Forest is the base of rural economy of Nepalese people that it provides tangible resources like timber, fuel wood, fodder, herbs and non timber forest products which are the source of annual income for nation, communities and individuals. Functional role of forest in rural villages includes producing basic household consumptive goods, factor of production and basic life supporting service. But the condition of forest resource both in area and quality is decreasing. There is tremendous pressure in forest resource like illicit felling and encroachment. Good forest governance is necessary to reduce the pressure on forest and sustainable supply of forest resource to support the life of rural people.
In Nepal early agenda of forest protection and subsistence use has been changed to people centred active forest management and commercialisation for contributing to peoples’ livelihoods. Active management and commercialisation of forest is possible only from good forest sector governance.
The main issue to be improved in forestry sector governance are as follows:
- Participatory forest management: Nepal started participatory forest management like community forest and leasehold forest before 3 decades and collaborative forest management before one decade. The community forest of Nepal is globally recognized. But there are some issues that to be resolved in participatory forest management for forest sector governance which are as follows:
- Participation on decision making ; committee based decision making should be transferred to user based decision making
- Equity, inclusion, livelihood of poor and pro-poor; Elite control over resources at the cost of poor, timber focused production and no gender and pro-poor focus on forest products
- Transparency and accountability
- Revenue sharing
- User empowerment
- Commercialization of forest: As the previous protection and subsistence use of forest is gradually changing towards commercialization. This is only achieved after sustainable management of forest. Forest management practice of Nepal is protection oriented. There is no much emphasizing for biodiversity conservation. Intensive forest management is required to enhance productivity of forest and increase the biodiversity of forest. The issues to be solved are as follows:
- Technical aspect of forest management: Majority of trees on forest are over matured. MAI is down ward but we are still protecting the forest – green tree cutting is socially not allowed in forest, people think green tree cutting is deforestation. We are collecting only dead and fallen trees in the name of management. Resource is diminishing in forest but people are paying high price for forest products. Commercialization of forest product could be possible if we manage the forest in its full production potential. This will increase the supply of forest product and prices diminish. If it happens the ultimate result will be decreasing illegal cutting of tree.
- Effective forest product distribution and supply mechanism: There is no any effective forest product distribution and supply mechanism. This encourages illegal felling of forest trees. The resource is more than need somewhere and scarce somewhere. There are surplus fuel wood and timber in high altitude. Fuel wood is the major source of rural people in Nepal but there is no any effective mechanism to supply the fuel wood especially in southern Terai of Nepal. People are using cow dung as firewood for cooking.
- No link with energy policy: 77% of households in Nepal still depend on solid fuel as major energy source for cooking and heating but fire wood supply is not clearly described on energy policy.
- Price of forest products: There is vast difference in production price and market price. There is no any price regulating mechanism. User get only approximately one fourth of market price.
- Role of different stakeholders: The role of different level stakeholder should be identified in forestry sector governance. Some key stakeholder and their role should as follows:
- Co-ordination among different stakeholders
- Right, role and responsibility of different organization (central, local) users, civil society and private sector
- Involvement of private sector on forest management: Role of private sector should be identified for the commercialization of forest.
- Involvement of distant users on forest management especially in Terai: Most of the forests are located in the north and users on the southern parts are far from the forest. They are not involved in the current forest management practice, and exclude to use basic forest resource.
- Ecosystem service provided by forest: According to department forest resource and survey approximately 27 % GPD comes from forestry sector but the forestry sector is not identified as priority area. The ecosystem service provided by forest is not valued in economic term.
- Encroachment and forest degradation: Mere technical solutions do not address the issue of encroachment and forest degradation. Political initiative is necessary to solve this.
- Carbon accounting for climate change mitigation and adaptation: Better management of forest contribute for mitigating emerging climate change.