Forest area expanding in Nepal on the back of community forestry

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Pokhara – Although forest area is shrinking in many parts of the world due to human encroachment and natural disaster along with increasing population, it has increased in Nepal. 


As per report of Forest Resource Survey made public in 2015, forest area has increased all of sudden in Nepal, thanks to the community forests. 


The forest area has reached to 44.74 per cent from 39.6 per cent of the total area of the country while woodland and scrub land has limited to 4.38 per cent from 10.6 per cent, reads the report. 


Out of the total forest area of the country, 5 million 962 thousand hectares (40.36 per cent) is jungle area and 648,000 hectares is non-timber and scrub land. Similarly, scrub land is found being turning into forest land gradually. 


Central President of the Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN), Bharati Pathak, said that community forest campaign has the crucial contribution in development and expansion of forest area in the country. 


Saying community forest has become the most effective measure for the protection, expansion and long-term management of forest of Nepal, Pathak said there was no alternative to the State to give recognition to community forest as the national pride and prioritized programme. 


She said forest in the mid-hills region which has not been handed over to the community as community forest is under growing human encroachment and destruction. “The forest in the Tarai and Chure region is falling under high risk day by day as it has failed to be turned into community forest,” she said. 


Pathak opined that it has been proved programmes as the national ark, reserve, protected area, environment conservation area and buffer zone were not going to be effective, alleging these programmes gradually brought at the government level since some years for forest conservation and management were aimed at weakening the community forest campaign. 


According to her, it is imperative to protect the forest as the basis for biodiversity protection apart from maintaining the ecosystem, environment and landscape. 


Latest data provided by the Department of Forest shows that so far 2237670 hectares forest area has been handed over to the 22,266 community forest users’ committees. 


FECOFUN general secretary Birkha Bahadur Shahi said 14 million 539 thousand 355 persons from 2 million 907 thousand 871 households living in the periphery of the forest area are diretly affiliated. The federation also plans to launch a campaign to bring the community forest users’ committees not yet affiliated to it into its fold. 


He said the community forestry programme has been making notable contribution to the sustainable forest management, poverty alleviation, community development, capacity building, social mobilization and empowerment, and practice of local democracy. 


A total 16,186 forest users’ groups are affiliated to the FECOFUN, the Federation secretary Thakur Bhandari said. 
Stating that the community forestry programme has contributed much for the education, health, water supply, road and other development infrastructure projects in society, he however said that the ‘one community forest-one product’ programme has not been effective due to various legal hurdles. 


Community forestry is one aspect which has made the country famous throughout the world and it is the need of the hour to promote it further for achieving prosperity for the country. 
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