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Section 5: Nepal Presentation

a) Planning

Reviews of planning, its development and management for integrated and coordinated forest planning in Nepal

Bal Krishna Khanal
Deputy Director General, Planning Division
Department of Forest, Nepal
May 2000

Table of contents

1. Historical Background

2. Planning in the Past

3. Planning Drawbacks

3.1 Planning with Predicted Program and Budget Ceiling

3.2 Planning in Isolation

3.3 Planning with predicted Program and Imposed Budget Ceiling

3.4 Planning without Need Assessment

3.5 Planning in Piece Meal Approach

3.6 Planning as Prioritized by Policy Personnel

4. Lessons Learnt from Integrated Planning

4.1 Problems Faced

4.2 Reasons of Failure

4.3 Lessons Learnt

5. Agro-forestry, Homestead and Horticulture

6. Ranking of Demand of Different Forest Products

7. Socio-political Issues

8. Present Context of Planning

8.1 Planning by User Groups and Sustainable Technical Backstopping

8.2 Information Flow Mechanism and Verification of Information

9. Monitoring

9.1 Monitoring at Organizational Level

9.2 Monitoring at Political Level

10. Management Information System and Planning

11. Constituents to Review Planning

12. Use of Database in Planning Review

Persons Contacted

1. Historical background

Present religious forest around lord Pashupatinath temple is mentioned as 'Shleshmantakban' (forest of Chorespondis axillaris) in Shiva Purana. In due course of time, the species has changed but the forest still prevails. As Gopal dynasty was the first dynasty in Kathmandu valley, they managed the forest for their livestock. In 299 AD, a big forest named as “Lalitvan” was converted into settlement area which is the famous Lalitpur of today, a sub-metropolitan city in Kathmandu valley.

King Shiv Dev introduced decentralization policy planning during Lichhavi period whereby forest resources were used to promote livelihood. Every household was entitled to cut 40 pines trees for construction of one house and for domestic uses. However, no one was allowed to fell and sell trees for commercial purpose. People participation was given high importance and its forum was known as 'Panchali'. This forum was to facilitate the government to proclaim the rules and regulation. The government used to appoint 'Bhaskar Dhikarta', the Ranger for forest management. The authority at the central level was known as 'Bart'.

During the Malla Period, (by 1288 AD) state taxation was introduced in forest products known as 'Jhynpa', 'Gungphya' and 'Khadityo'. By 1642, during the tenure of king Shiva Singh, queen Ganga ordered to delineate dense forest as the queen's forest (Raniban). This 'Raniban' concept seems to have been initiated all over the Kingdom.

Any offences in the forest were regarded as religious crime. Forest based cottage industries like papermaking, woodcarving, Ayurvedic medicine, extraction of honey and resin were some of the enterprises. Carved wooden utensils were exported to Tibet whereas all medicinal herbs, birds and elephants were exported to India. No one was allowed to construct house inside the forest. Only selected castes were authorized to sell firewood for their livelihood. Forest of high importance used to be declared as religious forest. Extraction of forest products from such religious forest was extremely prohibited except for the religious purpose.

Ram Shah, the King of Gorkha introduced range management, planting of trees along both sides of the road, protection of forest within the catchment of water holes to prevent soil erosion. The statement of Ram Shah says “If trees are cut massively, there will be movement of soil which effects the productivity of farmland and displaces the settlements”.

Plain areas of Nepal are known as “Terai”. The Terai runs from east to west of the country. The Terai was once covered with forest all through its expansion. The average width of this forest used to be about 13 KM. Therefore, the forest of Terai in Nepal is popularly known as 'Char Koshe Jhadi' (tropical to sub-tropical forest).

King Prithvi Narayan Shah had issued ordinance saying the forests of Terai and Siwalik needed to be strictly protected as barrier against the enemies coming from the south. It was the time when East India Company used to occupy the south-east region of Asia. However, Prithvi Narayan Shah allowed settling the people to expand the agriculture land and increase production, wherever it was safe with defense point of view as well as having no risk of soil erosion and landslide.

In 1842, His Majesty's Government approved to develop road across forests for channelling taxes and revenue. Another purpose of this control measure was to reduce illegal cutting and deforestation during that time. Basically, no forests in the Siwalik and Mahabharat areas could be easily irrigated; they used to be converted into agriculture land, provided it did not invite erosion hazards and it was suitable for the production of main crops, such as paddy and wheat. At the same time this land use was highly cost effective, compared to a forest land with trees.

In 1875 AD, Mr. Bensen got a contract to export timber from Nepal to India. Nevertheless, massive commercialization and export of timber had already started by 1846 and forest was realized as the 'Green wealth' of the country. The forest planning policy was:

• The forest area potential for settlement and ideal for farming shall be converted into agriculture land;

• The conversion of forest is strictly prohibited in the fragile areas such as Siwaliks that may cause landslide and eventual loss of life whereas the forest area, which is not suitable for cultivation, shall not be converted into agriculture land;

• Areas having least disturbances to wildlife habitat and with ideal climate for intensive farming, shall be encouraged to convert forestlands to agriculture;

• Forest areas that recoups the cost of forest products from main crop shall be converted into agricultural land provided it is safe and no risk of soil erosion and land slides; and

• Only matured trees that are already more than 100 years old shall be cut to encourage young trees to grow.

2. Planning in the Past

The First Five-year Plan (1956-61) laid out a strategic plan to make use of available man power to mobilize people's attention towards economic development so that they can afford to buy food, shelter, clothing and medical facilities. In order to achieve the above objectives the First Five-year Plan emphasized to:

• Enhance productivity;

• Create more job opportunities without any discrimination among caste and ethnic groups; and

• Create institutional mechanism.

The Plan emphasized to develop sector plan in agriculture, mining, irrigation, electricity, industries and commerce, forest protection and its wise use, transport, railways and telecommunication. The plan visualized block development in village with multi-sector activities under the supervision of Bada Hakim (District Magistrate) since there were no sector unit in districts. The Block Development Office used to look after development works using available technical manpower. The economic development emphasized in wise use of Natural resources. The plan seemed to be over optimistic because no enough skilled manpower was available to use recent technology and tools for proper planning.

The First Five-year Plan realized that no precise planning is possible without proper information, and hence the plan tried to explore the relevant organizational and institutional unit to be established to generate information. However, the priority sector identified by the First Five-year Plan was to develop infrastructure like, roads, communication and rope-ways. Civil service was created during the period of the Plan and forest service was recognized as a technical service. The plan realized resource constraints as vast economic resources were in the hands of limited people within the society. The Plan tried to depend upon foreign contribution realizing it as a short-term strategy. However, the process of priority setting for choosing alternatives was only possible where grass-root planning was initiated by the Sixth especially in the forestry sector.

3. Planning drawbacks

3.1 Planning with Predicted Program and Budget Ceiling

Budget ceiling imposed by finance ministry was the indicator to limit activities within planning process. However, planning the activities was as desired by the planner. There was no planning mechanism within the system. Experts at central level visualized and assessed the need of the target group certain assumption. Planning by the central level to the target area happened to be top down approach. It had no ceiling although the activities were planned at the central level. Furthermore, there was no feed back mechanism from the field level to improve planning process as field workers were simply expected to expedite the program.

3.2 Planning in Isolation

There were experts at every sector for planning. However, there was no any forum for dialogue at central level in order to coordinate planning mechanism to avoid duplication, contradictory message going from different sectors that eventually used to confuse the target groups. The message to the field level used to go in isolation pursuing the importance of individual sector and poor illiterate farmers were supposed to compute the message and put in action. Thus, poor farmers were expected to correlate and incorporate the isolated message of different sectors to improve their quality of life. In other words, planners message was making confusion to the farmers. To cite an example, the agriculture extension worker used to motivate farmers for more livestock and agriculture production without knowing forest conservation strategies whereas a forest extension worker preferred to go after more forest cover, but nowhere the need assessment of the people compatible to conservation strategy to be adopted was addressed. This approach of planning in isolation, developed tension between sectors at different levels. Agriculturists were advocating more forest area needed to convert into agriculture land. Any sector was after forest area as it was a government property and easy to achieve it.

3.3 Planning with predicted Program and Imposed Budget Ceiling

Although of budge ceiling still prevails in the system, it has given free hand to plan activities and prioritize in order to tune with budget ceiling. In the past, even the activities under programs used to be dictated by the center and the field Offices had no free hand in planning processes at all. The implementation was simply ritual as target groups and field level people had no hands in designing and decision making. There was no follow up process in activity design once it is achieved. Monitoring mechanism did not exist at all.

3.4 Planning without Need Assessment

Planning by central level experts can not cater the need of the people at field level, and the people were simply observing what the government is doing as an observer. Once the activities were accomplished there were no mechanism to sustain. Thus no expected results were achieved, because no sense of ownership could be developed among the people who were expected beneficiaries. No plans were discussed among people and their priorities were not incorporated in planning processes.

3.5 Planning in Piece Meal Approach

Forest planning is a wide range planning which delivers tangible and intangible benefits. It is a forum to conserve Bio-diversity, environment, mobilization of natural resources for the upliftment of rural economy as it also controls the position of emission level at regional as well as global level. Thus there are tangible and intangible beneficiaries beyond its coverage. It also has to incorporate all commitment which HMG/Nepal has been the signatory in international convention and treaties.

Up to now, whether it is community forestry program or program on government managed forests, peace meal approach is being carried out. Community forestry program itself is enhancing within demand driven approach. As it is easy to work with motivated communities, everyone feels comfortable to work without hitch. We have not been able to take up holistic approach whereby every area is well defined and the activities are set accordingly. In other words, District Resource Management Plans are proposed to be developed wherein bio-diversity rich areas, community forestry areas and potential production areas together with conservation areas outside national parks and reserves are delineated and compatible activities in all such areas are implemented. Activities relevant to all categories of forest need to run simultaneously to keep up ecological balance. It may be helpful to define our contribution on maintaining environmental monitoring system both at regional and global level. This system of delineation may not only fulfill international obligation but helps in precise planning.

As poverty alleviation is the main agenda of the Ninth Five-year Plan (1998-2003), our planning process are expected to focus on poorest people. This can not happen unless district-wise natural resource assessment with compatible socio-economic assessment is not thoroughly accomplished. Thus planning in isolation still prevails in our country and every sector rings its own bell. We are planning the resources without knowing how much we have and how much we can afford and who are to be focused first in poverty alleviation. Besides, in order to avoid demand driven approach, we have to identify the most disadvantaged group of people and prioritize as well as focus the activities for which the socio-economic assessment is instrumental.

3.6 Planning as Prioritized by Policy Personnel

As there are no institutional forum on planning, every influential personnel may influence at policy level during the planning process and divert the resources as and where desired. It is a drawback of piece meal approach in planning, and influential people massively use this opportunity. A precise guideline along the strong institutional commitment by government can only correct this issue.

4. Lessons Learnt from Integrated Planning

Nepal has experience with numbers of integrated projects some of which are:

Sagarmatha Integrated Project;

Rapti Rural Development Project; and

Rasusa Nuwakot Integrated Rural Development Project.

Integrated development projects cover numbers of line agencies.

4.1 Problems Faced

Following are some of the main problems faced by Integrated Projects:

• Different line agencies had different regular programs. Hence, the project activities tended to be secondary for them;

• One Project Manager had to:

- manage so many line agencies on technical and financial aspects;

- deal different lines agencies without knowing the rationale of the priority within different sector of project cover.

• Face difficulties in satisfying donors' requirement for financial issues and work performance.

Hence, at the end, the Project Completion Reports (PCR) of all the projects were ranked as flopped projects.

4.2 Reasons of Failure

All sectors had no organization to work in grass-roots level, and thus need assessment could not be done properly;

All sectors had integration forum at district level and no field level implementation forum to integrate and no working relations of all line agencies were clearly defined at every level. No monitoring mechanisms at different levels were developed;

Combined field visits of the line agencies were not done regularly;

Information sharing mechanism at different level did not exit; and

Participating monitoring process not developed.

However planning with different line agencies to achieve the project objectives also did not go well. No mechanism of follow up was developed to sustain the impact of the project at the end of its period.

4.3 Lessons Learnt

Lessons learnt from such project showed that working with too many line agencies of different discipline could not be managed smoothly. Hence, it is the target people to be mobilized to act and integrate all the activities to transform the result for their betterment. Thus, empowerment and awareness are the main tools of grass-root planning process at present context.

As Master Plan for the Forestry Sector has already developed planning vision for conservation of ecosystem and genetic resources, for soil conservation and watershed management, planning process and program settings are institutionalized by which conservation areas are already notified by Nepal Gazette; soil conservation activities need to be accomplished under approved sub-watershed management plans. Similarly, planning strategy for conservation areas, bio-diversity rich areas, wetland areas, national parks and wildlife reserves are set as visualized by the Master Plan. Prior to establishment of national parks and wild life reserves, there were no programs except identifying the hunting blocks within forest where the wild lives were abundant. However, some parts of the forest outside national parks, reserves and conservation areas are still identified as hunting block, in ad hoc basis (unplanned) without knowing the actual population of wild lives in the areas.

5. Agro-forestry, Homestead and Horticulture

People in the past were not interested in planting trees as it takes a long time to get its benefit. They were not even interested in planting fruit trees because they could not benefit from it so quick. Gradually, people tried fruit trees in their farmland when improved varieties were introduced by Department of Horticulture. Fruit trees could be planted only within the vicinity of their household. The areas where cereal crops cannot be grown due to the lack of irrigation, forestry sector encourages homestead horticulture as a part of green coverage. Forest Department is liberal to introduce fruit tree as it grows from seed and as its end products can be either fodder, fuel or timber too. Multipurpose species like Choreospondias axillaris, Magnifera indica (grown from seeds) and Juglans regia (walnut) are equally good for timber and fuel wood. Plantation of fast growing species like Dalbergia sissoo, Anthocephalus kadamba, Eucalyptus spp. Gmelina arboria, Albizzia spp. Artocarpus spp., Ficus laquor are common species in plain areas of Nepal. Pinus longifolia, Alnus nepalensis, Choreospondias axillaris, Albizzia spp. and Ficus spp. are some of the principal fodder species in the Middle hills of Nepal. With the emergence of Community Forestry Program and people's need identification, fodder species are much preferred by the people for planting. Fruit trees like Choreospondias axillaris is much preferred as it does not make shade in non-irrigate land and sheds leaves during winter when enough light is needed for agriculture crops.

In the post, the government planted P. longifolia in the middle hills and Dalbergia sissoo in the Terai plain. Pinus longifolia is a draught resistant species, and its plantation in the hills has been quite successful. Pines are hardy species and thrive well in the eroded sites where no other species can grow. On the other hand, plantation in moist and depressed area with Alnus nepalensis is a common approach. Thus a limited number of species were planted before the inception of the community forestry in the country.

People's demand for the fodder is very high in the middle hills. Therefore, common fodder species like Ficus nemoralis, F. semicordata, F. cumini and Artocarpus spp. are frequently used as the main fodder species in the hills as livestock fodder, and are also planted in the farmlands. Fodder species available from the forest are Prunus cerasoides, Melia azadiracta and all species of Quercus, Castanopisis, Celtis and Grewia.

6. Ranking of Demand of Different Forest Products

There is less population in the high mountains, but the population of cattle is high, as there is a great need to develop pasturelands in these areas to feed cattle/sheep/goat/yaks. These animals are not only managed for the production of meat and milk, but are also the means of transport. Furthermore, the whole socio-economy is linked with animal husbandry in those areas.

7. Socio-political Issues

The incidence of blocking the flocks of sheep/goats by forest user groups in community forests has been observed in Humla district of Nepal. The road passing through the community forest happens to be traditional trade route to transport goods. Hence, while handling over community forests, some mechanism to avoid such socio-political conflicts as well as encouraging the people for management strategies need to be carefully addressed in management plans.

8. Present Context of Planning

The user groups are now in the driver's seat for planning community forestry program whereas district forest offices are authorized for district level planning. However, District Forest Office has the authority to approve their operation plans. Planning has been shifted from center to user group level in managing their community forests whereas district offices are authorized to prepare and implement district level plans. The cumulative of annual plans within operation plan of each and every community forest is the district annual plan for community forestry program. Similarly, aggregation of all district plans is the national plan of the forestry sector.

8.1 Planning by User Groups and Sustainable Technical Backstopping

User groups plan their activities as proposed in their operational plans (proposed for five years). However, they are free to accumulate the activities from the previous year if it could not be accomplished within the set period of time. Planning by user groups has generated broad dimension. It has incorporated socio-economic, demographic, geographic and attitudinal aspects which one cannot accomplish in table planning. As user groups take up planning as a part of rural life, they can do no wrong except in some precise technical aspect with which they are not aware. Hence in community forestry aspect, it is technical back up that is needed to blend as mini forest management plan with holistic vision.

Grass-root planning has no other option. No government position can be created for technical back up to comply with increasing forest users' operational plans. Hence, planning strategy need to be shifted from technical backup from the government to make use of private technicians available in the market to support government activities. At the initial stages, projects are requested to support those technicians for certain period of time, and hand over the manpower to forest users groups who will use them as technical staff for managing their community forests. This strategy may shift government burden on the one hand and improve present operational plan (which is mostly agreement plan between user group and district forest office) to technical operation plan addressing annual increment and other precise annual cut with silvicultural operations) on the other hand.

In community forestry, it is the technical back up that is needed. This is illustrated in the figure 1.

This approach, on the one hand, encourages sustainable management strategy, which may improve the technical aspect of the operational plan and, on the other hand, creates job opportunities to the technical manpower available in the market.

Planning becomes hypothetical unless it is tied up with monitoring mechanism. There is no other alternative except participatory monitoring mechanism. With local Governance Act and regulation enforced, it is high time to institutionalize the monitoring system with local governance involvement by distinctly specifying their role in forestry program as a whole and participatory forestry program in particular. Government has recently conceptualized a benefit sharing mechanism even in government managed forest whereby some royalties generated from sale of timber will go to local governance bodies so that they may show interest in forest management. Even in national parks and wildlife reserves, community participation program has already been initiated in buffer zone areas. These buffer zone areas serve as shock absorber between wildlife and the people living in the vicinity of the parks and reserves. Community development programs have already been initiated in the vicinity of the parks and reserves to fulfill the needs of the local people so that they will be obliged to the parks and reserves, and contribute in protection of wild life and bio-diversity.

As per the rule and regulation of local governance act, local bodies are entitled to share the government revenue generated at local level. They are obliged to monitor at respective level of government organisation and report above. This approach serves the means of verification of performance.

8.2 Information Flow Mechanism and Verification of Information

9. Monitoring

9.1 Monitoring at Organizational Level

9.2 Monitoring at Political Level

Monitoring the program at different levels by the bodies other than implementation agencies develops transparency in planning to implementation which otherwise is essence of participatory planning.

10. Management Information System and Planning

Management information system influence planning strategy whether it is work plan for ongoing project or program or designing new project. Therefore, reliable and sustainable net working mechanism to exchange information needs to be developed to support planning from project initiation/preparation to implementation.

Management information system generates, transacts, processes, transforms, refers, retrieves and displays information to develop planning schedule and standards. It is a tool to verify, analyze, synthesize and stimulate to develop better option for planning. Planning without proper monitoring mechanism does not yield expected results. Management information system is only a tool to do so. There is a saying that manpower, material and money (3m) are the essence of planning, but it is not sufficient without information and monitoring feedback.

11. Constituents to Review Planning

Identification of target group;

Need assessment;

Socio-economic condition;

Participatory planning;

Linkage and working relation with other sectors to integrate planning;

Management information need assessment and information flow mechanism;

Vertical and horizontal monitoring mechanism;

Decision making process;

Implementation schedule;

Monitoring and feed back system to maintain quality of work; and

Simple, specific measurable indicators to assess results.

12. Use of Database in Planning Review

Present status of database is combination of Aerial photo interpretation and satellite image analysis. On the other hand, LRMP (Land Resource Mapping Project) maps are the foundation of all resource data used in planning.

The recent report entitled ‘Forest Resources of Nepal (1987-1998)’ is helpful for macro-level planning. In the present context, planning at the grass-root level based on district resource information is most needed. ‘Forest Resource of Nepal (1987-1988’ generated forest resource information of hilly areas at regional level of 14 districts in plain areas with district level information data. Use of District resource information can only be essential for precise national level planning. Aggregation of information is helpful for resource allocation as well as prioritization for planning strategy.

Basically, Master Plan for the Forestry Sector itself is based on land resource mapping database with 0.5% sampling at field level. Master plan in other sense is a vision. Hence, data for every annual plan needs to be supported by updated data using technology available.

Application of GIS is very ideal, but skilled manpower to conduct field test, resource assessment, photo interpretation and socio-economic assessment is a problem. So, phasing of GIS application may be possible solution. Application of GIS is a complex issue in a country like Nepal which is very rich in bio-diversity. Management of NTFPs (Non-Timber Forest Products) is more valuable than timber production. If these resources are wisely used, many opportunities for economic activities will be created thus meeting the national goal of poverty alleviation. In this context, DOF is realizing that it is high time to establish GIS lab and initiate the study taking some districts in pilot basis.

Collection of information and processing data is the responsibility of the DOF because no other department has such massive organizational network that can respond other line agencies, parliament, GOs/ NGOs/ INGOs and other international commitment. Such information is collected trimesterly as well as annually as needed. All such information are collected in hard disc, and used in annual planning, monitoring as well as future designing of projects. Due to frequent change in organizational structure, it has not been possible to collect information with the same detail every where. However, DOF has recently maintained the record available up to now by sending a few teams from the center to collect information from different districts. Such records are updated regularly.

All regional headquarters and 30 districts have now computer facilities, and therefore, it will not be that difficult to generate and collect data. But the skilled manpower at professional level needs to be exposed for relevant training in order to achieve effective data base management. However, potential districts need to be identified to accomplish the task and resolve the issues.

Massive interaction on planning review is regularly done. It is a very relevant forum to review planning process to accommodate cross-sector approach. Regional planning meetings held every year in five regions of the country examine the process of priority setting for choosing alternatives for planning.

In Bhairahawa, 15 District Forest Officers of Gorkha, Tanahu, Lamjung, Manang, Kaski, Syangja, Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, Kapilbastu, Arghakhanchi, Gulmi, Palpa, Parbat, Myagdi and Baglung districts along with representatives of DANIDA & Nepal-UK Community Forestry Project attended the interaction program held at the beginning of the year 2000.

Similarly in Biratnagar, 16 District Forest Officers of Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam, Jhapa, Sankhuwasabha, Terhathum, Bhojpur, Dhankuta, Sunsari, Morang, Solukhumbu, Okhaldhunga, Khotang, Udaypur, Siraha and Saptari districts along with representatives of Nepal-UK Community Forestry Project, Churia Community Forestry Project (financed by GTZ) and representative of Natural Resource Management Program (NARMSAP-DANIDA Project) attended the interaction program.

In Bardia, 15 District Forest Officers of Rukum, Rolpa, Salyan, Pyuthan, Dang, Jajarkot, Dailekh, Surkhet, Bankey, Bardia, Dolpa, Mugu, Kalikot, Humla and Jumla districts along with representatives from NARMSAP, EFEA (Environment & Forestry Enterprises Activity (U.S. funded project) attended the interaction program.

In Dhangadhi, 9 District Forest Officers of Bajhang, Bajura, Achham, Kailali, Doti, Darchula, Baitadi, Dadeldhura and Kanchanpur districts along with NARMSAP representative attended the interaction program.

Similarly in Hetauda, District Forest Officers of Dolakha, Ramechhap, Sindhuli, Dhanusa, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Rautahat, Parsa, Bara, Makawanpur, Chitawan, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchok, Rasuwa, Kavre, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur and Kathmandu districts along with representatives from Nepal Swiss Community Forestry Management Project and NARMSAP attended the interaction program.

Persons Contacted

Dr. Keshar Man Bajracharya RONAST (Royal Nepal Academy of Science & Technology)

Dr. Dayananda Bajracharya Vice-chairman (RONAST)

Dr. Egbert Pellink Director General (ICIMOD)

Mr. Mathura Das Rajbhandari Forest Management Specialist

Dr. Himmat Singh K. C Regional Director,

Eastern Development Region

Mr. Chakra Man Shakya Regional Director,

Central Development Region

Mr. Naresh Singh Thapa Regional Director, Western Development Region

Mr. Dibya Dev Bhatta Regional Director, Mid-western Development Region

Mr. Gopal Bhakta Mathema Regional Director, Far-western Development Region

b) Database

Database development and management for integrated forest planning in Nepal

Santosh Mani Nepal
Department of Forests
Kathmandu, Nepal
May 2000

Table of contents

1. Background

2. Data Collection: Historical review and Use in Planning Process

2.1 Status Of Survey and Mapping in Nepal

2.2 Forest Mapping through satellite images

2.3 Forest Survey and Inventory

3. The Vision of Master Plan for Information Management

4. Data Collection and Management in Forest Department

5. Existing DBMS in Forestry Sector bilateral Projects

6. Forestry related DBMS with other Institutions

7. Use of GIS in information management

8. Key Issues

9. Future need and activities



List Of Institutes/Persons Visited And Discussed

List of Division/District Level Inventory Conducted

Bilateral Projects associated with Forestry Sector

List of Database available with different Institutions

Integrated National Forestry database form


In Nepal, forestry sector is a multidisciplinary sector. The existing forest management strategy of the government requires a high degree of coordination among many stakeholders and development partners. The country has spent sufficient amount of resources to build up a set of basic geographic database in the form of topographic map layer and Land Use/Land Capability class map layers. Similarly, updated socioeconomic data necessary for the forestry sector are also available. Many development partners have a wealth of database and an experience of managing them efficiently. It is recommended that development partners should support the government's initiative of database management and capacity building of the Department.

The Department of Forest has a long history of managing both spatial and statistical database with regular update. The Department is the pioneer organization in the management of spatial data in Nepal. However, with the change in organizational structure and development of new functions, the Forest Department no longer holds geographical database. Now, the Department does not have a GIS set up including hardware, software and manpower to handle a spatial database. It has been realized that there is a need to equip Forest Department with the capacity to collect, store and handle biophysical including forest inventory and socioeconomic data. Accordingly, a plan of action has been proposed. Data collection, storage and update are a process that consumes lots of resources in terms of time, money and manpower. Therefore, a coordinated approach of data sharing through networking has been recommended among the national, regional, and international development partners. In order to maintain data quality it has been proposed that an apex body under the aegis of National Planning Commission be formed.


CBS Central Bureau of Statistics
CCB Country Capacity Building
CD Compact Disc
CFFIC Community Forestry Field Implementation Project
DBMS Database Management Systems
DFI District Forest Inventory
DFID Department of International Development
DFO District Forest Officer
DFRS Department of Forest Research and Survey
DOF Department of Forest
ESCAP Economic and Social Cooperation for Asia and Pacific Region
ESRI Environment System Research Institute
FUG Forest Users Group
GIS Geographical Information Systems
GO Government Organization
ICIMOD International Center for Integrated Mountain Development
INFDB Integrated National Forest Database
ITTO International Tropical Timber Organization
LRMP Land Resource Mapping Project
MENRIS Mountain Environment and Natural resources Information Service
MIS Management Information System
MPFS Master Plan for Forestry Sector
NGO Non- Government Organization
NLRC National Land Resource Center
NPC National Planning Commission
NRSC National Remote Sensing Center
NTDB National Topographical Database
NTFP Non-Timber Forest Products
NUCKFP Nepal UK Community Forestry Project
PDDP Participatory District Development Project
RDF Regional Directorate of Forest
RS Remote Sensing
SDC Swiss Development Cooperation
TCN Timber Corporation of Nepal
TISC Tree Seed and Silviculture Component
UNEP United Nations Environment Program
UNICEF United Nations Children's Fund
USAID United States Aid for International development
WWF World Wide Fund for Nature Conservation

1. Background

Systematic acquisition, storage and dissemination of the georeferenced data are the key for successful planning of forestry and forestry related programs. The Country Capacity Building (CCB) project of FAO is supporting in strengthening the institutional capabilities of forest organizations of the South Asian countries. Such support aims to facilitate the information acquisition process of FAO for its Global Forest Resource Assessment (FRA) program. In addition, this also helps the member countries concerned with the problems encountered during the acquisition, storage and dissemination of various types of forestry data.

The focal organization for CCB project in Nepal is the Department of Forest (DOF). DOF Nepal is the largest Department by its function and organizational network under the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MFSC). It is a major consumer of forest resource database and also responsible for the management of forests of the country. The department has a nation-wide network of District Forest Offices (DFO) headed by District Forest Officers in the country. There is no other department of such massive network under the MFSC. The organizational structure of the DOF is presented in Appendix 1.

The objective of this report is: to review the existing forestry related database within and outside the DOF, mechanism of spatial and non-spatial data acquisition, analysis and dissemination process in the forestry sector, frequency of update, human and electronic resources available for database management and development. In addition, this report also suggests future plan of actions in order to increase the efficiency of the existing system. This report has been prepared by compiling information available in the academia, interpersonal communication with key persons (Appendix 2) and office records.

2. Data Collection: Historical review and Use in Planning Process

The goal of an information system is to convert a magnitude of data into meaningful information.

The nature of data distinguishes planning from other data business because virtually all planning data are intimately related to spatial locations. Therefore, it is not surprising that the planning process has been greatly influenced by the relative quality of spatial and attributes data.

Planning is basically a spatial oriented profession, which involves a great deal of ad hoc decision-makings based on the evaluation of alternatives. An ideal planning process has been generalized into the following steps (Dueker, 1980):

Problem definition

Objective determination

Invention of alternative solutions

Evaluating alternatives, selecting the best alternatives

Implementation of the planning, monitoring the results

A successful Planning Information System must integrate the appropriate set of retrieval, analysis and display functions of a database. Advanced technology usually has the abilities to query and display ever increasing amounts of spatial information using powerful computer systems. These advances have resulted into better data management and more mapping capabilities. A spatial information system may be used in two ways (Goodchild, 1991):

Questions of what or where type, important in planning and resource management, and

Questions of why or what if associated with the spatial analysis,

Preparing forest management plans, conducting forest inventory, aligning forest roads are age-old forest development activities. Planning these activities needs different kinds of data both spatial and non-spatial on past and present. Since its establishment during 1950s, the Forest Department is conducting various activities that require analysis of spatial as well as attribute data. Maps were produced for the implementation of forest management plans, plantation and demarcation activities. Maintaining the records of field measurement books on forest survey and demarcation has been taken seriously. In forestry, spatial and non-spatial data collection has developed simultaneously over the last 50 years. Aerial photo acquisition, interpretation and forest inventory were major activities of then Forest Resources Survey Office (FSRO) under the Department of Forests during 1960s.

Forest Department has been the single donor of forestland for different development activities including rehabilitation and expansion of agriculture lands. Survey Department, under the Ministry of Land Reform and Management (MLRM) is responsible for documentation of location, extent, land ownership right, area, land use and the physical characteristics of a parcel through cadastral surveys and mapping. In Nepal, the cadastral survey started in the 17th century. However, systematic cadastral survey was conducted only after 1964 (Survey Department, 1998). The cadastral survey of the whole country was completed in1999.

A database is the central element in any Information Management System. Collection of spatially referenced data that is the model of reality constitutes a GIS database. Two types of data are managed in a GIS. They are geographic or spatial data defining by the shape, size and position of object and attribute or non-spatial data illustrating the property of the object. A GIS technology facilitates linking of geographic data with tabular or non-spatial data providing an immense opportunity for multisectorial analysis and developing various planning strategies. The status and character of geographic and socio-economic data available in the country is described in the following sections.

2.1 Status Of Survey and Mapping in Nepal

The Survey Department is responsible for all surveying and mapping activities in the country. The department's main activities are: Preparation of topographical base maps, preparation of administrative and land resource maps, establishment of National Topographical Database (NTDB), coordination of surveying, mapping and GIS related activities in the country (Acharya, 2000).

2.1.1 Topographic Maps

The first series of topographic base maps of the country was prepared during 1950-1960 in a scale of 1: 1 mile. The entire country was mapped in 266 sheets. After the formulation of national geo-information system, these maps have become obsolete. A new series of Topographic maps have been produced during 1990s in a scale of 1: 25 000 for Terai and middle hills and 1: 50 000 for high hills and high mountain regions. The status of topographic map is illustrated in Table 1.

Table 1. Existing topographic maps of Nepal




Number of sheets

Sector coverage


Topographic maps 1992

1: 25 000


Lumbini Zone


Topographic maps 1994/96

1: 25 000


Eastern Nepal (South and middle mountains)


Topographic maps 1996

1: 50 000


Eastern Nepal (High mountains)


Topographic maps 1999

1: 25 000


Western Nepal (South and middle mountains)


Topographic maps 2001

(To be completed by 2001)

1: 50 000


Western Nepal (High mountains)

The Survey Department has prepared specification for national geo-information service. The new series of topographic maps of 1: 25 000 and 1: 50 000 scales have been taken as the base data source for NTDB work. The data code, data format, data quality and other standards are also specified. Adhered to the given standard, production of digital databases from different agencies is anticipated to be compatible with each other. The production of digital database for topographic features is nearing to completion under the umbrella of Census Mapping Project in the Survey Department.

2.1.2 Thematic maps

The Land Resources Mapping Project (LRMP) was the first project in the Survey Department, with the technical and financial assistance of the Government of Canada. This project took aerial photographs of the whole country during 1978/79. The project prepared maps in five themes: Land Utilization, Land Systems, Land Capability, Geology and Climatology. This is the only attempt to map resources at the national level. The status of thematic maps is shown in Table 2. These maps served as the basic data source during the preparation of the Master Plan for the Forestry Sector (MPFS) in mid '80s. Although these maps are not yet updated, these are still being used for different thematic uses. These maps constitute as the base for various time series studies of the land cover and land use changes (Pariyar and Singh, 1995; FRISP, 1997).

Table 2. List of Thematic Maps prepared under LRMP



Number of Sheets




Land Utilization Map


1:50 000

Whole Nepal


Land System Map


1:50 000

Whole Nepal


Land Capability map


1:50 000

Whole Nepal


Climatological Map


1:250 000

Western Nepal


Climatological Map


1:1 000 000

Whole Nepal


Geological Map


1:125 000

Whole Nepal

Land Utilization Maps have categorized 4 different land use types. These categories are Agriculture, Forestry, Grazing and non-Agriculture. Forest has been mapped according to tree cover, forest types, species types, site condition, canopy cover and maturity classes. Similarly, land has been categorized into 7 capability classes, 5 sub classes and 4 sub-divisions based mainly on slope, soil depth, drainage, climate zone, altitude and mean annual air temperature.

2.1.3 Derived Maps

Maps are prepared in order to identify the administrative boundary for national development. The present status of administrative maps is illustrated in Table 3.

Table 3. List of Administrative Maps



Number of Sheets






1:1 000 000

Whole Nepal




1:2 000 000

Whole Nepal



5 and 3

1:500 000

Whole Nepal




1:250 000

Whole Nepal




1:125 000

Whole Nepal




1:10 000;1: 50 000

Whole Nepal


Village Development Committee


1:10 000;1: 50 000

Whole Nepal

2.1.4 Cadastral Maps

The list of cadastral maps for the country is presented in Table 4.

Table 4. Cadastral Maps






Cadastral Maps (38 Districts)

1:4800 to 1: 1200

Without Geodetic Control


Cadastral Maps (37 Districts)

1:2500 to 1: 500

With Geodetic Control

2.2 Forest Mapping through satellite images

National Remote Sensing Center (NRSC) was established in 1981 as an independent center through a cooperation between the Government of Nepal and USAID for the analysis of remote sensing images, particularly LANDSAT images. The center was regarded as the focal point for remote sensing activities concerning survey and monitoring of natural resources in the country. NRSC was engaged to the development of local capability to evolve efficient methods for identifying, classifying and monitoring natural resources of the country by using modern space science and remote sensing technology. The Center was also supposed to provide necessary information in formulating national policy and issues concerned with natural resources.

The Center was later merged with the Forest Survey Division, preceding the current Department of Forest Research and Survey (DFRS) as Remote Sensing Section in 1989. During this period, the Center has conducted an estimation of forest area on national basis and performed deforestation study of Terai forests (NRSC, 1985?). Similarly, the Center has also developed expertise in Aerial photography and flight plan mission, natural resource surveys for watershed management, crop area estimation, forest mapping and land use survey and mapping. Satellite Images acquired in the Center are archived in DFRS.

2.3 Forest Survey and Inventory

The scientific forest inventories of the country have started since 1960s. Some regional level forest resource assessment had been carried out with the help of the Government of India before that. Forest Resource Survey Office (FSRO), under the Department of Forest with the technical cooperation of USAID conducted first ever forest inventory of the country under the National Forest Inventory Project during 1960s (Klein, 1994). The inventory was carried out in two separate approaches, one for Terai and another for the Hills. A complete coverage of aerial photographs of the scale 1:20 000 had been taken for the Terai during 1964. The inventory was done using a systematic approach of laying out a rectangular grid of 2.2 miles by 10 miles covering the entire inventory region. The same was done for hills but in a strip of 10 miles. A complete delineation of the area for hill was made using the aerial photograph taken during 1954. Calibration of 1954 aerial photographs was done by classifying both of the sets into similar classes and calculating the ratio between areas in 1964 with 1954 aerial photos. Part of High Mountain region and the entire Himalayan region was excluded in this inventory.

The inventory data are presented in four different reports:

Forest Statistics of TCN Area (1965),

Forest Statistics of Terai and Adjoining Regions (1967),

Timber Resources and Development Opportunities in Lower Bheri and Karnali Watersheds (1969), and Forest Statistics of Hill Region (1973).

Forest type maps in the scale of 3inch-to1mile were produced for the inventoried area. The minimum mapping unit for forest type delineation was 1ha. However, the inventory data and maps become out of date very soon because of massive rehabilitation scheme of the government, encroachment and political pressure (Bajracharya, KM, personnel communication). The Forest Inventory Section of the Forest Department regularly conducted district/divisional forest inventory (DFI) and prepared district forest management plans. The list of such plans are shown in Appendix 3 (Klein, 1994).

Another national forest inventory (NFI) was conducted during 1990s. The inventory work was started in early 1990s and the fieldwork was completed in 1998. The recent NFI has been done using four different methods. Satellite image analysis (14 districts), Photo delineation (51 districts), District Forest Inventory (7 districts) and inventory data burrowed from other projects (3 districts). Altogether 11 inventory reports including one main report were published along with some maps from image classification. The inventory has been done only in reachable forests (if the forest is located in a slope less than 100% or not a protected area). The main results are on forest area, shrubland, forest change since 1978/79, growing stocks, species types, and diameter classes.

The list of geographical and statistical data available in the DFSR is presented in Appendix 5

3. The Vision of Master Plan for Information Management

The Master Plan for the Forestry Sector (MPFS) is a mile stone in the history of forestry of Nepal. Above all, MPFS provided a 20-year vision for the forestry sector. The Plan has identified urgent need of spatial and attribute data collection, their analysis for better planning and monitoring of forestry sector in the plan period. Furthermore, MPFS has identified the following forest resource information gaps:

Spatial forest resource information is out dated.

Land use category and forest type classification are not compatible.

Not all forest types are represented in inventory plot information.

Inventory plot information is out of date.

Growth plots are lacking.

Data on biomass studies are limited only to selected species.

No attention has been given for non-timber forest products during inventory.

There is lack of data in on farm forest activities.

An appropriate inventory method for the country has not yet been identified.

The Plan has recommended the establishment of Forest Resource Information-Decision System to facilitate planning and management and directed that such system should have specific organization, linkage, role and manpower required for efficient generation and use of information. Further, that the spatial data for macro-scale be collected through remote sensing. MPFS (1988) provides for "a nation-wide aerial photography 10 years after LRMP (1978/79) and then once every 15 years coupled with updating at intervals of 5 years by less expensive methods like satellite image or strip sampling". The Plan recommends for frequent updating in areas subject to intense population pressure and converting all the LRMP maps into different thematic layers in GIS format.

According to MPFS, forest inventory should be able to measure variables other than traditional ones like type, quality and quantity of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) that were not measured before. It may be possible to correlate these variables measurable from ground with variables measurable from the remotely sensed media so that estimation may be done with high economic efficiency. The capability to access, analyze, process and update data both in the center and districts should be developed. Field data for local level planning should be separately collected.

MPFS has supported the proposition of formation of apex body, National Land Resource Center (NLRC), for spatial data management as proposed by the National LUPP. However, MPFS had slightly modified the proposal of formation of NLRC for efficient arrangement of collecting, storing and sharing forest related spatial data. This body was supposed to facilitate in policy planning and management decision making. The following functions were assigned to the proposed Center which is yet to be establish:

Acquisition of remote sensing (both satellite and aerial) data.

Digital image interpretation, photo interpretation.

Development of a GIS network in the country

Act as a central resource information center.

The forest Survey Division should continue the collection of forest inventory data and develop the sectorial capacity of GIS to handle spatial data too. Extensive inventory should be confined to the forest stands that will be subjected to intensive management.

Master plan, being a long-term plan, has provided various projected scenarios in the forestry sector based on availability of data at the time of preparation of the Plan. MPFS did not collect any primary data, rather it used available existing data with little verification for various analysis. For this, the country has been divided into 5 physiographic regions from south to north and 5 development regions from east to west. Projection of different trends has been made by dividing the country into 25 geographical sub-units as shown in Table 5.

Table 5. Geographical units in MPFS.




Middle Mountain

High Mountain

High HImal

Eastern Development. Region


Central Development Region


Western Development Region


Mid-Western Development Region


Far-Western Development Region


Information on production, status and potential of forest resources is provided for each of the geographical sub-units.

4. Data Collection and Management in Forest Department

Many purposes can be meet by data generation, analysis and subsequent publication of reports. The first one is performance auditing, which is no other than monitoring of development activities against the national target set by periodic plans. The second is the dissemination of information to civil society, in order to justify the expenditure of public fund, which in other word is financial auditing. Limited use of such information has been done by a small group consisting of research workers, international agencies and other stakeholders. Bulk of the information is used in planning and developing strategies for future. In Department of Forests, similar to other government departments, major part of data collection, storage, information extraction from the data is done in traditional textual or tabular way. The government is in a stage of infancy in automated method of data storage and retrieval. However, the traditional method of keeping register for each kind of activities is very strong. The laws and bylaws are there which depicts what kind of information should be retained for certain period and what not.

The following are the category and nature of data that are collected and updated regularly in the Forest Department from the whole country:

A. Data on national forestry and related activities

Area of new plantation

Area under new management regime

Quantity of fuelwood harvested

Quantity of timber harvested

Quantity of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) harvested

Revenue collected by sales of forest products

Area taken over by forest squatters

Number of families staying in the forest as squatters

Number of legal cases against forest offences, poaching and trafficking of wild life products

Fire and other incidents

B. Data for community forestry and related activities

Area of handed over community forests.

Number of Forest User Groups formed.

Total number of families involved.

Area of new plantation done in handed over community forests.

The Department of Forest has three main divisions. Each division is independent in terms of their functioning under the over all supervision of the Director General. The Department mainly takes care of field implementation of development programs (Appendix1).

District Forest Offices in 74 districts implement forestry development activities. Many bilateral projects are being run in different districts. The Planning and Monitoring Division coordinates the annual planning process among all the projects. District forest offices, after the completion of the fiscal year, report the progress of implemented activities to respective divisions in the Department: For example, the area of plantation and type of species planted by a forest user group is reported to Community Forestry Division of the Department. Similarly, the detail of area of harvested, timber sold etc. is reported to National Forest Division. In the same way, the revenue details go to Financial Administration Section.

Each division holds this information separately. The Planning and Monitoring Division at the end of each fiscal year compiles necessary information for making composite annual report to forward to the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation and National Planning Commission. The list of forestry data available including in Forest Department is shown in Appendix 5.

The Management Information System (MIS) pertaining to community forestry is the one, which is managed under DBMS in the Department of Forest. Various queries regarding community forestry can be expedited. The database is maintained in MS ACESS platform. A number of tables are created and unique identifier, the FUG code numbers, is used in order to relate various tables with each other. Every year, each district forest office fills a data input form and sends it to Community Forestry Division. Thus, the information contained in the system is updated annually. This information system has long been serving the community forestry related information to outsiders. The MIS is the authentic outlet in community forestry related matters.

5. Existing DBMS in Forestry Sector bilateral Projects

Most of the donor-funded projects are catering the need of the community forestry component in the country. The list of main projects working in the forestry sector is presented in Appendix 4. Each of these projects have their own data acquisition and retrieval mechanism. The existing Management Information System (MIS) in the Department of Forest was started during 1990 in the previous phase of the present day Community Forestry Field Implement Component (CFFIC), then World Bank funded Hill Community Forestry Development Project (July 1989 – June 1999).

The British government has been funding the forestry sector projects for a long time. The British project, Nepal UK Community Forestry Project (NUCKFP), has it's own model of data capture and retrieval. A forest user group (FUG) database has been developed in Koshi hill area as a central information bank. The database runs in dbase program. For each FUG, up to 157 field of records covering variety of information on physical and social aspects of FUG is kept (Gayfer and Gayfer, 1993). Four types of record field are defined in the database: character field, numeric field, and logical field and memo fields. Short statements like name, address are managed in the character field while number for calculation purpose and kept in numerical fields. Logical field contains statements like "yes" or "no" whereas longer statements and brief description are kept in memo field. The same type of database is maintained in western part of the project the Dhoulagiri Hills area also. Lately, this projects has become a pioneer by introducing Photo maps, the rectified aerial photographs in community forestry planning and decision making process. This tool has been found very effective to non-literate and special interest groups (Mather, 1998). Boundary mapping of community forests has been very efficiently performed using geometrically corrected aerial photographs produced in large scales (Acharya and De Boer, 1999).

The Tree Improvement and Silviculture Component (TISC) under Natural Resource Management Sector Assistance Program (NARMSAP) is developing Iso-Potential Vegetation Maps for the whole country. These maps have identified 59 iso-potential vegetation types in the country. These maps may be used for various purposes in natural resource management and for effective planning and monitoring process from national to local levels. These maps are based on the vegetation study done by Dobremez from 1974-1984.

Other projects also collect attribute and spatial data and analyze these data for planning and monitoring. These data are much related to the community forestry development processes (SDC, 2000).

The data update is annual in all cases.

6. Forestry related DBMS with other Institutions

Recently, the Kathmandu Valley Mapping Project has conducted a survey in the capital to explore the capacity and resources in terms of hardware, software and manpower for GIS and other data management facility in Kathmandu. The survey has listed 8 institutions having different capacity of hardware, software and humanware. According to the survey, all 8 institutions have PC ranging from 80486 to PIII and back up equipment from ordinary floppy drive to CD writer. The number of professional including the system managers to digitizers ranges from 7 to 79. The institutions using DBMS software at present are different. The list has included MS ACCESS97, FOXPRO, VISUAL dBASE, and ORACLE. The GIS software they use includes: ARCINFO, ARCVIEW, CABLECAD, MAPMNDER, ILWIS and R2V. The majority of organizations were found using vector data format for GIS data layers. Only two organizations namely International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and Department of Forest Research and Survey (DFRS) use satellite imagery for land cover mapping and updating. Although the inventory is incomplete, it exhibits the characteristics of fast growing information management mechanism in the country.

Following institution hold spatial as well as non-spatial data related to the forestry sector.

Department of Forest Research and Survey

International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)

National Planning Commission Secretariat, Participatory District Development Program.

Survey Department

Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation

Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management

Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS)

The status and types of different data in different institutions is shown in Appendix 5.

In 1990, ICIMOD established Mountain Environment and Natural Resource Information Service (MENRIS) as a resource center of Hindu Kush Himalayan Region for the study and application of GIS technology. MENRIS/ICIMOD has built up a national level database integrating both spatial and non-spatial data. The source map is 1: 250 000 map of Nepal. Major themes are: National boundary, district boundary, road, river network, settlement and spot height points, elevation contours, national park and reserves system and vegetation types (ICIMOD, 1996).

The spatial database is created in ARCINFO platform and non-spatial database is maintained in dBaseIII+. The linking of non-spatial data to spatial feature is made with the spatial element "district". Socioeconomic and demographic variables have been modeled integrating spatial feature to exhibit the spatial nature of non-spatial data. In addition, Land capability and Land Use Maps of 1: 50 000 scale prepared by LRMP in 1984 have also been digitized. Similarly, MENRIS has acquired and archived satellite images and topographic layers for different areas of the country.

Recently, MENRIS has established a core Kathmandu Valley GIS database based on 1:25 000 topographic maps and remote sensing images. The database is available in an interactive CD-ROM to increase information sharing (Shrestha and Pradhan, 2000).

Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) under the National Planning Commission (NPC) Secretariat is the focal point for collecting socioeconomic and demographic data. Each year the Bureau updates the data either by projection or by primary data collection and publishes a YearBook. Nepal has a long history of census taking. The first recorded population census of Nepal was taken in 1911. This has been continued in an interval every 10 years. The first scientific census taking with modern approach was started since 1952/54 AD.

7. Use of GIS in information management

GIS technology provides a flexible set of tools to perform diverse function of government by providing data management tools to accomplish the task of managing location specific information. GIS technology makes data sharing easy such that government can work as a single enterprise. Environment System Research Institute (ESRI) products meet the largest proportion of software market in the field of GIS. According to a report by the distributor of the products for Nepal, there are more than 20 institutions which are registered as ESRI products users in Nepal (WDN, 2000) including:



National Planning Commission, Participatory District development Project

Kathmandu Municipality City Office

The King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation

Department of Survey

Department of National Parks and Wild Life Conservation

Department of Forest Survey and Research

Tribhuvan University, Geography Department

8. Key Issues

Some issues related to the database management in Nepal, particularly in the forestry sector has been identified as below:

The topographic maps of 1950s and 1990s are different in terms of their scale, graticule and spatial details.

Thematic maps prepared in 1984 using the aerial photographs of 1978/79 are not updated.

Due to changed definition and objectives, forest inventories made at different periods are not comparable with each other.

The mapping unit used during the inventory of 1960s is not compatible with the one made in 1990s. Similarly, some figures from fresh inventory can not be compared with figures of MPFS.

The establishment of permanent sample plots for the measurement of growth of the various species types at different ecological and forest types is not successful.

Planning and monitoring is becoming merely a ritual process. It does not include information that could be useful for decision making. Therefore, the need of data collection, storage and easy retrieval is not felt widely among the professionals.

Over the years technology has advanced. The supply of hardware and software has also increased in many organizations. However, the commitment of organization and professionals is seriously lacking.

9. Future need and activities

At present, different organizations have different methods of acquiring, storing, processing, analyzing and viewing spatial data. Exchanging, sharing and integrating spatial data from different sources has become increasingly important for efficient utilization of available data and to avoid duplication of work. However, at present handling of spatial information among different institutions is neither efficient nor cost-effective (Shrestha and Pradhan, 2000). Spatial data are generally unavailable or are poorly maintained, outdated, or incorrect. Maps are in different scales and have different coordinate systems making difficulty to overlay and integrate. Spatial information is not defined in a consistent manner and, therefore, of low standard. Data are not archived in such a way that they are available for use in later stages. In addition, there is insufficient interaction between the institutions and often their mandate, responsibilities and functions overlap.

It is evident that rational decisions can only be made when alternative scenarios can be projected. Sketching different scenarios is possible when data on the past and present are available. The conventional data storage in textual or tabular format has a greater disadvantage of updating, retrieval and analysis at later stages. Computer aided data storage avoids the problem associated with conventional data storage technique. Also, update and retrieval is made easy.

Assessment of the need of different types of data was made during the regional planning workshop in the winter of 2000. A data gap was identified and the participating districts agreed to make up the gap with appropriate data. Another important conclusion made out of this discussion was the lack of coordinated approach of information dissemination among development partners. Many bilateral and multilateral projects working in the forestry sector have their own mandate and their own mechanism of monitoring development activities. One of the major tasks of the central government is to evaluate whether or not the project approach in that sector is contributing to over all national development goals. It becomes only possible when the isolated efforts of a single project and program is evaluated in the light of broader national goals. In addition, the individual contribution can be counted separately.

Similarly, sub-sectorial contribution in some cases has not yet been evaluated until today. For example, there is not a real assessment of the contribution made by trees outside the forests. Although, there are ample localized findings in this sub-sector. The gross national picture is still lacking. Similarly, the contribution made by community forests in terms of forest product security, decreased vulnerability of the local people and many other direct and indirect achievements has not been counted upon. Today, the forestry sector is the largest organized institute in terms of affiliated members. For example, 1 million households are registered Forest Users Group (FUG) members throughout the country as of April 2000. The number in increasing day by day. With a national average of 5.5 persons per household, more than 25% of the total population of the country are already getting benefits from the community forests. Yet the sector is not regarded as a priority sector and we cannot execute programs necessary for the development of the sector due to unavailability of necessary fund from the central treasury. It is simply due to the reason that the sector has not sufficiently put forth the achievements and its potentiality is underestimated.

Realizing the importance of integrated data management for the forestry sector, a central databank, Integrated National Forest Database (INFDB) system is being established in the Forest Department. A national network of communication will be established where by data updated in the INFDB will be made possible from the source of origin. Data storage will be done using two basic methods. Spatial data will be stored in GIS database. Non-spatial data will be stored in digital form in Relational Database Management Systems (RDMS). As and when, non-spatial data is linked with spatial data it will be stored in GIS platform. Nevertheless, a separate, independent database for non-spatial data will also be maintained. Such attribute data comprise of biophysical and socioeconomic aspects. The proposed INFDB data collection form is in Appendix 6.

Updating database is very important since usefulness of database is dependent on how often it is updated. To make data updating easy, selective permission would be provided for updating and retrieval of data up to regional levels. This will be a phase wise activity. The updating mechanism will gradually expanded up to district level parallel with the acquisition of hardware and software. The action plan for the proposed activities is illustrated in Table 6. The plan is supposed to be implemented by Department of Forest.

Since many development activities will only be completed at the end of fiscal year, bulk of data will be collected at this time. Consequently, much of the data update will take place from the beginning of the new fiscal year, generally after 2nd week of July every year.

The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) collects socioeconomic data necessary for forestry purpose like census and economic survey periodically. In Nepal, CBS is an apex body that takes care of collection, storage, update and dissemination of such data. Mechanism will be established to acquire such data in digital form and update the Integrated National Forest Database (INFDB) periodically.

Coordination will be maintained with line Departments like Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management (DSWM), Department of National parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), and Department of Forest Research and Survey (DFRS). Since the primary user of DFRS output is the Department of Forest, a very close cooperation will be made wild this Department.

Table 6. Future Action Plan

Similarly, a network among the regional countries will be made in order to facilitate data sharing. The publication of data will also be made in the network. Department of Forest, Nepal, will maintain appropriate web site for this activity. This will be very useful to international organizations, researches and other interested stakeholders in the forestry sector of Nepal. International organizations like FAO will be benefited by such arrangement for its Global Forest Resource Assessment Program. The publication of information in World Wide Web will take about two years since it takes some time to the Department to start with.

All geo-referenced data will be prepared, processed and stored in a GIS environment. Department of Forest will establish a functional GIS laboratory as soon as possible. Complimentary hardware and software will be acquired. Donors supporting the forestry sector have also shown their willingness to support the Department to establish such facility.

As it is evident from the preceding section of this report, much of the topographical and land use data layer is already converted into digital form by many agencies like Survey Department (Topo map of 1: 25 000 and 1: 50 000), ICIMOD and PDDP (LRMP maps of 1: 50 000, population and political boundary maps). These will be acquired and added in the proposed GIS database of the Department.

Since manpower development is the crucial step, training and refresher courses will be organized for the concerned officials in the Department and Regional Offices. People will be sent for training organized by the Department of Geography, Tribhuvan University and outside periodically. The Planning and Monitoring Division in the Forest Department will coordinate all these activities to be expedited in stipulated time.

Reliable and accurate information is the basis of sustainable development. Planning decisions are guided by spatial information. There is an urgent need of developing cooperation and coordination among donor funded projects, national and international non-government organizations (NGOs), government organizations (GOs) and other development partners for an integrated approach of information management. A common platform where all stakeholders can interact is necessary. Defining data quality, formulation of data sharing policy and specifications, policy level intervention and technical backstopping are some pressing issues to be taken care immediately. Therefore, a national level apex body to collect update and disseminate all spatial data of the country, Central Bureau of Remote Sensing and GIS (CBRS/GIS) is necessary. This body should have the same mandate as provided to CBS for socioeconomic data collection. Although, the Survey Department has been involved in many of these activities, the Department, however, is more occupied with preparation of basic topographic maps and cadastral activities. Similarly, DFRS Nepal is the focal point for RS/GIS activity in ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific) region. But the Department is having a mandate confined around mapping and conducting inventories of forest resources. Therefore, such agency should cater the demand of various organizations and coordinate with the recent developments in the sector. Preferably, such body should be under the aegis of National Planning Commission (NPC).

The Government should formulate the policy of information automatization in all of its agencies. As envisaged in the ninth Five Year Development Plan of the country (1998- 2002) Planning and Monitoring Section of every ministry and the Departments of the central government should be in the node of network. This will facilitate information sharing and bring efficiency in program monitoring.

All departments and ministries should slowly and gradually switch over towards automatization of their day to day activities. Existing PC and accessories should not be used merely as replacement for typewrites. Orientation courses for senior officials of the departments and ministries of the central government should be organized by concerned ministries or by the proposed apex body, CBRS/GIS. Similarly, skill development training on different aspects of database management should be organized by concerned ministries, departments to their officials. Provision of funding database management, networking and e-governance should be made during the formulation of new project or periodic review of on going projects.

Internet or Intranet communication networking is necessary among the regional stakeholders working in the forestry sector. Department of Forest should take on initiative in establishing and functioning of such a network. The possible international and regional partners developing such a network would be FAO, ITTO, WWF, ICIMOD, DFID, USAID, UNEP and ESCAP.

To summary:

1. it is recommended that an apex body Central Bureau of Remote Sensing/Geographical Information System (CBRS/GIS) be formed with the mandate same as Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) for spatial data management.

2. donor agencies should support the government initiative of information


3. training/workshop should be organized for high officials of the central government towards the importance if dBase management, e- governance and networking.

4. skill generating training should be provided to individuals directly working in database management and related activities.

5. sharing spatial and non-spatial data for integrated planning process should be made easy through appropriate policy intervention.


Many people have been visited (Appendix 2) during the preparation of this report. They deserve special appreciation for providing relevant information form their organizations. Mr. Dhruba Acharya, DFO, Kathmandu; Mr. Vijay Prasad Singh, Tree Improvement Officer, Department of Forest; Dr. Bigyan Acharya, Environment and Forestry Program Specialist, USAID have reviewed the report thoroughly and provided their valuable comments and suggestions. Mr. I. S. Karki, Director General, Department of Forest and Mr. B. K. Khanal, Deputy Director General, Department of Forest have also made major contribution, particularly in the future action plan part of the report. I am indebted to all of them.


Acharya, B. R., 2000. Present status of Survey Department of Nepal. Paper presented in 15th UN Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and pacific, 11- 14 April, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Acharya and de Boer, 1999. Aerial Photographs in Community Forestry, in Nepal UK Community Forestry Annual Report , part 2 (1997-1998), 48-54pp.

Dueker, K. J.1980. An approach to integrated information system for planning. In Kramer J. King J (eds.) Computer in Local Government Urban and Regional Planning. Auerbach Publishers Inc., Pennasuken, 2-12 pp.

Gayfer, J. and Gayfer, B., 1993. FUG Database: User Guide. Koshi Hills Community Forestry Development Project, Dhankuta.

Goodchild, M. F., 1991. The Technological Setting of GIS. In Maguire D. J. et al (eds.) Geographical Information Systems: principal and Application.Longman London.

ICIMOD, 1996. GIS Database of Key Indicators of Sustainable Mountain Development in Nepal. Mountain Environment and Natural Resources Information Service (MENRIS), International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu.

Kleinn, C., 1994. Forest Resources Inventories in Nepal Status Quo, Needs, Recommendations. FRIS Project Paper No. 1, Forest Resource Information System Project (FRISP), HMGN/ FINNIDA, Katmandu.

Mathaer, R. A., 1998. Evaluation of the Potential for GIS based technologies to support the forest management information requirments of the forest User Group institution. Nepal UK Community Forestry Project Part II, Kathmandu.

MPFS, (1988). Master Plan for Forestry Sector in Nepal, Forest Resource Information Status and Development Plan. Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, Kathmandu, Nepal, 232pp.

NRSC, 1985. A Brief Introduction To National Remote Sensing Center (NRSC), Kathamndu.

Pariyar, M. and Singh, G., (1995). Detecting land-use/land cover changes using remote sensing and GIS in Chitwan district of Nepal. Asia Pacific Remote Sensing Journal.

SDC, 2000, Annual Reports 1998/1999, Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), Nepal.

Shrestha and Pradhan, 2000. Kathmandu Valley GIS Database bridging the data Gap, International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu.

Survey Department, 1998. National Mapping (Issues and Strategies), 46pp.

WDN, 2000. GIS Vision 2000. Paper by World Distribution Nepal in a Seminar 8& 9 February 2000.

List of Institutes/Persons Visited and Discussed

L. Joshi
Technical Adviser
Natural Resource Management Sector Assistance Program (NARMSAP)
Post Box 8713, Kathmandu
Tel: 977 1 228954

Arther Ph. Neher, M. Sc.
GIS specialist
Project Implementation Manager
Kathmandu Velley Mapping Programme
GPO BOX 20444

Babu Ram Acharya
Director General
Survey Department
Tel: 977-1-479417
Kathmandu, Nepal

A. V. Parajuli
Deputy Director General
Department of Forest Research and Survey
Post Box 3339, Kathmandu, Nepal\
Tel: 977 1 224943

Bigyan Acharya, Ph. D.
Environment and Forestry Program Specialist
P. O. Box 5653, Kathmandu, Nepal

Binod Bhatta, Ph. D.
Resource Management specialist
Winrock Internaitonal
APPROSC Building
Post Box 1312, Kathmandu

Dhurba Acharya
District Forest Officer, Kathmandu
Tel. 977 1 434857

Karl Schuler
Assistant Team Leader
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Ekanta Kuna, Jawulakhel
Post Box 113, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 977 1 542305-7

Kesher Man Bajracharya, Ph. D.
Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (RONAST)
PO Box 3323, New Baneswor, Kathmandu

N. K. Shrestha
Computer officer
National Planning Commission Secretariat
Kathmandu, Nepal\
Tel: 977 1 222749

N. R. Budathoki
Computer officer
Land Information System (LIS) Project
His Majesty's Government of Nepal
Ministry of Land Reform and management
Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 977 1 222749

R. R. Sharma
GIS Officer
Department of Forest Research and Survey
Post Box 3339, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 977 1 224943

R.B. Joshi
Director General
Department of Forest Research and Survey

Rabin Kazi Sharma
(Photogrammetric Engineer)
Chief Survey Officer
Survey Department
Tel: 977-1-479417 Kathmandu, Nepal

Robin Aus Der Beek
Forestry Adviser
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Ekanta Kuna jawulakhel
Post Box 113
Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 977 1 542305-7

Samindra Acharya
MIS Assistant
Babarmahal, Kathmandu

Sudeep Pokharel
Technical Manager
World Wide Distribution Nepal, PVT. LTD.
Post Box 11291, Kathmandu

Sushil Pradhan
GIS Analyst
International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)
Post Box 3226, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 525313(Office)

List of Division/District Level Inventory Conducted

Name of division/Districts Date of inventory Place


1. Mechi division 1973 Jahpa and Ilam districts.

2. Biratnagar Division 1980 Morang and Sunsari districts.

3. Janakpur Division 1971 Dhanusha Mahottari and Sarlahi districts.

4. Chitwan District 1994 Chitwan district.

1974 TCN Reserve.

5. Makawanpur 1994 Makawanpur district.

6. Nuwakot and Rasuwa 1977 Nuwakot and Rasuwa districts.

7. Kapilbastu Division 1972 Arghakanchi and kapilbastu districts.

8. Lumbini Division 1974 Palpa, Nawalparasi and Rupandehi districts.

1992 Rupendehi district.

1993 Nawalparasi district.

1994 Palpa district.

9. Banke Division 1969 Banke and Bardiya districts.

1986 Banke district.

1987 Bardiya district.

10. Kailali Division 1970 Kailali district.

1989 Kailali district.

1990 Kanchanpur district.

Bilateral Projects associated with Forestry Sector

Natural Resource Management Sector Assistance Program (NARMSAP), Community Forestry Field Implementation Component (CFFIC). This component funded by DANIDA is being implemented in the 38 districts of the hills of Nepal,. The districts are: Taplejung, Pachthar, Ilam, Solukhumbu, Khotang and Udayapur in eastern development region. Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Dhading and Makawanpur in central development region. Gorkha, Lamjung. Tanahu, Manang, Kaski, Syanga, Palpa, Rupendehi, Gulmi and Arghakhanchi in western development region. Dolpa, Jumla, Mugu. kalikot, Humla, Jajarkot, Dailekh and Surkhet in mid western development region. Bajura, Acham, Bajhang, Doti, Darchula, Baitadi, and Dadeldhura in Far Western Dev. region.

Hill Leasehold Forestry and Forage Project (HLFFP). This project is implemented in 10 districts of central and western development region. They are: Sindhuli, Ramechap, Dolakha, Sindhupalchock, Kavre, Makawanpur, Chitwan, Tanahu, Dhading and Gorkha, The project is funded by International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and technical cooperation from FAO.

Nepal Australia Community Resource Management Project (NARCMP). It is funded by Australia and covers two districts (Sindhupalchock and Kavre in central Nepal).

Nepal UK Community Forestry Project (NUKCFP). Operational in 7 hill districts, 4 in eastern hills; Dhankuta, Terathum, Sankhuwasabha, Bhojpur and three in western hills; Myagdi, Parbat, Baglung, funded by the Department of International Development (DFID), UK.

Nepal Swiss community Forestry Project (NSCFP). Covers three hill districts: Dolakha, Ramechap and Okaldunga in the central and eastern hills of Nepal. This project is supported by Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC).

Environment and Forest Enterprises Activity (EFEA). Covers eight districts in western and Far-Western development region (three in Terai, Kailali, bardiya and Banke, one in inner Terai, Dang and four in Hills , Rukum, Rolpa, Pyuthan and Salyan). This project is being supported by USAID.

Churia Community Forestry Development Project (ChCFP). Implemented in three districts which includes two Terai: saptari and Siraha and one Inner Terai: Udayapur, districts. This project is operating in the financial support of GTZ.

Community and Private Forestry Component (CFPC) and Tree Improvement and Silivculture Component (TISC) are special programs being funded by DANNIDA under the NARMSAP. The area for CPFC is as for CFFIC. The TISC command area is the entire country.

List of Database available with different Institutions

A. Department of Forest

Operational Forest Management Plans for 19 districts (with Management map 1:25 000 and District maps in 1: 50 000 scale and other socioeconomic data of the district)

District Working Scheme (Updated version) 74 districts.

Data on Forest Development Activities (Update every year in district basis, 74 districts)

New Plantation (Area with map)

Demarcation (Area with map)

Management (Area with map)

Data on Forest Products harvesting (Updated every year in district basis, 74 districts)

Timber harvested

Fuelwood harvested

Other Forest Products harvested

Revenue collected

Data on Community Forestry

More than 9000 Operational Plans, updated regularly,

with forest map and inventory results.

Area handed over.

User Group formed.

Household involved.

Miscellaneous data (Updated annually for 74 districts in district basis)

Legal cases

Squatters family

Fire incidents

Theft and Trafficking of plant and animal parts

B. Department of Forest Research and Survey (DFRS)

Forest Cover Map of Nepal by Development Region based on Landsat 5 and 6, TM imagery 1991.

Statistical data on forest inventory (Based on sampling) which includes:

Forest Type (DFI) and Cover by area

Forest Density

Volume per unit forest area

Growing Stock

District level inventory data

Aerial Photographs 1964

Satellite image (color composite mosaic) for the country.

C. Department of Soil and Watershed Management (DSWM)

Sub-Watershed Management Plan with Maps

Erosion status map (1:250 000 scale) for Mechi and Koshi zones

Erosion Status Maps of central Development regions

D. Department of Mines (DM)

Digital maps of Katmandu and Pokhara valley

Geological maps for entire Nepal (1:250 000)

Geological mapping completed for the middle mountain region (1:50 000)

Five Geological maps (1:50 000) are under production


Digital Data of LRMP land Utilization and Land Capability Maps (1:50 000)

Digital Data of contours and drainage 1: 2000 000

Digital data of contours, drainage roads, settlements, protected areas (1:250 000)

Katmandu valley GIS data

Region/District boundary

Contour, road, drainage, Land use, service (1: 25 000)

Satellite Images (IRS-C, SPOT-XS, SPOT-PAN)

5. Satellite Images for different area of the country


Ecological maps of Nepal on digital Format based on 1:250 000 USGS topo maps

Ecological Zones Based On forest species (more than 50 Zones Classified on the maps)

G. National Planning Commission, Participatory District Development Project (PDDP)

District spatial database for 21 district (Land Utilization, land Systems and Land capability) 1: 50 000

Flood database for 5 districts of central development region

District and Village Development Committee (VDC) boundary map for all 75 districts of the country.

Inventory of settlement level services data

Inventory of VDC level services data

Population data for all 75 districts

Agriculture and food production database

Human Settlement database.

H. Survey Department

1. Topographic Maps 1: 25 000; 1: 50 000

2. Development Regions –Nepal 1: 500 000

3. Three Sheet map of Nepal 1: 500 000

4. Zonal Map 1: 250 000

5. District Map 1: 125 000

6. City Map (Kathmandu) 1: 5 000

7. LRMP Maps 1: 50 000

8. Aerial Photographs 1: 50 000

9. Digital data 1: 25 000

10. Map of Nepal 1: 1000 000

I. Department of National Parks and Wildlife Reserve

Information regarding biodiversity, parks and wildlife etc.







Forest Area:- (ha)


Community Forest:


Government Managed Forest;


Community Forest Development;


Community Forest:-


No. Of FUGS:-


Private Forest:-


Total area Handed over (ha):-


Leasehold Forest:-


Area under management :-


Religious forest:-


No. of household involved:-


Forest use (other purpose):-


M/F Ratio in FUG:-




CF Managed by Woman:-


Government Managed Forest




Forest Products Extracted;


Forest products Extracted From CF;


Timber (cft):-


Timber (cft):-


Fuel wood (kg):-


Fuel wood (kg):-


NTFP (kg):-






NTFP (kg):-














Royalty from forest product;


Consumption Of FP; Within FUG Without FUG






Fuel wood:-






Fuel wood:-














Forest offence:-


Income from CF


No. of Forest offence:-




Case registered in DFO:-


Fuel wood:-


Case registered in DC:-




Case decided:- DFO DC




Case to be decided :- DFO DC




Case in appeal court:-


Average Income:-


No. Of forest offender:- M F






Expenditure of FUG










Private Forest:-


Training Program:


Total Area of Private forest (PRF):-


Forest Resource based Income generation:-


No of PRF Registered in DFO:-




No.of Private Nursery(PN):-


Adoption:- M: F:


No. of seedlings sold by PN:-




Spp with in dist. Outside


Personnel Administration




Total no. of Post:-




Designation:- Post Present Vac.






Seedlings distributed by DFO:-






No. of persons under departmental disciplinary action:-


Leasehold Forest:-


Financial Administration


Total Area Handed over:-


Total budget:-


No. of groups:-




No. of Organization:-




Average Area/ family:-




Average family no/group:-




Royalty from LF:-








Plantation Activities:- comm. Subt.




Community Forest:




Government managed forest:-




community Forest:-




Private Forest:-




Leasehold Forest:-




Religious forest:-











Comments (Please write any other relevant information)

b) Electronic Network

Development of electronic network to promote technical consultation and access to information over Internet for integrated and coordinated forest planning in Nepal

Santosh Nepal
Department of Forest
Nepal, May, 2000

Table of contents

1. Background

2. Existing Method of Program Monitoring and Data Sharing

3. Present Situation of Hardware, Software and Connection

4. Future plan

5. Human Resource

6. Conclusion

1. Background

FAO Country Capacity Building Project has been supporting the Department of Forest, Nepal in establishing an Internet connection in the Planning Division of the Department in order to strengthen the planning process through sustained access to information. Accordingly, the department has established the functional Internet connection and gradually automating its information storage system through building the personnel capacity and upgrading existing hardware and software system in the department. This report briefly describes the status and future plan of data storage, retrieval and dissemination in and out of the forest department.

2. Existing Method of Program Monitoring and Data Sharing

Department of Forest has three main divisions. Each division is independent in terms of their functioning under the over all supervision of the Director General. The Department mainly takes care of field implementation of development programs. The organization chart of forest Department is in figure 1.

District Forest Offices implement forestry development activities at the district level. Many bilateral projects supported by donor agencies are being run in different districts. Planning and monitoring division coordinates the annual planning process among all the projects. District forest offices, after the completion of the fiscal year report the progress of implemented activities to respective divisions in the department. For e.g., the acreage of plantation, and species etc. by a forest user group is reported to Community Forestry Division. Similarly, the detail of area of harvested, timber sold etc. is reported to National Forest Division. Each division holds this information separately in respective division.

The Planning and monitoring division at the end of each fiscal year goes to each division and collect necessary information for making composite annual report to forward to Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation and National Planning Commission.

3. Present Situation of Hardware, Software and Connection

Currently the department has more than 16 units of personal computers (PCs) in all the divisions. Different projects working in close association with respective divisions have an equal number of PCs. The Planning and Monitoring Division has successfully connected every unit of PC from each division in a network, so information in public domain is made available to interested stakeholders and easily shared between different division. Similarly, the department is equipped with necessary software for database management system. However, software and peripheral hardware to run a GIS software is slacking in the department.

4. Future plan

After the completion of the networking within the department, the vision of Forest Department is to make electronic data transfer possible between other Departments and Ministry and National Planning Commission.

An Intranet communication will be made between the forest department and 5 Regional Forestry Offices through dial up networking. At the moment, there are PCs and modems available in 5 Regional Forestry Offices in 5 development regions (Fig 1) and only few districts (about 12) have PC but more than 70 district offices have telephone connection. The service will be gradually expanded to district forest offices that will have PC units and telephone connection. This way collection of data and sharing among the stakeholders will be made easy in coming years in the future.

It is anticipated that a regional network among the regional countries in SAARC region will also be maintained in order to facilitate the information sharing. A lab with GIS software and data input facility will be established in the planning and monitoring division for collection and updating of geo referenced data. Other attribute data will be collected as usual and entered in DBMS in the department until the regional offices are good enough for updating information of their region. These data sets, after formatting, editing and analysis are used in various decision support systems in planning and monitoring process. Similarly the data will be made available to international agencies like FAO for its global resource assessment work over the Internet.

5. Human Resource

The Department of Forest is building the capacity of its officials by providing training to run different application packages. The most important among other application programs is Database Management System and publication over the network. Similarly, a short training on GIS application is also being provided to concerned officials so that spatial data input and retrieval mechanism will be made easy.

6. Conclusion

Forest department has recently entered into the arena of Internet. Now, the department is slowly automating its information storage and retrieval activities. The department is advocating for procurement of PC units for districts forest offices to the respective donor agencies and to support the district office until the office becomes able to handle the system independently. The department itself is routinely sending staff to software application training. The donors are also supporting in this endeavour of the department. Some donor-funded projects have already introduced spatial analysis mechanism in district level planning process. They are slowly introducing Aerial Photograph for various activities including forest boundary delineation, user segregation and area mapping. In future, relevant spatial and attribute data for planning will be made available through a well-accepted process of information management system.

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