A team of researchers including Dr. Steven Lawry, a Senior Associate at CIFOR’s Equity, Gender and Tenure research program and Dr. Naya Sharma Paudel, Dr. Mani Ram Banjade, Mr. Kamal Bhandari, Mr. Anukram Adhikari and Ms. Gyanu Maya Tamang from ForestAction visited Ichhyadevi sawmill in Sindhupalchowk district, on 5th August, 2019. The primary purpose of the visit was to have a better understanding on the history, present status, challenges of operation and ways to overcome those challenges and future prospects of the sawmill. Several key informant interviews with CFUG officials was conducted during the visit.
The Ichhyadevi sawmill was established in 2002 in Shreechhap CFUG of Sindhupalchowk district. Initially, the groups (Lampate, Gaurati, Bhagwati, Chhapal Danda, Mahadev and Shreechha), with pine forest, decided on the joint ownership of sawmill. However, attributing to the regulatory provisions and lengthy requirements to market the products, the CFUGs declined to continue the joint ownership of sawmill. Currently, sawmill is solely owned by Shreechhap CFUG. Later, some scores of timber selling could not be settled and also due to the legal requirements, the CFUG stopped operating it for several years. Following the devastating earthquake in 2015, the high demand for timber for the reconstruction compelled the groups to revive the once ceased sawmill.
In the present context, the executive committee members of Shreechhap CF are considering to select 8-10 forest user members and provide them with trainings on furniture production. This is expected to maintain a regular operation of sawmill, in addition to providing jobs for the locals and also fulfill the furniture demand of villagers.
The community friendly saw mill operation needs policy discussions for amendments that would ease the present grassroot market and legal complications that CFUG are facing.