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List of Issue Paper List of Participant Forestry in IRAN General Information




Forest & their subistance value




Both the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) which met from 1995 to 1997 and the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) drew attention to the particular needs and requirements of low forest cover countries (LFCCs) in regard to sustainable forest management and restoration of forest cover. These are not only underscored in the Non-legally binding authoritative statement of principles for a global consensus on the management of all types of forests (the “Forest Principles”) of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), but have key implications in three UNCED conventions – the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD); the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC).

This overview looks at the national situations and constraints relevant to sustainable forest management, resource conservation, policy and planning for LFCCs in five regions of the world: Asia and the Pacific, sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Near East, Central Asia,and Latin America and Caribbean. In addition, a section is included on the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), a group that comprises countries in several different geographical regions which share many common concerns. Finally, the overview identifies some features and issues shared among the regions.

In this review LFCCs are considered to be those countries having forest coverage on less than 10 percent of land area. However, it bears mention that this definition may exclude some situations with the same concerns; for example, many countries with overall forest cover above the 10 percent threshold contain within them large areas of low forest cover, while others, those with high population density, may share similar constraints based on their low forest area per caput. In addition, the economic situations of the LFCCs diverge widely, so it is difficult to generalize about the needs for development of the forestry sectors in these countries.

The paper has been prepared from inputs from FAO’s regional offices. Unfortunately a lack of available information was frequently reported. In most cases data on forest cover are from the biennial FAO publication State of the World’s Forests (SOFO).


Forests are unevenly distributed in the Asia and the Pacific region and also unevenly distributed within some countries. According to SOFO 1999 (FAO, 1999), five countries in the region have less than 10 percent forest cover: Australia (5.3 percent), Bangladesh (7.8 percent), Mongolia (6.0 percent), Pakistan (2.3 percent) and Singapore (6.6 percent). Although China falls above the LFCC threshold with 14.3 percent forested area, it demands consideration for its extensive regions of low forest cover and its very low forest cover per caput (0.1 ha).

Given their overall economic development status, including forest and forestry development, including Australia and Singapore in the category is not really relevant from the point of view of support from international communities. In addition, Singapore has embarked successfully on an urban forestry programme, and Australia has embarked successfully on a plantation programme.

A large part of Australia, particularly the interior, is arid or desert land. However, there are still potential forest areas. Australia exported 7.9 million cubic metres of industrial roundwood, 55 million cubic metres of sawnwood, 206 million cubic metres of wood-based panels, and 241 000 m3 of paper and paperboard in 1996. The country has considerable expertise in sustainable forest management techniques, including a number of private consultancy firms working for forestry. In addition, there are a number of private companies conducting research on provenance testing, plantation management and harvesting techniques.

In Bangladesh, of the total annual wood production in 1996, about 80 percent – which came mostly from homestead woodlots – was used for fuel. Annual per caput wood consumption was about 0.1 m3, one of the lowest in the world in 1996. The demand for forest products, particularly wood, was substantially fulfilled by wood from home gardens. The main problems were flooding and degradation of the watershed. In addition, the mangrove forests were not functioning well. Bangladesh launched its national forest programme (Master Plan for Forestry Development), in June 1989. It has received support, including support for legal and organizational reform, from international institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) and from donor communities, although the support from the latter has been considered insufficient.

Although Mongolia’s forest cover is low, the population was only about 2.4 million people in 1995. In line with economic reform, exports of timber have been shifted to China and other Asian countries. The main issue to be faced is better market access. The government has launched several action programmes related to forestry, including the National Environmental Action Plan, the Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan, the Action Plan for the Twenty-First Century (MAP-21), the National Plan of Action to Combat Desertification and the National Forest Programme (initial stage). Forest fires and lack of human resources have been the most serious constraints to development of the country’s forestry sector. Although Mongolia falls into the category of low-forest cover countries, it has sufficient forest products, particularly timber for domestic use and export.

Much of Pakistan lies in the arid and semi-arid zones. Desertification, associated with unsustainable agricultural practices and overgrazing in semi-arid lands, is an ongoing process and is recognized as a severe problem. The main constraints to conservation of forest resources are lack of funds and the socio-economic conditions in forest and rural areas, where people are poor and illiterate. Improving and transforming the country into a free market economy has been made a top priority. The problems are complex. The population increased from 34 million in 1951 to 140.5 million in 1995, and it is expected to reach 297.9 million by 2035. Consumption of wood for fuel (82 percent for cooking and 17.1 percent for heating) is high. The government launched a Master Plan for Forestry Development in 1993. However, support from the donor community for the implementation of the Master Plan is insufficient

Requirements and constraints for sustainable forest management

The formulation of forest policy and strategy for LFCCs in Asia and the Pacific should be based on both internal and external support. It should also be based on the sound and rational investment needed for enlarging forest cover and increasing the potential of forests – not only for timber, but also for goods and services for the benefit of the people. It would be helpful if these investment needs were enhanced through the national forest programme process, starting from identification of issues by all partners. Long-term commitment at all levels is a prerequisite for effective implementation of the Ad hoc Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) Proposals for Action, especially in regard to LFCCs.

The developed LFCCs in Asia and the Pacific – Australia and Singapore – have the capacity to develop their own forest resources. The developing LFCCs – Bangladesh, Mongolia and Pakistan – are not really suffering from a deficiency of forest products. Mongolia, with 6 percent forest cover, is exporting its timber to neighbouring countries. Thus the region illustrates that it is often not apt to group or categorize countries on the basis of their low forest cover with the intention of giving them a higher priority for development assistance, either in the form of aid for forest and natural resource management or in the form of family planning and general education and development aid.

Population pressure on forest resources is high in some countries of Asia and the Pacific, and the population is still increasing at a high rate in some of the developing countries. The region’s forest resources have also been degraded at a high rate. It is most likely that some timber-exporting countries will become net importing countries within a few years. Therefore, efforts to increase the resource potential (standing stock) and efficiency in the use of forest resources are a must for these countries. For the sake of the global environment, perhaps those countries that have a large potential for increasing their forest cover through reforestation or afforestation and those countries where the forest resource base is under the greatest strain from demographic pressures should be given special and priority attention.


According to the 1995 assessment, 20 of the 43 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had forest cover below 10 percent of the land area (FAO, 1997). This is about one-third of all the world’s developing LFCCs. Viewed from the perspective of the potential of the forests to provide goods and services, 25 of the 43 sub-Saharan African countries have per caput forest area below the threshold of 0.73. A few of these countries (Mauritania, Djibouti, Somalia, Lesotho) have forest cover below 1 percent of land area. Furthermore, because of accelerated deforestation and desertification, several other countries in sub-Saharan Africa are rapidly being reduced to the classification of low forest cover countries. The diminishing forests in the region are under the greatest threat from overgrazing, shifting cultivation, bush fires, increased human settlement and desertification (itself a result of the above).

The low forest cover status of many sub-Saharan African countries has far-reaching ecological and socio-economic consequences which need to be urgently addressed at the national, regional and global levels. The rapid decline in forest cover over the past two decades or so has seriously affected the ecological balances needed to stabilize agricultural production in many countries. Loss of tree cover has resulted in increased soil erosion from wind and water, which is at present seriously threatening food security, for example in Eritrea and the Niger. The northern part of the Niger is exposed to real desert conditions. It is one of the frontline countries which need to take effective measures in order to halt the southward spread of the Sahara.

The loss of tree cover, which has denuded hills in these countries, has destabilized hydrological balances, resulting in recurrent flooding and shortages of water for agriculture, power generation and human consumption. Unless the trends are halted and reversed, populations of the LFCCs in sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly the rural poor, will not only continue to experience hunger, but will soon face the more life-threatening thirst for water.

The frequent human tragedy that results from the above trends in sub-Saharan Africa has attracted global attention since the mid-1970s. LFCCs in sub-Saharan Africa are among the poorest nations in the world. Whereas many populations in other regions have long become adapted to living in forest-resource-poor environments, people in sub-Saharan African countries, especially the rural poor, are seriously afflicted by recent reductions in forest cover. African populations are very directly dependent on forest resources for daily subsistence (food, health care, energy, etc.), perhaps more than people of other regions. In addition, development activities have been severely constrained by protracted civil strife many of these countries.

The Sudano-Sahelian belt of sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, is plagued by periodic severe droughts. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Office to Combat Desertification and Drought (UNSO), formerly the United Nations Sudano-Sahelian Office, funds projects to combat desertification in the countries of the belt. However, additional support will be needed if the impact is to be sustained.

Many sub-Saharan African countries have learned some hard lessons in addressing development imperatives over the last three decades. One of these lessons is that conventional “band-aid” approaches (often in the form of food and medical supplies) in times of catastrophe have had little sustained impact on causative trends. In hindsight, directing development efforts towards poverty alleviation and combating desertification would have been much more cost-effective and sustainable, particularly in forest-adjacent communities. Such lessons provide a useful basis for identifying special needs for sustainable forest management in sub-Saharan African LFCCs for the future.

In Mali, planning has begun for a national forest programme, but implementation of the programme has yet to start. The country seriously lacks the human and fiscal resources for implementing a comprehensive national forest programme.

Chad is one of the largest and poorest countries in Africa and its institutional base for forestry is among the weakest. The combination of large areas and a large transhumant population poses a particularly difficult challenge to sustainable forest management. The country has yet to initiate forest policy reforms and to implement a national forest programme.

Requirements and constraints for sustainable forest management in sub-Saharan Africa

Many low forest cover conditions in sub-Saharan Africa are relatively recent outcomes of accelerated deforestation. The remaining forests are rich in biodiversity and it is imperative that they be conserved.

Against the background of Agenda 21, the LFCCs of sub-Saharan Africa have to address the need for forest goods and services for poverty alleviation, social development and economic advancement. In cases where the forest goods and services have to be imported or exchanged, trade issues and terms of exchange have to be addressed, including the country’s ability to pay for both the imports and the economic development programme.

African countries are faced with the sharpest declines in overseas development assistance for forestry. The African Development Bank (ADB) had planned to dedicate US$245 million to forestry for the period 1995 to 1997. Because of the low priority given to forestry by governments in the region, this funding did not materialize. ADB’s forestry loans have generally gone first to forest industries (43 percent) and then to forest conservation/production (31 percent), while social/rural forestry captures merely 26 percent.

The need for international cooperation towards sustainable forest management, including financial support, capacity building, research and transfer of technology as stressed by IFF, has not been adequately met in Africa. The region has not benefited from consolidated, regionally rationalized financial support from developed countries. Traditional bilateral support has remained scattered and has had little sustained impact. The mechanisms for overseas development assistance have not promoted collective actions by countries in the region. Yet the countries are in great need of networking for information exchange and capacity sharing. Africa needs a consolidated forestry fund to mobilize collective action and share its limited capacity for sustainable forest management.

Proposals for action

Although most countries recognize the crucial role of forests for national development, Africa still lacks a platform for articulating and promoting common ideas, actions and directions for sustainable forest management.

Regional and subregional organizations such as the African Timber Organization (ATO), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) could put particular effort into coordination and regional cooperation on forestry and wildlife, and especially into information networking.

Funding for forestry development should remain a priority in Africa. The African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC), a statutory body of FAO, has strongly recommended mobilization of domestic resources, for example through creation of national forestry development funds and incentive measures for the private sector.

The emergence of partnerships among various multilateral intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations active in forestry in the region, as well as between the public and private sectors, is a positive trend which should be encouraged and strengthened.

The weakness of forestry institutions often originates from the dispersion of these structures into small entities sometimes scattered among different ministries, with overlapping and even sometimes conflicting mandates. Restructuring of the country’s forestry sector is often an important prerequisite for the efficiency of its forestry institutions.


Twenty – i.e. nearly all – of the countries in the region have less than 10 percent forest cover: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Forest area per caput is also low or insignificant in all these countries. Only Cyprus and Turkey have more than 10 percent forest cover.

The region is characterized by wide disparity in resources, physical geography and socio-economic conditions. Some of the countries – Afghanistan, Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen – are among the least-developed countries in the world.

Most of the countries of the region are classified as either arid (less than 100 mm annual rainfall) or semi-arid (100 to 400 mm). The region includes countries with tropical semi-arid climate and summer rainfall, such as Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Oman, and other countries with a Mediterranean climate, i.e., dry summers with winter rainfall. Soils are generally poor.

The main threats to the scant forest resources in the region have been unsustainable land use practices and destructive interventions of local populations dependent on forest resources and lands for their livelihoods. Therefore, efforts have been made by the relevant authorities to increase the active involvement of local communities through participatory approaches and suitable community models. These efforts have been supported by international assistance in several countries. However, it is becoming more evident that elimination of pressures on forest resources does not depend only on users of forest lands and resources; it also requires the creation of awareness, commitment and support among other partners (politicians, decision makers, NGOs, urban populations and the private sector). Cross-sectoral efforts and contributions are also needed for the development of income sources and livelihood opportunities for rural populations in forest areas.

On the other hand, rapid rates of urbanization, industrialization and seasonal or permanent migration of rural populations from rural or mountainous regions to urban areas have begun to contribute to a reduction of pressures on the forest and other natural resources during recent decades. This trend is expected to continue, reducing the forest-dependent populations significantly in the countries of the region during the next 20 to 30 years.

The extensive rangeland in the region is particularly prone to desertification caused or accelerated by drought and/or overgrazing. In several countries (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran) measures have been taken to control risks of desertification, to which most of the Near East countries are exposed.

In line with growing global awareness and consequent international initiatives, in particularly following UNCED, the region’s countries are becoming increasingly more aware and concerned about the important multiple (protective, productive, environmental and socio-economic) roles of their scarce forest resources.

Economic difficulties in many of the region’s countries have been one of the main constraints to strengthening efforts for conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, including forests. Others of the LFCCs are oil-producing countries and therefore not in a situation of economic hardship.

In addition, regional disputes and wars have been major causes of serious and irreversible destruction to the forests and environment in some countries of the region.

Forest resources in North Africa and the Near East

Steep topography and arid climate are the two major physical characteristics influencing the forest ecosystems and lands in the region. Forest vegetation, once destroyed and lost, is difficult and very expensive to bring back. Re-establishment would take an extremely long time and in many cases is not even possible.

Four of the region’s countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar) are devoid of any natural forest cover.

In the vast areas lacking any natural forest cover, local populations have traditionally grown fast-growing and multipurpose tree species (poplars, eucalypt, casuarina, cypress) in their farming systems in order to meet their local needs for wood, protection of agricultural crops against wind damage, shelter and amenities. Such agroforestry plantations provide greater wood production than natural forest in many countries (Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Iran).

According to forest inventories, most of the natural forests are understocked and growth rates are modest. Data on changes in growing stock during the period 1990 to 1996 are not available because the forest inventories have not been carried out on a regular periodic basis in most of the countries. However, because of limited production from the forest areas and significant afforestation establishments, a modest rate of buildup in growing stock is estimated.

The primary functions of the natural forest areas in the region are protective and environmental. As a matter of fact, except in the Caspian Region of Iran and Yemen, no commercial production is implemented – except illegal cuttings and uses – or planned. Thus raw material (roundwood and industrial wood) has significant importance only in certain regions of Iran and Yemen.

Forest areas provide shelter, protection against wind damage and dust storms, enforcement of river banks and control of floods in many regions. Forests in the steep mountainous and watershed areas have a vital role in the conservation of scarce water and soil resources, stabilization of natural balances and thus protection of agricultural lands, settlement areas and infrastructure. Recognizing this importance, countries suffering degradation in large areas of fragile watersheds have begun to introduce multisectoral (integrating forestry, pasture, agriculture, rural development) and participatory approaches. Such efforts have been supported by significant loans and grants in some countries (e.g. Zarqa River Basin Project in Jordan, Watershed and Range Development Project in Iran).

Recreation and amenity functions of forest areas are gaining an importance in all countries of the region. In fact, this is the main objective in many countries devoid of forest resources. To meet the growing demand for these functions by urban populations, many of these countries (Saudi Arabia, United Emirates, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait) have been establishing greenbelt, urban forestry and roadside plantations.

Conservation of biodiversity and the genetic diversity of forest trees, wild fruit-trees, fodder, medicinal and aromatic plant species and wildlife is also among the important functions of the forests in all the region’s countries. The attention to protection of wild flora and fauna is closely tied to a growing emphasis on the economic prospects of tourism. Some countries have recently adopted policies for expansion and management of protected areas and national parks (Saudi Arabia, Lebanon) and established new protected areas (i.e. 72 protected areas in Iran covering a total area of 7.6 million hectares).

Forest resources have an important socio-economic role in the mountain and forest regions, contributing to the income and livelihoods of the rural populations by providing grazing land, fodder, non-wood forest products for local needs and for sale, fuelwood, wood for house construction and local needs and employment in production and afforestation activities. Fuelwood and charcoal production (legal and illegal) meet important energy needs of the rural populations living within the forest regions, particularly in cold mountainous regions.

Reforestation and afforestation have been among the main programmes of the forestry departments in many countries (i.e. Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iran). Most of the plantations are intended for protective and environmental roles rather than for production and economic outputs. However, reforestation of degraded forest lands has been causing serious conflicts with local people who previously used such areas as common grazing lands. Reforestation sites (mostly established with coniferous species and requiring long periods to reach the production and utilization stages) have provided few benefits for local people in most countries, except employment opportunities provided in plantation establishment and maintenance activities. To overcome these shortcomings, some countries (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan) have started planting more multipurpose tree species (i.e. species suitable for fruit, fodder, honey production) on reforestation sites. Some of the countries have started testing and establishing silvipastoral plantations (primarily for forage production) on degraded forest lands.

Forest products and industries

All countries of the region are largely and some countries completely dependent on imports to meet their needs for wood and wood products. Those countries that produce oil can more readily afford to import these products. The extent and capacity of the forest industries in the region depends on the existence of forest resources, and consequently the forest industry is a significant sector only in a limited number of countries (e.g. Iran). In other countries, which are largely dependent on imports of finished and semi-finished products, forest industry is confined to small-scale sawmills and panelboard factories.

Non-wood forest products (fodder, game, honey, gum, fruits, mushroom, dyes, medicinal and aromatic plants), besides providing local needs, also contribute to national economies. In several countries (e.g. Yemen, Iran), revenues from export of NWFPs exceed revenues from wood and wood product exports.

Forestry institutions

None of the countries of the region handle forestry at the ministerial level; in most of the countries (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq) forestry is managed as a department under the ministry of agriculture. Forestry administrations in many countries lack financial, staff and operational resources, a situation which is aggravated by their isolation from the political power structure and limited public relations capacity. However, forestry is becoming a more prestigious profession in the region, in line with the increasing demands for and awareness of environmental roles.

Another important development in recent years has been the establishment of departments or ministries of the environment within the government structure in several countries (e.g. Syria). These departments, in general, currently lack sufficient implementation capacity and experience; however, they are expected to have important roles, particularly in the development of policies, legislation and awareness creation in relation to protection of environmental conditions and resources, including forests and protected areas.

Forest protection and the preservation of vegetative cover are considered the main activities of the forestry departments in many countries of the region. Protection includes combating forest fires, and the control of grazing, encroachment and illegal cuttings. Creation of awareness, training and acceleration of demarcation of forest borders have also been the activities given special importance in these programmes during recent years.

Some countries have recently included desertification control (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, United Emirates, Yemen) and watershed management (Jordan, Iran) in the terms of reference of their forestry institutions. In Iran, Jordan and Afghanistan the forestry department is responsible also for pasture development and management. In Iran, the Forestry and Range Organization, under the Ministry of Jihad e Sazendegi, gives special importance to rural development and people’s involvement in harvesting and afforestation activities. The countries of the Near East region, with few exceptions, have been slow to adopt the worldwide trend of decentralization, devolution and regionalization.

Well established forestry research institutions exist only in some countries in the region (Iran, Yemen, Syria, Egypt). Most of the research efforts still concentrate on technical forestry problems and need to adapt better on environmental and socio-economic issues.

University-level educational institutions have traditionally existed in Iran, Iraq and Egypt and have recently been initiated in Syria and Jordan. The Forest and Range School in Lattakia, Syria is an important regional institution providing technician-level education for Arab countries. However, lack of skilled personnel still constitutes a major constraint in forestry development and conservation in the region.

In spite of their considerable development during recent years, NGOs involved in environmental issues are still relatively insignificant in most countries in the region. Nevertheless, some organizations are becoming stronger and more influential in some of the countries. These include the Society for the Protection of Nature and the Friends of Nature in Lebanon and the Environmental Conservation Society and the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature and Environment in Jordan. The last one is a unique NGO authorized to manage the country’s protected areas.

Forest policy and planning

A favourable trend towards comprehensive development planning has been under way in the region, and the role of the forestry sector within overall economic and social development is being recognized in national development plans. All countries in the region either have specific forestry plans or have forestry activities incorporated in their national development plans. Many countries in the region have formulated forest policies and others are planning to do so. All forestry action plans in the region call for measures to:

reduce the negative effects of deforestation and land degradation;

promote community involvement and private-sector initiatives;

conserve the existing natural forests and expand forest areas through reforestation and afforestation;

increase attention to the environmental roles and functions and expansion and proper management of protected areas.

Several countries (e.g. Lebanon, Iraq) have updated their forest legislation and regulations. Changes emphasize the environment, socio-economic roles and community involvement (e.g. Iraq’s law for compulsory windbreak and tree plantations in farming systems, 1995) but at the same time introduce heavier penalties for forest offences (i.e. new Forest Law in 1995 in Lebanon, proposed amended Forest Laws which are currently being negotiated in Parliament in Jordan and Syria).

There have been no significant recent changes in forest ownership in most countries of the region. Most of the forests and woodlands in the region are State owned. Although the countries of the region have not yet followed the trend in many countries of the world towards privatization of forests and expanding user rights over forest lands and products, they have been examining the pros and cons of such a course of action. A discussion at the sixteenth session of Silva Mediterranea in June 1996 centred on the potential of allocation of rights over forest lands either on a collective (e.g. village forests) or private basis as a way of increasing people’s involvement in, and benefit from, forest management.

Several projects for development of people’s participation and suitable community forestry models have been designed and are being implemented at the national as well as the regional level, with external assistance provided by organizations such as FAO and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).

Recent initiatives

The forestry sector is expected to be certainly affected by the major international developments following UNCED which directly or indirectly link conservation, management and sustainable development of forests and trees to sustainable development. In this context:

most of the region’s countries started national-level initiatives in relation to implementation of Chapter 11 of Agenda 21, especially Programme Element 1.4;

several countries have undertaken various initiatives to adapt their national forestry plans, policies and implementations to the growing societal need for the development of the protective, productive, environmental and socio-economic roles and functions of forest resources;

most of the region’s countries have signed and become parties to CBD and UNCCD.


It has been difficult to collect reliable and consistent information about forestry activities, national forest programmes and the situation of the forestry sector in the countries of Central Asia. Traditional ways of verifying forestry information in the countries of the region have been insufficient. Because of the turmoil in these countries after they gained independence, for many years no or inadequate statistical data were collected by officials.

According to SOFO 1999 (FAO, 1999), four of the six countries in the region are LFCCs: Tajikistan (2.9 percent forest cover), Kyrgyzstan (3.8 percent), Kazakhstan (3.9 percent) and Turkmenistan (8 percent). Although Azerbaijan has 12 percent forest cover and is therefore not included in the LFCC category, it has the lowest productive forest land cover. Uzbekistan has 22 percent forest cover.

Information about the contribution of the forestry sector to national economies was not available, indicating the low importance given to the forest sector in these countries.

Problems and solutions

The main problem of the Central Asian States with regard to the forestry sector is the termination of budgetary subsidies provided by the former Soviet Union and the shortage of imports because of lack of finance. The solution is the provision of funds from national sources where possible, and donor support from new external sources, to prepare and implement forestry projects in the countries in question.

The second problem is the acceleration in the emigration of Slavic professionals and technicians who previously predominated in the forestry institutions. Therefore, there is a lack of experienced professional staff and knowledge in the forestry sector. The solution to this problem in the short term would be to send experts from other countries experienced in these fields to undertake forest management plans and forestry studies in these countries. The long-term solution is to provide training in the different forestry disciplines, sometimes abroad, for staff of the countries’ forestry organizations. Some training projects will require donor funding.

Dependency on trade, especially with the Russian Federation, is another negative factor affecting these economies. Therefore wider regional and international cooperation and collaboration are needed. A first step to promote this could be a regional project supported by donors to assess the present forestry situation, to identify needed activities and to establish a new system for the collection of statistical information.

Limited forest cover prevents these countries from meeting their demand for forest products. Moreover, almost none of these countries is exploiting the forest cover for industrial purposes. The countries are trying to protect their forest lands for environmental and ecological reasons, which is a sound policy; however, they need industrial wood and fuelwood for their industries and people. Therefore it is important to increase forest cover with new plantations of poplar or other fast-growing tree species in order to meet demand in the short term and to curb the need to import these products from abroad.

It is likely that land and water pollution will be one of the most important problems to be solved in the coming years because of excessive use of chemicals and fertilizers, especially in agriculture. Therefore, it is very important to improve coordination with agricultural organizations to solve this problem in the shortest time possible.

Poverty is another big problem of the Central Asian countries and the problem has worsened in recent years. Income levels of the rural people living in or near forests have continued to drop. Therefore, forest degradation and decline are inevitable. Community or social forestry projects should be set up in the rural areas to encourage people’s participation in forestry activities and to improve their income levels and living conditions. Donor support is essential for these types of forestry projects in the Central Asian countries.

Outdated technology has impeded progress in forest industries and forest harvesting in most of these countries. Modernization of the forest industries is important, again requiring donor support. Another solution would be to extend the existing incentives for foreign investment in this regard. On the other hand, accelerating the privatization process might also help solve the problem.

The forestry organizations are understaffed. Augmentation of staff is essential for better implementation or management of forest activities. The countries have the potential to implement important forestry projects such as green belts, plantations, reforestation and afforestation, erosion control and soil conservation, roadside plantations, nursery activities, wildlife management, ecotourism, etc. Legal and institutional changes are required for better protection and utilization of forest resources and for strengthening forestry organizations.

From information collected locally, it appears that forestry organizations in the Central Asian republics do not have national forestry programmes or strategies. No information was available on major programmes and projects implemented or proposed, forestry sector policies and strategies, goals or objectives



The only LFCCs in Latin America and the Caribbean are El Salvador, Uruguay and some small island countries of the Caribbean (Bahamas, Barbados, Bermudas, Cayman Islands, Haiti, Dutch Antilles, Saint Lucia and the Virgin Islands). The cultural, economic and ecological situations of these countries are very different.

El Salvador, with 5.1 percent forest cover (less than 105 000 ha), is, together with Haiti, in the most critical situation because it has a population of over 6 million inhabitants living on about 2 million hectares, i.e. a density of 285 inhabitants per square kilometer. The consumption of fuelwood and charcoal is 6.8 million cubic metres per year, putting a great pressure on the natural resources, because the entire amount consumed comes from the native forests and the national capacity contrasts substantially with the national demand. On the other hand, the replacement of fuelwood by fuel oil represents an additional cost of US$150 million per year for the country. El Salvador needs to plan and execute a capacity building programme to strengthen the Forestry Administration as well as to coordinate better the different actors involved in the process of forestry development.

Uruguay, from the environmental and natural resources point of view, has a contrasting situation, since it has only 3.2 million inhabitants on 17.5 million hectares, i.e. 18 persons per square kilometer (of which 60 percent live in the capital city, Montevideo). Uruguay has very fertile land, over 20 million head of cattle and a rural population of only 144 000 persons. In recent years the country has implemented an aggressive programme of reforestation, mainly with eucalypts, and has planted some 600 000 ha.

Haiti, with a population of over 6.5 million in a small territory of 2.8 million hectares, has 268 inhabitants per square kilometer. About 71 percent of the population lives in the rural areas. The country has only 21 000 ha of forests (0.8 percent of its territory), composed mainly of pine forests and degraded forests. The extraction of fuelwood, which is estimated at 1.6 million cubic metres per year, is four times the average annual forest productivity. Some 75 percent of the energy consumed in Haiti comes from biomass. The consumption of wood charcoal in the urban centres alone is 6 million cubic metres per year, representing an overexploitation of some 1.6 million cubic metres per year in excess of the estimated sustainable yield. The greatest challenges in Haiti are to fight and alleviate poverty and to strengthen the national institutions. The activities of NGOs working with rural communities should also be supported.

Of the small island LFCCs, Barbados, Bermudas, Cayman Islands, Dutch Antilles and the Virgin Islands have basically urban forests, although the Virgin Islands has some 4 000 ha. Saint Lucia has 5 000 ha of other forests, representing 8.2 percent of the country. In these small island States tourism, trade and agriculture represent the most important sources of income. Some of these countries have very high economic indicators (the per caput gross national product of the Bahamas is US$11 940, while that of Barbados is US$6 590).


The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) include countries in several different geographical regions, grouped together here for consideration of their common concerns. They include the 37 member States and five observers (dependent territories) of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), four of which are low-lying coastal States (Guinea-Bissau, Belize, Guyana and Suriname), as well Bahrain, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which are not members of AOSIS. Ten of these States have “least developed country” status within the United Nations system.

Of the 45 SIDS, 11 were reported in SOFO 1997 to have forest coverage of less than 10 percent of the total land area (Comoros, Mauritius, Seychelles, Bahrain, Singapore, Kiribati, Tonga, Malta, Barbados, Haiti and Saint Lucia). Five of these (Bahrain, Kiribati, Tonga, Malta and Barbados) reportedly have no forest cover. No data are available for an additional seven SIDS (Maldives, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu).

Looking at annual change in forest cover, none of the above 11 States had a positive rate of change in forest cover during the period 1990 to 1995. Conversely, Comoros, Saint Lucia and Haiti were among the ten countries with the highest annual deforestation rates in the world during this period (with rates of 5.6, 3.6 and 3.4 percent, respectively). The average deforestation rate of all 45 SIDS was 0.9 percent, while the world average was 0.3 percent for the same period.

Forest resources

Only a few small island States produce and export industrial roundwood or processed wood products in significant quantities. Many of the islands, however, have a high degree of dependence on forests for a variety of wood and non-wood products for household use. This is the case particularly of the more isolated island states, such as those in Oceania, where physical and economic access to imported goods is limited.

Trees outside forests (such as on agricultural land) are often of very significant local value in SIDS with limited forest cover. For example, in many small island nations, coconut trees serve as a major source of building materials, coconuts, copra and coconut oil.

The environmental functions of forests and trees in most of the SIDS by far outweigh their production value. These otherwise extremely variable islands share at least two common characteristics: a high ratio of coastline to land area, and relatively short distances between the uplands and the coast. The strong dynamic between the land and the sea defines some of the most important environmental services of forests in these islands:

Forests help protect watersheds, maintain good water supplies and protect the marine environment, especially for islands with strong topographic relief such as several in the Caribbean. Vegetative cover on steep slopes prevents erosion and reduce sediment load in rivers which, when the rivers empty into the sea, would otherwise smother coral reefs, seagrass beds and other nearshore environments.

Mangroves and other tidal forests are highly productive ecosystems which are important feeding, breeding and nursery grounds for numerous commercial fish and shellfish, including most commercial tropical shrimp. Coastal forests also act as sediment traps for upland run-off sediments.

Mangroves and other coastal forests provide coastal protection against cyclones, hurricanes and strong winds and can shelter agricultural land from the effects of salt spray.

Perhaps the most important global environmental service provided by forests in small islands is the conservation of biological diversity, both in the forest and in associated ecosystems such as coral reefs. Small islands, because of their size and physical isolation from other land masses, generally have lower species diversity of plants and animals but higher percentage of endemism than do continental masses. Many of these plant and animal species are found in forests or are dependent on them.

Many SIDS are economically highly dependent on tourism, and forests contribute to their appeal. Various islands (e.g. Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia and Saint Lucia) have made efforts to develop the tourist potential of their forest areas. The role of coastal forests in maintaining the health of coral reefs and in turn protecting beaches from sand erosion is indirect but critical to the tourism industry in some countries, for example in the Caribbean and some Pacific areas.

Major constraints for sustainable forest management in SIDS

SIDS vary in geographic, biological, social, cultural and economic characteristics but face similar constraints to the sustainable use of forest resources.

Limited land area and natural resources intensify competition among alternative land use options, and the small size of watershed areas makes soil and water conservation a priority.

Vulnerability to environmental disasters such as cyclones, storm surges, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, forest fires, landslides, extended droughts and floods can cripple entire island nations. In addition, a long-term threat of rising sea levels is associated with global climate change.

High species endemism but low occurrence of individual species leads to high risk for loss of biological diversity. The small land area of many SIDS makes it difficult to set aside large areas for strict protection purposes. There is a particular need to develop suitable strategies for the conservation of genetic resources for a number of socio-economically important tree species that are endangered in part or all of their natural range in the South Pacific.

High human population density, usually concentrated in lowland areas, increases pressure on already limited resources.

Economic constraints related to smallness of scale result in high costs for public administration and infrastructure; small internal markets; limited export volumes (sometimes from remote locations) which lead to high freight costs and reduced competitiveness; and difficulties in establishing competitive forest processing industries.

Institutional constraints include the limited material, financial and human resources of national forest agencies; forest policies that are in many cases in need of updating; unavailability of reliable information on forest resources and the value of their productive and protective functions; and high levels of migration, particularly of skilled human resources.

Only a few SIDS have well-defined and executed land use plans.

Forest management practices are often unsustainable, and seed of high genetic potential or physiological quality may not be accessible.

Recent initiatives

The following are some of the FAO activities that have been undertaken or are planned:

Technical and financial assistance were provided in support of a Working Group on Agroforesty for the Pacific. The agroforestry information toolkit, prepared at a regional participatory workshop in Fiji (1997), targets extension-level personnel.

FAO and UNDP convened a regional meeting in Barbados (September 1997) to discuss strategies for supporting the establishment of National Forestry Policies in Caribbean SIDS. This was followed by an expert consultation and a training course on forest policy in 1998.

As a follow-up to previous FAO assistance, a three-year UNDP/AusAID funded Pacific Islands Forests and Tree Support Programme (PIF&TSP) is currently assisting the 22 Pacific Island countries in strengthening national and community capacities in the conservation and sustainable development of forest and tree resources.

Proposals for action

A Special Conference at Ministerial Level for Small Island Developing States was organized by FAO in March 1999. From this conference arose the FAO Plan of Action on Agriculture in Small Island Developing States, which was approved by the Council of FAO in June 1999. The main forestry-related objectives and activities of the Plan of Action are:

to promote the conservation and sustainable use of land and water resources and the sustainable management of forest resources, through land and water use planning, attention to the multiple roles of forests and trees, rehabilitation and conservation of forest lands and watersheds, sound harvesting practices, and combating land degradation and enhancing coastal protection especially through intensified soil conservation, afforestation and reforestation activities;

to enhance environmental protection, by strengthening the information base for environmental monitoring and integrating environmental concerns into the development process and into national legislation, and ratifying international conventions, such as UNCCD, CBD, FCCC and the Kyoto Protocol;

To improve disaster preparedness through the formulation of preparedness strategies, promotion of measures to mitigate the impact of hurricanes and cyclones, assessment and improvement of national meteorological and hydrological services, support of early warning systems at the national and regional levels, and efforts to preserve mangrove areas which provide protection against tidal surges and storm damage.



The above regional overviews reveal a number of features and issues that are common to many or all LFCCs across the regions.

Many of these countries have arid and semi-arid conditions, generally poor soils and extensive rangelands. Such countries are particularly prone to degradation of forest cover and desertification caused by drought and destructive land use practices, including overgrazing. Existing natural forests are generally understocked, with modest growth rates. Some countries have embarked on plantation programmes for afforestation or reforestation with fast-growing species.

The socio-economic role of forests in LFCCs derives predominantly from subsistence uses, non-wood forest products and fuelwood and charcoal, both legally and illegally exploited. Trees have traditionally had a role in home woodlots or gardens and small-scale agroforestry systems. Urban forestry sometimes plays an important part.

In all the countries the environmental functions of forests are highly important. Forests are often located in mountainous areas where they are essential for watershed protection. They contribute to the prevention of erosion and the reduction of sediment loads in streams, the conservation of scarce water and soil resources, and reduction of the risk flooding. Forests are also increasingly recognized for their role in the conservation of biological diversity and the protection of nature and for recreational and amenity functions, which are of increasing importance; the tourism value of forests contributes significantly to the economy of many of these countries, notably the Small Island Developing States.

LFCCs are in general dependent on imports to meet the needs for wood and wood products; the only forest industry in these countries tends to be on a small scale. Although a few are prosperous, industrialized countries and several are oil producers for which the cost of importing forest products poses no economic problem, many other LFCCs are among the poorest countries of the world. In several countries forest sector development has been severely curtailed by prolonged civil strife, and several face challenges of adjustment to a free market economy. Rapid rates of urbanization may at least have had the positive outcome of contributing to some reduction of pressures on the forests and other natural resources, although demand for forest products has been maintained.

Forestry institutions in the LFCCs share a number of constraints. Lack of financial and staff resources has been generally reported. The need for training and development of human resources has been underlined. One of the main problems affecting all LFCCs is the lack of reliable, consistent and up-to-date forestry information.

In all regions there are needs for increased awareness, legal and organizational reform, mobilization of both domestic and donor investment, technical support, international partnerships and cooperation. Comprehensive development planning and national forest programmes will be key to resolving the problems of LFCCs in all regions. Several countries have already initiated national plans for forestry development, and it is essential that the rest follow suit. These plans should emphasize multisectoral approaches as well as people’s participation. NGOs should also be supported in their activities with rural communities.


FAO 1997 State of the World’s Forests. FAO, Rome

FAO 1999 State of the World’s Forests. FAO, Rome




Forests and forestlands as a source of subsistence

in low forest cover countries

1- subsistence

Figures show that 93 percent of LFC countries are developingcountries of which a considerable portion of the population lives in rural areas. These people are farmers or their subsistence depends on animal husbandry.

Although forest cover is relatively low in these countries, a considerable number of rural people live in and nearby forestlands and use their resources in a variety of ways. The livelihood of these people is - in different forms - interconnected with the forest. Primarily, some areas of forests have been converted into dryland and irrigated farming, with irrigation farming being far more limited and dryland farming practised in much larger areas.

The threat of dryland farming to forestlands is much greater than irrigated agriculture, for in dryland farming the fertility and condition of the soil are not perceived as important factors. Unfortunately in most cases, because of poverty and ignorance, maintenance or restoration of soil fertility is often overlooked. Dry farming is thus a major contributor to the destruction of forests and, subsequently, to soil erosion. In addition, unsustainable agricultural techniques contribute to the loss of soil fertility, the abandonment of exhausted lands and the continual need for new lands gained from deforestation.

Animal husbandry is another major occupation in forestlands. In the southern Sahara, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, herders are tribal, nomads or transhumants. Statistics show that a considerable portion of such farmers live in areas with sparse woodlands in Low Forest Cover (LFC) countries.

According to the latest figures, there are in Iran 1.3 million nomadic and transhumant herders. These farmers own 22 million animals. In the last ten years – when the last statistical survey was conducted – the number of animals increased by 30 percent, equivalent to 5 million animals. In other countries besides Iran we can safely say that the increase in the number of animals and overgrazing, because of growing population demands, is a major factor causing pressure on the forestlands of LFC countries.

Forest dwellers in LFCs use fuelwood for their energy supply. FAO figures show that, in 1995, 1,720 million cubic meters of wood was cut to supply energy. Many of the inhabitants of developing countries rely on wood as their only source of energy. This is true even in some countries where fossil fuels are readily available. Forest dwellers in LFC countries are especially poor and unable to purchase fuel. Firewood provided by forests is a very cheap source of fuel.

Because of such over-exploitation, especially in developing and LFC countries, from 1980 to 1995 about 200 million hectares of forest were destroyed in developing countries. In the same period, only 20 million hectares were planted, mostly in developed countries. In LFC countries, there is an ever-shrinking forest cover.

Table 1. Change in forest cover, 1990-95, developing countries

Total Forest

(thousand ha)

Total Change


(thousand ha)

Annual Change

(thousand ha)

Annual Change Rate %

Middle East





Rest of Asia





North Africa





Rest of Africa





Latin America










Source: FAO, 1999

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO, 1999) attributes different reasons for the destruction of forests in different parts of the world but, in general, the common causes that contribute to the collective destruction of forests are pests and diseases, forest fires, overlogging, overgrazing, pollution and drastic climate change. In LFC countries, other issues which have root in social and economic conditions can be added to this list. One of these predicaments is the improper use of forestlands and their irrational conversion into agricultural lands, which is not at all consistent with the potential of these lands for sustainable production. Lack of clear and inclusive regulations for local people is the fundamental cause of forest destruction. Moreover, there is no sound connection between macro management, policy, administrative agencies, and the local people who depend on these lands for their livelihood. Naturally, local people do not co-operate with the authorities and experts in proper macro management of such lands and forests because of poverty and lack of knowledge.

2. Water

As a generalisation, one can say that most LFC countries have an arid or semi-arid climate and thus have little precipitation. A sparse forestland cover has a direct correlation with limited water resources. A comparison of the freshwater resources of different regions of the world demonstrates the fact that LFC countries are not in a favourable position. Now the global per capita water resources index is as follows:








Renewable water resources

(billion cubic meters, annually)



(in millions)

Per capita share

(cubic meters)







Latin America





North America





Eastern Europe and Central Asia










Western Europe










Middle East & North Africa




This table shows that the Middle East possesses the least amount of water. Limited freshwater resources and ensuing crises in Middle East countries are a serious issue. The important point here is that all of these countries are LFC countries. From 1955, when the first list of countries that are facing a freshwater crisis was published, the number of such countries has been on the increase. Such countries are typically developing countries with a high rate of population growth. In the coming years, because of increased household demand for water and the water that is needed by development programmes, these countries will be facing a crisis. Ironically, this trend will exacerbate the per capita demand for water.


Countries listed in 1955

Countries listed in 1990

Predicted countries to be listed in 2025





Saudi Arabia










South Africa


Cape Verde



















Source: UN Prediction Scenario

It is predicted that, by 2025, about 30 countries will be facing serious water shortages. Most of these countries will be in Africa and Asia. North Africa and the Middle East are already subject to political unrest and in all likelihood will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Again, the majority of these are LFC countries. LFC countries are most affected since forests are important for waterflow regulation, limitation of run off, soil protection, flood prevention and to help water infiltration and the replenishment of water tables.

The world's population has tripled in the 20th century. But the expanse of irrigated land has increased sixfold, and the demand for water has increased sevenfold. To attain human, economic and social development all should have access to clean water. Presently, nearly 1.4 billion people do not have access to clean water. Therefore, it might be time to speak of water security as well as food security. Seemingly, LFC countries will have a more difficult task in securing and providing clean water for their people.

As far as maintaining water resources is concerned, we have to be aware that this goal can only be achieved locally and through the direct participation of the end user. In other words, with regard to the available natural water resources, a logical relationship has to be established between agriculture, industrial and private consumers. Biological and genetic diversity protection and sustainable development are dependent on the good management and maintenance of water resources and reserves. In recent years, the private sector has shown a growing interest in water resource management. Some believe market mechanisms must be allowed to come into play, but experience has shown that market forces intensify inequalities. Bearing this in mind, can market forces play the role of a fair regulator of water resources? If a dispute erupts over water, who will judge between the collective needs of the people and the interests of business?

There is still time to fundamentally alter water resource management and consumption and by doing so maintain the available water resources, prevent their pollution, consume them correctly and strike a balance between human needs and functions, thus moving towards sustainable development.

. Food Security and Poverty

In 2010, around 93 developing countries will face a shortage of cereals. This shortage is estimated to amount to 300 million tons. Presently, 1.314 billion people live below the poverty line, three-quarters of them in rural areas. Their meagre subsistence forces the poor to rely heavily on natural resources and increases the threat to the environment. In the past 10 years, out of the 250 million people who have newly joined the ranks of the poor, more than two-thirds live in developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Most of these countries have a low forest cover.

It has to be appreciated that poverty, under-development, food security, water security and low forest cover are interconnected. Fluctuations in international prices for foodstuffs, or any long-term price rise, could be detrimental to the interests of foodstuff importing countries. More specifically, it will chiefly effect the poor of such countries. Since the poor of developing countries are directly connected to land and water resources, as their main provider of subsistence, they in turn put more pressure on soil and water resources. Therefore, lack of food security and prevalent global market conditions for foodstuffs have a major effect on their lives.

4. Suggestions and Proposals

The development of food crops and the reinforcement of local markets in order to protect local people against instabilities and volatility of world markets.

Reduce the dependency of the forest dwellers in LFC countries on forests by wood lots plantation, planting trees outside forests and agroforestry techniques.

Encouraging local people to participate in the management of forestlands, in the hope of establishing a logical link between macro management of forests and the local people.

Increasing efficiency in the use of available water in all areas (agriculture, industry, and household use).

The expansion of multipurpose water management practices.

Increased research on conserving low demand water systems for agriculture and industry.

Counterbalancing international laws and regulations to establish water and food security.

Introducing fundamental changes in water resource management as well as consumption patterns.


FAO 1999 State of the World’s Forests. FAO, Rome




The present global situation of fuel consumption,shows that a major portion of world’s energy supply is derived from vegetation cover. A comparison between the energy consumption patterns of developing and developed countries, illustrates that in the 1980s about 85 % of the energy consumed by developing countries was by wood. In 1996. This figure rose to 90% andit is increasing as well The following chart explains the present situation.

Chart 1:



Showing their share of firewood, the above chart also shows the share of developing and developed countries in industrial wood consumption.

Therefore, it is safe to assume that any reduction in the consumption of wood as fuel is related to the level of development. Although available figures usually refer to firewood, but it has to be appreciated that in under developed countries, vegetation cover is used in a variety of ways to produce energy. Unfortunately, this fact has not been reflected in the available statistics and just refer to firewood that is obtained from forests. These figures do not imply to what extent the firewood is harvested from industrial wood and productive forests and to what extent are the ones belonging to non-industrial wood production trees and shrubs. Such forests are found all over the world Including LFC countries. They are very important in environment protection. To these are added rangeland bushes, the firewood obtained from orchards, and the cultivation of trees that do not bear fruit.

Figures show that in Iran , out of the total figure of 17.6 million cubic meters of firewood, 5.054 million cubic meters are collected from forests. This is

Contrasted with the 5.4 million cubic meters equivalent of fuel wood collected from rangeland bushes. As can be seen from these figures, 7.146 million cubic meters equivalents of fuelwood are collected from other sources. This portion is not supplied by productive forests, or by rangelands. It is mainly

obtained from orchards and trees that do not bear fruit – such as poplar plantation. Since fuel wood is supplied by different sources in LFC countries, this diversity must be reflected in statistical data. As one might appreciate, each of these sources require appropriate management policy.

2-According to available figures the record for the highest rate of fuel obtained form forests, wooded lands, and rangelands is held by LFC countries . Out of the total amount of firewood consumed globally which in 1996 amounted to 1860 million cubic meters– LFC almost 91% are consumed by LFC countries. This alarming figure highlights the fact that

those countries, which have the least amount of forest, are putting even more pressure on this meager resource by collecting so much fuel. The following table represent the amount of fuel wood used by different LFC countries in different regions.

The following table shows that Asian countries – with the expection of Middle East countries – are main contributors of firewood. Asian LFC countries consume 48% of total firewood in the world and 53% of total of firewood used by LFC countries. The Asian countries have the highest dependency rate on vegation cover as a source of energy. Interestingly eanough in the Middle East region, LFC countries which possess abundant oil and gas resources, continue to rely on firewood as fuel. These countries have not been succeeded in replacing firewood collected from forests and rangelands with fossil fuel. The current situation demonstrates that relation with fossil fuel reserves have not any relation with the exploitation of forests and

. Table of wood and fuel (production & consumption) in LFC countries

Total wood product

Total consumption

Consumption per caput

Sawn & industrial





Sawn & industrial





Sawn & industrial





Thousand qm

Thousand qm

Thousand qm

Thousand qm

Thousand qm

Thousand qm

Middle East













Other Asian countries













North Africa







Other African countries













Latin America





















Source: FAO

 rangelands as a source of energy . This issue has its roots in the lives of rural and nomadic people of LFC countries – who because of lack of any change in their lifestyle – countinue to rely heavily on such resources. Table 2 shows that, the rate of energy consumed from wood varies in different regions. Developing countries obtain 15 % of their energy demands from firewood and charcoal. In developed countries, this figure is only 2 % and the global average figure is 7 %. Present accounts show that demand for firewood is increasing and it is foreseen that this trend will be rising by 1.1 percent increase. It is estimated that demand for firewood in Africa which in 1990 amounted to 390 million cubic meters will reach 531 millions cubic meters in the year 2000 and by 2010 will rise to 719 million cubic meters.

Consumption fuel wood and

share of fuelwood s in total energy use in 1995








Black liquor

fuel Wood’ s share in total energy use


Total, developing countries










Asia- developing





Oceania – developing





Latin America and Caribbean





Total developed countries





Europe, and Turkey





Former USSR





Canada and united states





Australia, New Zealand and Japan










The comparison between wood production & consumption as well as per capita share of forest and forest area ratio in the country total area in LFC and HFC

The sawnwood production in LFCC were 80263000 cubic meters (31%) in 1996 Simultaneously 176947000 is harvested from forest.with which the harvest fuelwood is a little bit two times of industrial wood. So, the consumed wood in these countries is a little more than produced rate, I-E LFCCs import some part of their wood requirements.

Certainly, continuation of the trend results in more and more qualitative as well as quantitative destruction of forest. The increment rate of industrial forest wood would decrease. On the other hand, due to demand increase and decrease of forest quality, fuelwood harvesting increases, if continued,results in crisis. Between 1950-1990, the average annual forest destruction in LFC was about 248000 ha. As shown in table 4 per capita share of forest in LFC is about 0.1 ha, in HFC about 0.7 ha, forest area ratio in the country total area in LFC is 3.5 % as compared with HFC with 34.4 %.

The continuation of the present trend would lead to more critical situation, with which if the options to cease the trend are not chosen promptly, inversion to normal situation would be too late or impossible.

Comparison between wood production & consumption in LFC & HFC countries










Production in LFC







Consumption in LFC







Consumption per caput



Production in LFC







Consumption in LFC







Consumption per caput




Comparison per capita and percentage of forest cover inL.F.C & H.F.C


forest per caput


Percentage of forest /land area









- Any action-plan or solution has to be observant of the fact that poverty and lack of development are the main reasons behind such exploitation of forests, woodlands and rangelands in LFC countries – specially in rural and nomadic areas.

3-2- To save the vegetation cover of LFC countries, it is vital to change the current situation and consumption patterns.

With no doubt, the present exploitation pattern as the only energy supply resource would further destroy rangelands and forests of LFC countries. A national and an international action-plan are urgently needed to change the prevalent consumption patterns.

- policy markers – specially those concerned with rural development – must consider diversification of energy resources in conformity with each region and country.

- Research, development and transfer of new technologies for the provision of energy, specially to Increase productivity and decrease degradation and deficiency.

- Formulation of action-plans, replacement of firewood with fossil fuels, where possible.

- to supply fuelwood within the framework of forestry projects as energy countries.

- Investment in fuelwood consumption in wood industry. aimed at employment and income generation for the local people



LFC: low forest cover

HFC: high forest cover


Influence of Forests on Water Security


It is a fact that lack of fresh water has become an international problem and the world is rapidly and with horror discovering the depth of this catastrophe as it approaches.The time has come that there are warning signs even for countries that are known to be rich in water resources.

 Of course, the meaning of water resources can not be summarized by the quantity of water but by its decline in quality due to widespread pollution and also man’s intervention in the natural water cycle. There are factors which have allowed the supply and demand of water to become out of balance and this can be seen in entire geographical regions, as well as on a national and local level within a country. Today, high concentration of water within short periods bring about huge volumes of water causing terrible floods. For various reasons including urban development, lack of land use, the destruction of the forest watershed and the lack of flood management, the problem of water has become a big crisis. In every corner of the world, from rich to poor countries, we are witnessing the loss of life and property as revealed in the damage statistics of recent floods in India, China, Bangladesh, Iran and many other countries. Perhaps its because of these worrisome dimensions that in the last two decades, especially after the conference of Rio, many aspects of water crisis are being given attention by many intermational government and non-governmental organizations, as well as other scientific and technical groups. In the last 6 years and simultaneous with the ongoing challenges in the field of water, national meetinge and scientific, technical and managerial conferences, one after another, have been set up both at the international and regional level. In other words, throughout this time at any given point there was usually at least one meeting taking place dealing with water problems at some place in the world. Without a doubt, this is due to the importance and sensitvity of human society as it perceives the issue of water and its management.

Due to the urgenscy of different dimensions of water management in different party of the world from humid, tropical areas to dry, desert areas, the outline of the problem has now gone from the gathering of expertise to the level of decision-making. In the last 2 years, the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, after the Rio conference, plans to follow up on initiative 21 and has paid due attention to the subject of water management in local, regional and international levels. Though some of these factors like the hydrologic cycle are natural factors and are - not apparently under the influence of human factors, it must be accepted that an important part of the problems and difficulties facing the present and future generations are due to the weak performance of humans in the sustainable management of resources and profit-seeking motivations.

The Condition of Countries with Low Forest Coverage

In developing countries with low forest coverage, forests have been the backbone of local subsistence and deeply interwoven in the fabric of these societies. Generally, these countries lack financial resources and necessary and essential technical resources as well as the required organizational fromework. The essential need for international participation in management, the need for protection and sustainable management of forest watersheds and trees in low forest coverage countries is severely felt.

 Most of the countries with low forest coverage have large, growing populations, The population of such countries is about 860 milion (1999 FAO Report ) which is 17.2% of the world’s population. However. these countries with almost 17/2% of the world’s population only own 3.92% of the forest in the world. The following table shows the breakdown of populations. 

Continent Population (millions)









North and Central America


South America


Total 858.8

At a glance, we see that the concentration of population in countries with a low forest coverage is the highest in Asia and that it is the lowest in South America. From another point of view, the destruction of forests in these countries is worrisome. Based on a report by FAO in 1990 - 1995, the trend of the destruction of forests in countries with low forest coverage has been increasing with the exception of England.

The rate of this destruction has taken place at different speeds depending on the economic, social and political situations of each country. In countries of LFC, Afghanistan (due to special conditions in this country ) has had the highest degree of destruction. It has been reported that the amount of destruction in this country is about 6.8% during the six years 1990-1995. (The amount of destruction in Iran at time is about 1.7 %).

Countries with low forest coverage are located in an arid or semi-arid regions of the world.In a simple comparison, in variation of countries with low forest coverage and variation of different regions of the world, we find that most of these countries are located in regions with low water. In addition to the regional and population problems in LFC countries, the political and social conflicts existing in these countries have consequences that go beyond their boundaries.

It should be mentioned that, even though the forests in the developing countries with LFC are being destroyed, in the remaining forests there exists an extremely rich variation of wildlife which needs prompt attention.

There is considerable capacity for constructive and economic participation in the field of protection and regeneration of forests and the use of wood and non-wood products is part of it. All in all, double attention is needed in securing.

 Forests and Hydrologic Cycle

Based on research and studies which have been done, the influence of forests on the supply of underground water, the control of surface runoff, and the accumulation of snow and its gradual melting is undeniable. Reviewing available resources reveals the fact that the main function of forests on climate had focused on two main effecs ; the effect of on the water cycle and the role in creating certain ecological conditions (microclimate). It is certainly accepted that forest coverage plays an important role in decreasing runoff. The finding of these sutdies bears out the fact that forest coverage has a pivotal and sensitive role in the management of flooding forest watersheds. An analysis of small watersheds in mountainous forests in southern Fance has shown that the ratio of flood peak discharge in these type of watersheds compared to mountainous watershed lacking forest coverage is 1 to 10.

From the other side, the role of forest coverage in lowering the amount of runoff and increasing infiltration is considerable. The multi - leveled trees and bushes in a low coverage forest help to block a good part of rain from directing hitting the guound and part of the rain turns into stemflow and throughfall which considerably delays the time before the rain reaches the ground. As a result, the holes at the ground’s surface (porosity ), which in the case of rain falling directly on the holes, become blocked at the opening thus increasing the runoff factor by means of a layer of humus protecting the forest coverage. This layer of humus, for the reason that it absorbs the top part of the rain water and feeds the water gradually to the ground, acts like a sponge. Therefore, a combination of layers of trees and bushes of the forest from above and humus from below deeply lowers the ratio of runoff to infiltration.

The other dimension of activities like severe grazing. road building and incorrect usage of the forest increases runoff and transform the base flow of rivers to flood. Therefore, correct development of forestry, protection of forest resources and enforcement of plant coverage in these regions increases infiltration instead of runoff and this causes the flooding not to occur and is important in feeding the underground water. Based on studies done in forest areas of the United States, the volume of runoff flow is increased (on deforested area ) about %30 with average sensitive flood and %15 with high sensitive flood.

Forest areas are important because of their clean water. Forests, by keeping the earth from eroding and lowering the deposits effectively increases the physical quality of water. Erosion, which occurs after cutting forests and using the land (in agriculture or in construction activity) shows the role of forests in controlling floods and erosion.

Based on the studies done in 3 northern provinces of Iran (Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan) which are considered the main forest coverage in Iran, the number of floods occurring in the last 25 years are 208 cases.

Based on quantitative and qualitative analysis, these flood have been grounped into 4 classes : very important, important, average and usual.

The damage from the above floods are estimated to be 438 billion rials. At the same time, the area of forests has declined from 2.13 million hectors to 1.54 million hectors. In addition to these problems in forest watersheds, the process of deposits from the main water source into main waterways and their depositing in the canals, as well as increasing the level of floods, causes more deposits to go into water reservoirs.

Recommendations :

In order to find a well-considered mechanism and to prepare and compile

programs of appropriate action, the outlook of water management in the --

field of forest watershed in the future must be studied and by combining the status quo and future conditions the challenge and main problems must be recogniaed.

* Based on a recent definition of watershed (1998), the discussion of watersheds, in addition to how they protect water and soil, are included in resource categories like the development of human resources as well as economical, social and cultural resources, This, in fact, is the goal of sustainable development that is done in a particular unit and basis (watershed). therefore, in forest watersheds, the usage should be understood in a way that allows an equilibrium to be established between 4 factors - human, nature, culture and economics.

* The influential factors in a hydrologic cycle must be studied from both a regional and international perspective. This way, forests, as one important factor are effective in regulating the hydrologic cycle and must be seriously supported by international institutions and organizations and developed countries on a financial and managerial level. This way the sustainable role of forests in the life chain can be secured in an appropriate way.

* The role that the destruction of forests plays in producing floods requires rallying local means in low forest coverage countries from one side while at the same time presenting a mid and long term program regarding the revival of destroyed forests from the other side.

In recent decades large areas of forests in LFC countries have vanished and now douuble

pressure on the remaining forests (if and remain) is felt.

It’s necessary that measures for the protection of existing forests be done in a serious way and the protection of existing forests based on a national plan which considers regional interests should be included in it and become operational.

* Since a small part of the watershed regions in LFC countries are forests, it is necessary that plans of (integrated watershed management) take into consideration the participation of forest dwellers as users of the forest so that the protection, revival and usage of the forest be spread. The preparation and application of new political and managerial tools like voluntary taxes and commercial permissions in direction of the support from NGO’s is necessary.