Jane Carter and Bharat Pokharel of HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation provide insights into the development and findings of their new publication on lessons-learned from community forestry in Nepal over the past two decades.
In July 2011, the Nepal Swiss Community Forestry Project (NSCFP) came to an end after 20 years in originally two and eventually four districts of Nepal’s middle hills. All those concerned with the project felt that it was important to draw out the lessons learned from this long experience. They included members of community forest user groups, the Nepal Forest Department, a variety of service providers, project staff (both past and present at the time), the implementing agency Întercooperation, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Representatives of these various stakeholders participated in a “capitalization” process that began in early 2010, and took shape during a number of sharing events, focusing on self-reflection and the identification of lessons learned.
Nine topics came to the fore during stakeholder discussions: Implementation modality/fund management; human resource and institutional development; pro-poor livelihoods; social inclusion: caste, ethnicity and gender; good governance; conflict sensitive project management; sustainable tree and forest management; forest based enterprises; and potential forest policy contributions.
These form the nine main chapters of the publication. For each topic, stakeholder views on successes and the failures were recorded – both ones on which there was general agreement, and ones on which opinions differed. Their inputs were further complemented by project-commissioned studies and reports on specific issues.
The experience of NSCFP clearly demonstrates that community forestry can have a significant positive impact on the livelihoods of rural people, particularly in ensuring a sustainable supply of forest products, and in increasing the voice of women and other disadvantaged groups in the good governance of forest resources. Whilst the project cannot claim to be representative of community forestry development in Nepal overall, NSCFP always sought to be innovative in its operations and pro-poor in its actions. We thus believe that this document is of wide relevance, and we hope that it will interest all those seeking insights into practical aspects of community forestry.