5. Development Imperatives and Policy ObjectivesEditor NLC
5.1 Development Imperatives
Soil, water, flora and fauna constitute the main elements of forestry. Together with other biotic and abiotic factors these elements help sustains biodiversity. Long-term development can be socially, economically and ecologically sustainable only if it caters adequately to the following imperatives:
5.1.1 Satisfaction of Basic Needs
Peace and stability, which are preconditions for national development, can be maintained only if the basic needs of the people are satisfied. In this connection, the forestry sector, by developing and implementing well-organised programs, can play a major role in meeting people’s needs for forestry products and in improving the lives of rural people. The Ninth Five-Year Plan approach paper emphasises that effective conservation and utilisation of forestry resources can be enhanced by encouraging people’s participation in forestry programs, by establishing users’ group-based community forestry, by promoting private forestry, by involving underprivileged groups in leasehold forestry, and by implementing community development activities around the peripheries of protected areas and government-managed forests. In this way, the basic need for fuelwood, fodder and medicinal plants will be satisfied and local economies enhanced.
5.1.2 Sustainable Utilisation of Forestry Resources
Forest resources are a gift of nature and are bound by the laws of nature. They are also the heritage of our children, and must be managed for the future. The importance of the present generation’s requirements must not outweigh the importance of conservation. If the carrying capacity of a forest is continually exceeded, its productive base will eventually collapse. In fact, such breakdowns are occurring in many parts of the country.
Forestry resources will last in perpetuity only if they are conserved, wisely managed, and used in such a way as to maintain their productive capacity. It is essential to protect and manage forests in order to conserve biodiversity and genetic resources, to protect watersheds, to prevent soil erosion, and to provide a sustained supply of forestry products.
5.1.3 Participation in Decision-Making and Sharing Of Benefits
An excessive concentration of decision- making power in the higher echelons inhibits the enthusiasm and self-reliance of the people. In addition, opportunities to misuse power are created and people’s suspicions are aroused.
The immense energy and numerous resources of the people can be released and mobilised into constructive management activities through participatory forestry programs. When decision-making power is given to the users who most depend on the forestry resources in question, the decisions made have a good chance of actually being implemented. The users can be motivated to rationalise their land and forestry use only if they themselves benefit from better management of the resources, improved harvesting methods and from their afforestation efforts. Benefit sharing and grassroots decision-makings are fundamental factors in the sustained development of the country’s land and forestry resources.
5.1.4 Socio-economic Growth
To strive for a better future is a universal goal of humankind. Even if basic needs are satisfied, the peace and harmony of a nation is endangered in the long run if there are no prospects for improvement. This is especially true in developing countries like Nepal.
The numerous resources of the forestry sector must be exploited in ways which provide maximum benefit to both the local and the national economies. Special attention must be paid to the poorest segments of society.
It must be stressed that the above four points are imperatives, not options. If any one is disregarded, the entire forestry sector policy may fail, and sooner or later this failure will produce disastrous consequences – environmental, ecological, economic, social, cultural, and political.