Be transparent about the proposed amendment to Forest Act of 1993
This petition had 66 supporters
Nepal's community forests are local governance, public participation success story. They have been hailed as a model and play crucial role in preserving and fostering the country's natural resources and bio-diversity.
According to Damakant Jayshi's report for IPS, "Data from the Department of Forest show 1.1 million hectares (22%) of the total forest land has been handed over to the locals to manage and enhance in keeping with the Forest Act, which guarantees non-interference from the government forest office so long as the community forest user group (CFUG) complies with the Act (1993) and the Regulations (1995) and the Community Forestry Operational Plan."
Locals taking charge of natural resources around them and the promise of non interference from the Government has also strengthened grass roots democracy and civic engagement.
Even at times of political turmoil, community forests survived and thrived. Reporter Keya Acharya reported how a local group in village of Godavari is working together to support their community forest and are not affected by the upheavals in Kathmandu.
A model project admired around the world which is helping local communities and the country too. Why then is the Government is now proposing an amendment, and working in a very secretive manner? What is there to hide or lie about?
The Government and the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation should release information regarding the proposed amendment, invite stakeholders for discussion and should make this process transparent and democratic.
Just couple of months back, this Government tried to ram through amendments to Right to Information Act, which would have curtailed the people's rights. And now that same attitude is out on display.
We demand that the Government drop its undemocratic attitude and keep this process transparent.
We also request the The Federation of community Forestry Users, Nepal (FECOFUN) to work with the Government to make this process transparent and include stakeholders so that the new law is is drafted in participatory manner rather than being rushed through in secrecy.
For more information on the proposed amendment and how it will affect community forests,
Image courtesy of wikimedia commons.
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