Wood is the basic source of raw materials for sawmills, furniture, plywood, wooden handicrafts, paper industries and construction industries. They require a variety of different types of wood. As Nepal is endowed with a wide range, from subtropical to alpine wood, the timber industry seems to have a bright future.
Contrary to the huge deposits of wood available in Nepali forests, imports of wood and semi-finished goods have increased over the last 12 years with an average annual increase of 29.88 percent. In Fiscal Year 2019/20, Nepal imported wood worth about Rs 5 billion which was a mere Rs 590 million in FY 2008/09.
Given the availability of huge deposits of wood in Nepali forests and a growing demand for such products, Nepal should formulate a proper policy for the sustainable exploitation of forest-based products. It will help slow the pace of skyrocketing imports, generate employment in the forest industry and develop a strong foundation for the forest-based industry in Nepal.
This requires a judicious management of public and private forests, instead of the extremist way that has been followed so far. On one extreme is the conservationist thinking that does not allow any use at all of forest resources. And on the other is the extreme exploitative practice that is causing reckless depletion of forest cover on even critical areas. Finding a right balance and laying down a sustainable system that allows continuous drawing of the resources from the forests while ensuring sufficient natural replenishment of the resources should be drawn out.
It will help to control skyrocketing import, generate employment in forestry and develop strong foundation of forest-based industry in Nepal. More importantly, it will also help improve the soil quality in farm land and provide space for livestock farming based on natural resource rather than on industrial feed that needs a lot of food grains which otherwise would be available for reducing hunger.