FECOFUN has been implementing projects and programs under the Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet). How has it been supporting FECOFUN's program?
FECOFUN has already endorsed the policy saying that each community forest is an industrial unit. Sustainable forest management is one of the main objectives of community forests. By tying up our work with all these programs, we have been jointly working with APFNet for sustainable forest management. Under the policy of FECOFUN, APFNet has been supporting some of our programs. Such programs include teaching user groups about good governance practices, sustainable forest use and utilization of the forest to generate employment and uplift the livelihood of the people.
What is your impression about the project?
Our experience has shown that only through a sustainable use of forest can we generate employment at the community level. We are running 10 programs all over the country. In the last two years, many poor and vulnerable populations benefited from the projects. We are teaching the users groups the need to follow the practices of good governance and sustainable use of forest. We are facilitating the users groups. Some forest related industries have already been established. For instance, the handmade paper industry in Baitadi, allo thread mill in Bajhang, saw mills in Rolpa and Dang, bio-briquette factory in Kathmandu's community forestry, and eco-tourism projects in Bhaktapur and Kavre are now in operation. Similarly, the community forestry in Sunsari is focusing on farming herbs and others are promoting eco-tourism. In Morang, community forestry user groups are promoting bamboo products.
Do you mean APFNet has been supporting FECOFUN in sustainable forest management?
Our collaboration with the APFNet helps us to know how sustainable forest management can be used for poverty alleviation. Our joint experiences have shown that providing minimum facilitation for the forest user groups can make the user group capable to run their own industries. We spent about 40,000 dollars for these ten projects. However, the user group's contribution is much higher or equivalent to 150,000 dollars. Our experiences have also shown that there is enough resource with the user groups but they don't have the awareness about their own capability.
What is the state of your collaboration with APFNet?
We have been reporting all these to the APFNet. Although our two-year agreement is going to expire in December, we have already submitted the proposal for extension of the projects. Given its successful experiment, we hope that it will be extended. If community users groups are given all the decision making powers, including selection of projects and their implementation, they would produce much better results. They should be given a role to identify the project. We just need to facilitate them. We had just given 400,000 rupees in Dang, where they collected 3.4 million rupees. In Sunsari and Morang, our contribution is around 200,000 rupees, but they contributed more than that to produce their outcomes. Interestingly, they also sold the products. We have different models of work. I have to say that finally they are working now.
This program was also discussed in the recently concluded sixth council meeting? How was the advice?
The members also discussed the matter in detail and benefits from it. The council advised us to use community forestry to uplift the livelihood of the poor people. The council members hailed the programs and projects run by FECOFUN in collaboration with APFNet. This is good news.