At a time when Nepal’s community forestry has successfully maintained forest resources, Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal has been launching a major program for sustainable forest management under the support from Asia-Pacific Network for Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet).
Asia-Pacific Network for Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet) was established in 2007. Proposed by China and co-sponsored by Australia and the United States, it was agreed by the 15th APEC economic leaders meeting in September 2007 in Sydney. It was incorporated in the Sydney APEC leader’s declaration on climate change, energy security and clean development to enhance capacity building and strengthen information sharing on sustainable forest management in the forestry sector in the region.
APFNet has been supporting Nepal since 2010 in three different themes. They include sustainable forest management and bio-diversity conservation, forest governance at local level and green enterprise at local level to generate green employment.
“The projects use all tools and technologies for biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management. This will help maintain the supply of forest products. The good governance component promotes the governance concept at the community level and also encourages democratization of the user groups. The forests can generate the human resources, forest product resources and economic resources. With this, community level enterprises will be established that can ultimately generate the green employment,” said Subhas Devkota, project manager of the project.
With support from APFNet, FECOFUN has been implementing the programs in 21 districts across the country. The districts are from eastern, central, western, mid-western and far western regions. From early stage of conservation, Nepal’s over 19,000 user groups are now waiting for programs for sustainable forest management.
Since the launch of the Network, activities have been designed to promote capacity building and information sharing on sustainable forest management and rehabilitation in the Asia Pacific Region. FECOFUN was chosen to launch the project because of its successful mobilization of community in sustainable forest management.
“We are successfully launching the project in the country. Our experiences have shown that this APFNet model will help to transform Nepal’s community forestry movement. We have already made progress in protection and now we want to learn sustainable management for the economic uplift of the people involved in conservation. APFNet is very useful for us,” said Devkota.
As a pilot program, the project is covering 105 community forests all over the country. Under the program, the project has already launched schemes like how to manage the forests sustainably, and bio-diversity conservation.
“We have been organizing training, workshop as well as helping groups to restructure their organizational status to accommodate the issues like bio-diversity conservation and sustainable forest management. As long as the user groups do not follow the practice of good governance making their transactions transparent and their programs do not target the marginalized and poor population, sustainable forest management is impossible."
At a time when Nepal’s community user groups are gradually moving ahead from successful management of forest, the tools they are getting in good governance including public hearing and public auditing through APEFNet are very useful.