A news story has it that widespread and heavy deforestation has taken place in a far off village of Dang district, raising alarm in the area. The deforestation process has intensified in Purandhara village of Dang district because of the negligence on the part of the concerned authorities that are responsible for protecting the forest. According to the local residents, as reported in the newspaper, a nexus of and collaboration between the forest officials and local activists of different political parties has accelerated the process of deforestation in the area. This indeed is a very serious matter because the ones who are responsible for protecting the forests are aiding and abetting deforestation for personal benefit. This speaks of the failure on the part of the government in taking necessary action against those involved in the deforestation process. The Purandhara case is just one example, but such cases are taking place across the country. As a result, the country is seeing massive deforestation at this time of political transition. Also in the past, Nepalís precious forests fast depleted especially during times of political instability and transition.
Until a few decades ago, Nepal had heavy forests in the southern Terai belt and good crown cover in the mountainous region. But we do not have even the minimum crown cover at the moment due to heavy and massive deforestation in the past. The forests were cleared for personal benefit under political patronage. This is because the peopleís participation in forest conservation was non-existent. The protection of the forests was the sole business of the government. As a result, unscrupulous elements under the patronage of the politicians and political parties destroyed the forests. But the situation changed over the decades as the people got more conscious and organised in protecting their forest resources. Communities took the initiative to plant trees, protect and manage the forests. As a result, the once barren and deserted lands both in the Terai and mountainous areas are now green with forest, thanks to the community efforts in plantation and forest conservation. This has not only helped increase the greenery but also helped in the livelihood of the local people.
People in the villages are more dependent on the forest resources for their livelihood, and any destruction of forest resources only makes their life and survival difficult. Nepalís community forests are a model for the world. This is the approach to mobilise people at the local level in building, conserving and managing the forests, which has developed a sense of ownership among the people. The people have taken up the initiative and forest users groups have been created in most of the villages. These initiatives and activities are definitely praiseworthy, which must be further strengthened and expanded. Any activity to destroy the community forests and other forest resources for the short-term gains of some people in the community must be penalised severely. The government cannot be a mute spectator to the ongoing rape of our forest resources.