Mr. Dhana Lama

Community forestry began in the Dolakha district approximately 15 years ago, when the government handed over the management of forest areas to local people. After about five or six years, the Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs) located in the Bhimeshowr Forest area began to reorganize themselves to begin implementing projects. They felt that the forest resources could be better used and they conducted a resource inventory of six different potential species. Dhana Lama, the Managing District of the Bhimeshowr NTFP Processing Pvt. Ltd, noted that “we [the CFUGs] started thinking about how we could use all the open forest spaces to help people.”  He went on to note that “what we really wanted to do was improve people’s economic benefits by improving forest conditions.”

The CFUGs started consulting with NGOs and chose ANSAB to help them perform a resource inventory and create a management plan. First, ANSAB organized a training workshop to assist the community in transforming how they thought about the forest and brainstorm on what the business possibilities might be. The community decided to further develop handmade paper activities, which were already traditionally occurring in the region.

In the past, communities only used timber for their basic needs and contracted out other community forest resources such as Non-timber Forest Products (NTFPs). “Before,” explained Dhana, “contractors would look sustainable on paper, but in reality they were often cutting twice as much in the field than what they said they were cutting.” Another issue was that “traditionally, enterprises in the area used to make handmade paper by using fire to dry the forest products, which was a forest hazard.”

“We are pioneers,” said Dhana. “We decided to harvest Lokta bark on a widespread basis to make paper, but by putting sustainable harvesting practices in place. Last year we harvested 600 kg of Lokta,” noted Dhana, “but this year it increased to 1,041 kg and although we are harvesting more every year, the Lokta is bigger, taller, and more abundant than in the past.” Monitoring exercises done by the enterprise have also shown that, despite the increased harvesting, the community forest actually now has more Lokta than ever. “It’s better now that our harvesting process is systematized. We can concentrate on harvesting from just one area rather than going to far away places because we now have a forest management system.”

He went on to explain that “we formed a subgroup to engage poor residents on conservation and we allocated land to them so they could plant cash crops such as Arigelli, Cardamom, and Potatoes.” In fact, 10% of the enterprises’ shares are also given to the forest dependent poor. “We have a revolving activity fund for the ultra poor and we have established a system on how to determine poverty status.”

With its new found skills from the ANSAB trainings on management and marketing information systems and ANSAB’s guidance in creating annual plans, Dhana Lama may even have the opportunity to go to Bhutan and teach others in South Asia the techniques he has acquired.