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Community forests in Pemagatshel doing well
Gyembo Namgyal, January 29, 2014
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Farmers of Nangkhor in Pemagatshel gathered to prepare plantation work and to assess management requirements at Kunphen Drongde Nagtshel.

Kunphen Drongde Nagtshel, the year-old 65-acre community forest (CF), is located between Yalang and Khar.

CFs in Pemagatshel are doing well with no major management issues, said the dzongkhag’s forest extension officer, Sonam Zangpo. There have been reports from others dzongkhags of serious management issues leading to temporary suspension of formation of new CFs.

One of the oldest CF in the dzongkhag, managed by Shali village in Shumar gewog generated about Nu 210,000.

CFs in the dzongkhags, said Sonam Zangpo, will now be ranked using various parameters to instill a sense of good and healthy competition.

“There is still feeling among people that CFs are solely for economic purpose. There are some CFs that are for watershed protection and others for land reclamations and conservation,” said Sonam Zangpo, emphasising the need to educate the people.

“We realized how important it is for our future generations to have a forest that they can call their own because others will not allow encroachment of any kind in their CF,” said Cheku a farmer from Shumar village.

Sonam Zangpo said that while the establishment of new CFs is being suspended, it gives the department and sector time to address shortcomings of present CF management rules and regulations and improve by-laws to deal with emerging challenges. There is a need to introduce imposition of a uniform royalty in all CFs. Crucial issue remains as to who should be the one to make hammer marks to prevent unsustainable harvesting of timber.

Another important issue that needs to be resolved at the national level, said Sonam Zangpo, is cross border CFs based on traditional rights. He said that some people in one gewog have traditional rights over part of land in another gewog. This creates establishment of a CF difficult.

In order to enable CF management members to discharge their responsibilities effectively, the sector is in the process of preparing management plans in Dzongkha.

There are a total of 38 CFs in Pemagatshel covering an area of about 2,694.46 hectares of forest land.

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