Official ban on felling and sales of timber gives rise to smuggling of wood in KanchanpurThe ban has led to a zero sale of timber in the community forests, which has created a supply vacuum leading to illegal sales of timber at a higher price.
The Division Forest Office in Kanchanpur arrested one individual with smuggled timber in Brahmadev on Sunday. A few days ago, another individual was caught smuggling timber from the Gail river area.
According to the office, seven individuals have so far been arrested on the charge of smuggling timber from the Chure area in the current fiscal year.
“The forest offices have been arresting smugglers with woods. The situation will be the same until the government resumes timber trade and allows legal business of timber,” said Ayaja Bikram Manandhar, division forest officer in Kanchanpur.
There has been an alarming rise in timber smuggling cases in the Chure region since the past year after the government banned the felling and sales of timber citing it as an unscientific and environment-costly method of deforestation.
The ban has led to a zero sale of timber in the community forests, which has created a supply vacuum leading to illegal sales of timber at a higher price.
A year ago, the price of a cubic foot of timber was Rs 3,000 to Rs 3,500. But the price has gone up to Rs 5,000 in the black market for the same quantity.
A Cabinet meeting on May 28, 2020 had decided to ban the collection, transportation and sales of timber from community forests across the country. The federal government took the decision to investigate alleged financial irregularities in the sale of timber and in inviting tenders; to ensure transparency in the expenditure of the community forest funds; and to curb rapid tree felling that was taking place in the first months of 2020.
“Timber logs are rotting away in several community forests in Kanchanpur while consumers are compelled to buy from smugglers at a high price,” said Shivadatta Panta of the District Forest Coordination Committee.
“The smuggling of timber, which was limited to the rural areas, is now rampant in the urban areas as well,” said Rabindra Kunwar, chairman of the Chure Conservation Network. “Timber is being smuggled from the Chure area of Dadeldhura and Kanchanpur districts to various city areas where there is a high demand for timber to support rapid infrastructure building.”
The District Forest Coordination Committee in its attempt to condemn the rise in timber smuggling launched a vehicular strike for a few hours at Attariya in Kailali and Jhalari in Kanchanpur last week.