Project for Developing National Forest Certification Standard

Project Introduction
Project name : Project for Developing National Forest Certification Standard in Nepal
Focal area: Biodiversity conservation
Implementing organization: Nepal Foresters’ Association
Start up date: June 2006
Duration: 2 years
Location: National
Total project cost:
UNDP/GEF/SGP support: US$ 28,510
NSCFP/SDC support: NRs. 758,450
BISEP-ST/SNV: NRs.500, 000

The overall objective of this project is to undertake formulation of national forest certification standards, get accreditation from international certification bodies, and promote forest certification in Nepal .

Specific objectives
1. Develop holistic activity plan for the national working group;

2. Formulate national standards for sustainable forest and forest certification that are acceptable to international arena;

3. Facilitate and conduct action research and pilot programmes to test the relevance national forest certification standards at least in three ecoregions;

4. Establish linkage and get accreditation from international certification authorities and institutions like FSC and other relevant institutions;

5. Share and learn experiences in forest certification in national and international level through workshop and seminars;

Anticipated Results
- Awareness and interest level of different stakeholders on forest certification in Nepal increased.
-  Forest certification national working group is operational as per the requirement of international systems.
- A comprehensive national standard on forest certification is drafted and agreed upon by stakeholders of Nepal .
-  Forest certification process is initiated for new community forest user groups in line with good forest stewardship.
- Impact of pilot area and certified forests are studied.
- A brief report of the proposed project prepared and copies distributed to concerned stakeholders.

Implementation Structure
Nepal Foresters’ Association is the main institution involved in implementation, while National Working Group in Forest Certification works as a supporting organization. A steering committee is planned to establish to monitor & guide the project implementation team. The steering committee would consist of representatives from NFA and other supporting institutions. Chairperson of NFA or person designated by him would be coordinator of the steering committee.

Forest certification national working group is mainly responsible for providing technical and procedural support to the project. Coordinator of the project implementation team is Mr. Kumud Shrestha. He also serves as the member secretary of the steering committee.

Project area
The project has national coverage. The project has been planned for implementation in Bara, Parbat, Dolakha, Ramechhap and Okhaldhunga districts.

The project deemed necessary because the Integrated Human Ecology Project (IHEP)) in Parbat district has already been completed and to retain the local capacity of the stakeholders that was developed, the programme has been continued. The project has planned to replicate and expand `local forest certification initiatives of Parbat district to develop national forest certification standard in Nepal and get accreditation from international certification bodies.

For testing national standard of Nepal , the project has been planned in three ecological zones of Nepal . Dolakha, Ramechhap and Okhaldhunga districts are the high altitude piloting areas. Bara district has been selected for piloting in terai area. While, Parbat district has been selected for piloting in mid hill area.

Proposed activities
The local level activities will be implemented in the selected project districts. A draft national standard will be subject for testing at field level and it will provide feedback to the national process, while the national process assists to finalize the national standard. To finalize the national standard, we need a strong national institution, interim working group of Nepal , acceptable to stakeholders & FSC. The national institution prepares methodology for drafting and endorsement of the national standard of Nepal , after adequate consultation with stakeholders and FSC.

However, the project is operating in little resources. Presently, support is needed to initiate dialogue on processes and promoting forest certification in Nepal .

National Standard Development stages
National standard is important in the context of the biodiversity rich countries like Nepal, because it gives countries more flexibility to interpret international principles in local context ultimately leading to gradual & continuous improvement in the process of sustainable forest management from social, environmental and economic perspectives. Because the standard is made from the participation of stakeholders, all have ownership on national standards and will be acceptable to all stakeholders.

A taskforce will be at first entitled to draft national standard of Nepal . The team will draft a preliminary copy of the forest management standard of Nepal from the review of national standards of different countries. The field level standard implementation and testing activities will provide feedback to the national process of finalization of national standard.

To finalize the national standard, we need a national institution acceptable to stakeholders’ & FSC. A strong national institution accredited from FSC is required to take lead for national standard finalization. In order to accomplish this, the first step is working group accreditation and the next step is preparation of national standard acceptable to all stakeholders’.

The standard developed by the working group will be used to certify forests in Nepal as a proof of sustainable forest management. Applications of these standards are expected to manage the forests in Nepal in better way from social, economic and environmental perspectives. This will give benefit to Nepalese forest products providing easy access to international market and will bring improvement in the quality of forest management. Also, it is expected to promote pro-poor forestry in Nepal .

Target beneficiaries
The target beneficiaries of the project are the private sector working in forestry, NTFP and forest-based industries, community forest user groups, and NGOs. The Other beneficiaries include the local government, different government agencies (Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Ministry of Environment, Industry, Departments under MFSC, DFOs) etc), academic institutions, international NGOs, development partners, FNCCI, and environmental journalists.