Prabhav Baniya

Minister for Forest and Environment Shakti Bahadur Basnet said that utilization and conservation of forest should be conducted in a balanced way.

According to him, forest of Nepal is not only for conservation but for the livelihood improvement of poor people who are depended upon forest. Basnet has committed to introduce flexible policy to cut the trees and sell them in country rather than exporting them abroad.

A cursory look at work plan of this fiscal year shows that Ministry of Forest and Environment has given positive signal to executive flexible policy for private forest to the cut the trees; sell it and ensuring easy market access.

There is lack of investment in private forest sector in Nepal so government is doing homework to increase attraction in private forest.  Policy hurdles, lack of insurance and lack of security of property is making people less attractive towards investment in forest sector.

Farmers can’t utilize their forest when they need money for the treatment of their family members, pay school fees and when they need money in other areas. Due to the lack of proper and effective policy, owner of private forest sector seem frustrated. They have not been able to utilize forest for their maximum benefits.

Shiwani Chaudhary (57) from the Chitwan shares that she used to take care of her forest before she had to give it up all together. Shiwani says, “Seven years ago, I had to sell my old land gifted by my father for the marriage ceremony of my youngest daughter. I have enough trees in my forest but I could cut the tress and sell them in market. If there was a favorable policy to cut and sell grown tress of my own land I wouldn’t have to sell my land to make money.

Nishang Limbu (47) from Taplejung shared: “Three years ago, foreign researchers of forest visited my forest and said him there are many medicinal herbs in my forest but I could not identify that medicinal herbs and sell them neither the trees of my forest.”  Problem of farmer lies for the optimum utilization from the forest product and trees. Thousand of opportunities are hidden in the forest but our farmers are unable to grab those opportunities and we do not have a clear roadmap.

Association of Family Forest Owners Nepal (AFFON) is advocating the issues of family forest farmers for flexible policy since its establishment three years ago.

AFFON is a common Formal national organization of family forests owners of Nepal. This association is established to secure the rights of Individual/Groups who are relying on Family Forests for their livelihood with an objective of active participation of family forest owners in policy formulating process and increase their approach.

Chairperson of AFFON, Jog Raj Giri, said that AFFON is united from the all the family forest farmers of Nepal to advocate their own issues. He says, “There is no option and we will not compromise the current situation of private forest policy. We will keep putting pressure on government to make a flexible policy.”

According the AFFON’s General Secretary, Pitambar Sigdel, policy hurdle is one of the major problems for the farmers who depend upon forest. Sigdel opined that forest is linked with emotion, social status, culture and economic status of farmers.

He further added family forest should be utilized in proper way so that many farmers’ life will be improved and the vision of prosperous Nepal can be achieved through the family forest.

In the reconstruction phase of Nepal, policy gap of the forest is realized by the authorized person. Ministry is committed working for prosperous Nepal by the medium of forest and environment as following the motto of Nepal Government prosperous Nepal and Happy Nepali. It is mentioned in the plan of action; private forest management will be encouraged through the medium of cooperative.

In Ministry’s action plan of the fiscal year 2075/76 private forest management is in the priority list. Agro-forestry and city forest is also in the list of work plan. Ministry has made the plan for improving policy to attract the family forest farmer. One lakh employment opportunity from the forest is already out for the current fiscal year.

Fulfillment of the private forest policy gap, easy access of market and support for the livelihood remains merely a dream show by political leaders.   Policy hurdles to cut trees is hampering for the livelihood improvement of the farmer from forest.

In the restructuring phase, family forest farmer has the hope from the local representative and stable government modifying the hurdle policy.

Forest in the own land but has no right to them as comparing to agriculture product. Orange, Mango and Cauliflower can be sold but not the trees.

For the livelihood improvement of thousands of farmers who are depended upon the forest, flexible policy is what they need. Forest is directly and indirectly link with livelihood. Prime Minister K.P Oli began the campaign of one person one trees in the occasion of the environment day. The aim of Nepal government’s prosperous Nepal will not be materialized without the involvement of the private forest farmer. In this respect, policy makers and government bodies should work to make a favorable environment.


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