Banke forests run by women are well-managed


Janaki:  "Forest has boosted my confidence. What I am today is due to forest," said Uma Oli Basnet, chairperson of the Trishakti community forest users' group at Raptisonari Rural Municipality-8 in Banke district. Besides, forest has also brought economic prosperity to her.    
Established in 2066 BS, the community forest is being run by women in the leadership, something which male dominance reportedly disapproves of. In the first place, the community influenced by male dominance did not believe in our strength, said the 40-year-old woman. "In the beginning, people in the society did not accept us. But, we did not give up. We continued our job with disciplines. We ignored those who wanted to drag us down and continued our work in unity. Now, we are leading the forest."    
She has been at the helm of the chairpersonship of the community forest users' group for three consecutive terms.    
Now, there are 219 consumers associated with the community forest users' group. The forest was expanded as a scientific forest since 2073 BS, she said. Under the internal consumption, over 5,700 cubic feet timbers have been distributed to consumers annually, according to her. Besides, the community forest has been providing timbers to the poor people, and for the construction purpose like the construction of roads, bridges and toilets, she said.    
Work experiences have made her confident and matured, said Basnet who is a SLC graduate. Comparatively, the forest users group has now been economically prosperous, she said. The forest spans over 196 hectares of land, and the users' group has a caretaker and an office assistant. Like every year, 17,441 cubic feet timbers have been cut down. "Trees have been cut down after holding a meeting three or four times. We are very sensitive when it comes to cutting down trees. We hold a meeting three or four times, and fulfill our responsibilities," she said.    
Dila KC, 44, is leading the Harlaphanta community forest users' group at the rural municipality-2. She is at the helm of the chairpersonship of the community forest users' group for the past 12 years. "Consumers of the forest have liked my way of work. So, I have taken up the responsibility of leading the forest users' group. I have been honestly fulfilling my duty as the chairperson of the group."    
"I was naive about forest when I took up the responsibility as the chairperson of the forest users' group. Now, I have learned all tricks about the job."    
Economic aspects of a community forest users' group run by women have been comparatively strong than the one run by men, she viewed. As per the scientific forestry around 7,000 cubic feet timbers have been cut down so far, she said. The consumers have also got firewood and forest products. Of 7,000 cubic feet timbers cut down, around 900 cubic feet have been distributed to consumers, she said. The working committee of the forest users' group has 15 office bearers including four advisors.    
"Auctioning the remaining timbers has yet to be decided as the process of collecting details of internal consumption has not concluded," she said. The Jhijhari women community forest users' group at the rural municipality-9 is also run by women. The forest users' groups run by women have become more effective and well-managed, said Sushila Subedi, chief of the Shumshergunj Sub Division Forest Office, Ovari. "Women are themselves the persons who can be trusted. They are more disciplined and dedicated than men," she said.    
So far, around 195,000 cubic feet timbers have been collected for use and distribution, she said. Of them, 25 percent forest products have been allocated for the forest product supply committee, and the remaining will be auctioned, she added. There are 19 community forests, one religious forest and one 'Chakala' forest managed by the government under the Sub Division Forest Office. Of 19 community forests, 11 are being managed through the sustainable forest management. As per the sustainable forest management, approximately 60,000 people have worked at the job of cutting down and supplying timbers, she said. Additionally, four technicians have got a job at forests.    
Women being at the helm of the leadership in these forest users' groups have indicated that women are competent and capable if provided with opportunities, said Ganesh Khadka, assistant forest officer at the district division forest office, Banke.    
"It requires hassles during the course of cutting down trees. Women are fulfilling their responsibility simultaneously at home and forest," he said. The three community forests being operated by women are well-managed, he said.    
The aim of consumer forest users' groups is to create job opportunities at local levels, and increase forest products, he said. Apart from carrying out reforms in the conservation of biological diversity and contributing to economy at provincial and national levels, community forests help consumers by generating income sources and providing firewood and other forest products in an easy way and creating job opportunities at local levels, according to him. The management of forests through the scientific system leads to the intensive management of forests, he said.