Forests are considered as the important resources of the poor people. Nepal a small mountainous country experienced various model of forestry governance ranges from strict conservation to community based conservation. In the course of that various policy and institutional mechanism were set up for translating the policy into practice.
Before the 1950s, land and forest resources were controlled by the ruling classes. Local landlords were appointed by the rulers for the management of the forest resources. People have limited access to forest resources at that time. After the restoration of democracy In 1950s, forest resource management policy was also changed. The private forest nationalization act was promulgated 1957 in order to prevent the destruction of forest by nationalizing the privately owned forest.
People started to feel that their forests were insecure which resulted massive deforestation. This process continues and environmental crises started to be seen in Nepal due to deforestation. Nepal government tried to protect its forest resources by investing huge resources of the country. Armed forest guards were employed to patrol the forest area to prevent illegal tree felling. But these all practices became unfruitful to conserve the forest of Nepal due to exclusion of people in forest conservation.
During 1970’s idea of involving local people in the forest management has been evolved indigenously. National forestry plan, 1976 felt the need of local people in the forest management. In 1978, Panchayat forest rules and regulations were promulgated to manage local forests by the local political body. In 1989, government developed the Master Plan for Forestry Sector, which legalize the practice of community forestry at national level. Then Forest Act, 1993 and Forest Regulation, 1995 formally establish the legal base for handing over community forestry. Now there are five models of community based forest management in Nepal viz community forest, Leasehold forest, collaborative forest, religious forest, protected forest.
People participation in forest management has been increased and there is win-win situation in forest conservation. People gets benefits from the forest through the better access of them to the forest products. The achievements of the community based forest management can be described in mainly two aspects; ecological and socio-economic.
The community forestry is credited for improving the ecological condition of forests, which in turn resulted in the conservation of biodiversity as well as soil and water, especially in the mid-hills. Community based forest user groups are also carrying out community development and poverty alleviation activities. Involving people in forestry governance has been very effective in forest conservation so Nepali people cannot even imagine about the management of forest by state only without involving people.
Blogpost submitted by Ganesh Paudel (District Forest Office, Nepal) – ecopaudel(at)gmail.com
Picture courtesy Greg Willis (Wikimedia)
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