Political party leaders to join Forest Caravan

KATHMANDU: Seniormost leaders of various political parties will be busy dwelling upon forest and natural resources issues during the first and second week of April across the country.

UCPN-M Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai, CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal, senior leader of the Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum President Upendra Yadav, Tarai Madhes Democratic Party President Mahantha Thakur and many others from various political parties will take part in the Forest Caravan-2010 that will be organised by the Federation of Community Forest User’s Group-Nepal (FECOFUN) through April 4 to 14 throughout the country.

Bhola Bhattarai, General Secretary, FECOFUN said, “We have already received consent from leaders and they will be addressing various regional gatherings that will be organised across the nation.” The caravan aims at creating mass awareness on issues of forest, natural resources and community rights, he added.

According to Bhattarai, the caravan will start from Taplejung, Khotang, Sindhuli, Ramechhap, Mustang, Gulmi, Jumla, Rukum, Bajura and Darchula districts simultaneously on April 4.

Ghanashyam Pandey, President, FECOFUN, said, “We expect around a million people in the caravan that will cover all 75 districts of the country.”

According to Pandey, Prachanda will participate in Makwanpur on April 11, Jhalanath Khanal and Upendra Yadav in Morang on April 7, Dr Baburam Bhattarai in Kaplivastu on April 10, Sher Bahadur Deuba in Kailali on April 11 and other senior leaders will also participate in the gatherings. Various artists will add to the charm of the caravan. “The rights of communities on natural resources should be recognised in the new constitution and political party leaders must pay heed to voices of the community members,” Pandey said.

Notably, community forestry in Nepal is globally taken as a gallant example of forest conservation practice through community involvement. About 23 per cent of the country’s forest has already been handed over to communities and there are more than 14000 community forest user groups across the country. “Everyone can notice the improvement in forest conservation after the concept of community forest was introduced in 1985,” maintained Pandey.

An estimation of FECOFUN shows that about 8.5 million populace of the country are directly involved in forest conservation through the community forests. Ironically, “Policy makers are trying to curb the rights of communities on natural resources.