Nepal Importing Timber worth Millions due to Policy Hurdles

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Nepal Importing Timber worth Millions due to Policy Hurdles

February 6: Government data shows that a large amount of wood and timber products are imported every year from abroad. In the fiscal year (FY) 2077/78, wood and wood products worth Rs 15.18 billion were imported into Nepal. Meanwhile in FY 2078/79, this amount increased to Rs 17.82 billion, where the import of wood alone worth Rs 7.45 billion.

In six months of the current fiscal year (FY 2079/80), wood worth Rs 2.76 billion is already imported. This amount of wood import has shocked many people. Import of such a large amount of wood from abroad when Nepal itself is rich in forest resources, cannot be considered normal. It also points towards the need for a review of the policies adopted by the country.

According to the Ministry of Forests, more than 45 percent of the total land area of Nepal is covered by forests where 41 percent of area has trees and the remaining 4 percent has other plants. According to the business organization involved in this sector, Nepal needs 100 million cubic feet of wood annually. However, in the last FY 2078/79, it seems that only 21.2 million cubic feet of wood was produced from the forests of Nepal.

Kapil Adhikari, chairman of Federation of Forest Based Industry and Trade Nepal (FenFit) says that the problem is mainly policy and procedural hurdles.

He said, “If the policy hurdle is to be removed, the timber produced in the country can be consumed here and exported abroad as well.”

The government introduced the Scientific Forest Management Procedure, 2014 to deal with the difficult supply system of wood and the need to import wood from abroad. The procedure mentioned that the forest will be managed in a community, with partnership and pooling approach. After the implementation of the procedure, it was estimated that there would be no need to import wood, but the procedure was canceled in 2020 after complaints of widespread deforestation.

Forest management expert Bijay Subedi says that the scientific forest management procedure, 2014 had to be scrapped as the general public did not understand the procedure.

He said, “It was a good procedure with neither policy error nor implementation problem. Common people took the cutting of forest trees as deforestation. There was a weakness in explaining the real meaning. Later, the procedure was canceled based on the complaints.”

After the cancellation of the Scientific Forest Management Procedure, 2071, cutting of trees stopped in more than 800 forests of the country for 3 years. The Ministry of Forest prepared the National Standard for Sustainable Forest Management, 2078, to facilitate the supply of wood from forests within the country smoothly. That too is yet to be implemented.

Megh Nath Kafle, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Forest also admits that there is a problem in wood collection and due to the high price of wood while businessmen complain of the problem in distribution. He said, “We formed a team to investigate the issue of wood produced in Nepal not getting a market. A report has been prepared.” He said that all these matters have been delayed due to the lack of ministers and secretaries in the ministry and will go to the implementation stage after their appointment. 


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