management, has implemented two policies, including Community Forestry and the Leasehold Forestry Policy, that have helped the government of Nepal achieve significant success in forest conservation and environmental protection.
The Master Plan for the Forestry Sector prepared in 1989, the Forest Act of 1993, the Forest Regulations of 1995, and the Forestry Sector Policy of 2000 were developed and implemented to support the community forestry programme, after earlier efforts at centralized control. The Forest Act and Forest Rules accelerated the transfer of forests to forest user groups; they provide the legal basis for the implementation of community forestry and recognize CFUGs as “self-governing autonomous corporate bodies for managing and using community forests”.
The remarkable turnaround in forest management in Nepal is directly attributable to the benefits generated for community groups, in the form of goods, services and welfare enhancements.
- 1. Nepal Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Asia Forestry Outlook Study 2010: Country Report NEPAL
- 2. Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, The Future of Nepal’s Forests Outlook for 2010
- 3. International Environmental Science Center, Nepal’s Forests
- 4. Kanel, Paudyal and Baral (2005), Nepal Community Forestry 2005
- 5. National Forest Policy Review – Nepal
- 6. Nurse, M.; Malla, Y ‘Advances in Community Forestry in Asia’, 2006
- 7. Karki, M. Potentials of Joint and Community Forestry in South Asia: Lessons Learned, Road Blocks and Future Prospects, 2003