Can Nepalese Foresters Revive Their Lost Agenda?

Can Nepalese Foresters Revive Their Lost Agenda?

April 12, 2021, 11:58 a.m.

Foresters have key role to manage Nepal's forests on the basis of technically and biologically sound, socially compatible, and economically viable. To achieve the mission, Nepal foresters Association (NFA) was established in 1974 which is a pioneer professional organization as well as common plot form of Nepalese foresters. Further, NFA is aiming to ensure rights of foresters and enhance technical capacity for managing forest of Nepal.

In fact, NFA's first agenda is to establish Nepal Foresters' Council (NFC). To maintain the quality and qualification as well as registration of foresters to their scientific knowledge on modern forest management prescriptions, NFA has been lobbying for Nepal Foresters' Council since its establishment. Moreover, the 1999-2002 NFA team accelerated the process. In this journey, in January 2015, Nepal government has provisioned the establishment of Nepal Foresters' Council in Forest Policy. Further, the White Paper published in April, 2018 promised to formulate Nepal Foresters' Council Act. However, the recent National Forest Policy 2019 ignored the previous commitments and just mentioned that capacity building for forest technicians will be enhanced. Despite of discouragement in policy documents, NFA worked hard and followed up in the process by providing necessary documents related to establishment of Nepal Foresters Council to Ministry of Forests and Environment, Ministry of Justice, Law and Parliamentary Affairs. But, the Council of Ministers ( the Cabinet) did not provide approval for the submission of draft NFC's bill in the Parliament to promulgate the Nepal Foresters Council Bill. It showed that the government is not only willing encourage foresters but also not believe on science and modern technology in forestry.

As we know that forest management is based on science and knowledge, forest managers (private, community or government) need lot of competent and modern foresters. However, there is no any powerful institution, like Nepal Forests' Council, to maintain quality and qualification of foresters and accreditation of forestry institutions. There is no any system of registration of foresters. As we know that, there is growing demand of modern forestry graduates in private, community and government sectors. There is an urgent need of establishment of Nepal Foresters' Council in order to make more responsible foresters, who prepares scientific Forest management plans. Its main responsibility and authority could be: provide permission to run forestry college and training center, develop curriculum, code of conduct for admission and exam system, policy formulation, registration to licensing examination and punishment for foresters who does not follow the code of conduct and delete the name from registration book. The government must include NFA President as a member of the Nepal Foresters' Council so that forestry sector could go smoothly.

Silviculture management is heart of forestry. Second agenda is sustainable forest management through silviculture based forest management in Nepal. The Community Forest Inventory Guidelines, 2004 has provide some space to manage community forests as had prepared by Department of Forest in consultation with key stakeholders of forestry sectors. Further, the government approved the Thinning Guidelines for Pinus patual and Pinus roxburghii in 2007 prepared by Department of Forest Research and Survey as well as Scientific Forest Management Directives 2014 to expedite the technical forestry. The concept has been translated in Collaborative forests and Community Forests in Terai region. To strengthen the forest management mission, the government has organized a national silviculture workshop with the slogan "Silviculture for Forest Management" on 19-21 February, 2017 and successfully completed in close support of forestry stakeholders. The workshop’s recommendations included the implementation of silviculture system for sustainable forest management.

Key messages of the Silviculture Workshop included (a) an enabling environment for silvicultural application need to be created through policy guidelines, institutional commitment, awareness raising and training, (b) Silviculture is fundamental to improve forest health, increase production of goods and services, which can transform Nepal from timber importing to exporting country and help achieve the sector’s vision of ‘forestry for prosperity’, (c) Silviculture based SFM, considering the local practice and knowledge need to be applied in all accessible forests with active participation of concerned users, and (d)All the constraints that prevent the effective implementation of silviculture need to be addressed by recognizing the context, objectives and on-the-ground reality of forest management.

Recently, the government has cancelled the Scientific Forest Management Directives, 2014. The long-term vision of government through 15th Plan to increase product and productivity of forests has been in limbo.

A number of frequently asked questions should be addressed properly during operational planning process. The frequently asked questions are related to biodiversity conservation, women's participation, construction of fire control line and forest path, collection of dead and fallen tree, good governance, community consent, non-timber forest products, coordination with local government, sustainable and silviculture based forest management, orientation to users and local staff, plantation promotion on open areas, focus on all species rather than single species (Sal species) and so on.

In this context, the upcoming NFA election is vital. Can Nepal's Foresters' revive their lost agenda through new executive committee? Nepal Foresters' Association has called for General Assembly on 10th April, 2021. Some of the candidates have shown their interest to reinstate of scientific forest management directives and formation of Nepal foresters' council.

NFA is seeking a bold leadership with good team who can spend sufficient time and make commitment for the legal and technical enhancement by preparing their three year action plan. In addition, NFA should work based on restructured Nepal that is through provincial committees. The newly elected team should focus for the establishment of Nepal Foresters Council and coordinate to formulate the sustainable forest management directives as soon as possible. The new team should visit field frequently, conduct local awareness program as well as national and international workshop on silviculture management, develop code of conduct for foresters, lobby to represent in the various national and international level policy formulation committees, boards, councils and research institutions focusing forestry for prosperity.

NFA should lobby with concerned authorities to enhance capacity of new generation foresters and create new jobs through reforming the government and non-governmental institutions. In addition, the team should publish Journal of Forestry and NFA bulletin in regular basis as well as run province wise interaction program on forestry and provide feedback to the government. Moreover, the joint field visits and meeting and workshops among policy makers, foresters, community based forestry networks, private sectors, cooperatives from government and non-government organizations should be organized regularly for making common understanding among forestry stakeholders and managing forests sustainably.

*Mr Paudyal is a freelancer Forester and he can be reached at bijayarajpaudyal711@gmail.com

Bijaya Poudyal.jpg

Bijaya Raj Paudyal

Paudyal is General Secretary of Sinamangal Urban Service Society, Kathmandu Municipal-32

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