Governance is the act of governing. Simply put "governance" means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Since governance is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented, an analysis of governance focuses on the formal and informal actors involved in decision-making and implementing the decisions made.
Government is one of the actors in governance. Other actors involved in governance vary depending on the level of government that is under discussion. Other actors may include influential land lords, associations of peasant farmers, cooperatives, NGOs, research institutes, religious leaders, finance institutions political parties, the military, media, lobbyists, international donors, multi-national corporations, etc. may play a role in decision-making or in influencing the decision-making process. All actors other than government and the military are grouped together as part of the "civil society."
Forest sector governance refers to the ways in which officials and institutions (both formal and informal) acquire and exercise authority in the management of the resources of the sector to sustain and improve the welfare and quality of life for those whose livelihoods depend on the sector. Good governance is fundamental to achieving positive and sustained development outcomes in the sector, including efficiency of resource management, increased contribution to economic growth and to environmental services, and equitable distribution of benefits.
Failure of forest governance – characterized by illegal logging, associated illegal trade and corruption -- directly undermines any nation’s attempt to achieve sustainable economic growth, societal equity, and environmental conservation. This puts at risk poor and forest dependent populations who rely on timber and non-timber forest products, undermines responsible forest enterprises by distorting timber markets, and results in a loss of revenue that could be invested in sustainable forest management or economic development.
Illegal logging, corruption, and other forest sector crimes, such as arson, poaching, land encroachment, trade in endangered fauna and flora, and evasion of legal taxes and royalties indicate weaknesses in forest sector governance that need to be addressed. The World Bank estimates the (global) annual market value of losses from illegal cutting of forests at over US$10 billion -- more than eight times the total official developmental assistance (ODA) flows to the sustainable management of forests. Illegal logging also undermines ongoing efforts to curb deforestation and enhance carbon stocks to mitigate climate change. Illegal logging can be poverty driven or associated with commercial exploitation of timber. The underlying causes of illegal logging (and other forest crimes) are complex, and often lie outside the forestry sector. Illegal logging may be the result of a general failure of governance and prevalence of corruption, including unclear policies and legislation governing the use of forest resources; weak institutional structures; and inability to monitor and enforce the regulations applicable to the use and conservation of forest resources.
The Governance of Forests Initiative (GFI) has developed a conceptual framework for defining forest governance and a comprehensive set of indicators for measuring and assessing forest governance. The framework has three components: Issue, Components and Principle of good governance
Governance Issues includes:
- forest tenure
- land use planning
- forest management
- forest revenues & economic incentives
Governance component includes:
Principle of good governance includes:
The "Framework for Assessing and Monitoring Forest Governance" developed by FAO and the World Bank-managed Program on Forests (PROFOR), looks at three key components and grades performance in six areas.
Key components or "Pillars" of forest governance
- Policy, legal, institution and regulatory frameworks;
- Planning and decision-making processes;
- Implementation, enforcement, and compliance
Grade performance areas:
Generally speaking, governance refers to the laws, institutions, management regimes, policies and social conventions that determine how forests are used and who gets to use them (FAO). Good governance in forestry determines whether forest resources are used efficiently, sustainably, and equitably. As forest governance is reflected in forest product distribution and use the main issues of forest product use in Nepal are as follows:
- What is the demand and supply of forest products
- How does the forest product are produced
- How does the forest product goes to market
- Does forest products easily available in market
- Who has access to forests and forest resource
Production system of forest products
The forest resource in Nepal comes from two source; private forest and national forest. In private forest, land owner sale their tree to middle man. These middle men do all legal process, cut the tree and sell to the saw mill.
In national forest there are different management regimes; community forest, collaborative forest and government managed forest. In community forest and collaborative forest the institution involved on production are community forest user groups and collaborative forest user groups respectively. In government managed forest district forest and Timber Corporation are involved in the production of forest products. In all cases the production system is traditional.
In community forest production is restricted by community forest inventory guideline. Annual allowable cut is restricted to 40-70% of annual increment of forest. Annual increment is fixed at 1-3% of total growing stoke of forest. Priority of felling is given to fallen, dead, dying, diseased, decaying, mal-formed and so on. In many cases annual allowable cut is fulfilled by collecting fallen trees only. In over matured terai sal forest that is not scientific. In collaborative forest production is practiced through prescribed management plans. But it is piloted in certain district only and management plan is not followed well.
In government managed forest only fallen and dead trees are collected. There is no any prescribed management plan in government managed forest. In past operational forest management plans (OFMP) were practiced be not functioned well. The failure of OFMP was that it was not socially adopted by local people. The region behind it is people think that cutting green trees is deforestation.
The annual production of timber and fuel wood was 9305426 cft and 6923 chatta respectively in fiscal year 2066/67. The current national production does not meet the national demand which results illegal logging.
Wood Energy Supply Systems
Nepal relies heavily on traditional energy source. The energy resource in Nepal is still very much dominated by biomass, primarily fuel wood. Based on the fuel type biomass provide 86% of total energy consumption, petroleum 9%, electricity 2% and renewal 1% of total energy consumption. The theoretical estimated sustainable annual yield of fuel wood in Nepal is 25.8 million tons. However only 42% or 10.8 million tones of theoretical sustainable supply is accessible. The annual per capita fuel-wood consumption in the hills is about 640 kg whereas it is 479 kg per person per year in the Terai.
The fuel wood collection system is traditional. People think forests are gift of nature and they have free access to it. People who are near the forest are entering easily and collect fuel wood, which is illegal by law. But the people who live far from forest have no accessibility to collect. Current forest policy is silent for collection and distribution of fuel wood. The resource is more than need somewhere and scarce somewhere. There are surplus fuel wood and timber in high altitude but it is scarce in other part of the country. Where forest fuel are becoming relatively scarce people are relying increasingly on crop residue and animal waste, resulting in the degradation in fertility of agricultural lands. 4.8 million tones of animal dung annually potentially available as fuel.
Wood fuel, if produced and utilized under a harvest equals re-growth management regime would be a renewable source. At the same time, efficient combustion of available biomass through improved and efficient devices would reduce the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere- a positive contribution to the environment. As live trees and plants absorb and store carbon in biomass, sustainable use of biomass for energy will also be carbon neutral and should be promoted. However, unsustainably produced fuel wood from illegal forest harvesting or deforestation, or from land use change (from forest to other uses) would not be a renewable source of energy. Unsustainable harvesting of fuel wood for energy could be contributing to local level deforestation and affecting the local environment
Ambiguity remains also with the definition of renewable energy sources in Nepal. As solid biomass fuels, although these are renewable, have not been included in the list of renewable or alternative energy. (Bhattarai T R). The biomass fuels, if produced and used sustainably, would be both renewable and environmentally benign.
Timber wood supply system
Timber is the major construction material in Nepal. Besides that wood is used for agricultural implements. The per capita timber consumption was estimated at 0.07 m3 per year in 1985 and was found to have increased to 0.11 m3 per year by 2000. Based on this, national timber demand is estimated to be about 2.5 million m3 per year. As the forest is government and community control, there are number of institution for the sale of timber. In community forest Community forest user group sale within user group and do auction if there are surplus timber. Similarly in collaborative forest, forest user group sale within user group and do auction if there are surplus timber. Sometimes the forest user groups do auction neglecting the demand of users if they need money for their development work. In such condition users enter the forest, cut the trees and collect timber for their household use. Besides community forest users the timer sale institution are District forest office, Timber Corporation of Nepal and forest product supply board. They all sale the timber produced from government managed forest and do auction as sale system. The local people could and do not participate on auction. In this circumstance people enter the forest and collect timber illegally.
There is no any policy or system of timber pricing. The people who participate in auction and bid highest money get the timber. They generally sell to the saw mill or sale to the market after sawing it as swan timber. Saw mills or timber business men are free to set the market price of timber. Due to the high price and less production of timber only rich people can by timber from market. Local people do not effort the high price of timber and buy on black market. There is no any verification system of swan timber that comes in the market is from legal source or illegally. Both encourage illegal logging.
Forest Product verification system
Forest products that come in market are from both legal and illegal source. Legal source is about meeting the administrative requirements of permitting, planning, taxes or fees, and harvesting in defined areas. District forest uses the HAMMER in each and every log when the timber goes in market from legal source. But after sawing that log in saw mills there is no any signal to verify it. There is no any strong method to verify the legality of forest products in the market. At this time legality of timber depends only on the voice of saw mill owner.
Forest governance monitoring
Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM) is a tool for assessing and strengthening legal compliance in the forest sector. IFM has been defined by Global Witness as “the use of an independent third party that, by agreement with state authorities, provides an assessment of legal compliance, and observation of and guidance on official forest law enforcement systems.” By monitoring official forest law enforcement, IFM enables mechanisms of illegal activity and corruption to be identified. Internationally, independent forest monitoring has been developed as a method to tackle illegal logging, and is increasingly being recognized as an integral and crucial component of systems to ensure legality and tackle corruption in the forest sector. There is no any independent institution for forest governance monitoring in Nepal. The government monitoring system is event based.
Illegal logging is the result of production, distribution and use of forest products. Most of the timber comes from illegal logging are consumed in domestic market. These domestic markets involve countless axe and chainsaw loggers who often operate unsustainably, informally or illegally. Illegal logging is also the result of poor governance. Unless we tackle unsustainable logging to satisfy domestic timber markets, it is very difficult to improve forest governance.
- Lumbering illegality: how to make timber sustainable and pro-poor, http://www.iied.org
- Framework for assessing and monitoring forest governance, http://www.fao.org
- The governance of forest toolkits, http://www.wri.org/gfi
- Community forest inventory guideline, government of Nepal
- Forest Law Enforcement and Governance, http://web.worldbank.org