“Scientific Forest Management is an application of appropriate silviculture system and Sustainable forest management principles through the design of systematic compartments of fixed rotation age.”
Learning from previous experiences, the government has piloted the practice of scientific forest management(SFM) in Nepal since 2014, especially in the natural Sal (Shorea robusta) forests in the Terai.
The degrading condition of the Terai forests, increased demand for forest products, inappropriate existing management practices that are not scientific, Conservation oriented Community forests and lack of tree management were major reasons behind the rise of SFM in Nepal.
SFM took great hype in a short period of time because of its promising sustainable benefits conveyed forward by Stakeholders such as addressing the current demand for forest products, forest improvement, reducing poverty, and the impact of climate change (CC), safeguarding biodiversity, preserving ecological equilibrium, full-time employment opportunities, healthy working conditions, increase in value addition on multiple functions of forest ecosystem services, etc.
Technicians suggested the need of harvesting trees in large quantities in this system for healthy and optimum timber production. The application of an intensive silviculture system seems to be inappropriate for Local people for their subsistence forest product consumption.
Debate amongst the different stakeholders of the Nepalese forestry sector on whether “SFM” describes ‘scientific’ or ‘sustainable’ forest management went on for very long.
The initial goals of the scientific forest management concept were “sustainable timber production and achieving economic objectives.” The focus later widened to encompass facets of social, cultural, and environmental values.
Procedure of SFM
1. The preparation of the SFM operational plan
SFM plan preparation is the important initial step, which acts as the legal and
guiding document for the LFGs to perform the planned SFM activities. The DoF has also prepared the Scientific Forest Management Guideline (2014). It includes the following steps:
I. identification of the Forest
II. Stakeholder Interaction
III. Forest Survey
IV. Forest Inventory
V. Forest Management Planning & Documentation
2. Implementation of the SFM Operational Plans
- Blocks, compartments, and sub-compartments division
- Silvicultural operations
4. Sustainability mechanism
Why SFM is ceased now?
It was acknowledged as one of the game-changing forestry initiatives that will help realize the national and sectoral visions of “Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali” and “Forestry for Prosperity.” However, due to differing perspectives among the stakeholders, particularly the lack of proper discussion of the SciFM policy process and the natural dominance of forest professionals, this practice remained very contentious.
Due to increasing stakeholder dissatisfaction and governance issues, especially over-harvesting of timber, the Government of Nepal has banned the harvesting, collection, and sale of SciFM timber, effective as of date. May 28, 2020. In addition, the Government of Nepal and the National Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee have established two separate independent committees to investigate emerging issues related to SciFM in 2020.
Both The committee recommended the abolition of SciFM due to over-exploitation of timber, increasing corruption cases, and low investment in forest management activities. Therefore, the decision of the cabinet of ministers dated 24 January 2021 to abandon the domestic Scientific FM.
The management guidelines focused on a single commodity: Timber. The policy was designed based on limited experience rather than scientific evidence. No consideration of the variation of vegetation composition, type as well as Local community’s needs in different regions while undertaking the pilot project.
The lack of convincing evidence of forest bureaucracy to satisfy the Stakeholders is another reason for SFM failure in Nepal. Ignorance of Forest bureaucracy in technical clarity aspects. Overall The failure of SFM is considered to be Politically driven rather than failed Technical intervention.