Miles apart

  • 27/02/2000

Community forestry has been identified as the only viable forest management strategy in many developing countries. To this effect, both India and Nepal have launched programmes. But while in Nepal forests are on the road to recovery, severe limitations come in the way of managing forests successfully in India. Some of the differences between India's joint forest management (JFM) and Nepal's community forest management (CFM) are:

l The 1989 Master Plan, CFM has been accorded the highest priority, even over management of national forests. Different laws have also been passed to facilitate the implementation of CFM. Thus there is a convergence of policy and legislation. This provides tenurial security to the forest-users' groups (FUGs), says S Palit in "Comparative Analysis of Policy and Institutional Dimensions of Community Forestry in India and Nepal', an International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development publication. In India, although the 1988 National Forest Policy and the June 1990 circular provide for JFM, they are less emphatic, he says. The provisions made in the state JFM resolutions vary widely, apart from one common feature: that JFM is meant for degraded forest areas. The Indian Forest Act does not lend any support to JFM and it depends entirely on government notifications and executive orders. Thus, tenurial insecurity is much more prevalent in India. This serves as a negative incentive to community forestry.

l In India, communities involved in JFM are only allowed access to fodder and fuelwood, while in Nepal the communities are allowed to "sell and distribute the forest products by independently fixing their prices'.

l In India, the government's share in usufructs varies between 25 and 80 per cent. In Nepal, the communities do not share the forest earnings with the government. If their is any surplus money, FUGs have the option of spending it on village development activities.

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