Multi-use Forest Management in the Community Forests

A few decades back around the whole world, forest management used to focus mainly on the productive aspects of forest ecosystems, disregarding additional ecosystem functions, goods, and services. All these occur due to inadequate knowledge to calculate and value additional functions, goods, and services of the ecosystem.  Common management interventions like planting, thinning, and harvesting was applied and decisions were made just to maximize the profitability via producing as many tangible values as possible. The production-oriented approach depending on timber alone is no more appropriate as the multiple-use forest management concept has gained increased attention over later decades.

Multi-use Forest Management initiatives in the Community Forests
Multi-use of forest
Multi-use forest management (MFM) considered multiple aspects of the forest. It doesn’t only focus on the production of timber but also focuses on conservation, ecological balance, ecosystem services, and different non-timber values. The MFM approach is like an integrated tactic that emphasizes providing multiple goods from a single management unit. Integration of forest products and services is more practicable in small forestry. In a long run, MFM practice help to sustain the ecological value, social and economic values of human aspects without deteriorating their values and rational use of forest products.

The main motto of MFM is to meet multiple objectives of the stakeholders from the single managerial unit at the same time. This provides an opportunity for multiple sources of income to the users via the utilization of multiple forest products and services in a systematic and controlled way. In multi-use forest management practice, the conflicts among the users for the use of forest products declines as the management focuses on producing multiple forest products as per the need of users with multiple interests. The management practice considers the economic value of different intangible forest products and services and benefits from the multi-use forest management along with the value of tangible forest products. Hence, the outcomes almost always remain higher than from timber-oriented forest management practice. 

The problem associated with Multi-use Forest Management

Most of the forest management activities are dominated by the primary goal of timber production and show low or insignificant interest in other multi-dimensional aspects of the forest. The sustainability concept applied for regulating timber production alone, neglecting productivity of other forest components is in fact not sustainable from the ecological point of view. So, multi-use forest management (MFM) practice is used to balance ecological, economical, and socio-cultural values and thus regarded as complements of sustainable forest management (SFM) and regarded as a fundamental part of SFM. Forest management simultaneously with two or more objectives is MFM (Pancel and Kohl, 2016). MFM strategy ensures a more resilient system, providing a number of income opportunities, not only coping with environmental changes (Kraus and Krumm, 2013). However, MFM is labor-intensive and good inventories and future planning of extraction for various forest products makes it even harder due to difficulty in adequately quantifying and value various goods and services (e.g., the value of air & water quality, biodiversity, scenic beauty). Thus, the complexity of MFM should be within the economically acceptable level (Blardoni and Hilliger, 2018). It is more feasible to integrate forest products and services in small-scale forestry. 

Gradually, a paradigm shift from simply timber production oriented towards the development and structuring of a comprehensive approach can be observable. Instead of focusing productive functioning of forest ecosystems, over-looking other ecosystem goods and services is required. Common management interventions in community forestry such as harvesting, thinning, and plantation are designed to maximize profitability through the production of as many tangible values as possible. The solo timber-production-oriented management is no longer appropriate over the multiple-use forest management concept that gaining increased attention over the last few decades. In developed countries, MFM has some decades of history while in developing countries it only has a brief history or still in the developing phase. Monoculture planting is publicly criticized and thus ecosystem-based MFM concept has grown rapidly in recent decades encompassing and harmonizing the ecological, economical, and socio-cultural values of forest ecosystems on a sustainable basis (Baskent,). Planning for multi-use becomes complex and challenging because of the increasing demands of society for a limited amount of ecosystem goods and services and different stakeholders perceive the relative importance of forest values based on their requisites. 

In Nepal, most of CFUGs aim to supply forest products to local users rather than maintaining forest ecology. CFUG increasingly implementing active forest management (Kanel et. al., 2003) and understood forest management as shrub clearing, singling, thinning, etc. (Acharya, 2004). Wood product-oriented management regime at present ignores all forms of ecological functions of the forest. Recently, new studies have tried to list out major initiatives taken by CFs and problems faced by CFs in implementing MFM by CFUG. Also, the studies try to recommend the best strategy for the effective functioning of MFM. Most of the study assumes unless the integrated and holistic MFM is adopted in CF, the prevalent management approach in community forestry would increase threats to the long-term sustainability of ecological functions and services provided by the forest.

Acharya, K. P. (2004). Does community forests management support biodiversity conservation? Evidences from two community forests from the mid hills of Nepal. Journal of forest and livelihood, 4(1), 44-54.

Blardoni F., & Hilliger R. (2018). Multiple-use Forest Management. Proceedings of Merensky Young Scientist Seminar: valuation and evaluation of forest resources. P-35.

Kanel, K. R., Karmacharya, M. B. and Karna, B. 2003. Who Benefits from Institutional Reform: Case studies from four Community Forests. In: Kanel, K. R., Karmacharya, M. B. and Karna. B. (Eds). Human-Institutional-Natural Resources Interactions (Proceedings of a Seminar, Pokhara, 27-28 March, 2002). NFRI, Kathmandu/Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, USA.

Kraus D, Krumm F. 2013. Integrative approaches as an opportunity for the conservation of forest biodiversity, 283 p.

Pancel L, Köhl M. 2016. Tropical forestry handbook. Springer.