KATHMANDU: The government is preparing a new forest policy in a bid to ensure at least 10 percent forest cover in each local level of the country.
Following the unequal distribution of forest cover in newly-defined local levels, the Department of Forests (DoF) has drafted a policy called “National Forest Policy-2017”. With the proposed policy, the government aims to maintain a fare share of forest area in all the local levels.
Of the total 766 local levels in the country, 132 have no forest cover at all with respect to their total land area, while 283 have the forest cover ranging between 50 and 75 percent of their total area.
According to the Department of Forest Research and Survey (DoFRS) data, Province 2 has the lowest forest cover as 92 local levels there have no forest in their areas. Only 33 local levels have the forest coverage higher than 75 percent of their total land mass, with the majority of them having more than 50 percent of forest cover, according to the report titled “Forests and Watershed Profile of Local Level Structure of Nepal”.
No forest coverage, however, does not mean no trees at all, said DoFRS Spokesperson Shiva Khanal. “In forestry technical term, it simply means they don’t have at least 0.5 hectare of forest coverage,” he said.
Besides, the policy also proposes that forests cover at least 45 percent of the country’s total area.
“There are a high number of local levels with no forest at all. So, through this policy we are trying to make sure that all of them maintain at least 10 percent forest out of their total area,” said Ishwari Prasad Poudel, spokesperson for the Department of Forests (DoF).
Nepal currently has 44.74 percent forest cover of its total land area, according to a joint five-year survey conducted by the DoFRS and National Forest Products Survey Project between 2067 and 2071BS.
The new policy has been drafted to preserve forest coverage in the country and work as a guideline to formulate required local, provincial and federal policies and plans for the protection of forests, watershed, bio-diversity, wildlife, and flora and fauna.
Also, the policy is aimed at sustainable management and distribution of forest and forest products and sharing of the resources among all three levels.
Poudel said the new policy was required to clarify roles and responsibility at three layers of governance: local, provincial and federal.
“The new constitution has provisions on forest and its governance. But there were confusions,” Poudel, who is also the planning officer with the DoF, added. “This new policy will address all the concerns and confusions.”
The proposed new forest policy, which will replace the previous one of 2017, will be the basis for formulating new acts and regulations required for overseeing the forest-related issues.
“Future policies regulating forests at local, provincial and federal levels will be guided by this policy and follow the provisions as envisioned by the constitution,” said Poudel, adding that it would regulate taxes on forest products for avoiding monopoly by forest-rich provinces.
The policy has also cited roles and responsibilities at different levels of government.
According to the policy, the land ownership of national forest, management of protected areas and handling of international treaty will be the responsibility of the federal government. The provincial governments will supervise the management of national forests and the local governments will be responsible for managing forest areas outside the national forests.
The policy has also envisaged organisational structure in all three levels under the new federal system. At the federal level there will be ‘Forest and Environment Ministry,’ while ‘Forest, Science and Environment Ministry’ has been proposed at the provincial level, among other institutions.
Aiming for sustainable management
- 132 local federal units have no forest cover at all in comparison to their total land area, while 283 have the forest cover ranging from 50-75 percent of their total area
- Only 33 local units have the forest cover higher than 75 percent of their total land mass
– By Chandan Kumar Mandal for TKP