The forests of Nepal are classified into National Forests and Private Forests. Any forest, excluding private forests, whether marked or unmarked within a forest boundary, is a National Forest in Nepal. The category includes wastelands, uncultivated lands and unregistered lands surrounded by or adjoining forests, as well as paths, ponds, lakes, rivers, streams and riverine lands within forests. According to the Forest Act, 1993, there are five sub-categories of National Forest (see also Table 3.1):
Government-managed Forests: National Forests managed by HMGN with the main objective being production. The Department of Forests manages these forests.
Community Forests: National Forests handed over to a user group for development, conservation and utilisation for the collective benefit of the community.
Leasehold Forests: National Forests leased to any institution established under current law, industry or community, for the production of forest products, agroforestry, tourism or farming of insects and wildlife in a manner conducive to the conservation and development of forests.
Religious Forests: National Forests handed over to any religious group or community for development, conservation, and utilisation.
Protected Forests:National Forests declared by HMGN as protected in consideration of their special environmental, scientific or cultural significance. Forests in PAs also fall under this category, which are managed either by the DNPWC or by authorised NGOs.
Table 3.4 Classification of forests, management objectives and responsible institutions
National and leasehold forestry aims to develop and manage forest resources through government agencies or private sector leaseholders, complementing community and private forestry (HMGN/ADB/ FINNIDA 1988). All areas that have not been handed over to forest user groups as community forests or set-aside as leasehold forests and that are not religious forests are either Government-Managed Forests or Protected Forests. These forests are managed according to approved Operational Forest Management Plans. All responsibilities and rights of use of such forests remain with the Department of Forests.
Improving the productivity of natural forests, developing forests on degraded areas and protecting forests on both sides of rivers and streams and environmentally sensitive areas are the major activities of the national and leasehold forestry programme.
126.96.36.199 Policy and legislation
Forest Act, 1993: The Forest Act, 1993, accounts for all forest values, including environmental services and biodiversity, as well as production of timber and other products. The provisions relating to protected forests, community forests and leasehold forests will have long term impact on the conservation and sustainable use of components of biological resources. Section 23 empowers the government to delineate any part of a national forest that has a 'special environmental, scientific or cultural importance' as a protected forest. The Department of Forests is required to prepare an operational plan for any protected forest. The inclusion of these terms in a legal document lends support to the conservation of biodiversity in areas that are located outside existing national parks and reserves (Belbase 1997). The government is empowered to grant any part of a national forest for the following purposes: (i) as a leasehold forest for raw materials required by industries (ii) to plant trees and increase the production of forest products for sale or use (iii) for tourism or agroforestry in a manner conducive to the conservation and development of forests.
The Environment Protection Act, 1996: After the establishment of the Ministry of Population and Environment, it assumed responsibility for environmental protection in different sectors. The Environment Protection Act, 1996, and the Environment Protection Regulations, 1997, have made Initial Environmental Examinations or Environmental Impact Assessments mandatory for development proposals involving forests, industry, roads, tourism, drinking water, solid waste management, and agriculture. However, a thorough analysis of these requirements shows that the Initial Environmental Examination and Environmental Impact Assessment guidelines are too complicated for many who should be applying them.
188.8.131.52 Major achievements
Operational Forest Management Plans have been prepared and partially implemented for 18 districts (Table 4.2), 17 of which are in the Terai and one in the Mid-hills.
Protection Forests: Wherever possible, forest strips of at least double the width of the particular river or stream in question have been set aside along both banks to protect the water quality and the land from erosion. Due attention is being given to the management of Protection Forests in the Siwalik Hills, where the natural process of regeneration is favoured for the improvement of the vegetation cover. This minimises the work the soil would generally require if artificial regeneration were to be applied. Nearly 60% of the forests in the 18 districts (Table 3.2) have been classified as Protection Forests and can complement biodiversity conservation.
Table 3.5 Districts with Operational Forest Management Plans