Forest Rights Program

The First Rights Program (FRP) sought to establish access to forest resources as a right of the people, as stipulated in the Community Forestry Provisions drafted by the Government, while making the people’s responsibility to protect the forest clear. With the financial assistance of Churia Forest Development Project (ChFDP) of GTZ, work began in the project area in 2001. FRP supported local NGOs to equip community forest user groups (CFUGs) with the necessary social understanding, legal information and technical skills to strengthen community forestry. The aim of FRP was to enable the targeted communities to reap the harvest in an equitable way while taking charge of the protection of forests for sustainable use.

Approach

Viewing community forest as a user’s right, FRP worked together with local NGOs, providing them with hands on trainings, workshops, study tours and on-the-spot coaching. This enabled them to support vulnerable communities, especially women, dalits, janajatis and socio-economically disadvantaged groups of people to demand community forests from the forest offices and to manage them. FRP worked to build social capital for community forestry and advanced forest-based economic opportunities, particularly for and with marginalized groups of people. It sought to generate support in favour of forest users by sensitizing local governments in the process of acquiring community forests to their plight, and by monitoring the management of the community forests and the distribution of the resulting benefits.

FRP also built bridges between the government and other stakeholders in the community forestry process. It further sought to build networks for solidarity in order to promote the exchange of experiences and ideas and protect the interests of the forest users.

Trainings, workshops, exposure visits and on-the-spot coaching were the main activities of FRP. The program’s approach and delivery were refined over time as the experiences and feedback of stakeholders were accommodated. Expansion and intensification of the work took place, based on discussions with ChFDP coupled with the positive feedback that was received from the forest users. 

Achievements

The program’s achievements include:
  • Enhanced capacity of several local collaborating NGOs (CNGOs)
  • Increased number of local NGOs started work on community forestry
  • Community forest users asserting their rights over the community forests
  • The establishment of community forestry resource persons, including Dalit resources persons and gender resource persons
  • Increased inclusion, access and influence  in the work of CFUGs for Dalits and women
  • Creation of sustainable forest-based income generation opportunities
For the first time in Nepal, FRP introduced bael sorbet, a marketable finished product for underutilized wild bael fruits, in collaboration with CNGOs and Alternative Herbal Products. Bael fruit (Aegle marmelos) was one underutlized in the area as well as in other parts of the country. It is widely found in Churia and surrounding areas, and was threatened with overexploitation by local industries (for the making of bricks and tiles and the drying of tobacco) due to its use as fire wood.
 
Two local initiatives for processing bael fruits to produce bael sorbet (under the brand name Marmelous) were started in collaboration with AHP in 2002. A number of organizations (including the DF Office in Baglung and Sarlahi, CARE-Nepal, SDC, and BDS-MaPS) came to visit the enterprises and learned about the commercial processing of bael fruits. Later, several organizations (inclduing BDS-MaPS, AEC/FNCCI-ICUC- FECOFUN, LFP/SLOVE Nepal, ITDG Nepal, GEM-Nepal, SDC, and WWF-Tal) started promoting bael processing enterprises in different parts of the country. The government also began supporting community-based bael fruit processing enterprises in Siraha district under its One Village One Product (OVOP) program. When the bael fruits started providing employment opportunities locally, local people stopped cutting down the trees for firewood and started conserving it.

Partners

International

  • Churia Forest Development Project (ChFDP)/GTZ

National

  • Churia Forest Development Project (ChFDP)/GTZ
  • Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN)

District

  • Samaj Seba Kendra, Chaudandi- 4, Udayapur
  • Jagriti Club, Hadiya- 7, Udayapur
  • Janajagriti Yuba Samuha, Jogidaha- 8, Udayapur
  • FECOFUN-Udayapur, Gaighat, Udayapur
  • Jalpa Yuba Samuha, Jalpa Chilaune- 3, Udayapur
  • Udayapur Ekata Bikas Kendra, Katari- 4, Udayapur
  • Chetanshil Mahila Samuha, Tribeni- 6, Udayapur
  • Everest Memorial Yuba Club, Badaharamala- 7, Siraha
  • Udaya Yuba Club, Chandralalpur- 6, Siraha
  • FECOFUN-Siraha, Golbazaar, Siraha
  • Himalaya Yuba Club, Muksar- 7, Siraha
  • Samaj Seba Samiti, Dhodana- 9, Siraha
  • Batabaran Samrakshan Kon, Hardiya- 9, Saptari
  • Shreepuraj Yuba Club, Kusaha- 2, Saptari
  • Gaunle Jagaran Samaj, Mahuli- 9, Saptari
  • FECOFUN-Saptari, Mahuli, Saptari
  • Lotus Youth Club, Fattepur- 3, Saptari

Local

  • Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs)
  • Community-based enterprises such as bael fruit processing enterprises
  • Dalit-focused networks
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