Securing Community Forest Rights in Nepal through Local Governments and Coordinated Local Actions
Community forestry in Nepal is one of the global success stories of reversing deforestation through participation of communities. However, despite its success, the vast number of communities and indigenous people (IPs) involved in community forestry still lack fully secured forest rights over forests and land resources and are hobbled by the restrictions and controls imposed by policies and legal frameworks.
Against this backdrop, a project called “Securing Community Forests Rights in Nepal through Local Governments and Coordinated Local Actions” was designed by a consortium of three partners namely: Federation of Community Forest User Nepal (FECOFUN), Green Foundation Nepal (GFN), and Centre for Indigenous People Research and Development (CIPRED). The project duration is for two years (July 2020- June 2022) and is funded by the International Forests and Land Tenure Facility (TF).
The overall objective of the project is to facilitate local governments and forest communities and IPs to secure community forest rights for better forest governance, livelihoods and community based forest enterprises. More specific objectives include:
- At least 100 local governments enact laws and regulations to secure community forest rights over at least 160,000 ha. of forestland.
- Mapping and legal demarcation of the selected community land and formally create community forestland cadaster
- Online data portal and inventory for community forestry to support local governments and communities to monitor and effectively govern community forests.
- Federal and provincial level laws and regulations are in conformity with local community forest laws and are supportive of tenure security for local communities and local forest governance.
- Development of capacity of local women and youths for more inclusive forest governance enterprises skills development, financial literacy and forest development.
- Facilitate 20 forest based enterprises by leveraging government funds in the project areas.
Scope, scale and beneficiaries of the project
The project will cover 100 local governments (as shown in the figure1) to help them enact local laws on community forest to recognise community forest rights. The total area of forest in these 100 local governments is approximately 1 million ha. Out of which at least 40 percent of forest areas will be covered by the enactments. In 35 local governments 1200 communities will be covered to for mapping and creation of records of rights covering approximately 142, 049 ha of forest and 200,000 community households covering 1,200,000 populations. The ultimate beneficiaries of the projects are Community Forest User Groups and IPs.
Figure 1: Potential 100 local governments to be covered by the TF project
Approaches of project implementation
The project has taken multipronged approaches to ensure the recognition of forest rights of local communities and IPs:
- Advocacy at national, province, and local levels for forest laws and policies which support community forest rights, reduces onerous regulatory burdens and improves the authority and capacities of local communities and IPs to govern and manage their forests,
- Work closely with local governments to enact local laws to recognise and secure community and IPs forest rights,
- Push for deregulation of restrictions on harvesting, marketing, and processing of forest products and setting up of community based forest enterprises, and
- Strengthen the capacities of the emerging women’s and youths leadership in community forestry to take lead in policy advocacy and forest governance.