Nepal has experienced a significant shift in promoting forest-based enterprises of various scales. Local communities (including community forest user groups) and smallholders are using their proprietary rights to initiate a variety of forest-based enterprises, including timber processing, tourism activities, and small firms that process and market both timber and non-timber forest products. Studies show that communities and smallholders can develop and manage profitable small-scale forest enterprises, based on sustainable forest management provided favorable environment and incentives are in place.
Forest-based enterprise has been contributing to livelihoods, food security, and rural development overall. Forest-based enterprise has also proven to deliver economic benefits to certain sections of the community including women and marginalized groups who have remained deprived of economic opportunities. The creation of jobs and employment through mobilisation of the locals has contributed at an inidivual level, while the income made through enterprises has allowed communities to promote their collective interest. The role of forest-based enterprises also remains crucial in achieving green recovery, at the same time contribute to the promotion of low carbon technology. Most importantly, the Government of Nepal’s “Forestry for Prosperity” motto is positive for establishment of forest-based enterprises in the country.
Nevertheless, the potential for promoting forest-based enterprises is yet to be fully realized as obstacles to this transition still exist at various fronts. This is particularly visible in case where economic empowerment of local communities including women, poor, and marginalised groups through such enterprise is strived for. As we progress in the changing socio-political contexts, it would be meaningful to reflect upon the experiences, initiatives, innovations and pressing challenges pertaining to achieving economic empowerment through forest-based enterprises in Nepal.
This special issue of Journal of Forest and Livelihood aims to capture various dimensions of policies, practices and outcomes of forest-based enterprises in Nepal and would like to invite for contributions based on critical reflections and practical experiences on the subject. Following are the suggested themes, which are by no means exhaustive;
– Gender and social inclusion in forest-based enterprise
– Forest-based enterprise and economic empowerment
– Forest-based enterprise and green economy
– Opportunities and barriers in promoting forest-based enterprise in Nepal
– Forest-based enterprise and private sector
– Political-economy of forest-based enterprise