community forest management THE NEPALESE EXPERIENCE
In 1993, the Nepal government decided to hand over certain forest areas to rural communities. Six years later, 8,559 such communities are managing 621,942 hectares of forest land in the country. They are bent on accomplishing what the government has not been able to do -- regenerate the fast-depleting forest cover. While government-protected forests go from bad to worse, those managed by communities are getting a new lease of life. Unfortunately, a recent government circular threatens to bring the story of Nepal's community forest management (CFM) to an abrupt end. Aimed at the terai region, where the government has shown reluctance in promulgating CFM, the circular was to stop commercial logging. But forest bureaucrats have asked communities all over the country to stop all forest-related activities. Now that the people have decided to fight back, the government is showing signs of withdrawing the circular. Despite such conflicts, Nepal's 'big brother' India has a lot to learn from community forestry in the small Himalayan kingdom.
A report by Richard Mahapatra
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