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Money does grow on trees

Just ask the community forest management project beneficiaries of Uruk village 

Income: Uruk villagers have found a solution to their financial needs.  The community forest management (CFM) in Namdrupcholing has matured and earnings from trees harvested are loaned out to villagers, saving them time and money.

Sale of surplus timber fetched the community an income of Nu 550,000. “CFM decided to give loan to save the villagers from the long banking process for small agricultural loans,” the CFM chairman, Tshering Samdrup, said.

“The CFM has also earned around Nu 100,000 in interest from the loan given to its members,” Tshering Samdrup added.

Namdrocholing CFM was formed in 2010 with over 32 members from Uruk village.  The CFM spreads across 253 acres of land, including private land.

Dzongkhag forest officer, Rinchen Wangdi, lauded the Namdrocholing CFM as one among 19 such CFMs in the dzongkhag, which has done well.

“Shambayung in Tang and Sitangzur in Tangsibi had also done well in the management of its community forest resources,” assistant dzongkhag forest officer (DFO), Kinga Norbu, said.

Shambayung CFM chairman, Pema Rinzin, also claimed earning over Nu 600,000 from sale of about 100 surplus trees since 2003-12.

“But more than financial outcome, CFM has protected Ugyencholing village’s water source, Khembrok, from drying up further,” Pema Rinzin said.  He said that the CFMs spared villagers from the long processes involved in availing timber.

According to Tang gyedrung, Ugyen Lhendup, the formation of CFM in villages has saved forest resources. “Had these forests been left without protection, most of the trees would have been exhausted by now,” Ugyen Lhendup said.

Before the conversion to CFM, the forest in Uruk particularly suffered from loss of its trees to outsiders and illegal timber extraction, according to Tshering Samdrup.

“Logging, both legal and illegal used to be rampant because of its close proximity to Chamkhar and Trongsa,” Tshering Samdrup said, adding that, after CFM was formed, all that ended for good.

More communities are proposing to convert any nearby forests to CFM because of its ability and effectiveness to control misuse of forest resources.  The most recent village to propose CFM is Jakar, where an official from DFO convened a meeting yesterday with the people.

Kinga Norbu said while CFM protected forests from illegal logging and water sources, it also helped in sustaining Bhutan’s constitutional mandate of maintaining 60 percent forest coverage for all times to come. “CFM also gives access to equitable share of resources to the disadvantaged,” Kinga Norbu said.

Today, the number of CFM has increased to 19 from just three in the 9th Plan, taking the CMF area to 2319.14 hectares (ha) from 209.29ha.

“There are eight more CFMs, whose draft management plans were submitted to the department for approval,” Kinga Norbu said.

If the eight CFMs covering area of 785.54ha under draft plan are approved, the total community forest area will escalate to 3104.68ha.

By Tempa Wangdi, Gyetsa

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