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Supporting community forestry through good governance: Role of Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal

  • Baral, J. C.
  • Bhattarai, J. R.
  • Shah, N.
  • Jiri, B. C.
  • Shrestha, M. N.
  • Kumar, A. R.

The report starts off by introducing community forestry, which, since latter part of 1980s, has moved away from a blueprint to a process oriented approach inspired by an idea of achieving consensus for allocating resource to the indigenous use right holders and for ensuring an equitable system. By following this very general spirit, over a million hectares of forest patches scattered in different parts of the country have now been handed over to some 13,000 local user groups. In the future, the state intends to hand over all forests, particularly in the hills, to the extent that people are willing and capable of managing them. Since 1995, the user groups of handed over community forest patches have federated into a civil association called Federation of Community Forest Users, Nepal (FECOFUN). While forest resource in the handed over patches has been generally regenerating, equity implications are evident there. These may be found in micro level (intra-user group tier), the meso level (the inter-user group tier and the group versus non- group tier) and the macro level (national tier). It is emphasized that while the role of FECOFUN is largely relevant and conspicuous in helping the concerned groups towards better forest management and towards insuring equity issues in the intra-group, its role tends to be blurred in the latter two tiers. This has implication particularly in situation like that of the Tarai where the 'resource-stakeholder' relationship are complex and the forest resources have continued dwindling more than ever before. Though the GOs (Department of Forests) and NGOs (FECOFUN in particular) tend to have common concerns about this rather chronicle issue, their roles in dealing with the same, so far, have rather been conflicting than complementary. It is argued that the real solution may lie in more intensive open dialogue among all sections of stakeholders including HMG, FECOFUN, rest of the civil associations (ethnic groups, Dalits etc.) as well as the individual HHs or groups who have a dependency upon the resource. Unless, the situation of inequity, especially at meso and macro tiers is not addressed properly and justifiably, a time may come where rural Nepal might be further divided into two echelons: one having forest resource and the other who are deprived of it i.e. ?Ban Hune Ra Ban Nahune?. Such inequity problem is bound to even affect national integrity by creating massive civil unrest.

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    Western Regional Forestry Directorate, Pokhara