Delegates from Pacific Island countries—the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea—visited Nepal from 5 to 7 September 2017 to learn about Nepal’s successful community forest management, and the benefit sharing mechanism and safeguards system adapted by Nepal. The visit was organized by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and ICIMOD’s Regional REDD+ Initiative with the objective of fostering transboundary exchange and learning. Twenty-four participants from the four countries visited two forest sites—a community forest in Chitwan and a collaborative forest in Nawalparasi.
Interaction with Sindhu Dhungana, Chief of the REDD Implementation Centre in Babarmahal. Photo: Trishna Singh Bhandari/ICIMOD
Interactive sessions and presentations were conducted at ICIMOD and the REDD Implementation Centre (RIC). Face-to-face interactions with RIC government officials and updates on REDD+ Nepal were the main highlights of these sessions. Sindhu Dhungana, the RIC Chief, and Prakash Lamsal, community forest expert, gave insightful presentations on the ongoing progress of REDD+ and community forest management in Nepal.
Interaction with the Baghmara Community Forest Committee on benefit-sharing mechanisms and community forestry activities. Photo: Trishna Singh Bhandari/ICIMOD
A visit to Baghmara Community Forest (BCF), Chitwan, was organized to give visitors the chance to interact with community members. BCF, situated in north Chitwan district, is a community-based forest management (CBFM) success story. BP Chaudhari, Chairman of BCF, discussed some of the conservation and income generating activities carried out by the community forest—elephant rides, canoe rides and jungle walks, and the funds generated by these activities. He said that these funds are invested in various community development activities such as the distribution of improved cooking stoves, the establishment of biogas plants, the inclusion of conservation and management curricula in schools, and income-generating activities for women, the poor and the marginalized. Abhinaya Pathak, Assistant Park Warden, discussed human-wildlife conflict and the mutual understanding between the Park and the community. He also explained that Nepal has very strict laws against poaching. “The park works closely with community forest user groups and supports their activities through technical assistance,” he said.
Visits and forest officials post for a group photo at the REDD+ Desk in Chitwan. Photo: Trishna Singh Bhandari/ICIMODAt the Chitwan District Forest Office REDD+ Desk, Kedar Nath Poudel, District Forest Officer, presented an overview of the progress made by REDD+ and discussed the adoption of scientific forest management (SFM) in various forest regimes in the district.
The participants visited the field site in Nawalparasi where the scientific management of forest has been initiated. Vijay Raj Subedi, District Forest Officer of Nawalparasi, said that Nepal is introducing a silvicultural system in forest management regimes, and that so far, the results have been successful. To see the practical implication of SFM, participants visited the collaborative forest for interaction with the forest user groups. The Chairman of the collaborative forest explained how the adoption of this management system has helped protect the forest from illegal logging and explained that distant users (who live more than 20 km away from the forest) are also benefiting from the forest. He also explained that women’s participation is increasing and that forest management and monitoring has become very systematic.
Participants with the community forest user group of Nawalparasi Collaborative Forest. Photo: ICIMODThe participants said that they were impressed with the modality of CBFM for its inclusiveness and meaningful participation. They added that communities as a whole, not just individuals, had benefitted from CBFM. They also highlighted that the government-community understanding was very interesting and that the CBFM model provides a way forward to empower citizens in conservation to support themselves. “Communities can manage their forest resources or land-based natural resources sustainably provided that the knowledge and support from government is received,” they said.
“The scientific method of forest management has inspired us the most and this is one idea we can suggest the government in our countries to adopt,” they said. “CBFM seems to be effective in Nepal as there is a sense of ownership. Different user groups take care and manage their forests. At the same time, they share the benefits in terms of services rather than money.”
Overall, experience sharing between the Pacific Island countries and Nepal during the exposure visit fostered the objective of the transboundary learning. ICIMOD’s work at the community level was also highlighted during this visit. Exchanges such as this one help maintain global recognition of the achievements of REDD+ and its contributions to community forest management. It is expected that best practices from Nepal will be shared and implemented in Pacific Island countries and that there is room for future collaboration.