Model Forest Management in the Terai: The Sagarnath Forest Development Project of the Forest Products Development Board has been successfully operating production-oriented block forest management on about 13,000 hectares of forest land with the low stocking rate of 50m3 per hectare in Sarlahi and Mahotari districts of the Terai (White 1986). The main objective of the project is to produce fuelwood by planting fast growing species. Plantation on about 11,500 hectares has been completed while maintaining natural forest on either side of the river and the East-West Highway within the project area. On the basis of a 10-year rotation, the eucalyptus plantation is producing 110-130 poles of 8-9m length and 84.2m3 of fuelwood.
Leasehold Forest: The Hills Leasehold Forestry and Forage Development Project has been implemented in 26 Mid-hills districts: Panchthar, Terhathum, Bhojpur, Okhaldhunga, Khotang, Ramechhap, Sindhuli, Dolkha, Sindhupalchok, Kabhrepalanchok, Makwanpur, Chitwan, Dhading, Tanahu, Gorkha, Piuthan, Sallyan, Rolpa, Rukum, Dailekh, Jajarkot, Achham, Bajura, Doti, Dadeldhura and Baitadi to promote the leasehold forestry programme. The aim of the project is to identify potential forests and leaseholder groups for the programme. This is followed by the preparation of operational plans for these forests, the development of degraded forest lands and improvement of private lands of the leaseholder groups through the cultivation of fodder and fruit trees and forage grasses, terrace improvement, off-farm income generating activities and training. By the end of May 2002, over 7,000 hectares of National Forests had been leased to over 11,200 households (Table 3.6).
Table 3.6 Leasehold forests in the Mid-hills of Nepal up to the end of the 1998/99 fiscal
Number of leaseholder groups
Number of households
Leasehold forest area (ha)
Percent of total leasehold forest area in the Mid-hills
Percent of total leasehold forest area in Nepal
Source: Management Information System record of Hills Leasehold Forestry & Forage Development
Conservation of Some Tree Species: HMGN is attempting in-situ gene pool conservation of Bijayasal (Pterocarpus marsupium) through tree improvement programmes as the availability of this tree is decreasing in its habitat in the western Terai/Bhabar mixed hardwood forests. The government is also trying to conserve ex-situ the gene pool of Satisal (Dalbergia latifolia), categorised as a vulnerable species by IUCN and protected by HMGN.
188.8.131.52 Lessons learned
The production oriented block management of forests on suitable sites in the Terai yields a larger quantity of forest products and generates substantially more income and employment opportunities to the local people than when the same area is left unmanaged. The participation of communities in the decision-making process and the equitable sharing of the benefits are crucial to the success of the block management forests in the Terai.
Degraded lands have the potential to produce considerable quantities of fodder through the cultivation of fodder trees and forage grasses and the application of simple techniques to significantly boost fodder production (FAO 1997).
184.108.40.206 Major constraints
The lack of financial and human resources is considered as the major constraint for the sustainable production of forest products, which is the main objective of HMGN for managed production forests. There are also policy constraints such as management practices that are oriented to the sustainable production of particular products that may have negative impacts on biodiversity. Likewise, budget allocations for the implementation of Operational Forest Management Plans are meant for silvicultural operations and the harvesting of forest products and there is a lack of programmes and financial and human resources for setting aside forest areas as protection forests.
The Department of Forests and its District Forest Offices are responsible for the conservation and development of forests outside protected areas. Since the guiding management principles in government-managed national forests are the multiple use and sustained harvest of forest products, biodiversity conservation has received little priority.
Indigenous Biodiversity Conservation: The management objectives of national forests managed by the government are oriented either to producing timber with high commercial value or to cultivating fast-growing exotic species such as eucalyptus. Less priority has been given to biodiversity conservation in government-managed forests, even though a high proportion of these have been set aside as protection forests. Protection forests are located in the Siwalik Hills range and on the banks of rivers and their main objective is protection from landslides and river erosion. Programmes for biodiveristy conservation in the Operational Forest Management Plans of the above 18 districts (Table 3.5) have not yet been identified.
Incomplete baseline information: There are gaps in the baseline information on flora and fauna diversity including the biology, ecology, conservation status, and geographic and altitudinal distribution of rare and endangered species.
Delays in preparing Operational Forest Management Plans: In the Mid-hills, while community forestry is spreading at a modest rate, national forests, forests outside PAs, and forests not under community forestry should not be left unprotected from exploitation. Such forests are quite large in area and should be put under management according to Operational Forest Management Plans. Delays in preparing and implementing Operational Forest Management Plans for these forests means delays in implementing conservation programmes.
Extension strategy: A number of donor countries/organisations have been supporting the Department of Forests in the Mid-hills and high mountain regions in the promotion and implementation of community forestry programmes, the DNPWC with the conservation of wildlife, and the Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management (DSCWM) and with soil and catchment management. However, while several training courses have targeted local people for the smooth implementation of community forestry programmes, very little has been done in the southern districts of Nepal to improve the management skills of District Forest Office (DFO) staff and to raise awareness on the importance of proper forest management.
Poor management of large blocks of forests in the Mid-hills: Large blocks of forests in the Mahabharat Range of the Mid-hills and in the mountain regions that cover a number of VDCs within a district and spread over more than one district are not yet managed. The frequency of visits to these areas by DFO staff is low due to their remoteness. There are no programmes for the management of these large blocks of forest areas, other than the occasional visit by DFO staff in response to complaints. Extension of community forestry programmes in these areas is negligible. The sub-alpine (3,000-4,000m), alpine (4,000-5,000m) and temperate (2000-3,000m) forests rate as first, second and third respectively in numbers of endemic plant species (Shrestha & Joshi 1996). Proportionately, total PA coverage is highest in the mountain regions and lowest in the Mid-hills. Nevertheless, existing large blocks of forests in the Mid-hills have potential to be managed for biodiversity conservation, as they are water catchment areas. Special programmes involving local people need to be developed and implemented for the conservation of these forests. The benefits obtained from these forests should then be shared amongst the local people.
Time constraints for biodiversity conservation: In the Mid-hills, DFO staff time is spent either on community forestry or in administration, and not enough time is given to biodiversity conservation.
3.3.2 COMMUNITY AND PRIVATE FORESTRY PROGRAMMES
HMGN has recognised community forestry as a strategy to improve the condition of forests in the Mid-hills as well as satisfy the basic needs of forest products of rural people. Tamrakar & Nelson (1991) calculated that there are 3.5 million hectares with potential for community forestry in Nepal. Community forestry involves handing over use rights and management to local people who have traditionally used the forests and are willing to accept management responsibilities. HMGN’s policy is to adopt community forestry for all accessible Mid-hills and high mountain forests as well as in some Terai districts.
The main components of the programme are the formation of user groups, the preparation of operational plans, plantations where appropriate, and training to strengthen the organisational capacity of user groups and to improve the skills of field staff and the users in forest management. Other components include seedling distribution, training and related activities on tree planting and management, and registration of private forests.
220.127.116.11 Policy and legislation
Community forestry in Nepal has evolved through policy restructuring and the strengthening of rules and regulations on local control over forest resources. The first legislation that encouraged involvement by local people in natural resource management was the National Forestry Plan of 1976. Community forestry was implemented, and later the Decentralisation Act, 1982 and the Master Plan for the Forestry Sector, 1988 specified provisional strategies for the phased handing-over of all accessible Mid-hills forests to user groups. The Forest Act,1993 and the Forest Regulations, 1995 reaffirmed the government’s policy of assigning more responsibility to local communities.
HMGN’s current policy of is to promote community forestry in the Mid-hills, where forests are often of high environmental value, for soil stabilisation and catchment protection (HMGN 1993). The Ninth Five-Year Plan, 1997-2002 encourages local users to satisfy their daily needs in timber, firewood, fodder plants (Daleghans) and other forest products through the development of community forestry (HMGN-NPC 1998). Besides emphasising forest leasehold arrangements in the Terai, the Forest Act of 1993 also reinforces the legal status of religious forests, first recognised in 1976. The community is thus allowed to utilise forest products for religious activities.
18.104.22.168 Major achievements
According to the database of the Community and Private Forestry Division of the Department of Forests, over 854,300 hectares of forest were handed over to 11,095 forest user groups by the end of May 2002 (Table 3.4). Most activities have been undertaken in the Mid-hills with little attention to areas above 2,500m (BPP 1995g). The number and total area of registered private forests in the different physiographic regions of Nepal are shown in Table 3.8.
Table 3.7 Community forests in Nepal up to the end of May 2002
Number of Community Forestry User Groups
Number of households
Community forest area (ha)
Percent of total community forest area in Nepal
Table 3.8 Number of forest user groups and total area of community forests in the Mid-hills
and Terai (up to May 2002)
Number of FUGS
Number of Households
total Area (hectares)
Source: HMGN-CFDP MIS Database (May 31, 2002)
FUG=Forest User Group
Table 3.9 Number of registered private forests and total area by physiographic region
Number of forests
total Area (hectares)
Source: HMGN-CFDP MIS Database (January 06, 2000)
Nepal has demonstrated that community forestry is a viable strategy for the rehabilitation of abandoned and degraded lands through plantations and by fostering the return of a diversity of species. Community forestry has also contributed to an increase in natural regeneration. However, the improvement in forest cover near villages in the Mid-hills has resulted in an increase in numbers of wild animals, and attacks on domestic animals have been reported in many District Forest Offices.
22.214.171.124 Lessons learned
Initiatives on private land: Farmers take an interest in planting trees on their own land if seedlings of their choice are available. As a result of such plantations, suitable forest corridors have been created that foster the return of wildlife species such as leopards and sloth bears.
Maintenance of useful plant species: Forest user groups aim to produce a range of forest products, including many non-timber forest products. They are concerned about maintaining a whole range of useful plants within their community forests other than fuelwood and timber and therefore the natural diversity of community forests is maintained (Branney & Dev 1994). Compared with uncontrolled use, community forest management leads to lower levels of grazing within the forest, fewer incidences of fire, increased numbers of threatened plant species, and control of illegal hunting.
Incentives: Comparisons of community, private, leasehold, and government-managed forests indicate that incentive systems are very important for the management of forest. If people perceive benefits from new institutional arrangements or technological innovations, the adoption of these is widespread.
126.96.36.199 Major constraints
Scattered area: In the Mid-hills, forests are scattered in small patches of often less than 100 hectares and are surrounded by agricultural land and settlements. Heavy pressures from human and livestock populations in these forests for subsistence needs make biodiversity conservation very difficult. A critical issue is how to involve villagers in the management of the forests of the Terai and Siwalik Hills. Forests that are already handed-over, are in the process of being handed over, or that will be handed over to communities in these regions will have major implications for biodiversity conservation.
Population pressures: The population density of the Mid-hills is high, and there exists a close linkage between the farming systems and the forests. As such, there is intense human interaction with the vegetation. Community forests that are handed over to forest user groups vary in size from less than one hectare to over 500 hectares, with most being between 50-100 hectares in size. The average area per household is under 0.7 hectares.
Priority in meeting peoples’ needs: Sustainable production of forest products is the main objective of community forests, which may have negative implications for biodiversity conservation. Many user groups allow unrestricted collection of dead wood and leaf litter from their community forest, yet these form important microhabitats for invertebrates, mosses, fungi and lichens, and their continued removal may lead to reduced biodiversity. Similarly, many user groups have included phrases such as “removal of unwanted species” in their forest operational plans, yet these species may be ecologically important and biodiversity may suffer as a result of their removal.
Communities have the right to manage their forest and determine management options. Managing a variety of plants and products demands prescriptions and control mechanisms that are acceptable to all members of the users group. User groups prefer options that are simple to follow and apply, and that provide quick and greater benefits to them.
There is often a lack of information with which to prepare sound operational plans, and this lack of socio-economic as well as biophysical information hinders the development of plans that integrate biodiversity conservation issues.
Training programmes available under community forestry initiatives do not cover the importance and potential of biodiversity conservation in community forests.
3.3.3 NON-TIMBER FOREST PRODUCTS
Nepal has a wealth of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) because of its diverse ecosystems. NTFPs are harvested not only from forests, but also from pasturelands, grasslands, and fallow ground. For the marginalised farmer, the diversity of the non-farm environment has tremendous utility consisting of not only of timber for building and bedding, and fodder for livestock, but also valuable nutritional, medicinal, economic (subsistence and cash), religious and cultural resources (Daniggelis 1994). Exploitation of wild plants is therefore very high in areas of poor economic conditions to buffer periods of food scarcity.
The main components of NTFP programmes include: (a) immediate measures to solve problems regarding collection, marketing, and related concerns, (b) cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants and other selected NTFPs, and (c) development of industries based on medicinal and aromatic plants and other NTFPs.
188.8.131.52 Policy and legislation
The National Conservation Strategy (HMGN/IUCN 1988) highlighted the necessity of establishing appropriate policies, regulations, and management approaches to ensure sustainable extraction of medicinal plants.
NTFPs (or Non-Wood Forest Products) constitute one of six forestry programmes in the Master Plan for the Forestry Sector, 1988, where seven marketed NTFPs are singled out for promotion, including medicinal and aromatic plants, Lokta paper, pine resin, katha (Acacia catechu), sabai grass, cane and bamboo. The Master Plan for the Forestry Sector highlights the need to increase the supply of medicinal plants and other minor forest products and to facilitate their conversion into useful commodities for local and foreign markets.
The Nepal Environmental Policy and Action Plan (NEPAP I) advocates that forestry research should address the utilisation of lesser-known forest species, which could include non-timber products (HMGN 1993). NEPAP II (HMGN/MOPE 1998) was the first policy document to recognise that previous policies had more or less ignored the important role of NTFPs as a source of income for rural communities. NEPAP II and the Ninth Five-Year Plan, 1997-2002 (NPC 1998) recommended that community-owned land that is suitable for purposes other than forestry be utilised under community management for the production of non-timber products.
Some NTFP plant species from Nepal are included in CITES appendices, and HMGN must determine their occurrence and the process for their utilisation (if they are not endangered). Conversely, research is required to assess the conservation status of other species and whether they should be included in the CITES list.
HMGN has given legal protection to 17 plant species and two forest products under the Forest Regulations, 1995 (amendment 2001). These include two NTFP species (Kutki and Panch aunle), which are prohibited for collection, use, sale, transportation or export, and eight plant species and one forest product prohibited for export (see Table 2.24).
184.108.40.206 Major achievements
Sustainable management of medicinal and aromatic herbs has been the subject of increased research and technical support since the 1990s. This is due to the realisation that the resource is being collected in an unsustainable manner in many parts of Nepal, particularly in the highlands, and that local people and the Nepalese economy are not receiving the potentially large economic benefits from their exploitation.
Training programmes on harvesting techniques, propagation of some NTFPs such as Loktaand Chiraito, and resin tapping have been initiated in many districts. The Herbs Production and Processing Company, Ltd., has launched a special programme for promoting NTFP cultivation and management in 25 remote districts, although it processes only a small fraction of the total harvest in the country owing to inadequate human resources and poor capacity. Humla Oil Pvt. Ltd. has been established to ensure the sustainable management of Jatamansi and equitable sharing of benefits amongst the local people in Humla district, who are benefiting from the local processing. Marketing links are being developed and user groups have been established as the first step in managing this resource in the wild.
The Forest Survey Division of the Department of Forestry Research and Survey has been documenting and quantifying NTFPs in different districts of Nepal.
Prior to the Forest Act, 1993, collectors could harvest any medicinal and aromatic plant, except for Yarsa gumba, from areas north of the Mahabharat range without a permit or licence (Yonzon 1993). The Forest Regulations of 1995, enforced in accordance with the Forest Act, 1993, categorised the number of NTFPs requiring licences for their collection. The royalty rates on a number of NTFPs have increased with the enactment of the Forest Regulations.
220.127.116.11 Lessons learned
There is a growing awareness at all levels, from local communities to authorities in the MFSC, that forests need to be managed for multiple uses rather than focusing only on tree management. NTFPs are a source of income to many poor people and to the Department of Forests, particularly in the Mid-hills and high mountains. Involving local people residing close to the natural resource is highly desirable in their conservation, especially if they are assured a fair share of the benefits from their sustainable use.
18.104.22.168 Major constraints
Identification and trade: Officials involved in the regulation of NTFP collection and export, such as District Forest Office personnel, Customs officials, Police, etc, have difficulty in identifying NTFP species, especially medicinal and aromatic plants (Kanel 1999a).
Lack of scientific identification: Many plant species that are traded internationally have not been properly scientifically identified. Some prominent examples are Amphi, Bompo, Dhawa, Halik, Hiunkhamar, Kaldana, Kawala, Mujoseda, Rishimarka, Sankhadurlabha, Sugandhapatta, Airi, and Tigedi (Kanel 1999a).
Controlling unsustainable harvesting: NTFPs, especially medicinal plants from which underground parts (root, rhizome, tuber) and bark are collected, are adversely affected by uncontrolled harvesting. For example, there has been drastic depletion of plants that were once very abundant, such as Nardostachys grandiflora (Jatamansi) from the Jumla area, Rauvolfia serpentina (Sarpagandha) from the Siwalik Hills region and Asparagus racemosus (Kurilo) mainly from the Terai. In addition, competition for collection leads to many plants being harvested before full maturity, thus hampering regeneration and affecting the quality of the product.
Fulfilling global demand: The medicinal plants of Nepal that are being used in traditional medicinal practised by local communities as well as in the Ayurvedic medical system for primary health care have also been harvested indiscriminately for export to meet international demands. Such plants include: Sarpagandha (Rauvolfia serpentina), Pipla (Piper longum), Harro (Terminalia chebula), Barro (T. bellirica), and Timur (Zanthoxylum armatum) from the tropical and subtropical zones of Nepal; Chiraito (Swertia chirayita), Bajradanti (Potentilla fulgens), Bojo (Acorus calamus), and Satuwa (Paris polyphylla) from temperate zones; Bikh (Aconitum spicatum, A. heterophyllum), Panch Aunle (Dactylorhiza hatagirea), Jatamansi (Nardostachys grandiflora), and Somlata (Ephedra gerardiana) from sub-alpine and alpine zones.
Lack of management technology on other Non-Timber Forest Products: NTFPs provide raw materials for many industries, such as Lokta bark (Daphne bholua, D. papyracea), Sabai grass (Eulaliopsis binata), Khar (Saccharum spontaneum) and Argeli (Edgeworthia gardneri) for making paper, pine resin for the resin and turpentine industry, Sal (Shorea robusta) seed oil used in the manufacture of soaps, paints, varnishes, and cocoa butter substitute, and bamboo and rattan for household and handicraft items. These resources are declining due to indiscriminate exploitation combined with habitat destruction.
Weak policies and institutional support: Commercial collection of certain medicinal plants is taking place from the wild in large quantities and no comprehensive policies have been developed in this sector. Rules about when NTFPs can be harvested and traded have not been promulgated. The District Forest Officers and their subordinate staff are mostly involved in the collection of royalties. A functional network is needed to plan, promote, and supervise the entire sector at all organisational levels in the department. An integrated approach needs to be developed by creating mechanisms whereby a fair price is received by the collector/producer of the raw material while at the same time conserving the ecosystem.
Regulating commercial collection and export: The trade also includes plants for which collection, use, sale, distribution, transportation, and export is prohibited by the MFSC. Additionally, plant species such as Rauvolfia serpentina, Nardostachys grandiflora, Valeriana jatamansii, and lichens, which are prohibited for export in an unprocessed condition, are still being traded raw (Table 2.24). Dactylorhiza hatagirea,Rauvolfia serpentina, and Nardostachys grandiflora are also included in the CITES list for controlled trade. Orchid seeds and lichens are permitted to be collected from the wild only after an Initial Environmental Examination (MOPE 1997). When increasing demand results in commercial gathering of certain species in large quantities for national and international trade, pressures can quickly mount and cases of over-exploitation are common (Cunningham 1993; 1994).
Lack of documentation and monitoring: Little attention has been given to quantifying NTFP resources, documenting their biology and socio-economical value, or monitoring their conservation. No inventory exists for either government-managed or community forests, and therefore no sustainable management plan for NTFPs in these forests.
Lack of research and development: Research is hampered owing to the lack of adequate funding, qualified staff, equipment, and the gap in co-ordination. Research and development in medicinal plants started in 1961 with the establishment of the Department of Plant Resources (previously Department of Medicinal Plants), with its research units and herbal farms. This work focused mainly on botanical survey and herbarium enrichment, and less emphasis has been given to the introduction of plants in botanical gardens, phytochemical and biochemical investigation, multiple propagation of selected economic plants, and cultivation of certain species in herbal farms. Private enterprises also process different quantities of medicinal plants collected from the wild. At present, no serious work has been done for the cultivation and commercialisation of medicinal herbs and plants by either Government or the private sector, despite the government's policy to do so. Most harvesting is done from the wild, causing environmental damage.
Dubious nomenclature: Many plant species have more than two local names (including in the Forest Regulations, 1995). Furthermore, different royalty rates are set for different parts of the same plant.