1. Heavy Pressure on Forests

1. Heavy Pressure on Forests

The increasing population is exerting heavy pressure on the forests of Nepal. The people depend on forests for firewood as well as for timber, medicinal plants and other forestry products. They also use forests to graze livestock and to collect fodder, to feed the large number of livestock raised to supply the manure essential for agricultural crops. As a result of this pressure, the area of forests has been reduced and the number of trees depleted. Thus, it has become increasingly difficult for the people to meet their basic need for forestry products. Pressure on the remaining healthy forests has consequently intensified, thus creating a vicious cycle and aggravating the already serious problems of environmental degradation and declining agricultural productivity.

 

Table 1 Projected Supply and Demand of Forest Products without the Master Plan1

  2000-012010-11 
Fuel woodSupply12.115.5 
 Demand15.216.9 
(millions of tones)Balance-3.1-1.4 
TimberSupply1.42.2 
 Demand2.53.3 
(millions of cubic meters)Balance-1.1-1.1 
FodderSupply7.48.3 
 Demand7.28.5 
(millions of tonnes)Balance+0.2-0.2 
Forest area which will be degraded to meet the  
demand (thousand of hectares) 741.31464.6 
     

 

Table 1 shows that the forestry programs planned previously, if carried out successfully, will increase the supply of forestry products, but that the demand will grow even faster because of the increasing population. The end result, therefore, is not encouraging. The fuelwood balance begins to improve gradually only towards the end of the planning period.

 

In practice, if nothing more is done to increase supply, the demand will be met by over cutting the forests. In some areas, the result will be the disappearance of forests. In relation to each of the three main forestry products, the most deficit areas are as follows:

 

Fuelwood:

All of the Terai

Mid-western and eastern Siwaliks

Western and eastern Middle Mountains

 

Timber:

All of the Terai

All of the Siwaliks

All of the Middle Mountains

Western High Himal

 

Fodder:

Central, Far-western, and Mid-western Terai

Central and Mid-western Siwaliks

All of the Middle Mountains, except the eastern region

 

Except in the Terai, deficits cannot generally be met by transporting these products from neighbouring areas of excess supply because of the lack of roads and the undulating topography. The demand for processed wood products and other forestry products will continue to increase as higher living standards are attained and as the population continues to grow.