Community Forestry Support Project

Community-based forest management has been expanding rapidly in Bhutan, driven by growing interests of rural communities to establish community forests. This drive continues to be supported by the forestry sector of the government of Bhutan and other stakeholders in the country. 
In the beginning of transfer of management rights and responsibilities to local communities through Community Forest Management Groups, the approach was one of caution. The sustainability of forest resources was seen to be a risk if handed over to local communities to manage. Over time, and especially from mid-2000 onwards, the community forestry programme received support and encouragement, leading to a rapid increase in number of community forestry management groups and corresponding community forests approved for their management. Capacity development of local communities and staff from the forestry sector in the central forestry department and districts, and development of relevant policy and legal framework, management systems and procedures began in earnest. This process was supported through the Participatory Forest Management Project, a Royal Government of Bhutan-Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation partnership project which has been implemented from 2002 till 2017 by HELVETAS. As on June 2017, there are 695 groups managing community forests and 138 groups managing non wood forest products. Together, they make up about 40% of all rural households in the country, a considerable part of civil society engagement.
With the growth in numbers and area covered, there are encouraging examples as well as growing interest in managing community forests more actively to generate economic benefits. This corresponds to support from the Department of Forests and Park Services to build on potentials to generate income and reduce poverty through management of community forests and non wood forest products. Efforts in this direction have already begun but needs further support. Additionally, the social capital within the groups and the potential for them to network for economic and social gains has not been fully explored. Therefore, a consolidation phase is planned so that: a) groups generate benefits strengthening processing and marketing of forest products; b) collaboration amongst groups are promoted through networking; and c) documenting key lessons and experiences, and consolidating approaches and tools, and systems and processes for the future uptake and sustenance of initiatives.  

The consolidation phase (July 2017-June 2018) is financed by HELVETAS and will be implemented jointly with the Social Forestry and Extension Division of the Department of Forests and Park Services. A project agreement to this effect has been signed between the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) and HELVETAS on 28th July 2017.

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Comments

1 Bhola Pathak October 30, 2017 - 09:22
Community-based forest management is the one of successful program in Nepal. I would like to request for funding in this program.