Draft national forest policy draws flak

Kathmandu, November 21

Federation of Community Forest Users, Nepal has taken strong exception to the draft of the national forest policy prepared by the government. The federation has accused the government of curtailing the role of community forest users and authorising only the provincial and central government to manage forests.

Steering committee member at the federation Thakur Bhandari said the ministry drafted the policy secretly without holding discussion with related stakeholders. “Such a policy should have been prepared by taking feedback from all stakeholders, but the government prepared it unilaterally,” Bhandari said. The ministry, however, said that it was only a draft policy, which would be finalised only after discussion with stakeholders.

Chief at policy division of the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation Raju Chhetri said, “We have only prepared a rough draft of the policy. The policy will be people-centric and will be finalised only after taking feedback from related stakeholders.”

The draft policy is based on the forest policy of 2015 and does not mention any role for community forest users. Ecosystem health and vitality, forest production and productivity, community-based forest management, commercialisation of non-timber forest products, watershed management, involvement of private sector in forest-based investment are some of the issues that the draft policy aims to address.