Scientific forest management: For resource utilisation

The other comparative advantage of this management practice over the previous one is that each tree is marked with GPS coordinate so that any illicit felling of trees can be easily checked out thereby maintaining an effective governance system of forest management

The degrading condition of the Terai forests, increased demand for forest products, inappropriate existing management practices that are not scientific need to be addressed to help in our resource utilisation.

Sustainable and scientific forest management concepts differ in their meanings.

Sustainable forest management is a way of using and caring for forests so as to maintain their environmental, social and economic values and benefits over time. It accentuates the attainment of balance between increasing demands for forest products and benefits, and the preservation of forest health and diversity.

Scientific Forest Management (SFM) is a framework (or management practice) that pilots our way to the attainment of sustainable forest management.

Community Forest (CF) in Nepal is proclaimed to be more conservation oriented and lacks tree management. Many trees in our forest are hollow too. These have degraded our forest condition through space utilisation affecting forest regeneration.

Managing our forests scientifically not only helps in balancing the demand for food, fuel and forest products of people and earning benefit for the country in the short term, but also ensures their healthy preservation for the future.

Scientific Forest Management (SFM) can address today’s need of forest products, forest improvement, poverty and climate change (CC) effect, thereby protecting our biodiversity and maintaining ecological balance.

It encompasses reduced impact of logging to minimize the environmental impact on forests and soil, including timber waste, selective logging, providing safer wildlife habitats and timely harvesting of tree crops.

It is not true that SFM only works on felling of the green trees; however it also incorporates conservation practices (like retaining protection forests where steep slopes exist, maintaining green belts near road areas, protecting existing valuable biodiversity of the forest, ensuring soil quality management techniques, incorporation of climate change adaptation and resilience technique in work plan, sustainable management and use of forest resources.

It stresses only those silvicultural operations that best manage the forest resources.

This management system provides comparative advantage on price and production which is abundant and continuous since SFM works on sustainable and progressive yield management principle by fulfilling the growing demand for forest products from our forests.

Of the 6-9 crore cubic feet of wood available every year, 4 crore cubic feet are required for domestic purposes and the remaining can be sold to foreign countries. More cubic feet of forests can be produced yearly by management of our Terai and mid-hills forests.

It will create full time employment (or green jobs) for around 12-15 lakh people. These will explore ample employment opportunities aiding greatly in utilising the potential of our economy.

The ensuring of healthy working conditions, increase in value addition on multiple function of forest ecosystem services and curbing CC effect and attractions for investment in forest sector with economically viable forests are other benefits.

The other comparative advantage of this management practice over the previous management practice is that each tree is marked with GPS coordinate so that any illicit felling of trees can be easily checked out thereby maintaining an effective governance system of forest management.

Thus, SFM allows sustainable use of renewable forest resources thereby improving forest health.

These management practices integrate the methods that fulfill the existing problems of forest management through timely harvest, regeneration felling (felling done so as to prepare space for the regeneration to grow or come up) and different silvicultural operations like timely cleaning, weeding, and thinning.

It believes in the effective accountability of the income. Kailali, Kapilvastu, Nawalparasi, Rupandehi and Morang are the districts that are extensively practising SFM.

Also in hilly regions like Kavre, Palpa, Arghakachi, Surkhet, Rammechhap, and Doti and almost in all the districts of the Terai and different districts of the Inner Terai, they are practising this management practice as pilot programs under different demonstration plots in recent days.

The topographical difficulties in some areas of the mid-hill regions and less governmental support (high budget is required for the preparation of work plan of SFM) remain other challenges to it.

In addition, some hill forests are scattered, which has made it difficult for the clustering to merge as a 100 ha. forest is minimally required to practise SFM and the areas of many CF of Nepal are less than the prescribed area to practise SFM.

The GON has also plans to expand the existing SFM program to 11 other districts for the fiscal year 2073/74.

The working out on existing challenges like proper wildfire control methods, discouraging open grazing system, control on trespassing on forest lands, pest management techniques, effective accountability of income or economy, sufficient governmental support and effective policy will help in attaining the government’s ambitious plan on SFM to epitomize forests as one of the greatest economic resources of Nepal after agriculture.