KOHALPUR, June 10: Government officials and concerned authorities of Jay Durga Community Forest Users Group (CFUG), Kanchanpur and national forest area of Shamshergunj have been found involved in haphazardly chopping trees against the existing laws.
In 2015, the government of Nepal had introduced an eighty-year work plan for the scientific management of forest, according to which the locals had the permission to chop trees which have survived for more than eighty years. But the government had strictly warned of taking action against anyone who would cut down trees against the law. Despite the strict warning of the government, there has been rampant deforestation in Kachanapur.
In the name of protecting, preserving and utilizing the forest, officials of CFUG and District Forest Office (DFO) have been found selecting and cutting down tall Sal trees within 100 meters from the road and residential areas. As per the rule imposed by the government, there should be proper study and research of forest along with calculation and numbering of trees before chopping down the trees. However, forest officials are randomly cutting down trees without following the code just to make sure they can become good timber.
This has made the forest look hollow and open. The government had permitted to cut old and fallen trees for proper rotation and regeneration of forest. The aim of the Ministry of Forest to conduct such program was to properly manage forest so that consumers can take as much benefit as possible.
Meanwhile, Hari Pyakurel, coordinator of the Forest Management and Coordination Committee (FMCC) as well as Local Development Officer of the district said that he is completely unaware about the haphazard chopping of trees. Locals have accused the CFUG and forest officials of cutting trees for their vested interest without informing the consumers and the higher-ups. Pyakurel has assured of raising this issue in the upcoming meeting of the committee.
The locals have accused the officials of cutting down trees since May 16. They claimed that the officials have chopped trees that would fetch them high value in the market. The locals have expressed their concerns exploitation of the forest in the name of scientific forest management. But no political parties have yet raised their voices against it.
Despite objection from the Federation of Community Forest Users (FCFU), and Community Forest Committee, forest officials have continued with the chopping unabated.
Prabhat Dahal, in-charge of Sector Forest Office, Kachanapur informed that there have been preparations to cut 374 trees in Jayadurga CFUG and 336 trees in the national forest of Shamshergunj. He further informed that they will soon begin cutting old trees in Ashok Community Forest of Kachanapur as well.
The government has announced to provide a grant of Rs 1.5 million to each forest for its scientific management. The plan which was introduced to reduce deforestation and protect forest is actually bringing more trouble. No new trees are planted in place of the old trees, resulting in the forest becoming empty.
Out of the total earning of the forest, 25% is invested for forest management while 35% is invested on various programs aimed to increase the income and status of poor and marginalized community dependent on the forest. The rest is used for development purpose as per the policy of community forest.