What are some of the second generation problems community forestry is facing in Nepal now?
Deforestation is declining and there is now a clear vision for what we must do to protect our forests. But there are still improvements to be made. The bureaucratic process, for example, is difficult to understand, slow and complicated.
In the past, the Division Forest Office controlled monitoring and accountability, but now it is in the hands of the courts which involves more actors and allows for corruption. Moreover, the courts sometimes interpret forest laws differently, and the confusion on whether forestry or criminal law should take precedence opens a major loophole for those who wish to exploit our natural resources unsustainably.
Similarly, policies are not well-designed to manage privately owned forests. Not all clauses in the regulations are equally implemented in all regions. And there is no assurance that policies are implemented in the way they were designed. Too many rules and regulations can be confusing and contradictory.
What can we do to resolve these issues and meet the 2030 target?
We can start by creating a clear roadmap that lays out the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders. We need to streamline the legal process for holding illegal fellers and timber poachers accountable. The current process is cumbersome, costly and unreliable.
As for privately owned forest, what we need for the owners is incentive, not just command and control. I hope that the target to achieve the 45% forest cover also includes privately owned forests in Nepal.
In addition, it is also important to operationalise and liquidate forestry credit, and explore innovative performance-based financial products. This way, we can establish financial incentives to protect the forests and meet the target set at Glasgow.
In March 2021, the Government of Nepal and the World Bank signed the Emission Reductions Payment Agreement for the Emission Reductions Program in the Tarai Arc Landscape which is a good example in this context.