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Is community forestry decreasing Inequality in Nepal?

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    International Journal of Social Forestry (IJSF), 2011, 4 (2):139-152ISSN 1979-2611,© Copyright 2011 CSF.   IS COMMUNITY FORESTRY DECREASING THEINEQUALITY AMONG ITS USERS?STUDY ON IMPACT OF COMMUNITY FORESTRYON INCOME DISTRIBUTION AMONG DIFFERENTUSERS GROUPS IN NEPAL Badri Khanal 1   Abstract The present study was conducted to see how community forestry affects incomedistribution among the users by observing three community forests of NawalparasiDistrict, Nepal. The total sample of 90 included 30 from each community forestry group for the study. This total sample was divided into three income groups (i.e. high,medium and low). The shapes of Lorenz Curves indicated that the inequality amongusers of community forestry increased after implementation of community forestry.However, at intra-group level, the inequality decreased for all income groups of the population after community forestry. The result of Gini coefficient also signifiesincreased inequality among users. The Gini was 0.47 before CF which increased to0.52 after community forestry. However, Gini coefficients for individual income groups decreased after community forestry. The Lorenz Asymmetry Coefficientsshowed that, the inequality present among users was due to the presence of largeindividuals of low income group both before CF (coefficient 0.66) and after CF (coefficient 0.94).The Robin Hood index suggested that, in order to establish equalityamong users, the income that should be transferred from higher income to lower income group increased after community forestry. The Herfindahl index alsoincreased after CF, indicating increased concentration of income resulting inincreased inequality among users. Keywords:   community forestry, income group, inequality, Nawalparasi, Nepal Introduction Poverty and unemployment are the greatest problems that Nepal is facingtoday. Although economic development of the country after re-establishmentof democracy in 1990 has resulted in a sizable increase in average per-capitaGDP at current prices from NRs 6277 in 1991 to NRs 46224 in 2009/10 (MOF2011 ),yet absolute poverty is widespread. In an overpopulated farming sector 1 Agricultural Economist, Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Nepal. Correspondingauthor:    International Journal of Social Forestry, Volume 4, Number 2, December 2011: 139-152.140 like Nepal, rampant under-employment is mainly low resource base. Farmingenterprise, therefore, becomes an important source of income to a largemajority of people and also the determinants of pace of growth of all sectorsof farming, i.e. crop, livestock and forestry. Thus, effective policy andmanagement systems in crop, livestock and forestry sector would be animportant tool for income generation and livelihood improvement of ruralpoor people in Nepal.Agriculture, along with forestry, contributes 35.3 percent of national GDP.The forest sector contributes 8.12 percent of agricultural GDP in Nepal. Thusforest sector contributes about 1 percent of national GDP (MOF 2011). Forestproducts, mainly timber and non-timber forest products, are one of theimportant sources of national revenue.Three important policy decisions by government led to successfulestablishment of Community Forestry (CF) policy in Nepal. First was theapproved Master Plan for the Forestry Sector (MPFS) in 1989 and then theenactment of Forest Act, 1993 and the Forest Rules 1995 (HMG/N 1999).These policy provisions gave the responsibilities of management,development and utilization of accessible forest areas to the communities,after local communities are organized as Forest User Groups (FUGs).The Forest Act of 1993 divided the national forest into governmentmanaged forest, protected forest, community forest, household forest, andreligious forest with the aim of social and economic development of peoplealong with development, conservation and proper utilization of forestproducts. (HMG/N 1993).The process of formation of CFUG was very slow in the beginning of thecommunity forestry program. A measure of this trend through slopecalculation using regression analysis indicated that 778 CFUGs per year wereformed in the country before 1995. With the enforcement of the Forest Act(1993) and Forest Regulation (1995), community forestry was provided withthe legal basis for its implementation. As a result, the number of CFUGsformed per year increased to 1,479 until the year 2000 (Kanel & Kandel 2004).As of Mid-March of 2011, there are 15,256 CFUGs established across thecountry. They manage 1.35 million ha of forests involving 1.78 millionhouseholds (MoF 2011)After the development of the community forestry program, it remained asa major forest management practice in Nepal. Community forestryencompassed both livelihood improvement as well as forest management.Branney and Yadav (1998) noticed the positive impact of community forestryas increase in both number of trees and area of forest in recent years. Upreti(2000) found that community forestry had a positive impact on socio-economic changes like gender balance, equity, poverty, and biodiversity andforest management. Acharya (2002) explained that the regeneration of forest  Is community forestry decreasing the inequality? (Badri khanal ).141   has improved as a result of the community forest program. The studyconducted by Pokharel and Nurse (2004) through the Nepal SwissCommunity Forestry Project found that development improvement in health,water, education and food security for the poor’s resulted from thecommunity forestry programme.Acharya et al. (2006) identified communityforestry as a means to manage common forest resources, improve theenvironment, and contribute to rural livelihoods and as a means to conservebiodiversity.However, the new policy of community forestry in Nepal as intended forpoor and marginalized population is not gaining as much positive results asexpected. Different authors show many limitations of this policy.Gauli (2003)found that an equal level of participation across different caste groups inlabour work does not ensure equal decision-making and benefit sharing.Lower caste people were not involved in the above activities. A study ofMalla et al . (2003) found forest user group committees were dominated bywealthier households thus the poorer households benefit significantly lessthan wealthier. Neupane (2003) concluded that there was large scaleexpansion of community forestry in Nepal but that it had no clear andconsistent contributions to livelihoods, especially of the poor. Sharma (2009)analyzed the household income by income group in Kumariban, Badikhel CFof Lalitpur District in Nepal. Off-farm income was the main income for thehouseholds in the lowest income group. The low income households captured29 percent of the income from the CF while the highest income groups wereconfined to 5 percent only.The Gini coefficient of household income distribution was calculated byincluding community forestry income was 0.242 while excluding it was 0.265.The observation of Kanal and Kandel (2004) also shows that many unintendedsocial situations had developed after community forestry which constitutedinequity and unfairness at the local and national level and in terms of long-term sustainability of forest resources. Luitel (2006) mentioned that anunequal relationship exists in a village between the oppressed and theoppressor groups. As a result, it is mostly the local community leaders andelite groups who dominate decisions of the user groups.Keeping in view all the above, this study was focused on impact ofcommunity forestry on income distribution among users of selectedcommunity forestry in Nawalparasi district. Methodology The study was confined to Nawalparasi district of Nepal. The district waspurposely selected, as it is one of the successful districts in implementation ofcommunity forestry policy. There are 74 Community Forest Users Groups(CFUGs) that have been handed over by District Forest Office (DFO) in the  International Journal of Social Forestry, Volume 4, Number 2, December 2011: 139-152.142 Nawalparasi district. Among these, 58 community forests consist of naturalforest and the remaining 16 of plantation forest. Of the total 74, four CFUGsare handled by women only. Three community CFUGs having experience ofmore than 5 years of implementation of a community forestry program wereselected randomly using random number table. Two community forests fromnatural forest (Sundaree and Namuna Women's CFUGs ) and oneCommunity Forestry from plantation forest (Jharahi) were selected randomlyin such a way that one women managed and two co-managed CFUGs wereincluded. The reference year for pre-community forestry was taken as 1995and post-community forestry as year 2009.Table 1: Details of Selected Community Forestry Users GroupParticulars Sundaree CFUG Namuna WomenCFUGharahi plantationCFUGAddress AmarapuriVDC, ward 1-9Devchuli VDC,ward 1,5 &9Rajahar VDCward no. 6 & 8Handover date 1998 1996 1996Area 364.75 ha 103 ha 30.8 haType of forest Natural forest Natural forest Plantation forest Source: Field Survey, 2010 From each CFUG 30 individuals were selected randomly using a randomnumber table. The sampled farmers were categorized into three incomegroups (High, Middle and Low income) based on their total net annual familyincome within a year (i.e. 2009) by dividing their cumulative income intothree equal parts (table2).Table 2: Classification of the Sampled Population According to NetFamily IncomeIncome group of respondent Net present annual family income( NRs)Low income ≤ 57135Medium income 57135 to 126865High income >126865The data was collected both from primary and secondary sources. Theprimary data was collected by two levels of interview, community forest usersand CFUGs executive committees. Secondary data were collected fromdifferent publications.To measure the inequality in the distribution of income, among differentincome groups of users, Lorenz curve, Gini coefficient, Lorenz asymmetry
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