Land and forest resources and conflict
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Land and Forest Resources and Conflict. CDP 532: Unit 2 Sushila C Nepali (PhD) September 2013. Course content. Unit 2: Land and Forest Resources and Conflict (10 hours) Land and forest resources and rural livelihoods Issues of resource scarcity and inequality in land and forest resources

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Land and forest resources and conflict

Land and Forest Resources and Conflict

CDP 532: Unit 2

Sushila C Nepali (PhD)

September 2013

Course content

Course content

Unit 2: Land and Forest Resources and Conflict (10 hours)

  • Land and forest resources and rural livelihoods

  • Issues of resource scarcity and inequality in land and forest resources

  • Conflict in land and forest resources

  • Policies and practices related to land reform, forest management (e.g. community forestry) and conservation (e.g. protected areas) in Nepal

  • Nature of conflicts and attempts to address them in:

    • Community based forest management (e.g. Community Forestry, Leasehold Forestry, Collaborative Forestry),

    • Protected areas system (e.g. National Parks, Wildlife Reserves, Conservation Areas, Buffer Zone, Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas),

    • Rangeland and pastures (e.g. between state-state, communities - communities, CFUGs - pastoralists etc.)

Issues of conflicts in nrm sector

Issues of Conflicts in NRM sector

Why does conflict occur over the use of natural resources ?

How are external factors built into local conflict ?

What governing mechanisms are conductive to equitable and sustainable natural resources ?

When do local strategies for conflict mgt. need to be complemented or replaced by external or new mechanisms?

How can research/ policies help to identify opportunities for turning conflict into collaboration?

Why is collaboration in NRM so difficult ?




People every where have competed for the natural resources.

They need or want to ensure or enhance their livelihood.

However, the dimensions, level, and intensity of conflict vary greatly


Level of conflict on nr

Level of conflict on NR



Regional/ National/ global

Intensity of the conflict

From confusion and frustration among members of a community over poorly communicated development policies

Violent clashes between groups over resources ownership right and responsibilities


Why does conflict occurs

Why does conflict occurs ?

Use of natural resource is susceptible to conflict for number of reasons

NR is subject to increasing scarcity due to rapid environmental change, increasing demand and unequal distribution

NRs are also embedded in a shared social space where complex and unequal relations are established among a wide range of social actors (Ethinic groups, Government agencies, Small scale farmers, Agro export producers)


Natural resources for people in nepal

Natural resources for People in Nepal

  • Reliance on NR (forest, land and water) for life and livelihood

    • My land should be near a natural source of water, so that I can irrigate my rice fields. A bit of Sarhad (dry field) should also be available to plant mustard on. My land should be close to the forest, so that my cattle can graze there. I would like to be allowed to get everything I need from the forest, wood, grass, and reeds, fruits and vegetables. When I am not working in the fields, I would like to go fishing, so streams and rivers should also be close by. (Müller-Böker 1999), cited in Timsina (2010).

  • Land and forest: Only source, not only for livelihoods of many, but also for the revenue of state / income of ruling elite

    • Land and forest controlled by state (ruling elites?) and granted to supporters and family members of ruling elites.

    • Birta grant was major way of getting ownership of land and forest until 1960.

      • Oligarchic regimes, such as those that governed Nepal prior to 1950, have always depended on a select class for the sustenance and continuance of the authority. Birta land grants to members of such classes ensured a regular stable income for them and thus left them free to indulge in war or politics in the interest of rulers. (MC Regmi 1978)

Relation to forestry and livelihoods

Relation to forestry and livelihoods

Importance to people

Natural resources

Natural Resources

What services we get

What services we get

Who s this forest

Who’s this forest?

A few facts

A few facts

  • About 1.6 billion people rely on forest resources (WB 2002)

  • Deforestation: -7.3 mill ha./year (FRA 2005)

  • 85% forests are public (FRA 2005)

  • Trends: privatization, community involvement in forest management

    • Forest Trends: 22% of forests owned/administered by communities in Developing Countries

World poverty status

World poverty status

3 quarters of all poor people live in rural areas

Land and forest resources and conflict

Forests and Climate Change:

World Forest Cover

What happened to forest from then to now

What happened to forest?From then to now!

  • Territorial control, appropriation of resources, extraction of timber

  • Birta and other types of land / forest grants

  • Nationalization of forest and Panchayat system (strict forest laws)

  • Resettlement and in-migration in Tarai, firstly encouragement, later spontaneously

  • Development process (East-west highway, barrages and canals)

  • Scientific management and bureaucratization of forest

  • Establishment of protected areas (PA)

  • Deforestation and encroachment during political instability

  • Participatory forest management / community forestry

  • Climate change, REDD and monetary pay for forest protection (PES, REDD etc.)

Forest status then

Forest status then

Status in the 50’s

  • About 65% of the total land was covered with forests.

  • The country was forbidden for foreigners and the forests were intact.

  • We had ‘char kose jadi’ along the Chure foothills were impenetrable.

Changing scenario

Changing Scenario

Control of resources largely by the state and community

Forest Protection Act- Legalisation of National Forest

Conflict here with resource control and use

Forest Conservation through Panchayat Forest, Community Panchayat, Religious Forest

Forest Conservation to Protected area formation, Buffer zone, etc

Terai Migration-Malaria Eradication

Highway and other development works

Examples of local forest related conflicts

Examples of local forest related conflicts

ownership issues between individuals and the local community and/or government,

Identification of users and access to forest products.

Royalty payments,

illegal exploitation and export of NTFPs,

hunting and poaching of wild animals and animal products from the forests.

Examples of local forest related conflicts1

Examples of local forest related conflicts…

Forest encroachment,

collection of firewood for funerals,

use of trees from the forest to build wooden bridges over rivers and streams,

leadership of forest users groups (FUG)

Implementation of and deviation from the operational plan,

Conflict between FUGs, between individuals and FUGs and between FUGs and the DFO.

Examples of local forest related conflicts2

Examples of local forest related conflicts…

Conflict because if the forest is spread over more than one administrative unit and geographical and political boundaries

Use of forest products and their purpose (subsistence v/s commercial interests),

Degree of participation and contribution (who does how much),

Confusion on policies and the intervention of different organisations in the same area.

People are involved in illegal harvesting of forest resources

Examples of local forest related conflicts3

Examples of local forest related conflicts…

Forest professionals use it as a source of income.

Conflict in identification of users

Conflict in sharing benefit

Conflict in participation and contribution

Conflict in leadership

Forest users groups’ written arrangement v/s practice

Current major forest management strategies practices

Current major forest management strategies / practices

  • Community forest*

  • Leasehold forest

  • Protected Forest*

  • Religious forest

  • Private forest

  • Government managed forest*

    * Major forest management practices (forest regimes) and important for the study of conflicts

What is shaping people s interaction on forest resources

What is shaping people’s interaction on forest resources?

  • Economy and livelihoods:

    • Importance of forest resources for people’s livelihood and economy (Hill and Mountains)

    • Source of large sum of money, e.g. Tarai forest (resource curse)

  • Cultural, value and meaning:

    • Meaning and perception to forest

    • Cultural interaction

    • Feelings of of unfairness, injustices, suspicions, angers, emotions, mistrusts

    • Value: Economic, environmental, cultural, political

  • Environmental change:

    • Degradation and deforestation

  • Institutional and political:

    • Major strategies / practices of NRM (Forest management and Protected area system): Community forestry, National Parks and Wildlife Reserves

    • Inequality in power and assets, access to information, access to decisions making, access to justice

    • Injustices and their political implications, sometimes manifesting into disagreements, complaints, lawsuits, protests, physical assaults and violence

Interaction may be conflicting

Interaction may be conflicting!

Causes of conflict over forest resource

  • Scarcity of resources and competitions over scarce / profitable resources

    • scarcity is usually a physical, economic, political and cultural construction

  • Social inequality based on caste, ethnicity, regional origin, gender

  • Inequality / discrimination based on educational and economic opportunities

  • Such inequalities causing differential capabilities, capitals and assets

  • Relative deprivation (deprivation based on comparison)

  • Institutional failures (problem in structures and institutions, formal / informal, local / regional / national / global)

Demographic features

Demographic features

Economic scenario

Economic Scenario

Conflict in nr

Conflict in NR

Why ‘natural resource’ (forest) has been the site of conflict?

  • Common environmental space (impact of one’s action)

  • Shared social space (re/producing unequal social relations)

  • Materialistic benefits (Scarcity, livelihood stress and conflict)

  • Symbolic value, identity construction and issue of sovereignty

Some examples of conflict

Some examples of conflict:

  • Exclusion of Dalits from Community forestry (documentary)

  • Park-People conflict

  • Claims made in the name of indigenous people or local people / community

  • “Legitimate users” vs. encroachers / exploiters

  • Many other examples

Conflict in forests in nepal

Conflict in forests in Nepal

Competition over forest products (both timber and NTFP) among various groups (traders, local elites, government agencies, political groups)

Conflict in CF (within / between user groups or beyond)…in hills and in Tarai

Land stress, displacement / migration, “illegal settlers”, landlessness (Kamaiya / Sukumbasis): encroachments of forest area

Forest legislation: Contradictory / overlapping formal / informal provisions (e.g. Forest and land laws, local governance and forest governance laws, development programs and protection / management agencies),

Unclear property rights /changing ownership rights

Conflict in forests in community forestry

Conflict in forests (in Community forestry)

Within CF

Ownership and identification of users, group harmony, traditional interactions

Exclusion and denying traditional and customary practices: Indigenous groups (Rautes), Occupational caste (Kamis), Livestock herders, Ultra-poor who live on forest products

Inequity in management, sharing of cost and benefits and distribution of roles, responsibilities and rights (Discriminations based on class, caste, ethnicity, gender, level of political / human / social capital is reflected in the CF)

Forest use: Protection of ecosystem services, cultural differences, collection of fuel, fodders, leaf litters, economic benefits (collection of NTFPs, Timbers etc), constructions

Political rivalry and competition for leadership among elites

Between CFs

Forest area and boundaries

Between CFUGs and Gov agencies

During approval, new restriction and provisions for institutional and technical aspects of forests (Inventory), failure to recognize traditional practices and traditional conflict resolution process

Conflict due to policies in Tarai

Community vs. Collaborative forests (very complex issues in the current political contexts)

Conflicts within community forest user s group cfug

Conflicts Within Community Forest User’s Group (CFUG)

Conflicts on benefits

(Benefits: Fuelwood, grass and other livestock needs, Timber, and institutional benefits such as training, group leader etc.)

  • Injustice distribution of Forest products to the group members creates conflict.

  • because of the high entry fee not all the user particularly poor/disadvantage group (DAG) get involves in CFUG, but they need more fuelwood and grass, which they try to get from CF, FUC not allow them into forest and result conflict.

  • Getting new membership and conflict (While separating joint family , Migrated people, distance users).

Conflicts within community forest user s group

Conflicts Within Community Forest User’s Group

  • Investment of Group fund- Conflict in prioritization of the development plan (Road, electrification, education, drinking water Forest Conservation and location of investment)

  • Leadership: to be CFUG president, treasurer, general secretary

  • Leadership: to be central representative and district leader of FECOFUN

  • Political thought

  • loan from CF committee vs interest paid.

  • Conflicts in Participants selection (for seminar, study tour, training).

  • Social relationship, personal behavior

Conflicts within community forest user s group1

Conflicts Within Community Forest User’s Group

Lack of transparency, and conflict.

Actors involve: FUC and CFUG

  • Lack of communication, proper co-ordination among the CFUG, particularly between FUC and CFUG creates conflict.

  • Conflict surfaced, when the users are not informed about the income and expenditure of the CF budget.

    (Examples: meeting allowance, tea and refreshment, etc.)

  • Lack of transparency in decision making (distribution of firewood and wood, time of open forest for grass, selling wood/fuel wood to outsiders, selection of trainees etc)

Conflicts within community forest user s group2

Conflicts Within Community Forest User’s Group

Leadership conflict

  • competition to become president, treasure, secretary and executive member.

  • Exclusion of lower caste/disadvantage people in the committee.

  • Elite dominate committee is the source of conflict.

    Socio-cultural context and Conflict

  • Conflict due to caste/ethnicity

    (Society is stratified due to caste/ethnicity: Brahmin, chhetri, Baisya and Sudra are four caste hierarchy and 61 ethnic group. Sudra or Dalit are untouchable people and placed in low status in society)

Conflict between forest users and department of forest

Conflict between Forest Users and Department of Forest

  • Actors involve: Forest Users Committee, District Level Federation of Forest Users, Federation of Forest Users Nepal, District Forest Office, Department of Forest

  • Introduction of New rules , regulations and policy, more interfere of internal matter of CFUG by DFO.

  • (Example: tax on income of Forest user group)

  • Community forestry vs. Collaborative forest management.

Conflicts between two community forest user s group or individuals

Conflicts between two Community Forest User’s Group or individuals

Traditional use right vs. community forestry

Conflict due to forest boundary

Government body vs fecofun

Government body vs. FECOFUN

Land and forest resources and conflict

Contestation over forestsParticipants, knowledge, power, interest and spread of four main solidarities in CF in Nepal

Cited from Dhungana (2010: 135)

Conflict in forests protected areas pa national parks

Conflict in forests (Protected areas PA / National parks)

Exclusion and displacement of indigenous groups

Violating nature-culture relationship and denying traditional livelihood strategies without alternative opportunities and without understanding cultural contexts of local people

Uneven distribution of costs and benefits associated with PA creation

Damage of local crops/ livestock and people’s lives without compensation

Forced eviction of people

Behaviors of park authority and security guards to local people, particularly to women

Restriction to use natural resources for daily use (forest products, fishes)

People have grievances to PA lead to various movements of local indigenous people (Bote / Majhi of Chitwan Nat Park)

Entry fee, illegal poaching and smuggling, trade of wildlife products,

Target to state, authorities and security forces by many

Linkage of park-people conflict with Maoists insurgency (Matthew and Upreti)

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