Lumbini's Green Venture


True to the popular saying - Hariyo ban Nepalko dhan (green forest is Nepal’s wealth) – Nepal has become a global model in increasing and conserving the forests. They cover more than 45 per cent of country’s total land areas, thanks to the widely expanded community forests managed by the local people. The sustainable development of forests marks acclaimed feat in view of shrinking forest areas and rapid urbanisation globally. The Community Based Forest Management (CBFM) programme that began four decades ago has proved milestone in fighting the negative consequences of the climate change. The CBFM was successfully implemented after the top-down approach to protect the forests was replaced by the participatory one through the legal and policy reforms. Prior to this, the state used to control and manage the forests and their products. The rationale behind introducing the CBFM was to solve the livelihood problems of locals, foster cooperation among them and restore degraded land, habitats and ecosystem. 

The community forests were expanded before the country adopted federal system that seeks to decentralise powers and resources among the three-tier of government – federal, provincial and local – judiciously. The country has already witnessed the two cycle of the election since the introduction of federal dispensation. The community forests stand as a good example of collaboration and utilisatisation of resources at the grassroots level. The community forest users' groups have been authorised to formulate policy and laws to implement the action plan to protect and manage the forests. As per the new constitution, local governments have jurisdiction to manage community forests and their resources. This provision is expected to further contribute to the expansion of community forests and uplifting of the poor and marginalised people. But this requires that the elected representatives facilitate and monitor the forest users' groups so that the latter work in transparent and organised manner.

Forests and their products do not only support the local communities financially but they can also become viable means of income for the provincial governments if they are better protected and operated. According to a news report carried by this daily Wednesday, Lumbini Province has taken conservation-based forest management initiative to increase forest products and make income by selling them. The Lumbini Province government has invested in timber production by unveiling the enabling legal provisions. It has implemented the Lumbini Province Forest Act and Forest Management Standards, 2079 (2022/2023), which allow harvesting of mature trees and planting saplings in the same area. The province contains 974,381 hectares of forest, which forms 43.72 per cent of its total territory. The old and non-productive plants are removed and the new ones are grown. All types of plants shoot up, thereby increasing the forest density.   

The programme has been enforced in 214 forests in various districts of the province with the goal of producing 26,000 cubic feet of timber annually. It is going to allocate around Rs. 30 million to implement conservation-based forest management in 100 forests in the new fiscal year. In the current fiscal year, the province raised Rs. 860 million in revenue from the forests and aims to earn Rs 2 billion in the coming fiscal year. The people living near the forests get fodder, firewood and timber. Lumbini Province's innovative approach to conserve and utilise the natural resources needs to be replicated in other parts of the country.  This will go a long way to promote green development and minimise the natural disasters.

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