Sustainable Resource Utilization and Governance in Community Forests: Reflection from Mountains of Nepal

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"Community forestry, with its behavioral principles of management with people's participation, has come into practice in Nepal, owing to failure of earlier system of managing forests without people's participation. In this concern, last two decades appealed to change policies, approaches, and methodologies to implement community forest program in Nepal. As result, forest protection by Community Forest Users Groups (CFUGs) over the last 14 years has amplified creation of resource that can now be mobilized for benefit whole community. Yet despite considerable resources, numerous programs focusing community participation, the entire concept is still debatable. It is also taking place in the resource utilization and question is that if it is on right approach or not. Equity in access to forest resource assets to all users without any bias is the expectation from the resource managers and planners. However, the CFUGs and supporting organizations are facing challenges to ensure sustainable utilization of the resources. It is responsibility of scholar to show that the process at grass root levels remains driven by the top, though projects and programs attempt to tackle the issues (elite capture, alienation of poor and marginal groups like women, insure livelihoods, limited economic benefits for remote areas, corruption). FUGs also tend to share forest resources based on equality rather than on needs, resulting in hardships for those marginalized groups who have disproportionate dependence of the forests for their livelihoods. These issues are serious in mountainous areas. "This paper is prepared based on studies from mid hill and high Himalaya areas of Nepal. The one-year study was conducted in fourteen community forests of two districts (Dolpa and Baglung). The areas under studies were sustainable resource utilization and community governance in forestry. The study analyses the forest condition, resource collection processes, forest product availability (quantity and quality), impacts on farming system, assessment on governance practice (representation of male and female in decision making processes, group conflict, transparency in decision making, accountability of the group members, true participation, future plans). The study further analyses the contribution of community forestry to local rural livelihoods on the basis of people's perception on natural, human, physical, social and financial capital formation due to the community forestry. Different sub hypotheses were set and tested from the strong statistical tools in each capital formation area to analyze the contribution of the community forestry. This study shows the status of the forest condition in people's perception and state of governance in resource utilization of the mountainous community forests. The paper aims to show the circumstances of the resource use and hopefully aware to the development programs in the forestry sector. It demonstrates what is needed to respond the local people keeping in the centre of livelihood pentagon. Finally, it finds out the key lessons in forest utilization practices and supports in sustainable livelihoods of the local people made by community forestry."



IASC, sustainability, community forestry, governance and politics, user groups