Project title: Demonstration of Sustainable Forest Management with Community Participation in Nepal [2010P1/4-NPL]
Executing agency: Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal (FECOFUN)
Supervisory Agency: Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, Government of Nepal
Budget in USD (total/APFNet grant): 577,159/500,479
Project Category: Demonstration Project
Target economy: Nepal
Output 1: Community Forestry User Group (CFUG) adopted and understood the criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management and good forest governance following a participatory approach.
Output 2: Trained human resources were able to infuse sustainable forest management and good governance practices into the community, resource persons at the community level for green enterprises.
Output 3: Improved livelihood of forest-dependent poor people by establishing forest-based enterprises and creating green jobs.
Output 4: Document the process and influence of the policy for enterprise development through community forest resources mobilization.
Activity 1.1: Development of criteria and indicators (C&I) of sustainable forest management (SFM) and good governance (GG), revision of community forest operational plans and constitution based on developed (C&I) of SFM and GG
Activity 1.2: Improve the constitution and operational plans of CFUGs based on the C&I of SFM and GG and Public Auditing/Public Hearing of the CFUGs.
Activity 2: Capacity enhancement of poor people of the CFUGs and strengthening their organizational capacity.
Activity 3: Establishment of community forest-based enterprises to focus on poor and marginalized people of the CFUGs.
Activity 4: Documentation and dissemination to audiences of best practices and lessons learned, policy analysis, and case studies carried out and published in media outreach.
Community forestry in Nepal is often cited as a successful model for promoting environmental well-being and local livelihoods. The community manages a significant area of the national forest under the concept of community forests. There are more than 18,000 CFUGs in Nepal, reaching out to over 40% of the economy’s population. Under the concept of community forestry, the local and indigenous people have mainly been involved in forest management and conservation with little support for their livelihoods. However, some challenges exist in community forestry, i.e., underutilized forest resources and the lack of sufficient employment or green jobs. Although there is a large number of CFUGs, but weak governance structure threatens sustainable forest management, and available financial and human resources are not mobilized efficiently. The community forest managers have inadequate knowledge about transforming ecological resources into economic ones. Community forestry (CF) development has yet to be scaled up and incorporate lessons learned with regard to enterprise promotion, sustainable forest management, and forest governance in the CF process and poverty reduction.
In response to the challenges named above, the Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN) started the project “Demonstration of Sustainable Forest Management with Community Participation in Nepal” with the financial support of APFNet to promote participatory sustainable forest management to improve the livelihood of forest-dependent, impoverished people. The main objective of this project was to develop community forestry on demonstration sites for sustainable forest management while also focusing on economic activities. The project selected six CFUGs covering an area of 673.21 ha to develop them as demonstration sites of sustainable forest management (Fig.1).
Fig.1: 104 CFUGs in 21 districts in four regional clusters
Project featured topics
The project has promoted good governance practices through participatory government assessment (PGA) and public hearing and public auditing (PHPA) at the community level.
Participatory Government Assessment and Reassessment
The Participatory Governance Assessment tool is used to assess good governance practices in community groups. A group of participants evaluates the extent to which the decision-making and management practices in a community group comply with the four ‘pillars’: transparency, participation, accountability, and predictability, and the five ‘pillars’: transparency, participation, accountability, effectiveness, and rule of the game of good governance. A total of 104 events of participatory governance assessment (PGA) have been completed against the target of 100 in different CFUGs The CFUGs are performing well with regard to participation and effectiveness and a little weaker on accountability and transparency. A total of 3,152 members of CFUGs participated in this activity, among which 1,331 (42.2%) were women. The output of the assessment has been presented in the form of a spider web diagram demonstrating the present and desirable status after a year. Fig.2 shows the preparation of a spider web diagram for the participatory governance assessment.
Fig.2: Spider web diagramm preparation
Public Hearing and Public Auditing
Public Hearing and Public Auditing (PHPA) was recognized as a participatory process, which provided opportunities to CFUG general members to discuss, query critically, and examine the activities planned and implemented and expenditures made by activity by the executive committee (EC) members. Fig.3 shows the PHPA in Aalital Dadeldhura. It aimed as a key tool to ensure users’ rights in collective action on natural resource management. The aim was to promote trust and credibility among EC and users by maintaining transparency and enhancing accountability. With this objective, 104 events against the target of 100 PHPA were conducted in 104 CFUGs during the project period. In the process of PHPA, 2,899 participants, including 1,577 (54.39%) women, actively participated.
Six community forestry user groups (CFUGs) were selected to be supported in participatory forest management and develop demonstration sites of Sustainable Forest Management. Demonstration of multi-functional utilization of forest resources and practices of SFM activities were the main objectives of the demonstration sites. The activities included forest inventory, innovative forest operational plan preparation, facilitation of good governance practices, forest management activities in line with the principle of SFM, and enterprise promotion at the community level.
Fig.3： PHPA in Aalital Dadeldhura
The project has improved transparency and accountability within 104 CFUGs through Participatory Governance Assessment, and Public Hearing and Public Auditing. Findings of the participatory events led to the preparation of an Action Plan to improve CFUGs participatory structures. Similarly, it has implemented sustainable forest management and good governance in 104 CFUGs covering 28,662 ha of forest area managed by 25,422 households, with an intensive focus on six CFUGs developed as sustainable forest management demonstration sites. Women and other minority groups’ participation in activities and the involvement of marginalized people in decision-making and their access to benefit sharing was increased.
Enterprises have become a good source of income for poor and medium users that can support poverty alleviation among rural people. Ten community-based forest enterprises (CBFEs) were established with the mobilization of project funds, community forest funds, individual investment, and support from government line agencies and other stakeholders. Out of the ten community-based forest enterprises established by the project, they can be categorized into non-timber forest products (NTFP)-based CBFEs and Wood-based CBFEs (Fig.4). Eighty-seven people are working in these enterprises as regular employees, and about 4,311 people are working as part-time workers. Some enterprises have started sharing benefits with the investors; the Community Sawmill in Dolakha gained 2,564 USD profit from the sawmill and generated income for the poor who are working in this sawmill during the one year. Additionally, the community guideline on SFM principles, criteria, and indicators prepared with discussion among communities and the experts paved the way to develop six CFUGs as demonstration sites for sustainable forest management.
Capacity building regarding sustainable forest management, good governance, and enterprise development in the CFUGs has been one important aspect of the project. A total of 15,807 participants, including 10,050 men and 5,757 women from 104 CFUGs, participated in the different types of activities like forest management activities, PHPA, PGA, training, workshops, networking, and observation tour, which enhanced the capacity of forest users. The project prioritized mobilizing local resource persons (LRP) as the key project implementers at the local level. Trainings were conducted for community facilitators to effectively support in achieving the forest inventory as well as biodiversity monitoring at the community forests. The training conducted during the project period helped to enhance the capacity of the forest users and local resource persons regarding the concepts and practices of sustainable forest management issues at the community level, efficiency of forest management activities, the preparation of community-level forest management plans in line with SFM, and increasing level of transparency and accountability in CF process.
Fig.4: Community-based forest enterprises