Wednesday, 29 August 2007

How can forest be managed sustainably after Sanghiya Sasan in Nepal?

Until few decades ago, there was popular proverb that “HARIYO BAN: NEPAL KO DHAN (Green Forest is the property of Nepal)” But, this popular saying has already been diminished. Some wrong policies, some mis-management and some improper activities combined to destroy the forest in the country, however after the implementation of Community Forestry programme, some positive results have been experienced. Once degraded forest has been recovered, the biodiversity deterioration has been reversed and distribution of forest products has been improved after CF programme implementation. Many experts about community based forestry have been produced inside country who has been serving in different countries as the experts too. At present condition, the country has acquired the name and fame for successfully pioneering the community based forestry in the world.

We have many achievements in CF, however still there are many problems and weaknesses in implementation. The weaknesses are from all corners, however major pies goes to Governmental organization. At the moment, I am not going to discuss who is responsible for deforestation and degradation of once rich forest resources, also not explaining about who should be given credit for restoration of greenery. The meaning of this short article is to discuss and open up the eyes of all concerned people to work immediately on the forest policy that matches with foreseeable federal system.

After the People’s movement II, we are going to held election for Constituent Assembly. All the revolutionaries’ forces (8 ruling parties) including other struggling parties and forces have agreed about Federal (Sanghiya) System. Almost all forces formally or informally agreed about the autonomous federal systems however it is still confusion about how many states would be there and how would they be demarcated. But, it has no doubt on that the nation is going to be decentralized, sooner or later, into several states. After CA election, when the country goes to federal system, the state would be provided with authorities to form state laws. Most probably all state would try to utilize its natural resources for the maximum benefits of their people. In this context, the conflicts might arise between states, also between present forest policies and proposed ones.

Especially in the Terai, where most valuable and commercial forests exist, there is going to be big conflicts between present forestry rules and regulation, and proposed one. In the Terai, however there is only few percentage of forests, have been handed over to community, majority of terrain origin people (“Madhesis”) are not included. With the present forms of CF, however undoubtedly it is successful in protection and management aspects, excludes lots of Madhesi people on the background of their physical distance from forest. They are in many cases not considered even secondary users. This prohibits the utilization of forest resources for their day to day needs.

At the present scenario of political parties focusing their vote banks, they do not want to loose their votes (Madhesi vote) in the terai due to their exclusion from forest. At that time, when Terai state government is given authority to formulate Forest Policy and Act within their territory, will they make the same act giving high priority to Community forestry or they will make some contradicting laws? There is high possibility of making laws contradicting with the norms and values of Community forestry in the name of mass inclusion. At that time, anyone can guess that there would be big conflict with distance users and Community forest users. These conflicts could destroy the forests in big scale. Once this left over forest in terai destroys, it is hard to recover. Not only the forest but also the forest land would be converted into agricultural lands or in settlements. Due to these several environmental, social and ecological problems would arise.

Similarly we would have different but threatening problems in Himalayan region (state) too.

We have to face big challenges in near future. During first few years of transition period, all concerned authorities, governmental and non governmental including civil society, need to be well prepared to save this already highly deforestated and degraded forest resources.

Until now, it has not been seen and heard any preparation from governmental and non governmental organization to face such a big and clearly visible challenge. It has already been late to work together to protect our valuable forestry resources. If all concerned fall in deep sleep as we are seeing nowadays, the forest would be the story of past memory only. Therefore, all concerned should think and plan about our forestry resources and their sustainable management according to our changing political scenario. All political parties (8 ruling parties, other parties including Madhesi Janadhikar Forum etc), Ministry of forests and Soil Conservation (including all its departments), I/NGOs, FECOFUN, civil societies all should work immediately about this. Therefore, I would like to request all to work in these aspects and provide their valuable opinions about forest management in the restructuring of new Nepal. What can be done for the sustainable management of forestry resources? How could it be synchronized with change political situations? What kinds of forest management policy and programme need to be taken to protect forest at present political transition period? What could be done to enhance livelihoods, transparency, and participatory forest management? Experts are requested to provide the forestry vision in Sanghiya Sasan Systems in Nepal?

No comments: