Forest users make a pitch for sustainabilityCommunity forest users from across the country have called for a need to move away from the traditional forest management focusing on increasing forest cover to adapt a sustainable module to empower millions of local communities dependent on forest resources.
Community forest users from across the country have called for a need to move away from the traditional forest management focusing on increasing forest cover to adapt a sustainable module to empower millions of local communities dependent on forest resources.
A study conducted by the Department of Forest Research and Survey and National Forest Products Survey Project between 2010 to 2015 showed that of the total forest cover has increased by more than five percent to 6.61 million hectares of the country.
“Nepal is among the few countries that have gained forest cover at a time when illegal logging and deforestation is rampant. However, it is also among the few countries where improvement in forest management has not contributed to the economic growth and livelihood options for the local communities,” said Ghanshyam Pandey, former chairperson of Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (Fecofun).
The community forest users groups have played an important role in improving the forests despite threats from illegal logging and deforestation in the country, particularly in the mid-hills. The new forest assessment report released this May showed the mid-hill has the highest forest cover at 37.8 percent, followed by high-hills (32.25 pc), Chure region (23.04pc) and the Tarai (6.90pc).
“Forest conservation is not only related to improving the biodiversity and local environment, but it should also help in generating income and improving the livelihoods of the people who are dependent on forest resources,” said Forest Minister Agni Prasad Sapkota while inaugurating the seventh National Council of Fecofun on Tuesday.
He said the improvement in forest cover has done very little in improving the livelihoods of local communities who largely represent those living at higher poverty line.
At present, the country is incurring a huge economic loss due to lack of proper management of forest resources, as 150 million cubic feet of wood is lost annually. The community forest users have been demanding that the government come up with measures to provide job opportunities through forest-based enterprises.
“As we are heading towards federal provinces, all stakeholders including the political parties should come together to discuss about new state structures,” said UCPN (Maoist) Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha,
“They should lead the discussion on ways to manage natural resources sustainably and share benefits among the people.”