Forest management plans in Nepal’s community forests: Does one size fit all?

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Technical forest management plans are prerequisites for obtaining forest management rights by community forest user groups in Nepal. However, the relevance of such plans and the rationale for accepting them remain unexplored. Using a multiple-case-study approach, we examine the contents of the silvicultural prescriptions, and the relevance of these prescriptions in day-to-day forest management, and assess the reasons for accepting or rejecting the plans. To do so, we conducted content analysis of 34 plans, direct observations of forest management activities and semistructured interviews, informal conversations, and focus group discussions in nine selected community forest user groups. We also interviewed representatives of the Nepalese forest bureaucracy. We found that the silvicultural prescriptions were identical in all plans and that they were not guided by forest management objectives, forest conditions, and the socioeconomic conditions of the users. Moreover, neither the forest users nor the forest bureaucracy made use of the plans and the prescriptions in forest management. However, both groups accept the plans, albeit for different reasons. The users accept the plans because they considered them necessary in order to gain access to the forest resource, while for the forest bureaucracy, the plan serves as a tool for regaining power and authority over the forest. We argue that there is a need for a closer fit between the management plans and the social, economic, and ecological realities they are embedded in.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSmall-Scale Forestry
Pages (from-to)483–504
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Decentralized forest management, Forest access, Forest bureaucracy, Power, Silvicultural prescriptions

ID: 244957401