Working towards a national forest certification system in Nepal
National system development
Nepal’s forests are extensive and ecologically diverse; however, the country and its inhabitants have yet to fully benefit from this vital resource. In an effort to expand the forestry sector in a sustainable manner, as well as to reform government policy toward sustainable development, we are supporting the country’s stakeholders as they begin to develop a national forest certification system – the first of its kind in Nepal.
Despite forest covering almost a quarter of Nepal’s land area, the forest sector’s contribution to the national economy has remained disproportionately small. Furthermore, any investment in long-term forest management and conservation has been hampered by Nepal’s historically low levels of market opportunities.
Community forestry plays an important role within the country, involving 40% of the Nepalese population and accounting for over a quarter, or 1.6 million hectares, of the total forest area. However a lack of knowledge, information and practice of sustainable forest management means the potential of forests to support these communities, help local businesses and create sustainable jobs remains largely untapped.
The development of forest certification within the country would have significant benefits for the many forest dependent communities, and the country as a whole; providing access to new markets and ensuring the forests are managed sustainably now and in the future.
We have been working in Nepal since 2012, initially by providing support to a project led by the Global Alliance of Community Forestry (GACF) to raise awareness of sustainable forest management and the importance of forest certification.
Nepal moves towards forest certification
In 2016, we stepped up our activities in the country through the financial support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. Thanks to this, we have begun working with the country’s stakeholders as they establish a Nepalese national forest certification system aligned with PEFC’s international requirements.
The first step brought together multiple stakeholders from community, regional and national levels to begin the draft of a national forest management standard for the country. This standard will be tailored to Nepal’s unique conditions and will build the technical capacity required for the long-term functioning of the certification system.
A National Governing Body was established to lead the standard-setting process and take responsibility for the certification system in the long-term. Green Foundation Nepal, a well-established organization within the country, took on this role.
Once drafted, the national standard will be pilot tested in different regions of the country with the cooperation of select villages and community user groups. In doing so, the project will ensure the involvement of local villages and increase awareness of certification among surrounding communities.
Upon a successful pilot test and completion of the national certification system documentation, sustainable forest management and forest certification will be well positioned to expand throughout Nepal.