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Changing policies and the persistence of patron-client relations in Nepal

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 09:10 AM
Contributors: Y. B. Malla

SUMMARY: Since the 1950s, Nepal has changed national forestry policies to include community forestry. When these policy changes were drafted, each held promise of making forests accessible to communities for protection and management. However, the results in this regard have been mixed and improvement is uneven across the country. Importantly, many community members have not benefited from, and some have been negatively impacted by, community forestry policies since they do not empower poor individuals and those with little political influence. The mixed results of the policies seem to follow trends that have been established in Nepal’s history of forest and land management. Many stakeholders have conflicting forest management views. Historically and currently, stakeholders with political power and wealth have influenced forestry policies and the allocation of benefits that result from management. This continues to increase hardship on poorer forest users. Based on history and current trends, the authors propose five themes that should be noted as policy reforms and forestry aid continue: The history of Nepal’s forest management strongly influences current conditions and project success; There is a wide array of stakeholders, including some who have gone unrecognized and some whose prestige derives from their land holdings; The government is a stakeholder, not a neutral party; The underlying objectives of stakeholders, not just their identities, need to be addressed; A network of alliances among stakeholders exists, which can cause far-reaching and unplanned affects of policy changes. Due to flawed policy-making and lack of recognition of these themes, Nepal’s forest resources and rural living conditions continue to deteriorate: the very problem that the policies were intended to address.

Author(s): Y. B. Malla

Location: Nepal

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