On March 8th, 2023, AFFON celebrated its 9th anniversary in Kathmandu, Nepal with the participation of members of parliament, government agencies, donors, partner organizations, family forest farmers, media personnel, steering committee members, general members, and staff. The Chief Guest of the event, Hon. Ganesh Timilsina, Chairperson of the National Assembly of Nepal inaugurated the event by lighting the lamp. The celebration was a grand success with a large number of people from different backgrounds coming together to mark the occasion.
Mr. Laxman Pathak, Vice Chairperson of Koshi province of AFFON in his welcome speech expressed his appreciation for the presence of all the esteemed delegates and extended his gratitude to all the participants for taking part in this program. Ms. Ganga Maya Neupane in her presentation highlighted AFFON’s key achievements of the year and described the organizational mechanism and structure.
During his address, Hon. Ganesh Timilsina, the chief guest, raised a thought-provoking question to the Ministry of Forest and Environment, asking why we cannot create a farmers-friendly policy that does not harm anyone, including individuals, political parties, and ministries. He also emphasized the importance of enacting pro-people regulations and guidelines for family forest owners.
In his virtual address, Mr. Antti Sahi, the Chairperson of IFFA, highlighted the critical role of small holder forest farmers in sustaining the livelihoods of billions of people worldwide. He urged governments, academics, and donor agencies to recognize the significance of these communities and work towards providing them with the necessary support and resources.
After a brief welcome, the Chairperson of AFFON addressed the policy gaps in the current Forest Act and regulation, emphasizing the clauses that are detrimental to the welfare of people. He expressed concern that the present act is more regressive than the past act and includes provisions that curtail the forest rights of the people, which can negatively impact the development of forests. The Chairperson identified specific clauses that require revision and presented his recommendations for amendments that can address the gaps in the policy.
During the event, several speakers echoed the concerns raised by AFFON and pledged their support to the cause. They expressed their willingness to collaborate and work together towards achieving the shared goal.
The program achieved significant milestones as the parliament members and government officials committed to promoting family forest-friendly policies and laws at the national and provincial level, while the Mayor and Chairperson of the Rural Municipality pledged to formulate similar policies and laws and include the family forest program in their local-level planning process. Guests emphasized the importance of conserving forests for agricultural production, controlling floods and sedimentation, and mitigating the effects of climate change. The President Chure Conservation Program was also linked to the Family and Private Forest Program as a means of reducing pressure on national/community forests. During the event, AFFON presented a position paper with 18 demands, signed by general and executive members from central, provincial, and district chapters, to the members of the parliament.