2. Analysis of Policies and LegislationEditor NLC
2.1 Previous Policies
2.1.1 Seventh Five-Year Plan (1985-1990)
In the Seventh Plan, the National Planning Commission adopted the policies of the National Forestry Plan, 1976, and developed them further. Those policy objectives were to meet the people’s needs for forestry products, including timber, fuelwood, and fodder to maintain or restore the ecological balance through reforestation and watershed management programs, and to derive maximum economic gains from forestry products, by promoting the export of medicinal herbs. The main policies of the Seventh Five-Year Plan were to supply the needs of daily life, including fuelwood, timber, fodder and grass, to carry out afforestation on a large scale, and to protect afforested areas, all by encouraging maximum participation in afforestation programs by the people.
As regards the conservation and promotion of natural resources, the Seventh Five-Year Plan ensured maximum people’s participation in activities related to soil and water conservation by giving priority to protecting of the water sources of villages and to the watersheds serving heavily populated areas of the hills. Although the intentions of the plan were noble, the policy declarations were ineffective because of in the absence of strong implementing institutions. As a consequence, so-called Forest Consolidation Committees were formed on an ad-hoc basis; these unfortunately resulted in even more encroachment on the forests of the Terai.
2.2 Master Plan for Forestry Sector
The Master Plan for the Forestry Sector (MPFS, 1989), prepared between 1986 and 1988 and approved in 1989 provides a 25-year policy and planning framework for the forestry sector. The long-term objectives of the Master Plan for Forestry Sector include the following:
- to meet the people’s basic needs for forest products on a sustained basis
- to conserve ecosystems and genetic resources
- to protect land against degradation and other effects of ecological imbalance
- to contribute to local and national economic growth
The Master Plan for the Forestry Sector guide’s forestry development within the comprehensive framework of six primary and six supportive programs to achieve its objectives.
2.2.1 Primary Forestry Development Programmes
- Community and private forestry
- National and leasehold forestry
- Wood-based industries
- Medicinal and aromatic plants
- Soil conservation and watershed management
- Conservation of ecosystems and genetic resource
2.2.2 Supportive Forestry Development Programmes
- Policy and legal reforms
- Institutional reforms
- Human resource development
- Research and extension
- Forest resources information system and management planning
- Monitoring and evaluation
The main feature of the Master plan is an integrated and programme-oriented approach. The idea to employ a program approach to support these six primary program and six supportive programs was a turning point in Nepal’s history of forestry sector policy.
2.3 Eighth Five-Year Plan (1992- 1997)
The National Planning Commission has incorporated the policies of the Master Plan for the Forestry Sector (1989), into the Eighth five-year Plan (FY 1992/93 – 1996/97).
The basic objectives of the Eighth Five-Year Plan for the forestry sector included:
- Stabilise the supply of timber, fuelwood, fodder and other forestry products necessary for the general people in their day to day lives.
- Increase the productivity of forest products to ensure the supply of raw materials to forest-based industries, which contribute to the national economy.
- Increase income from and employment opportunities in the forestry sector for underprivileged families.
- Develop national parks, wildlife reserves and protected areas in order to preserve biological diversity, to maintain ecological processes and ecosystems, and to create recreational areas.
- Help maintain land fertility through the conservation of soil and other watershed resources.
The following policies have been adopted to achieve the Eighth Five-Year Plan for the forestry sector:
- Public participation will be intensified through the implementation of private forestry, leasehold forestry and users’ group-based community forestry programs;
- Deprived sections of the society will be given preference when land is allocated for leasehold forestry so that their opportunities for employment are increased.
- The private sector will be encouraged to sell forestry products.
- The development of industrial forestry will be emphasised in appropriate areas.
- To reduce conflicts between local residents and national parks and reserves, the people will be allowed to help manage national parks. In addition, to restore the people’s faith in national parks and reserves, a share of the fees generated will be spent on developing neighbouring rural areas.
- Public participation in the prevention and control of soil erosion will be encouraged.
2.4 Ninth Five-Year Plan (1997-2002)
The Ninth Five-Year Plan (1997- 2002) followed the Master Plan for the Forestry Sector policy in order to continue its main thrust of peoples’ participation in forest management practices. The main objective of Ninth Five -Year Plan is Poverty alleviation through providing economic opportunities for poor people and encouraging their participation in development activities. To reduce poverty effectively in the long run, poverty-focused sectoral and targeted programs will be launched in a co-ordinated, integrated and effective way. In addition, the Ninth Plan for the forestry sector emphasises the need to cultivate non-timber forest products in community forests and to promote employment and income-generating opportunities for poor and marginal families.
The main objectives of Ninth Five-Year plan for the forestry sector include:
- Mobilise, conserve and manage forest resources to reduce the gap between demand and supply.
- Create income-generating and employment opportunities for poor and marginal families.
- Mobilise local people to enhance productivity.
- Adopt proper land-use practices.
The main policies and strategies which have been adopted by the Ninth Plan to achieve its objectives include:
- The local users will be encouraged in the efforts to fulfil the day-to-day needs for timber, fuelwood, fodder and other forest product. A regular supply will be ensured through community forestry development.
- Support to poverty alleviation will be provided by promoting and establishing participatory forest management and by implementing community based development activities.
- Conservation of the Siwalik area will be carried out in order to maintain the renewal capacity of the groundwater reserve by giving priority to soil and water conservation programmes.
- The management, marketing, industrial development processing and export of herbs and forest products will be supported.
- The private sector will be encouraged by providing the opportunity for the commercial management of government-owned forests in areas with potential.
2.5 Forestry Sector Legislation
Forestry legislation used to be formulated to resolve past problems related to protection rather than to meet present and future needs for better management and increased production. As a result, legislation, which included several major acts and their associated rules, was not in accordance with the spirit of the new forestry sector policy, which was arrived at through the master planning process. This discrepancy was particularly noticeable in the case of community forestry. Policy is now very clearly oriented toward “people’s participation” in contrast to previous legislation such as the Forest Act of 1961, which originally aimed to prevent (the villagers) from entering forests. Other early forestry laws are identified below.
- The Forest Protection Special Act of 1968 and the Forest Products (Sale and Distribution) Rules of 1971 strictly regulated people’s rights to forest products.
- The Panchayat Forest Rules and the Panchayat Protected Rules of 1978 allowed communities to manage barren or degraded lands for forest production. These rules needed improvement before they could effectively promote community forestry in the spirit of decentralisation.
- The Leasehold Forest Rules of 1978 allowed only barren or very degraded areas to be leased. In practice, this policy encouraged the cutting of trees so that a lease for the area could be applied for.
- The Private Forest Rules of 1984 entitled owners of private forests to a free supply of planting materials and to technical assistance from the District Forest Offices provided their forest was duly registered.
- The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1973 defines a national park and provides for three other kinds of reserves: strict natural reserves for scientific studies only, wildlife reserves (in effect similar to national parks), and hunting reserves. His Majesty’s Government of Nepal (HMGN) may, “if it so deems necessary,” declare any area to be a part of a park or reserve, and may take over the ownership of any area so declared. This act and the rules made under it aim to protect wildlife and control hunting, but they have not been successfully enforced. Thus, in 1994 an additional provision for the establishment of conservation areas and buffer zones was made.
- The National Parks and Wildlife Act was amended so that the revenues of a national park would be shared with the local communities located within the buffer zone surrounding that park.
- The Soil and Watershed Conservation Act of 1982 allows HMGN to declare any area as a protected watershed. This act has been implemented to manage Shivapuri watershed area.
The preceding policies are now being implemented under the Forest Act of 1993 and the Forest Rules of 1995. The act and its regulation are a result of past experiences which demonstrated that people’s participation is necessary for the management of forests. The act and rules, however, does require periodic revision as the implementation of forestry resource management proceeds. The Forest Act of 1993 and the Forest Rules of 1995 aim to develop the forestry sector through decentralisation and the participation of individuals and groups.
2.6 Other Relevant Legislation
Legislation augmenting the role of the Department of Plant Resources and defining its position within the forestry sector is still required. Rules governing land use planning are also needed.
The Land (Survey and Measurement) Act of 1963 indirectly hinders forestry development because forestland is defined as government land. In fact, its provisions encourage people to cut down trees so that the piece of land on which they stand can be unambiguously claimed as private.
The Pastureland Nationalisation Act of 1974, which is applied selectively, vests the ownership of all pasture lands in HMGN. Local village and district committees are required to “protect and improve” pasture lands and “must not use the land for any other purpose”.
Among the public utilities laws that affect forestry include the Public Roads Act of 1974, which deals with the acquisition of land for the protection of roads; the Irrigation; Electricity and Water Resources Act of 1967; the Electricity Rules of 1969; and the Canal Management Rules of 1974.