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declaration

 

Mnagament and conservation of forests

 

 

 

NATURAL FOREST MANAGEMENT IN LOW FOREST COVER COUNTRIES

 

1. INTRODUCTION

Forests in the so-called low forest cover countries include a variety of forest formations of different composition, structure and appearance. They include formations responding to the strict definition of forests, many categories of woodlands where the tree cover is complemented by an important component of grass cover, sparse shrubs and formations of scattered trees. The management of such formations includes equal concern for the single tree and for the forest component as well as the grass component. In most low forest cover countries the use of the natural forest, the woodlands and steppes and the single tree is integral to management, embracing a huge variety of uses ranging from food, health, leisure and spirituality.

Indeed, in these countries, the definition of forests should be understood senso lato as all natural vegetation in which the woody component is dominant but not exclusive, mixed with an important portion of grass cover. These types of formations have a strong socio-economic role in countries of low forest cover. Most of the LFCC are situated in dry land regions, which gives very specific utilisation models of forest and tree cover. The dominant utilisation models include wood energy, pasture, and the provision of a host of non-timber products and services, including timber of special value, often a precious commodity for handicrafts.

The management of forest resources in LFCC thus has to meet the challenge of serving and responding to demands of a varied and often competing nature. The various layers of the forest have to be integrated and dealt with in the management options, so as to optimise the capacity of the forest and to help as many stakeholders as possible. Such management options will draw on the potential opportunities from the various components of the forest, trees, shrubs and grass cover, while maintaining the resources healthy, productive and sustained for the future. The socio-economic dimension of the management of forests in countries with low forest covers is in consequence very high.

 

Natural forest management in low forest cover countries has also to contribute to a number of services relating to the environment and the conservation of resources. The most salient areas for urgent action relate now to the control of desertification, and the conservation of biological diversity in countries where habitat for wildlife is scanty or highly disturbed. Management of natural forests should then support desertification control and the restoration of lost or endangered biological resources. Management of natural forests in dry land, inasmuch as it may create employment and contribute to increasing income for poor rural populations, has an important social function. It, however, faces a number of new challenges that comprise the normal difficulties of all forest management operations: combating desertification; conserving biological diversity under often very harsh conditions; providing relief from food insecurity; improving people's livelihoods; and producing a growing number of non-material services.

 

The management of forests in LFCC has been gaining higher recognition as the environmental and other services of forests have been more recognised at world-wide and national levels. A number of regional or sub-regional groups have in some cases developed special expertise in the management of forests in LFCC such as in the Sahel, in East Africa, in the highlands of Latin America and in dryland Asia.

 

Dialogue between all who depend on the forests and woodlands, and concerted action, are all the more necessary as the resources are scarce and needs and expectations are high. Hence the management of natural forests in low forest cover countries, as it will try to accommodate many needs, is thus bound to seek people’s agreement on all decisions. The involvement of people and communities is essential in forest management under all conditions. In countries where forest resources are inadequate under the various definitions of low forest cover, full participation of all concerned has a vital significance and relevance as differing needs and motivations compete for limited resources. The costs and benefits of managing the resources must be shared in a transparent and equitable manner.

 

This documentonly raises issues regarding the following in particular:

 

the need to revisit the definition of low forest cover and to consider its relevance and implications for natural forest management;

the major objectives of natural forest management in LFCC and their peculiarities;

the foundations, constraints and options on both the biological and socio-economic bases of natural forest management in LFCC;

major criteria and indicators for natural forest management in LFCC

major challenges and considerations for the future.

2. OPTIONS FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF NATURAL FORESTS IN THE VARIOUS CONDITIONS AND DEFINITIONS OF LOW FOREST COVER

Forest management is a multidisciplinary decision-making process that involves a series of analysis and decision taking process that contribute to setting objectives, priorities and plan for action regarding the overall management of the resource including its use, improvement and regeneration. The overall process and resulting forest operation prescriptions should secure the sustainability of the resource and the optimum satisfaction of the needs which many communities around the forest (at national, regional and local levels) have from the specific resource concerned.

The relative value of the notion of low forest cover has been discussed elsewhere. It has been shown that there is no universal acceptance of the parameters to be taken into account. A number of them have been considered and major issues concerning them will be discussed in this paper. Indeed, under each dominant parameter, the policy and objectives guiding management options will vary as well as the major issues to consider. Among the cases to consider are i) low physical forest cover; ii) low ratio of forest area per caput; iii) present situation as compared to potential or historic forest cover; iv) low access to forest resources; v) insufficient marketing and economic use of forest resources. Depending on the actual situation, the series of analyses, the policy options and the priorities will vary as well as the major issues to be considered.

Low ratio of forest cover compared to total land cover

Land cover is the physical occupation of the land of any country by various land use forms; hence the most straightforward definition of low forest cover1 is the one in which forest formations physically occupy a relatively low percentage of the land. This means that the settled land uses have been given precedence to a number of other land utilisation types. In such cases the forest cover may be critically small and often fragmented. The management of remaining forests will have to face a number of limitations that will affect options but also the efficiency of any option taken.

The forest formations may be so critically small as to defeat any meaningful approach to management for productive objectives. In many of such cases forest resources may be put under strict degrees of protection where they have unique features or represent samples of natural vegetation that may not exist in large expanses any longer. Management of such formations will have conservation functions related to maintaining plant genetic resources and elements of the biological diversity. However for both objectives, two constraints are important which may defeat the objectives:

 

small tracts of forests and woodlands may not have captured all the original genetic diversity and its range, thus the basis on which selection programmes are made may later yield a narrowly based gene pool;

small patches of forests and woodlands are not ideal habitat for wildlife populations.

 

The resulting options will have to address the need to select strategically situated remains for the protection of forest or woodland blocks. These would try to capture the former gene pool or constitute not too distant blocks in a position to cater for the protection of wildlife populations offering them cover, shelter and food.

 

In the cases of productive forestry options it may well be a situation in which local communities may be more easily involved in forest block management, addressing small scattered woodlots that are close to them and whose adequate management could meet local needs of wood, fuel and medicine.

 

At the national level, the strategies for resource management in the case of low forest cover when inadequate areas are concerned should include a number of options that would help close the gaps. These options should consider the following essential needs for information:

 

reasons of inadequate physical forest cover;

habitat and food production, whether the optimum presence of forests and trees been achieved;

scope and technical options for regeneration and/or afforestation to reduce low forest cover.

Low per caput forest area:

This ratio by itself may carry various messages relating to the linkages between population and availability of forest resources. The ratio could be low due to extremely high population density. Highly industrialised and urbanised countries exemplify this when other human settlements have exerted strong pressure on natural forests. It may also be the case of countries for which real forest cover is very low while land available is high. Many arid countries relate to this category.

In both cases the management options may aim at:

Securing optimum use of the resources and their management to meet major specific needs. Most will relate to management for leisure to increase adaptability and access of natural formations to more people. Options for urban forests will be forthcoming or any other option that authorises the conservation of blocks of natural forest among modern human settlements and high population concentration areas;

Increasing areas of forest through artificial forest establishment. In such cases, the ratio of natural forests to plantation will tend to diminish. This type of option has been usually made in dryland countries in which the major moves have been to increase plantations in particular of introduced species.

Low fForest cCover due to insufficient use of land potential or degradation of original forests

The assumption under this category when management is considered is that a higher forest cover could be achieved through better management and conservation efforts. A number of countries have been identified under this category in which the original forests and woodlands have decreased very rapidly. Dryland areas and island countries are often affected. The land degradation processes have caused forest depletion while basically natural conditions and good management would have permitted the permanence of a relatively higher land cover. Management options would favour conservation of remaining tracts of forests and regenerative activities like protection of land and monitoring, protection and management of natural regeneration. This process is often possible without resorting to plantations, provided the target species for stand regeneration are still present with sufficient vitality in the remaining gene pool.

Low Access to Forest Resources:

The reasons for low access to forest resources are often of physical nature. It may be the results of the combination of the various other factors leading to the situation of low forest cover. Resources may have been over-used, which may have resulted in a receding forest front. Conversely, human settlements may have also pushed forward to the detriment of the forests. Management options will have then to address outreach and transportation issues to access the supply. This is not an artificial supposition. In many highly forested countries, inadequacy of supply may well have been caused by lack of access to resources. In other countries for example in Sudano-sahelian Africa, countries have found themselves in a cycle of overexploitation of forest close to cities for fuelwood and charcoal. Resources have been gradually receding farther and farther from the most populated areas where the intensive use of forest products for energy is happening. This phenomenon has often triggered forest management drive in which energy has been the major objective.

Difficulty ofor access may also affect unique types of forests such as marshland and other wetland forests, including mangroves. The specific issues for the management of such forests are resolving the access problem and finding the basis and models for the actual management of such forests.

The model of the mangrove forests is well known in which issues of accessibility, conditions of work, multiplicity of products, services and stakeholders, and the specific approach to regeneration, must be carefully considered. In countries where forest cover is definitely limited, access to these forests is essential and often utilisation models are surprising. In Djibouti, residual mangrove forests are providing fodder for camels and in other countries they are essential for fuelwood supply, which there are no better alternatives.

Insufficient Economic Use of Forest Resources

In this last example management options may not offer many alternatives. But lack of or insufficient assessment of resources may be the cause of insufficient development of opportunities. Closely related to this, is the lack or insufficient use of selected management options. It may also be that those options do not promote all the products that could be potentially obtained from the resources. This of course affects the commercial promotion of such products. It should be noted that this situation often happens when countries with low forest cover ignore management options that promote non-timber products. In Sudano-sahelian and semi-arid and arid southern and Eastern Africa, a number of non timber products with high commercial value - at times far higher than wood – need to be considered when managing the resource. Management systems developed by local populations and improved by technical institutions have addressed this issue and have succeeded in promoting agricultural and forest production (e.g. Arabic gum production; incense production, etc).

3. CONSIDERING CRITERIA AND INDICATORS OF SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT IN LFCC

A number of exercises have considered the development and implementation of establishment of criteria and indicators for of sustainable forest management in many regions including dry countries in Africa, Near East and Mediterranean countries. The South and South East Asian countries with dry forests will be meeting soon in December in India to consider these issues. Small island countries should also be implementing these forest management tools.have been considered. Most of these countries have relatively low forest cover under whatever criteria this may be defined.

At national level, " criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management are meant to help guide countrywide policies, regulations and legislation. They are intended to help countries monitor and report on overall trends over time in forest management and its quality. Positive trends in sustainability will be demonstrated by an aggregate in trends of the identified criteria, that is: the trends in all criteria must show a positive development over time. Based on information on status and trends at national level and on forecasts for the future based on these, policy and decision making can be rationalised and improved. The ultimate aim of the process is to promote improved forest management practices over time, and to further the development of a gradually healthier and more productive forest estate, which can meet the social, economic and environmental needs of countries concerned, now and in the future."

Examining the major criteria and indicators that have been defined in past these many meetings and workshops exercises, and especially borrowing from the work done in dryland Africa, it has been possible to identify a set of highly significant criteria applicable to for countries of low forest cover. The following are deemed very relevant to conditions in these countries.

Maintenance and Iimprovement of Forest Resources: the various indicators under this criterion are meant to quantify here the physical existence of the forest resource ais an important element and along with it, the efforts for plantation establishment to increase forest cover;

Maintenance of Forest Ecosystem Health, Vitality and Integrity: this criteriona is very relevant to the special situation of countries of low forest cover. Indicators relating to damaged forests, presence or absence of regeneration, bush or other non tree species (or even alien species) encroachment, trends in productivity, are important elements especially in cases where the forest estate is fragmented and in relatively small blocks.

Maintenance and Iimprovement of Pprotective Ffunctions of Fforests: the role of forests for protection in low forest cover countries may be central to forest management: they will contribute to maintaining the land resource base, conserving water resources, conserving biological diversity and beautifying landscapes. Positive indicators of progress in these sectors are likely to satisfy the aims of most forest policies in LFCC.

Maintenance and Eenhancement of Ssocio-Eeconomic Bbenefits: Economic benefits such as non-wood forest products and services such as ecotourism and, biomass energy have often been given precedence, including participation of local communities in the benefits generated by forests.

Existence of Llegal Iinstitutional and Ppolicy Fframework: The forestry sector is often marginalised in countries having low forest cover even though while it has been recognised seen that it plays a very important economic and ecological role. It is important that forest management, and prior to the establishment of formal management, the existence of forests and the recognition of their part in land use, be supported by a legal and institutional framework.

The latest efforts in the international processes have been to associate, in the development and implementation of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, those countries that are have not as yet participatinged in any on-going international, regional or sub-regional initiatives these exercises including countries in dry areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Small island countries should will certainly be further involved in the process. Although there has been no special plan to promote an initiative specific to Low Forest Cover Countries Process, they latter should be incorporated in the various special efforts for dry areas and probably in the future in small island countries. It is important that all LFCCs be involved in on-going initiativesthese processes. Tthe exercises of developing, defining and implementing criteria and indicators for forest management promotes awareness of the need forof forest management and leads to a systematic effort to assess and monitor trends in and the sustainability of management activities over time. forests.

4. DETERMINING FACTORS, CONSTRAINTS AND OPTIONS FOR NATURAL FOREST MANAGEMENT IN LFCC

The determining factors that lead to low forest cover must be taken into account in any preliminary consideration for forest management in the countries under review, as was seen in previous section of this paper. But it also important to revisit all the basic factors and conditions that influence forest management, including biological, sociological and economic factors.

Biological Conditions

Many of the conditions that may have created the situation of low forest cover may have affected the vitality and main biological functions of the plant formations and in particular the remaining forests. In general, the following factors should be carefully considered for the management of forests.

Critical mass of the forest units:

Deforestation and fragmentation of forests may have reduced the forest massifs to small and scattered units that may be difficult to submit to any management regime. The ecological conditions of the forest milieu that affect the basis of forest regeneration may have been altered. To this should be added the issues of land ownership and land use that complicate further the conditions of the forest management.

Genetic resource base and natural regeneration processes:

In many cases, the local conditions may not permit the conditions for natural regeneration and the following situations may exist:

Parent trees too old with limited vitality or facing many constraints in the flowering and fruiting cycle;

Trees of interesting species in limited numbers, giving a very narrow genetic base;

Pressure on seed production too heavy to allow regeneration. This is the case when the forest is used as pasture land; likewise trampling may have compacted the soil to prevent any penetration of seed in the soil;

Other soil related processes may prevent regeneration: e.g. water erosion, wind erosion, fire, etc;

Vegetative regeneration constrained by browsing or harsher new environmental conditions (e.g. more severe exposure to wind, absence of real in-forest conditions that would have favoured this type of regeneration).

Socio-economic Conditions

The socio-economic conditions that affect forest management should be considered under all circumstances of forest cover; however, in the case of countries with low forest cover, the related constraints are far more severe and should be all the more carefully examined.

Land use and land tenure:

It is most likely that lands on which forests are remaining in low forest cover countries are either of high value and thus intensely competed for, or hardly accessible. Land use options as forest are important and should be strengthened if forests are to be maintained. The sustainability of land use is not often guaranteed and lands under forests or woodlands may be strongly coveted for transfer to other land uses. The same pressures either for agricultural land or for the establishment of human settlements are common threats to sustainable forest management. In most LFCC, the allocation of land to forest use is often weakly supported and may be easily changed.

Resource use and dependency:

When options are assessed for forest management, a number of resource use models are often selected and privileged. Under the conditions of forest of low forest cover, alternatives are not always available. In a number of cases, livestock is a major element in land use and grazing needs are important and often more pressing, and of higher social priority than wood production. Other needs such as fuelwood, timber of small dimension for household implements and construction are also highly appreciated and are satisfied under unsophisticated local management arrangements. These locally important uses must of course be considered. Populations’ dependency on the forest resources may also be all the stronger when alternatives are not available. While some strong objective reasons may advocate management options that point to conservation, realism may lead to the adoption of silvopastoral approaches, in most of cases with close partnership, involvement or empowerment of local communities. All the trends in forest management in many low forest cover countries have carefully to pay attention to the needs of populations and their participation in the management of resources. Forest management is then guided by local needs and local populations participate in the decision making process throughout the management operations. A growing number of cases in West Africa and in Southern Africa have shown practical and effective cases of participatory forest resource management in which LFCC have taken the lead.

Local integration:

When forest resources are limited, the forest economy is dependent on other domains, socio-economically more significant to people and decision makers. The livestock economy, subsistence agriculture, fisheries and tourism dominate the economy in a number of countries with low forest resources; small island countries are examples in point. Forest management should then be integrated in those types of economies and play a complementary role, producing commodities that may easily be valorised under the related conditions. In many cases the production of handicraft items, environmental services and landscape beautification may be the responses and contribution of forest management to local needs and aspirations. This type of integration may be the only way of conserving relevance to forest activities and justifying the allocation of land to the forests and woodlands.

Economic alternatives and competition:

Competition for land is strong in all areas in which population pressure is high and in many countries with low forest cover. Even in the case of dryland countries grazing is strongly competing with forests. Forest management options should be such that they help lessen the pressures on forestland or serve strong economic demands. Integration, as mentioned above, may help in this. Special products of high value, often yielding unique commodities may often be the only alternative that may protect the forests. In Sahelian countries for example, the particular "niche" played by Arabic gum, and/or the particular needs of the hard wood of Dalbergia melanoxylon for special handicraft production were the only incentives for maintaining forest formations and woodlands including these species. Forest management options in these regions have thus aimed at rationalising and making sustainable the production of these items. A number of similar examples exist in the Mediterranean countries in which forest management options have aimed at maintaining the production of some precious non-timber items such as cork and other typical Mediterranean products. Forest management has the challenge in such cases to devise models that secure the sustainable production of these items while minimising constraints to other forms of forest utilisation.

5. ISSUES RELATED TO FUTURE MANAGEMENT OF NATURAL FORESTS IN LFCC AND PROPOSALS

 

Is sustainable forest management possible in countries of low forest cover? As shown above, the management of natural forests in low forest country is constrained by a number of factors of both biological and socio-economic nature. These constraints are the same as in any country but the special conditions that lead to the state of low forest cover offer a limited set of alternatives. Management options must then be carefully prepared and should include the greatest practicable number of expectations from the resource. Often, specialised products expected from the types of forests which may be rare constitute good assets for the promotion of which forest management options could be based.

The management of forests in countries with low forest cover most likely has to face several most of the constraints and difficulties in order to manage the resource properly of forest management in any low forest cover country. In conditions of low forest cover, the relative political and institutional importance of the sector, severe competition from other sectors, lack of the political and institutional framework make it more difficult to embark on forest management activities which are sustainable. It is however important and indispensable to do so, as managing these forests will raise the status of forest resources and forestry and will heighten institutional, national and international support to the sector.

The biological, socio-economic and institutional background of forest management must be carefully examined in these countries as the in consequenceof the above. Biological conditions are normally harsher than in countries with higher forest cover, political backing may be lower and policy guidance absent. One The strong basis of forest management should be to secure institutional, land use and policy support. Pparticipating in the international processes on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management to support forest resources conservation, management and sustainable development would be helpful, specially at national level, to set the minimal conditions referred to above.

On the basis of the analysis of issues made in this document a number of recommendations and suggestions are proposed for future action for the sustainable management of forest resources in Low Forest Cover Countries:

Institutional and Policy Aspects

Forestry should be clearly taken in consideration in the institutional set up in countries of low forest cover given the important economic, social and especially environmental functions that forests they play;

Legislation supporting the management of forest and tree resources and the participation of populations therein should be promoted and developed;

Given severe competition from other sectors, there should be a deliberate move to strengthen forestry policy and affirm the importance of forest management in LFFC economic development and the livelihood of their communities;

Planning and especially the development of national forest programmes will be essential in promoting the development of forest and tree resources in these countriesLFCC;.

  Technical and Scientific Aspects

The many constraints to forest development in LFCC and more specifically the management of resources are manifold but also technical; development in support of supporting forestry research to better understand and overcome constraints should be encouraged and made real developed if sustainable forest management is to be achieveddeveloped; research should include socio-economic issues and people’s participation;

Aspects relating to the special environmental services of forests in LFCC such as watershed protection, water resources conservation, biodiversity conservation and landscape beautification should be researched for better integration in forest management.

International and Regional Cooperation

The integration of LFCC in regional partnerships and international cooperation should be further encouraged. In particular all efforts initiatives that promote the integration of Low Forest Cover Countries in specific initiatives and/or processes for the developmentdefinition and implementation application of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management should be supported.

 

 

Role of Planted Trees and Forest Plantations in Low Forest Cover Countries (LFCC)

 

I Introduction

II Background

III The present situation of forest plantations in LFCC

IV Main constraints, issues and challenges for reforestation, afforestation and restoration of degraded lands through tree planting

V Proposals and options for action

VI Possibilities for international cooperation

VII Conclusions

 

I INTRODUCTION

 The decrease of woodland and tree vegetation in and around rural and human settlements in Low Forest Cover Countries (LFCC) has raised concerns among the countries concerned and the international community. The loss of these resources impacts directly on the poor communities, which rely on trees and wooded formations to maintain their quality of life. To confront this situation, the planting of trees will become more and more frequent in order to create more wooded areas. To make these plantations sustainable, careful consideration must be given to their position in the overall land use patterns, and this paper draws attention to the role of trees planted both within and outside the areas formally classified as forest.

 

Low forest cover raises various issues for which plantations, tree growing and the encouragement of regeneration have been identified as vital activities in order to:

 

Replace the loss of natural forest and planted forest cover (reforestation);

Introduce forest to sites that have never supported forest, or have not had non forest cover for a long period (afforestation);

Improve degraded natural forest ecosystems;

Expand tree cover on non-forest areas, rehabilitate degraded lands, restore soil fertility and control soil erosion;

Provide services and goods that natural forests may no longer be able to meet, including the provision of fuelwood, fodder and non-wood forest products;

Provide industrial wood and fuelwood;

Ease human and animal pressure on limited natural forest areas;

Improve the land and natural resource base, including water conservation, and

Contribute to global ecological benefits such as the conservation of biological diversity and carbon sequestration.

 

Future global, regional and national needs in term of products and other sorts of services rendered by trees and forests are not yet fully understood or definedstill unknown;. theA set of regional outlook studies presently being undertaken by FAO, together with the analysis and projections of the state and productivity of these formations, will give indications thatwhich will enable better the predictions of requirements for the needs of forest formations.

 

Ideally, these new plantations will be achieved with a clear vision of their economic, ecological, environmental and landscape related roles. This issues paper examines the role of planted forests and trees in the particular case of Low Forest Cover CountriesLFCCs, and analyses the needs for afforestation, reforestation and restoration of degraded lands and fragile ecosystems.

 

II BACKGROUND

International processes and forest plantations

 In the framework of the UNCED, Chapter 11 of Agenda 21: ‘Combating desertification’ and Chapter 13: ‘Managing fragile ecosystems: sustainable mountain development’, an integrated approach to addressing the physical biological and socio-economic aspects of the processes of desertification, drought and watershed degradation has been adopted.

The Intergovernmental Panel of Forests (IPF), established in 1995 under the UNCED to assist progress in the implementation of actions towards sustainable management, made a number of proposals for action relating to forest plantations. These are documented in the final report of the IPF: Report E/CN.17/1997/12.

The Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) succeeded the IPF in 1997. Part of the mandate of the Forum is to promote and facilitate the implementation of the proposals for action made by the IPF, and to make further recommendations on a number of pending issues needing further clarification. Several issues on the agenda of the IFF are related to forest plantations.

The second session of IFF (Geneva, 24 August to 4 September 1998) reviewed progress in implementing IPF’s proposals for action, including those related to fragile ecosystems affected by desertification and drought and those regarding countries with low forest cover. Strong recommendations have been made to coordinate UNCCD implementation and recommendations of IPF regarding the restoration of degraded forests and initiatives in LFCCs.

Although the important role that forest plantations play in sustainable forest management was recognized by UNCED, the IPF and the IFF, the matter has not been addressed comprehensively within the framework of the intergovernmental dialogue on forests. In order to fill this gap, the Governments of Chile, Denmark, India, New Zealand and Portugal sponsored an Expert Meeting on the Role of Planted Forests in Sustainable Forest Management in Santiago, Chile, from 6 to10 April 1999.

That meeting specifically addressed underlying causes of deforestation, needs and requirements of countries with low forest cover (LFCC), future supply and demands for wood and non-wood forest products, rehabilitation of degraded forest lands and other relevant issues. During the expert meeting, it was recognized that a number of important issues relating to planted forests were not adequately addressed in the agenda of the IFF.

Most participants considered that a substantial increase in the area of forest plantations, in the order of 100 million hectares, would be needed over the next 50 years to meet the needs of the increase in population assuming that the current per capita levels of consumption will remain unchanged. It should be noted, however, that some participants argued that increased planting was not required. These participants y considered that stronger efforts should be made to reduce wood consumption and to look for alternate energy sources, allowing the environmentally safe substitution of wood products. This view may reflect a belief that plantations can cause environmental damage and socio-economic harm, which outweigh the benefits derived from planted forests.

Significance of forest plantations and planted trees to countries with low forest cover

(a) Forest plantations

The world’s natural forests are under pressure to cannot meet the present and increasing future demands of humanity for goods (e.g. industrial wood, fuelwood and non-wood products), and a wide range of services requirement. Planted trees and forests are seen by many as one of the economically viable and environmentally safe means of meeting these requirements.

Future increases in global supply of wood will be largely from plantations. One estimate of iIndustrial wood supply from plantations is for an estimated to increase ofby 67%, from 624 million cubic meters in 2000 to 1043 cubic meters by 2040. Plantations are estimated to meet 35% of estimated global demand for industrial wood by 2000. This is estimated to increase to 44% by 2020 and 46% by 2040. For all regions this would require a significant increase in plantation area and substantial gains in plantation productivity (Commonwealth of AustraliaFAO, 1999).

Planted forests are an important means of increasing forest area in countries with low forest cover. They are able to Planted forests enhance the provision of a wide range of goods and services including production of wood and non-wood products, conservation, carbon sequestration, erosion control, reduction of pressure on native forests and rehabilitation of degraded lands. Wheren planted forests are established, all practicable steps should be taken to avoid replacing natural ecosystems of high ecological and cultural value.

The following goods and services can be provided by forest plantations and by trees and other tree-based systems on non-forest areas:

Industrial wood production,

Fuelwood, animal fodder and non-wood forest products,

Erosion control,

Ecological stability through the use of suitable silvicultural practices, research and biosecurity,

Combating desertification,

Rehabilitation of degraded lands,

Recreational and amenity facilities. 

In addition to the production of wood and poles, fodder and fuelwood, trees in plantations and on non-forest areas in LFCC provide many services and functions in erosion control, soil fertility restoration, maintenance of good agriculture conditions, cultural produce tion (fruits, medicines raw material for handicrafts), mitigation of the micro-climate variations, shade for the cattle, fixation of sand dunes, protection of villages, cities and fields against sand and dust invasion, and regulation of the water cycle. In short, they provide a diversified income generation opportunities for rural people, and are an essential element of sustainable agriculture.

Significance of trees, shrubs and woodlots in LFC countries

Many trees, shrubs and woodlots are planted outside the formal area of forest plantations. They provide a wide, but often unquantified and unacknowledged, range of specific benefits to LFCCs.

Contribution to land rehabilitation, erosion control and soil fertility improvement: Trees structure the landscape of rural areas. They mitigate micro-climatic variations (temperature, wind and humidity). They protect arable land from water erosion and regulate the water cycle, improve infiltration and limit runoff, and thus recharge the water table. Line plantings (hedgerows, windbreaks, shelterbelts) protect crop lands from straying cattle (and from wind erosion) while plantations fix shifting sand dunes and protect fertile lands from sand encroachment. Moreover trees provide shelter for animals, includingcattle, which add fertility through their manure. Moreover, aAlthough it is much ignored or underestimated, trees maintain and even restore land fertility through their deep root systems which recycle nutrients. Particularly in arid zones, winds may sweep these nutrients may be swept away withfrom the topsoil on bare lands by the wind. Trees play an important protective role in this regard and, in addition, fix these fine particles to the topsoil. Moreover trees shelter a number of animals, and among them cattle which add fertility through their manure. This role is particularly even more important with nitrogen fixing tree species (such as Faidherbia albida), and these species, and their ecological role, are generally well-known to farmers know very well these species. Farmers plant or protect natural regenerations of such trees in their fields and natural loss can be reduced by sowing, planting or protecting nitrogen fixing trees.

 Improvement of pastoral lands and fodder production: Many LFCCs countries are characterized by the importance of subsistance and commercial livestock production and extensive pastoral areas. The multi-purpose contribution of trees and forage tree to the productivity of extensive pastoral areas and other of farming systems is widely recognized through traditional uses of indigenous species species (on-farm, agroforestry parklands). The development of new opportunities with exotic species enlarge the choice of the alternatives availableoffered to farmers and herders.

 Trees in the urban and peri-urban environment: The increase of tree cover through urban parks, homegardens, roadside trees, windbreaks and peri-urban agroforestry systems improve local the climates, and reduce air pollution, and provide amenity and recreation opportunities. The functions of trees and forests for food production, soil conservation and soil fertility improvement, water conservation and reuse are critical for poor urban dwellers and for urban agriculture. The production of wood, food, fuel and other NWFP in the vicinity of the city are source of income generation and employment. Greenbelts and windbreaks around human settlements protect urban agricultural areas and building infrastructures from dune encroachment.

 Human needs for a healthy habitat in a rural or an urban context will more and more require single tree planting or plantation establishment whether it is to make the city more salubrious through reforestation of under-used spaces, or to adapt to emerging urban patterns (open areas between densely populated neighbourhoods and suburbs, towns or satellite cities, consolidated immigrant neighbourhoods, ecological refuges in suburbs).

 Revegeitation in arid zones: In arid zones, plant formations which cover arid lands, except where there is strong human pressures and over grazing, are liable to protect the a primary source of land protection and help to lands and create soils relatively rich in organic matter brought by gramineae(except where there is strong human pressures and over grazing) in areas where rainfall is between 1,000 and 200 mm. Natural The woody formations of these zones can constitute quite stable natural ecosystems, which are rich in leguminous and grass species, and are a basis for excellent grazing land. The wood produced generally has a medium to high density and can provides the a renewable fuelwoodirewood supply, providing the essential source of energy for populations in these areas. including the rapidly growing cities;

 These formations are also the habitat of diversified fauna which, in Africa, include the greatest concentrations of wild bovids in Africa. These animals live in famous are mainly protected in national parks which are centres of tourism and provide an essential source of income for a number of countries.

 Trees and shrub species and a number of perennial herbaceous species are very resistant and resilient to drought;. their mMany adaptive abilities make these speciesm resistant to browsing, trampling of cattle, storms and sand, tearing and cutting by water flow during violent rains; their deep or fragmented root systems and their capacity to mainretain moisture makes them able to recover from fire. Because of all Tthese qualities they are tools which are extremely useful for land restoration, and make these valuable precious species forto use infor plantations in arid zone plantations.

 These preliminary considerations for dry areas aim to underline the ecological and economic importance of arid zones, the utility of the plant material they contain and the essential role they can play in the restoration of degraded areas and the establishment of multiple purpose plantations. For this reaseon, it is indispensable to get better acquainted with them and use them in the most favourable growth conditions, limiting the various constraints to the many ways they can be used in the management, conservation and development of natural resources of arid lands and in the restoration of degraded lands. In spite of the numerous and serious constraints, there are many advantages which, in coherent frameworks, can facilitate arid land restoration greatly.

III PRESENT SITUATION IN LFCC

The definition of LFC includes seventy-one countries from all continents, from developed to developing countries. Eighteen countries are classified known as non-forested countries. Most of the LFCCs countries are in arid and semi-arid zones. The total land area of these countries is about 4,000 million hectares. The total forest area of LFCCs is estimated to be about 140 million hectares, which comprises made about 3.5% of total land area in LFCCs.average. The total area of natural forest area in these countries is estimated to be 71,000 million hectares; this is means about 52% of total forest area. In other words the rest The remainder of forested lands should be considered under other forest cover cases, such as comprise forest plantations, trees planted traditionally on farms, etc. It should be mentioned, however, that some data and information are not available or not applicable.

The area of forest plantations in the world, especially in LFCCs, has been increasing for the past two decades, and this trend is expected to continue. Many countries have large areas of planted forests, and the area is still expanding. Almost 75% of developing country forest plantations are located in the Asia and the Pacific region (including 21,000 million hectares in China), while 10% are in Africa.

Over 60% of the plantations in Asia and Africa have been assessed as unsuitable for commercial wood production because of low productivity, poor management and poor species selection. Some of these have been planted for fuel or environmental benefits.

Plantation establishment for fuelwood began on a large scale in the late 1970s, largely in Asia and Africa. Plantation wood from these regions now supplies around 10% of the global fuelwood demand. Almost 90% of fuelwood is consumed by developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America. An estimated 57% of the plantation area is planted with hardwoods, mainly with Eucalyptus, and 43% with softwoods, mainly with various species of pines. Table 1 shows the regional totals derived from a recent FAO review of the literature of forest plantations established for wood supply.

Table 1. Reported Forest Plantation Areas and Annual Establishment Rate in Developing Countries in 1995 in thousand ha (FAO, 1999)

Region

Reported areas

Estimated

Area

 

Industrial

Non-industrial

Total

net area

established per year

Africa

3 787

3 025

6 812

5 861

288

Asia/Oceania

31 781

21 216

52 997

40 471

2 330

Latin America

7 826

2 134

9 960

8 898

401

Total

43 394

26 375

69 769

55 230

3 019

Current estimates of No global figures are available for current global output of timber from forest plantations are in the range of 25-35 percent of total industrial roundwood production., but tThe potential annual growth of industrial wood from planted forests in developing countries has been estimated at about 5% of the increment of natural forests in 1995. Assuming today’s rate of deforestation and afforestation, it has been estimated that by 2010 the potential increment from forest plantations will be about 40% of that from natural forests in Asia, Oceania and Latin America and about 15% in Africa (FAO, 1999).

Table 2: Plantation Areas of Tropical and Non-tropical LFC Countries in 1995

Plantation area of tropical developing LFC countries in 1995

 

Region

 

Area 000 ha

 

Change (1990-1995)

 

1990

1995

Area

%

Africa

167

375.5

208.5

125

Asia

403

1,283

880

218

Latin America and Caribbean

12

18

6

50

TOTAL

582

1,676.5

1,094.5

188

Plantation area of non-tropical developing LFC countries

 

Region

 

Area 000 ha

 

Change (1990-1995)

 

1990

1995

Area

%

Africa

1,330

1,998

668

50

Asia

330

(330)

(0)

(0)

Latin America and Caribbean

156

348

192

123

TOTAL

1,816

2,346

530

29

Source: FAO (1997)

 It can be noted from the above table that both tropical and non-tropical developing LFC countries have made considerable efforts in forest plantation development between 19990 and 1995, the former in particular.

Some common factors affecting the forest resources of countries with LFC

The following are some of the factors, shared with many other developing countries, which affect the forest resource and the forestry sector of LFCC:

Population growth,

Clearing of forest lands for agriculture,

Over-harvesting of natural forests,

Urbanization,

Decreasing commodity prices,

Outdated or inappropriate regulations impacting on land use decisions in most countries,

Lack of land use planning.

To these should be added those factors peculiar to many LFC countries:

Low rainfall, slow growth,

Low returns on investment;

Degraded natural forests and eroded sites,

Lack of public funds,

Grazing pressure on natural regeneration,

High fuelwood demand.

All of these factors have led to the adoption of tree planting programmes to meet present and future demands for forest goods and services in LFC countries. 

IV MAIN ISSUES, Constraints AND CHALLENGES TO reFORESTATION, AFFORESTATION AND restoration of degraded lands through tree planting

Plantations are hindered by a number of constraints thatwhich will continue to increase in a number of countries. Plantations will be establishedcarried out under increasingly competitive land use conditions; they will be less and less accepted when they have to substitute natural formations because of the growing value of original indigenous natural areas. Conditions for their technical implementation are constantly iimproving, but there are many problems linked to the use of improved plant material that can justifycause increasing establishment costs. 

The following lists the main issues, constraints and challenges to reforestation, afforestation and restoration of degraded lands through tree planting: 

Institutional and management issues;

Need to integrate plantation and restoration activities in national policies and in land use programmes;

Planning should be a means of promoting plantations and rehabilitation activities;

Tree planting and ecological and landscape related constraints;

Technical constraints;

Marketing and economic justifications;

Social Issues. 

There are, however, a number of issues and constraints more specifically related to planted trees, shrubs and woodlots. They include: 

Action to halt the land degradation process; 

Action to meet fuelwood and energy supply; 

Research into tree planting and water reserves; 

Status on the availability of lands, planting sites and type of soils; 

Studies on the lack of land, availability of land and low access to natural resources;

Studies on the urbanisation process and its impact on the rural environment.

There are some specific constraints and issues related to urban environments. They include:

Legislation and policy, tenure, land use change, land price and custom in urban areas;

Management issues in urban areas – tree selection – technology development and transfer;

The reuse of wastewater for tree plantations – transfer of technology;

Economic and ecological valuation of urban trees and forest benefits. 

V PROPOSALS AND OPTIONS FOR ACTION

Considering the issues described in the previous section related to the forest resources of LFCCs countries and the specific issues related to planted trees, the following proposals and options for action are suggested:

For many countries, Pplantations and planted trees offer for many countries the only way to increase their forest resources, and to provide the needed necessary goods and services for the future. Before embarking on large scale programmes, their impacts, and their costs and benefits of tree planting, in environmental, social and economic terms, need to be carefully examined.

Planners and policy makers should recognise that traditional forest plantations are not the only option for improving the resource base; the role of trees outside forests, which include lines, small woodlots and individual trees should be considered, both in the rural and the urban environment.

Afforestation, reforestation and tree growing on non-forest lands must be includedserted in sectorial and inter-sectorial policies. For this, it is necessary to formulate forest policies and strategies that which will include specific provisions relating to the restoration of the tree cover on lands in arid zones (greening);. For example, llinkages must be established with desertification control planning.; Similarly, urban and peri-urban development should integrate trees, parks and woodlot plantations in a long-term strategy taking into account the impact of urbanisation on the surrounding rural environment.

Governments should reconsider the role of the public sector in forest plantations, and should facilitate plantation development by the private sector, including encouragement of community-based development.ies, and should remove Inappropriate administrative barriers to tree and plantation establishment should be removed.

The availability of land may be a major constraint for tree planting.; aAn inventory of available land, including degraded sites, should be considered as a basis for planning.

Governments should make efforts to improve the available data on forest plantations and on trees outside forests - their extent, their potential yield of products, their location and ownership etc. - as an aid to policy-making and planning.

VI POSSIBILITIES FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Action shcould be organized for the involvement of national and international organizations, as well as stakeholders and owners, in decision-making and sharing in investments.

FAO shcould be requested to help to improve the information and data on planted forest areas and trees outside forests, fuelwood and non-wood products, consumption in LFC countries, and especially to continue to support countries in capacity building.

Encouragement of aAppropriate two-way technology transfer mechanisms for the sustainable development of planted forests could be encouraged. is another possibility for this reason. More over, appropriate means to ensure the sharing of technologies between and within countries should be developed, including effective links between research, extension and implementation.

Extensive information and technologies exist on development options for different types of planted forests, but thesey are unevenly distributed. Developing suitable methods for the transfer of this information to the areas of greatest need would be an important mechanism for increasing the effectiveness of planted forest establishment and management. Exchange of experience and cooperative action through networks and regional projects are other possibilities for international cooperation.

Specific assistance from international agencies could be requested. For example: technical assistance from FAO in relation ship with protecting and restoring fragile ecosystems affected by desertification; assessment of the multiple benefits of planted forests; and technology transfer; (originally under UNDP), UNEP in relation to causes of deforestation and land degradation; needs and requirements of LFCC’s for afforestation programs;, UNDP and World Bank in relation to international cooperation in financial assistance. could be considered in international cooperation.

VII CONCLUSION

 

The circumstances of each country vary with differing economic, social, cultural and other critical aspects that bear on forestry. Therefore, it is unrealistic to expect a single policy prescription relating to forests to apply in all countries. Any measure, which ignores different country situations, is likely to fail.

The future development of plantation programmes around the world depends upon different items. Countries with positive experience and successful case studies could follow-up the Tehran meeting. This could be organized through expert meetings at regional and sub-regional levels. Countries with arid and semi-arid climate should cooperate and manage efficient activities and programs against desertification.

 Bibliography

Commonwealth of Australia, 1999. Executive summary. A study on the global outlook for plantations. Australia. 12 p.

FAO, 1998. Global fiber supplies model. Rome.

FAO, 1999. State of the world’s forests. Rome. 154 p.

Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries, 1996, Report of expert meeting on rehabilitation of forest degraded ecosystems. Portugal. 118 p.

Nyland, R.D., 1996. Silviculture. Concepts and Applications. McGraw-Hill, Singapore. 633 p.

Report of the International Experts Meeting, 1999. Role of planted forests in sustainable forest management. Chile. 47 p.

Secretariat of the Organising Committee of the Expert Meeting on Rehabilitation of Forests Degraded Ecosystems.. 1996. Expert meeting on rehabilitation of forest degraded ecosystems, Lisbon, November 1996. Lisbon, Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries. 165 pp. 

Annex MAIN ISSUES, Constraints AND CHALLENGES TO reFORESTATION, AFFORESTATION AND restoration of degraded lands through tree planting

Institutional and management issues: Tree-based resources vary in terms of species, purpose, density and distribution. The responsibility for their assessment, planning, management and conservation is scattered through different institutions. It can be noted that although the coverage of trees-outside-forests and their economic and environmental benefits may be significant in LFCC, there is no systematic assessment (inventory) of these resources. Also, data on products (fodder, fuelwood and NWFPs) are not usually disaggregated according to their origin. It is therefore difficult to analyse data coming from resource assessment and product assessment in the outlook study, for supply needs assessment and land-use planning. Nor are tree-crops assessed in terms of their environmental benefits. There is no systematic and reliable data to support landscape and land-use management decisions. The responsibility for planning, management and control of these resources is sometimes not clear and is often overlooked. (e.g. agroforestry, social forestry, urban forestry).

 The role of forest managers may need to be redefined, to be responsive to a range of views, including traditional forest related knowledge and a variety of approaches to managing forests.

Need to integrate plantation and restoration activities in national policies and in land use programmes: One of the great constraints to forest development is often the lack of forest policies, and of policies that regulate plantations and the restoration of degraded lands. National policies must provide for a framework and a clear role for afforestation, reforestation and restoration of degraded ecosystems. Governments do not always create the right environment for the private sector to operate efficiently;

Of interest to the LFCCs is the initiation of planning processes to fight desertification in the framework of the UN Convention on Desertification. These initiatives will provide additional political tools; in fact, the steps taken by the Convention must ‘define long term strategies to fight desertification and mitigate the consequences of drought, put the emphasis on the implemention (operation aspects) and be integrated in national policies for sustainable development’. The evaluation of physical benefits and services obtained from plantations, especially their effects on employment, income generation and on the environment, should provide a basis for clear and proactive policies.

Governments particularly need to ensure that inappropriate economic and institutional factors are not acting as impediments to tree planting. Factors such as poorly defined property rights, or absence of secure land tenure will discourage investment. Similarly, an absence of institutional or infrastructural supports may act as a major barrier. For example, the absence of nurseries, research trials and results, and development of knowledge relating to sound practices, may all hinder or discourage tree planting.

Planning should be a means of promoting plantations and rehabilitation activities. Reforestation entails a long term option on the use of lands; in the same way, investments in the rehabilitation of lands will only yield results in the medium and long term. The lack of land use plans or their inadequate implementation are great constraints. This issue is particularly stressed in each of the various initiatives to identify criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management. For example, Principle n.2 of the ITTO guidelines for the creation and sustainable management of tropical man-made forests (valid for afforestation in sub-humid and dry areas) indicates clearly that ‘provisions for the establishment and sustainable management of planted forests must be considered in the context of an integrated land use plan for national economic and social development’. This should also extend to other tree-based systems.

 Tree planting and ecological and landscape related constraints: Provision is not always made for the conservation of biological diversity, landscape values and hydrology issues in planted forests at the management unit level as part of forest design and forest operations. Local species and provenences should be considered, as well as suitable introduced species. Native species will cause a smaller modification of the landscape and may have a better chance of success.

Technical constraints: Other constraints relate specifically to: 1) species and provenance selection for particular sites and objectives; 2) establishment techniques, especially in areas of oow and unreliable rainfall; 3) soil salinisation, which is an increasing problem with the degradation of irrigated lands, but which provides potentialities and opportunities for forestry and agroforestry; 4) calcic and dune soils which, with their hardpan or gravelly ferruginous layers, require intensive land preparation work. These soils can be a source of innovative answers to fuelwood production problems 5) protection from fire, grazing (at least during establishment), pests and diseases and encroachment.

Marketing and economic justifications: A range of economic issues are likely to be of particular relevance to developing planted forests in LFCCs. The central issue relates to the profitability or returns from tree-planting. Where ecological conditions dictate slow rates of growth and additional investments may be required to mitigate particular ecological factors (e.g. requirements for irrigation) then tree-growing for commercial purposes may be uneconomic. The long time frame of tree-growing may also create cash-flow difficulties. Where inappropriate pricing mechanisms or price controls are applied, these are often a primary source of disincentive.

Similarly, where trees are grown for non-industrial purposes, such as a source of fodder, the length of time before the plantings become productive may discourage investment. As a consequence the non-cash amenity values of tree-planting may be lost. No human activity can be sustained without remuneration: thus it is important that the different goods and services rendered by plantations and agroforestry systems are documented and financial income deriving from these is captured by producers.

Economic incentives are the most efficient drivers of action for conservation and development; public or private actors will generally not maintain their efforts if direct of indirect economic results are not rewarding them. But in the types of afforestation, reforestation and land restoration through tree planting, valuation of benefits needs be broadly based so as to identify all positive and negative effects of plantations. The evaluation of direct benefits must take into account non wood forest products and services. Similarly, the scale of evaluation is important. Unless regions or watersheds are considered as a whole, economic evaluations can be seriously distorted.

A number of unexpected constraints may hamper the marketing of products from tree plantations; these are linked to the existence of a viable market with solvent clientele. These include users of fuelwood, beneficiaries of services of forests, and buyers of industrial timber and commercial non-wood forest products. Marketing assistance will often be necessary. The relevant constraint here is the competitiveness of products from tree plantation with alternative products, but also with products from natural forests.

 Social Issues: a lack of knowledge, forestry expertise and skilled forestry labour may be a major impediment to forestry programmes. These are likely to be particular problems in LFCCs where forestry has never been an important land use. The absence of a “forestry culture” will generally mean forests have a low political profile, little institutional support, and limited understanding of the broad roles trees and forests can play. Tree planting may engender little community interest or support, and may be opposed by people who perceive conflicts with current land uses (e.g. holders of grazing rights). In general, there is often a lack of public understanding of the ecological, social and economic roles of planted forests.

Even where public awareness has been raised, extension services, may be indadequate and may need strengthening, to help stakeholders understand the advantages and disadvantages of the various management options. Those responsible for tree plantation programmes are often not aware of the need to involve indigenous and local communities, landowners, industry and other stakeholders in decision making, facilitated by i) definition of the legal, customary and cultural rights of communities, and ii) ensuring adequate access to wood and non-wood forest products;

There are, however, a number of issues and constraints more specifically related to planted trees, shrubs and woodlots. They include:

Action to halt the land degradation process: Degradation has accompanied the economic development of land through agriculture, and more specially irrigation, the use of forests and grazing resouces. In the case of arid lands, mountain areas and around the cities, forests undergo various phases of degradation which progressively reduce their plant cover, take away their soil and sterilise them through massive removal of earth through water and wind erosion.

In the case of the dry areas, deforestation and degradation of tree and shrub formations (mainly for conversion to agricultural use) and overexploitation of forests and woodland (through fuelwood collection and owvergrazing) are recognized as among the major causes of soil degradation.

Action to meet fuelwood and energy supply: The primary source of energy in many towns and cities of LFCCs is fuelwood, either as wood or charcoal. Most fuelwood is brought in from peri-urban areas (forests, plantations, and parklands) and often result in the degradation of these systems.

Research into tree planting and water reserves, particularly the effects of tree planting on soil and water.

Status on the availability of lands, planting sites and type of soils: Availability of lands that are sufficiently fertile or with a degradation level which is reversible for restoration is one of the first main constraints. Plantation sites, when economic purposes are involved, cannot always be degraded lands; investing in abandoned land, with commercial or industrial objectives is useless. Clear decisions and specific objectives must be set initially to help guide the choice of sites. Overall land use planning, and at a local level, land capability maps can be of great support; unfortunately, these tools are rarely available to guide towards wise implantation of sites for reforestation.

Studies on the lack of land, availability of land and low access to natural resources: The availability of land resources, land tenure and land use have a significant influence on the location, the appropriation and the sustainability of plantations. Difficulties and obstacles linked to access to land are the main constraints for sustainable development of forests and plantations at an individual and even more so at community level.

Studies on the urbanisation process and its impact on the rural environment: Cities and human settlements, whatever their size, can face several environmental problems such as inadequate water supplies, air pollution and sewage management. Deforestation, denudation and changes in land use in ever-widening circles around cities, are particularly accentuated in arid and semi-arid zones. Indeed, consumption patterns and basic needs by the urban and peri-urban population for products such as fuelwood and construction material are important causes of forest and land degradation. For instance, in the desert fringe where demand from cities has exhausted the resources of species traditionally used for fuelwood, the population has no alternative than to use low quality fuel material (such as cow dung) or high economic value species. This results in the degradation of soil fertility, in the diminution of tree-covered areas and contributes to the erosion of the diversity of the gene pool. The negative impact of the forest resource base degradation on the nutritional and livelihood conditions of poor urban dwellers, representing the majority of African settlement populations, is often overlooked in urban development.

There are some specific constraints and issues related to urban environments. They include:

Legislation and policy, tenure, land use change, land price and custom in urban areas: Ownership of, and access to, land and tree resources may be a determining factor for tree and forest planting. A high level of illegal occupation of land, high prices for urban land, small dimensions of land units, and the need for immediate income, may all represent major constraints for tree planting on peri-urban farms and in the core-building environment. In most urban environments, space is precious, and subject to many competing land use pressures. Much of the challenge for urban forestry lies in making optimal use of the limited area available for urban trees.

Management issues in urban areas – tree selection – technology development and transfer: Technologies for tree planting and forest management in urban areas may differ significantly from those in rural areas due to several constraints such as: (i) different limiting conditions (air and water pollution, building environment, compact soils, pests and mesoclimate); (ii) problems inherent to the presence of trees in the infrastructural environment, and; (iii) high land values for commercial use.

The reuse of wastewater for tree plantations – transfer of technology: Scarcity of water is often a critical factor in the establishment of tree plantations. In areas where water is a scarce resource, non-food tree plantations can be established through wise reuse of urban wastewater.

Economic and ecological valuation of urban trees and forest benefits: Where urban forestry activities are included as a component of larger urban improvement programmes, it is important that they also be subjected to financial, economic and socio-economic analysis. Urban forest resources should be assessed according to their own unique criteria, but these also have to be adjusted and tested for the conditions of LFCCs and developing countries in general.

Forest conservation

 

1. Introduction

Forest conservation and protected forest areas were always essential components of nature conservation, but also a part of forest management as an ecological aspect of forestry strategy.

For half a century (IUCN, 1948) international efforts have been made to establish and manage protected forest areas all over the world. The necessity of having and maintaining protected forest areas was emphasized by the second session of the IFF held in Geneva, Switzerland, in September 1998. At its third session in May 1999 in Geneva, the IFF underlined again the importance of conservation of representative and, especially, unique types of forest as a part of the International Conventions on Biological Diversity, Climate Change and Combating Desertification. Today about 8% of the world's forests are protected. The share of countries with low forest cover (LFC) is surely low but unfortunately we still do not have exact data on it.

The importance of protected forest areas in LFC countries is actually higher than in forest-rich countries. Their scarce forests and fragile forest ecosystems make it all the more necessary to have protected areas as a reserve of biological diversity and genetic information which is present in these forests. The conservation of forests in LFC countries must be understood and accepted as an integral part of sustainable forest management and as an important component of sustainable development.

As well as understanding the importance of forest conservation, it is necessary to appreciate that it is a complex and demanding enterprise. It requires trained manpower and financial resources and it involves addressing complex issues, such as identifying the range of stakeholders in a given area and effectively controlling use or exploitation of sought after resources. 

2. The Present Situation in LFC Countries

If we accept the threshold of 10% of total forest area as low forest cover (LFC), there are 70 countries which belong to the low forest cover country group. The total land area of these countries is about

3,347,814,000 hectares, which is 25.9% of the Earth's surface. These countries together have a total forest surface of 120,438,000 hectares, constituting only 3.4% of the world's forests.

The entire forest area of these countries is less than the forest area of Europe (140 million ha). The average forest surface to total land area is only 3.6%. In seven countries forest/capita is higher than the world average (0.6 ha) and in 25 countries less than average. 80% of LFC countries are located in arid zones of the world, between 10-40 geographical latitude. Most of these countries are situated in North Africa, Near East and West Asia.

It is imperative to take precautions for the protection of existing forest ecosystems which include Sclerophyllous forests, evergreen and also deciduous, temperate mixed forests, Mediterranean forest ecosystems, as well as subtropical scarce and extra-zonal forests (e.g. mangrove forests in the south of Iran).

The percentage of protected forest areas in the LFC countries, and into which IUCN categories they fall, is unknown due to lack of data. Therefore the collection of data on forest protected areas in the LFC countries is a priority. For this reason a questionnaire in the form of a table is attached, filled in for Iran as an example, and it is suggested that it be completed by all LFC countries. The data would also serve as a basis on which future decisions can be made.

In all LFC countries there is a need to integrate conservation programmes with the needs of local people by involving them in protected area management, and to introduce conservation concepts into forest management practice.

Many regions in LFC countries (like Zagros in Iran, Atlas in North Africa) are woodlands, which are actually degraded forests. This type of vegetation must also be considered in conservation programmes.

Many parts of such regions could be developed to forest with higher canopy than they have today. The necessity and importance of forest conservation is not accepted by many forestry experts and forest organizations, not only in developing countries with LFC but also in developed countries. Some effort must be made to deal with this problem. It is obvious that in nearly all developing countries with LFC there is an increasing loss of natural forest area; the rate may be about 1% annually. Therefore the most urgent priority is to first halt deforestation before implementing other forestry measures.

The lack of adequate forest management concepts in many countries and the imitation of classical silvicultural methods, which were mostly developed in well-forested European countries, make it difficult to practice sustainable forest management linked with management of protected forest areas in LFC countries.

Developing countries must find their own way by adapting local cultural, ecological and socio-economic conditions in the management and conservation of their own forests. Developed countries and international institutions should support them in this. 

3. Proposals for Action

Due to the importance and necessity of forest conservation and also to guarantee sustainable forest management (SFM) in LFC countries, the following proposals have been formulated for discussion at the Expert Meeting in Tehran in October 1999:

1. The first priority is data collection on LFC countries, combined with agreement on definitions. The existing data is not always up-to-date or accurate. For example, Iran has more than 5 million ha of forest with canopy of more than 10%. In the existing FAO data (Forest Resources Assessment, 1990), the figure is given as only 1.5 million ha. There is also a lack of information about protected forest areas in the LFC countries. Therefore a questionnaire (see attached example) should be filled out for every country. For decision-making it is important to know the total surface area of forests and woodland, the real surface of forests with canopy of more than 10%, as well as the surface area of protected forest areas. If possible it would be useful to know the health and condition of the forests in conservation areas.

2. To have clear definitions of technical terms related to forest conservation and protected forest areas in LFC countries, a technical committee could be set up to include experts from LFC countries and

international institutions like FAO,UNEP, IUCN and IUFRO. It is important that the principal terms are understood and accepted by all participating members.

3. An important question for all countries is to decide the percentage of forests to be conserved. This should be related to the types of forest ecosystems to be conserved as well as to the actual area of a particular ecosystem remaining. It would be useful in this respect to prepare common criteria or standards for all countries, although recognising that every country is different. In the absence of more specific information, it is proposed, as a long-term objective, that 10% of each forest type be protected. To reach this objective it would be better done gradually, but at most during a 10-year period.

4. To choose part or all of a forest as a protected area means the partial or total loss of production functions, for wood or non-wood products, which may be relevant to the economy of local communities in many LFC countries. Therefore there should be some kind of financial compensation plan, based on the value of the products foregone.

5. The size of the protected forest area is important; it must be related to the natural conditions like site, climate and type of forest. It is therefore obvious that the protected forest should be one block of sufficient size to meet needs (but as large as possible), since a single, large protected forest area is more effective than many small and separated areas. A watershed-catchment would be a good and acceptable size. The biological corridors between conservation areas are also important and must be considered. The careful selection of representative and unique types of forests is highly relevant for conservation purposes.

6. The strategy of forest conservation must be linked with sustainable forest management (SFM). For both, forest conservation and SFM, a conceptual framework must be prepared. Protected forest areas without sound forest management are neither effective nor desirable.

7. The success of management of protected areas is related to the structure of the forest administration. Local rather than central administration, combined with authority for decision-making at local level, is generally better. Through the local administration it is easier to contact and understand the needs, requirements and cultural aspects of the local population. Without support from local people, the goal of forest conservation cannot be easily achieved. Through forest conservation, new job possibilities, especially for the local population, may be created.

8. Ecotourism is a new possibility for the social benefit and economical wellbeing of the people living around the protected areas. Ecotourism projects must be planned carefully and carried out slowly and smoothly. It is, however, important not to have unrealistic expectations about ecotourism because it depends critically on the availability of a high quality environment to attract visitors and on having suitable levels of service to meet their needs.

9. Research into the implementation of protected forest areas must be initiated and, where they already exist, promoted. National and international research institutes should include in their programmes the conservation of forest and protected forest areas in all LFC countries, and consideration could even be given to setting up a new forest research institution concerned with research in LFC countries. The site of such an institute should be in one of the LFC countries. Iran could be a suitable site for the establishment of such a research institute because it has different forest ecosystems according to region, beech forest in the north and mangroves in the south.

10. An international fund should be established related to forest conservation programmes in LFC countries. The fund should be supported both internationally and by LFC countries. The fund could be used mainly for research, the exchange of scientists, investigating socio-economic problems in areas surrounding protected forests, and possibly also for financial compensation for the loss of wood production in protected forests.

11. In the context of sectorial planning and national forest programmes (nfps), it should be noted that programmes and activities related to forest conservation will require adapted laws and regulations relevant to the special conditions of LFC countries, coordination with other land use activities (agriculture, pasture) and infrastructure like road construction, electricity lines and mining.