Changing Paradigm in Forestry Governance in Nepal

Rhododendron forest near Tarapani (Nepal)

Rhododendron forest near Tarapani (Nepal)

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)
Picture courtesy Greg Willis (Wikimedia)

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.

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11 thoughts on “Changing Paradigm in Forestry Governance in Nepal

  1. Community forestry in Nepal is evolved ingenuously through various past practices. Government cannot protect its forest alone and people needs forest products for their daily requirement. Community forestry brings positive results through addressing protection and livelihood issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What you mentioned in your comment is good thing. That is the positive aspect of community forestry in Nepal.


  2. Hi Anna.

    Though I am not an author for this blog, I take this opportunity to respond one of your queries. So, all forests that lie under the administrative jurisdiction of the government except the private forests are national forests. If any local community/village/user group want to manage a part of the national forest for their own benefit, they have to submit a formal request letter to District Forest Office (DFO). The DFO then provides user group with a technical support to develop a forest management plan and a constitution to govern the forest management by a local user group. After receiving a management plan and a constitution from a user group, the DFO then handovers a part of the national forest to local use group based on the willingness and capacity of the user group to manage the forest for specific working plan period which is normally upto 5-10 years. For more info you can reach author ( or me at This book might be useful to you if you want to more about community forestry governance discourse in Nepal.

    Gopal Khanal

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey,
    I feel there are a lot of parallels to China. Here people are also in fear that if the forest with “all” its rights (including the occasional harvest of timber) is handed back, large-scale deforestation could occur.
    May I ask how specifically you involve the people in community forest management? Do they get to design the plan? Do you identify people that become forest managers for the village and have greater knowledge? Do you ever have problems in terms of your village being to small for the amount of management that should be done? What is the usage of the forest like? Do the people sell the timber to be used somewhere else or do they mostly use it for their own consumption?

    Sorry for the many questions, just seeing a lot of parallels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anna for your questions. I would try to satisfy you.Now the people’s involvement in forest management is very common practice in Nepal. The answer of question is following in number respective to your queries.
      1. In Nepal people are involved in forest management through the handing over of National forests to the community for the management of these forests under different forms of community based forest management which I mentioned in the blog considering the traditional use, distance to the forest, willingness and capacity of people to manage the forest.
      2. Yes they get to design the plan. The operational plan of the community based forest are prepared by the users themselves. They can design the plan of forest management as per their desire and requirement not in contravention to the prevailing forest policies of Nepal.
      3.Community based forest management has been developing various forest managers in villages. We can see various users groups which are managing the technical tasks like seedling production in community nursery and establishing demo plots.
      4.In some places there are small village to manage the large patches of the forest. The forest area which community can manage are only handed over to the community to avoid this problem.
      5.People use community forest to meet their forest products requirements like timber, firewood, fodder, grass, leaf litter etc. Besides that, in some places forests were used for the soil and water conservation and ecotourism development.
      6. In most of the cases demand of users exceed the annual allowable harvest of the community forest so timber is mostly used for their own consumption. But in some cases where sustainable production of timber exceed the demand of the users they sell it outside their community.


  4. One of the things I admire about this communication system established by FAO through WFC. Is based on the real experiences that forestry problems faced globally, we visualñizar best nuestrra local reality. This case of forest governance in Nepal, takes me to see that the governance of the Amazonian forests of Peru’s pandemonium extrictas prohibitive laws, which lacks this important human factor is community involvement. After this participatory knowledge and experience of forestry practice, you talves everything is different or at least begin changes toward a new vision of the value of forests. .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Forests are for the people to meet their livelihood needs. We cannot protect our forest without involving people on sustainable basis.


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