Around 150,000 cubic feet timber rotting in community forestsThe logs were left in the forests as the federal government decided to ban logging, collection and sale of timber nationwide.
Close to 150,000 cubic feet of felled timber has been rotting away in several community forests of Udayapur district due to the government’s ban on collection, transportation and sale of logs nationwide.
According to forest officials and community forest users’ groups, more than 150,000 cubic feet of wood that was legally logged and collected has been left in the forests for the past five months after the federal government imposed a ban on the collection, transportation and sale of logs in community forests across the country.
A Cabinet meeting on May 28 had decided to ban the collection of timber from community forests.
“A large number of logs were left in the forests due to the government’s decision. The rains damaged some of the timber. The government also lost revenue from the ban and the general public faced shortages of timber,” said Kusal Babu Basnet, Udayapur chairman of the Federation of Community Forest Users’ Nepal. According to him, timber smuggling is rife in the forests since the logs were left unguarded.
“Collection of 300,000 cubic feet timber from various community forests was permitted in Udayapur as per the annual work plan. But not even half of the timber could be logged, transported and sold following the due legal process this year,” said Basnet.
Two hundred and fifty of around 300 community forests in Udayapur district collected the felled timber and other trees with permission from the divisional forest office. The community forest users’ groups would collect timber before May. However, the logging, transportation and selling process was delayed this year owing to the lockdown triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The community forests could not log trees, collect and sell them through bidding because of the pandemic and the lockdown. Logging and collection was going on in several community forests when the government’s decision was announced. The logs were left in the forests,” said Tara Nepali, a Udayapur member of the Federation of Community Forest Users’ Group. “The logs started decaying in the forest throughout the rainy season.”
According to Basnet, timber worth around Rs150 million would go to waste if the authorities concerned do not take prompt decision about the logs left in the forest.
The ban has also hit local residents. “We were prepared to start the construction of our new house soon after Dashain using wood from the community forest. But the consumers’ group could not provide the timber,” said Narapati KC of Chaudandi Municipality Ward 6. KC is a Katunje Community Forest user.
According to the Divisional Forest Office, Gaighat, around 50,000 cubic feet timber was left in various forests under its watch as the user groups were unable to collect and transport the logs due to the Cabinet decision.
“Logs are getting damaged in the forest and consumers are in need of timber. A huge amount of income of the community forests and revenue are wasted in the forests,” said Jageshwor Sah, information officer at the divisional office.
There are two divisional forest offices in the district. Another office is in Katari Municipality of Udayapur.
According to Basnet, consumers cannot enter the forests for three months from mid-June to mid-September. But the forest user groups are yet to manage the logs left in the forest for months as the government’s ban is still in effect.
“Forest users are not allowed to manage the logs. As a result, they are getting damaged and stolen,” said Basnet, urging the government to consider the problems.