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Forest and Nature Conservation Bill of Bhutan 2021

Date Introduced: 02 December 2021
Date Passed: 25 December 2021
Type: Government Bill
Status: Committee Stage

Forest and Nature Conservation Bill of Bhutan 2021

Comments on Bill

The Hon. Minister
MoAF

Once the bill is approved and come into effect as an act, Your Excellency, as the minister of MoAF has one extra duty to fulfill. When DoFPS drafts the rules, please kindly consider the following issues for the benefit of both forest conservation and public service:
1. The DoFPS has created a very short duration to mark the trees, fell, crosscut, saw and transport the timbers to the construction site. The duration is so short that even their staffs in the field are also having difficulty to follow.
2. In some offices, only one staff is there and when he/she has to go on leave for unforeseen reasons, the timing for the above-mentioned activities cannot be followed and the permit holders have to wait for the next season.
3. In some offices, all approvals are given en bloc, which again affects the set timing and is again a mess for both the public and the field staffs.

Therefore, kindly do the public a favour by considering the following request:
1. Do not allow the DoFPS to set timing like the existing one which is not conducive for both the public and the field staffs.
2. DFPS cite the reason that felling of trees and carrying out other related activities in wrong time is effecting the regeneration. Here your Excellency has to note that the public are not carrying out mass-scale logging operations. We are given trees on singletree selection basis once in 25/12 years (new construction/renovation). The impact on regeneration is just perceived and not confirmed through any research.
3. Allow the public to have the freedom to take the service (which we get once in a decade) whenever we like.
By Pasang, 12/01/2022 01:17:54
In the chapter 11 of section 237 there is some error. It states that \\\"An informer reporting the information on commission of forest offence Shall be done in good faith and shall not report false information to a harrase the other person. \\\" The word \\\"a \\\" should be removed from the sentence as it is making the sentence improper. In the chapter 11 of section 237 there is some error. It states that \\\"An informer reporting the information on commission of forest offence Shall be done in good faith and shall not report false information to a harrase the other person. \\\" The word \\\"a \\\" should be removed from the sentence as it is making the sentence improper. It should rather be \\\" shall not report false information to harass the other person\\\"
By Tshering Wangchuk, 05/01/2022 09:38:19
Section no. 17. Any forestry official may stop and search any conveyance carrying forest produce or product at the designated check gate or check point.
Comments: Stopping and searching should not be limited to designated check gate or check point as the conveyance tends to transport illegal forest produces or products beyond designated check gate and check point. The current rules lack Forestry official enforcement empowerment beyond check point and gates.
Section no. 24. Any seized forest produce pertaining to wild flora listed under Schedule II and III shall be confiscated with the payment of fine as prescribed in the Rules and compensation at fair market value. In the event, the seized forest produce other than special class timber is to be released; the offender shall pay cost at fair market value in addition to fine and compensation.
Comments: Any forest produce confiscated involves fine and compensation and releasing involves fair market value, fine and compensation.This rule doesn’t apply equity and justice to intentional offences for commercials uses and unintentional offences for rural uses. In most cases this rule implies imposing higher amount of fine and compensations to the rural flocks where the offence is being committed for subsistence living and need seeking forest produces releasing with genuine need. Whereas confiscating forest produces is being done for offender with commercial interest and land up paying comparatively less fine amount. In many cases illegal happens unknowingly where different penalty payment for confiscation and realising are not applicable. It would be more applicable if the payments are based on confiscation (fine only) and releasing (fine and compensation) of forest produces respectively.
Section no. 145. Any drift timber found stranded or sunk shall become property of the State, if no person can establish a valid right of ownership within one month from the date of notification as prescribed in the Rules. In the event the timber is not claimed, it may be allowed for collection with permit.
Comments: Need to specify if issuance of permit is allowed for rural, commercial or both rural &commercial;.
Section no. 167. The Department shall also carry out inspection of forest produce movement through designation of checkpoint.
Comments: same as commented in section no. 17 above.
Section no. 202. Any person carrying out any activity in the State Forest Reserved Land without forestry clearance from the Department is an offence under this Act and shall be liable for payment of fines as prescribed in the Rules and payment of restoration cost determined based on the acreage of area damaged.
Comments: Require clear mention of determination of restoration cost based on dimensions like area, length, depth and etc, often we deal with illegal with clearing and digging in height, length and depth.

Section no. 210. Any person who commits an offence listed under Sections 169 to 209 of this Act for second time shall be liable for payment of 50% additional fine on the fine component imposed for commission of that offence, additional fine of 100% and 200% for commission of an offence for three and more times.
Comments: Any person who commits an offence listed under Sections 169 to 209 of this Act for 2nd time and more should be as prescribed in the rules.
(Protection regarding forestry officials while on duty should be included in act eg. Harrassing, abusing, assaulting, battering, mis-guiding, impersoatingetc)
By Yeshey, 15/12/2021 11:09:58
Chapter II
Department of Forests and Park Services 7.
The Department as a custodian of forest and forest produce, shall be responsible to:
(1)
(2)
.
.
(5) Promote effective public participation and partnership in preparation of conservation and management plan.
Comment: This should be rewritten as “Promote effective public participation and partnership in preparation of conservation plans and management of forest and forest produce”
Participation alone in making plans alone is not enough as often this would be dictated by the civil servants. In a truly participatory manner people should be empowered by partaking role in the making plans as well as in actual implementation of the plans. Only then people will feel being part of the larger picture and embrace conservation policies and support whatever possible at their level.


Also check if this “(15) Establish a forest check gate and designate a checkpoint” has not be changed recently and brought under police in integrated check post management???


Chapter V: Under Nature conservation there is blanket protection and nothing on how these different flora and fauna conservation shall be regulated. There should a threshold population beyond which it is a mess and people should be allowed to hunt such as game tourism, etc., to control the population. Also there needs to be a mechanism how and what ways people will be compensated when their crops and animals are predated or depredated? The natural conservation rules have always implied conservation these wild fauna is more important than people’s livelihood. We cannot go on making such laws that undermine human survival mechanisms, prioritizing wild fauna over human livelihood. Such laws are the reason for rural -urban migration, gungtong issues, and gender issues with men outmigration.

Grazing and Tsamdro:
Although the Land Act 2007 has nationalized all tsamdros, they have not completed leasing tsamdro land for grazing purposes yet. It has just begun from Sakteng drungkhag. Quite a large number of animals belonging to migratory herders still graze in the SRF erstwhile tsamdros. There is nothing mentioned in this bill about how the grazing will be allowed and regulated. This has direct implication to livelihood of people dependent largely on livestock.
By Kuenga Namgay, 14/12/2021 12:35:53
1. Collection of Fauna : It means live animal or death animal little confused. If it is for the death animal then penalty of fourth degree felony is very high coz somehow other way death animal will be decayed in the forest so my suggestion to this if govt can keep misdemeanor as a penalty. Thanks
2. Export of Timber : I strongly feel that govt should allow the export of timbers from the private land to improve the economic livelihood of the people.
By Tshewang, 14/12/2021 10:09:48
Chapter 3, section: 47: to restrict an allotment of timber’s within 600 feet uphill and 300 feet downhill or 100 feet in flat land for all type of roads as every kind of roads are economical and importance with more or less same amount of traffic and usage which need to be equally conserved from soil erosion, help reduce traffic noises and dust as barriers thereby improving the aesthetic of the road avenue.

Chapter 4, section 56: community forestry members should have right over water resources too. As most of the successful community forest groups like yakgang CF at mongar facilitating municipal water supply, Paro tsento CF groups facilitating drinking water supply to group of private companies , Ranhzhing kuenphen CF at Gasa servicing hot stone bath through menchus are enthusiastic in conserving and sustainable use of their CF just because of empowering them in usage of water resource and ensuring continue supply of water to their clients.
By Karma lhundup, 08/12/2021 12:31:19
Article 47: The allotment of timber from any State Reserved Forest Land within 600 feet uphill and 300 feet downhill or 100 feet on both sides of the flat land from the centre of the national highway; 400 feet uphill and 200 feet downhill or 70 feet on both sides of flat land from the centre of the Dzongkhag Road and 200 feet uphill and 100 feet downhill or 50 feet on both sides of flat land from the centre of the farm road and other roads shall not be permitted except in forest road as per the Management Plan.
Comment: This section has to be thoroughly discussed. It talks about not allotting timbers within the buffers prescribed but the same section, while under Forest &Nature; Conservation Act(F&NCA;), 1995, has been used to reject forestry clearances for land allotments even when removal of trees were not required. Yes, it is justifiable not to go for logging/large scale removal of trees near the roads but this section has also hampered many land allotments for exchange, lease and substitute. Land allotments has to be encouraged nearby roads so that the government does not have to construct roads over longer distances and also most of the existing settlements were already along the roads. Therefore, when this article is being discussed, please deliberate how that this article could hamper the land allotment processes.
Article 50:Forestry clearance shall not be issued for any activity in State Reserved Forest Land which fall in:
Article 50(2): High forest, declared wetland, within 600 feet uphill and 300 feet downhill or 100 feet on both sides of the flat land from the centre of the national highway, 400 feet uphill and 200 feet downhill or 70 feet on both sides of flat land from the centre of the Dzongkhag Road and 200 feet uphill and 100 feet downhill or 50 feet on both sides of flat land from the centre of the farm road and other roads, inside forest plantation with more than 25 percent survival rate, outside 200 meters of existing settlement or slope greater than 45 degrees except for national developmental activity;
Comment: As already pointed in article 47, a new article is added here as article 50(2. This was not there under F&NCA;, 1995. This article will make poor people impossible to get land allotments, be it for kidu (unless the kidu kasho specifically mentions), substitute, exchange and lease nearby roads. This section should be there if it is for mines and quarries but if, it is not specified clearly, the article will be affecting the voiceless citizens.
Article 50(3): Areas within 100 feet from the bank or edge of any water body except for collection of River Bed Material from the identified site;
Comment: This article is not required as it is already there under the water act. The only issue is that there is no one to implement the act and leads to deteriorating water qualifies mainly in the towns as a recent research done on Olarangchhu (Thimphu) has shown. The 100-feet buffer (though it is not scientifically determined how much should be the buffer) should be applied along and around all water bodies irrespective of whether they are in state-reserved forest land (SRFL) or State land (SL).
Article 61: Any private registered land may be managed as private forest for domestic and commercial harvest of forest produce as per the procedure prescribed in the Rules.
Comment: The private lands do not come under the jurisdiction of the forest act and therefore, the department of forest and park services (DoFPS). However, the DoFPS has been tightly controlling the removal of trees and other forest produces. Today one has to sign undertakings to prove how the timbers from private lands will be disposed and to state that the landowners will not seek permission for export. Yes, the export of timbers in prime form is banned, which is a good decision but controlling the trade of forest produces (especially timbers) from private lands has so many negative impacts as follows:
• The forest produces grown on private land is like any agricultural produce grown on private land, hence the landowners should have the right to export the timbers if they like.
• If timber export from private land is allowed, people will go for farm/private forestry for living if they have enough land. The export of timbers will be help in balancing trade deficit.
• The country already has access timbers lying in the NRCDL depots, collected from SRFL. So, there is no reason to stop land owners from exporting timbers from private lands.
• The reason for not allowing timber export, cited so far is that this will lead to more illegal activities. Not being able to curb illegal activities is the fault of the DoFPS, so why the land owners has to pay the price for the department’s short comings.
By Kampas, 08/12/2021 12:30:30
The export of sawn timber, dimensional timber and sawn waste in form of Billet and other unmarketable sawn timber within Bhutan should be allowed to export through one door system.
The rural timbers allotment and other forest product where NRDCL field office are present, the DoFPS should regulate supply and allotment of timber and other forest product through NRDCL, a state authorized agency.
By kinley, 06/12/2021 03:19:47
Species Number 23 under Schedule III-Plants (Page 68) Carex nigra subsp. drukyulensis could be changed to Carex drukyulensis. This is because the subspecies has now been upgraded to species rank based on a study by Jiminez-Mejias & Noltie (2016).
By Tshering Dorji, 06/12/2021 02:56:11
According to what I understood from section 24 of the proposed FNCA, if timber are siezed, we need to pay fine and compensation, whereas we need not have to pay compensation if siezed items are not released. So, I am confused. Or did I interpret it wrongly la?
By Jigme Wangchuk, 04/12/2021 09:15:46
Regarding rule no 13, power to arrest. The forest official may not be able to produce to the court within if the suspect is arrested in office working day and tomorrow is Holliday
By Tsheringla, 04/12/2021 07:55:02

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