Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

In response to growing environmental problems around Tangi and the Khurda Forest Division of eastern Orissa, village leaders from five neighbouring communities began holding meetings in Tangi in 1985, to discuss how to preserve and restore their natural forests. In 1987, the communities agreed to form the Five-Village Forest Protection Committee and, by 1996, they had been joined by another 120 villages in the area. These results were replicated elsewhere. For example, at the state level, 4,000 communities started to protect over 250,000 hectares of vigorously regenerating mixed Shorea robusta forests over this period and between 10,000 and 15,000 communities across the whole of India joined the grassroots forest protection movement, with minimal cost to the government.

The results of this grassroots action were immediate and, in many areas, flora and fauna that had been disappearing began to return. In response to the growing political demands of this movement, a national policy breakthrough occurred in 1988, when the Government passed the new National Forest Policy Act. This Act explicitly recognized the legal status of the Joint Forest Management Contracts that were established with these communities.

Key factors that have successfully contributed to the joint management of public forestlands in India include:

· that forest management decisions are taken and implemented by the user group(s), rather than by the village or panchayat as a whole;

· that the user group(s) have been given security of tenure, with the state playing an active role in defining and protecting their boundaries against outside use and encroachment;

· that use regulations have evolved, are enforced locally and have been turned into rules that are understandable and easily adjusted to meet new challenges;

· that the benefits of community management are allocated in a way that reflects both the interests of the people dependent on the resource as well as the elite and the powerful; and

· that the management of the forests has focused on the production of low value products that are locally important.

In 1987, a large Swedish forest owning corporation (SCA) published a "Declaration on Nature Conservation" for its forest operations. This was one of the first commitments made by a large forest owner to introduce a modern environmental vision as part of its commercial forestry strategy. The SCA document states that its forestry operations should be conducted in such a way as to:

· avoid permanent adverse effects on soil, surface water and ground water;

· preserve a rich variety of plant and animal life;

· protect all plant and animal species occurring in the part of the country where we operate (although we are aware that this objective cannot always be achieved, this is not an acceptable excuse for failing to pay attention to or take action that has a reasonable chance of succeeding);

· preserve the plants and animals now living in the area in the first instance, with reintroduction of vanished species to take second place; and

· give first priority to species that are unique, with second priority to other species that are locally rare but plentiful elsewhere.

The operational consequences of this commitment, including the reservation of production forest areas, leaving trees that could have been harvested and other measures, resulted in a 10 percent reduction in timber harvest at a cost of about US$ 10 million per year.

· Measurements of yield in successive rotations of trees suggest that, so far, there is no significant or widespread evidence that plantation forestry is unsustainable in the narrow sense. Where yield decline has been reported, poor silvicultural practices and operations appear to be largely responsible.

· Evidence in several countries suggests that current rates of tree growth including in forest plantations, exceed those of 50 or 100 years ago.

· Plantations and plantation forestry operations do affect the sites on which they occur. Under certain conditions nutrient export may threaten sustainability, but care with harvesting operations, conservation of organic matter and management of the weed environment are usually more important for maintaining site quality. Plantation forestry appears to be entirely sustainable under conditions of good husbandry, but not where wasteful and damaging practices are permitted.

· Plantations are at risk from damaging pests and diseases. New threats will inevitably arise and some plantations may become more susceptible owing to climate-change factors, but the history of plantation forests suggests that these risks are containable with vigilance and the underpinning of sound biological research.

· There are several interventions in plantation silviculture, which point to increasing productivity in the future, providing management is holistic and good standards are maintained Genetic improvement, in particular, offers the prospect of substantial and long-term gains over several rotations.

· Environmental changes will undoubtedly have an impact on plantation forests. Some changes may yield improvement, others damage. Most plantation species are resilient and broadly based genetically and are unlikely to suffer seriously from the kinds of climate change scenarios currently predicted. It will be prudent to maintain genetic diversity and minimize stress to planted trees.



Wyatt-Smith (1987)

The Malaysian Uniform System was successful when abundant natural regeneration was present. In the Philippines, selective logging shows excellent regeneration of preferred species. Successful natural regeneration in Trinidad, Puerto Rico and under the CELOS system in Surinam is promising.

Schmidt (1987)

In Malaysia, the Malaysian Uniform System resulted in successful regeneration in lowland dipterocarp forest. Liberation thinnings in selectively logged forests in Sarawak produces new good quality stands quickly and selective logging in the Philippines leaves a commercially valuable residual stand.

Poore et al (1989)

Sustainable management in some small scale projects in Africa has begun. Sustainable management in Malaysia shows promise and sustainable production is carried out in Trinidad and Tobago.

Goodland et al (1990)

Sustainability cannot truly be detected until at least the third cutting-cycle has been completed. Forests managed using sustainable management techniques during colonial regimes in Asia and Africa, the Malaysian Uniform System and other management systems have largely been converted before sustainability could be proved. However, several experiments currently under way in Latin America may turn out to be sustainable.

ITTO/HIID (1988)

It is likely that forests managed under the Malaysian Uniform System would be producing second rotation timber if the land had not been converted to agriculture. The strip shelterwood system used in Palcazú shows abundant regeneration and polycyclic systems with liberation thinning show promise in Sarawak and Côte d'Ivoire.

Jonsson and Lindgren (1990)

A forest in Costa Rica, where Carapa guianensis was harvested, is showing abundant regeneration.

Keto et al (1990)

Current forestry regulations in Queensland recognize long-term economic and environmental concerns. However, this study argues that the Queensland model for sustainable forest management is disputable, because it is based on inadequate evidence.

Perl et al (1991)

This study gives thirteen examples of forest management systems in Latin America. None of them are demonstrably successful in every aspect of sustainable forest management and they all require additional time to mature before conclusions can be drawn.

Hartshorn (1990) and Southgate (1998)

In Palcazú, natural regeneration on two demonstration strips has been very good and this suggests that the management methods used in the forest were biologically sound.

Bruenig and Poker (1991)

Positive indications about the feasibility of sustainable forest management have been obtained in Congo. The Selective Management System in Malaysia and the management system used in Quintana Roo have also demonstrated the feasibility of sustainable timber production. Selective logging in dipterocarp forests in the Philippines has successfully left a commercially viable residual stand..

1 Large parts of this section have been drawn from the two background papers commissioned by FAO for this study (Dupuy et al, 1998; and Hagner, 1998).

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page