Saturday, 18 August 2012
Certification brings the market to the mountains
FSC certification of community forests helps access international markets for non-timber forest products and leads to better forest management.
High in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, the Malika enterprise produced the first FSC certified handmade paper in the world in 2005. Today, FSC certification continues to help improve the management of forests and the livelihoods of communities that depend on them, with 22 forest user groups managing 14,145 hectares of certified forests, and eight enterprises with chain of custody certification.
Besides paper, some 24 non-timber forest products are now harvested and transformed into essential oils, Ayurvedic medicines and health supplements, and a variety of other herbal medicines and beauty products, for sale in international markets.
Forests are an integral part of local people’s livelihoods as they have harvested fuelwood, fodder, medicinal plants, fruits and more since time immemorial, says Dhana Lama, executive committee member of the Bhitteri Pakha
community forest group. “Introduction of certification made people aware of sustainable forest management. Now they understand that forests and their biodiversity are very important and they should use it in a sustainable manner….We are proud that we are part of the certification pool that has helped to raise economic impacts on ground level.”
The Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources (ANSAB) introduced FSC certification in Nepal to promote responsible forest management and help user groups develop economically viable and socially responsible forest enterprises. A unique blend of industry, government, NGOs, communities and forest certifiers created the Private Public Alliance (PPA) on the Certification and Sustainable Marketing of Non-timber Forest Products. This led to the development of interim FSC certification standards for timber and non-timber forest products, a group certification model, and huge awareness raising and capacity building efforts. The Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN) acts as resource manager for the groups and holds the FSC certification on their behalf.
The chair of FECOFUN, Ms Apsara Chapagain, is convinced of the value of FSC certification. “All certified community forests are better in terms of participation, benefit sharing, decision-making and fund utilization,” she says. Governance and transparency in the communities have been strengthened and “issues of indigenous, disadvantaged people have been well addressed.” Ms Chapagain also highlights the positive environmental impacts, especially on water sources, biodiversity and soil conservation, while certified products are also sold at better prices than before.
Certified forests in the Dolahka district of Nepal (photo: ANSAB)
Women cleaning Lokta bark, Dolaka, Nepal (photo: ANSAB)
Two more photos with captions in folder.
Shiva S Pandey ANSAB, shivapandey at ansab point org
Bhishma Subedi, ANSAB, bhishmasubedi at ansab point org