The community forest management groups (CFMGs) in the country are generating substantial income through timber sales from their Community Forests (CFs). The absence of proper guidelines for timber-marketing however proves a deterrent for many to venture into the same field.
The CFMGs can now look forward to better-streamlined timber marketing with Social Forestry Division (SFD) under Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS) in the process to develop or formulate timber marketing guidelines for the CFs.
CFMGs across the country are highly hesitant and skeptical of timber business in the absence of a definite marketing guideline for the timber commerce.
“The guideline will facilitate and guide the timber sales from CF,” said Karma Jigme Temphel of social forestry division. He said the development of specific guidelines will be done after comprehensive stakeholders meetings and workshops which will include the CFMG members.
The SFD official said that currently such timber marketing is reflected nowhere in the policies and rules.
The guideline currently is at the conceptual development stage and before implementation it will go through field tests.
The country currently faces an acute shortage of timber a gaping difference of 1.84mn cft between supply and demand.
A prominent reason for the shortage lay in the fact that majority of the community forests in Bhutan have harvested, way below the Annual Harvesting Limits (AHL). This is further substantiated in studies conducted in the past which mentions, community forest management groups harvest timber conservatively and at levels below the prescriptions in the CF management plan. The studies stated that the community forest management groups are very careful while they harvest forest products from the CFs.
All things considered, there is a need to standardize and encourage more CFs into timber sale which the studies mentioned as long overdue. This will have far reaching impacts not only in closing the timber-shortage gap but also on the poverty reduction which is predominantly a rural phenomenon.
A CF seminar on poverty held at Bumthang specified there is no such thing as standard timber marketing procedures at the national level and the procedure adopted by most of the CFs when it comes to timber marketing is based on trial and error.
It is deemed most vital the timber marketing guidelines be formulated so that the CFs are encouraged to indulge in timber marketing.