FSC national standard development in Nepal: Update on process and progress

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has recently revised and approved International Generic Indicators (IGIs) for using in a consistent way across the world and strengthening the credibility of the FSC system. The IGI incorporates wide range of ecosystem services which are not adequately covered under sustainable forest management certification before, which is one of the key achievements of this project. Based on the IGI, Nepal has been developing the national forest certification standards.  ANSAB has been coordinating the process in Nepal under the Forest Certification for Ecosystem Services (ForCES) project that has been implemented in partnership with FSC with Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN), National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) and Relief International (RI).

The national standard development process in Nepal has been chaired by Dr. Bhishma P. Subedi, Executive Director of ANSAB, and includes nine Standard Development Group (SDG) members representing social, economic and environmental chambers. A committee representing ANSAB, FECOFUN, NTNC and Chief of Foreign Aid Division from the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) selected the SDG members of the participants of a national level workshop on forest certification for ecosystem services organized in September 2015, where the key stakeholders of forestry sector in the country approved the members in consensus. Selection of the members was based on their capacities/interests as such good understanding on ES and ES certification, sound academic background, working on led position in the organization. A public call for the SDG members was made through a national newspaper and ANSAB’s website. To support the national standard development process, the workshop also formed a consultative forum of over 50 members representing social, economic and environmental interests. The consultative forum includes individuals and representatives of organizations affected by the standard, and reflects full range  of stakeholders. The forum provides comments and suggestions at each stage of the standard development process.

The SDG members met and worked on the respective principles, criteria, indicators and means of verifications, and provided their inputs for drafting the national standard in over 10 chamber-based and inter-chamber meetings. Mr. Govinda Paudel has been involved in compiling the draft from each chamber, which was then integrated in the form of FSC National Stewardship Standard (NFSS) draft 1.0. The first draft was under public consultation for 60 days, and was shared in a national standard development group’s workshop organized in July 2016 in Kathmandu. Incorporating feedbacks and comments on the draft, the standard is being field tested. After incorporating the findings, the standard will be shared for public consultation and will be finalized, which is expected to be approved as FSC national standard for certification of forest and ecosystem services in Nepal by December 2016.