Asia Pacific Forest
Large swathes of forests in the Asia and the Pacific region, exceeding 40 percent of logged areas, have become degraded. The causes of degradation are varied, ranging from poor harvesting methods, shifting agriculture following logging entries, and forest fires. In their present state, these degraded sites offer no future for timber crops or for ecological services such as carbon sequestration, watershed protection and biodiversity conservation. Moreover, if these "useless" forests are not attended to, pressures could build up to convert them to other, non-forestry purposes.
Although research work on rehabilitation of degraded forests has been conducted for over a century in the region, there have been few success stories. There are many reasons for this. Most of the research, especially that involving assisted natural regeneration, including planting of gaps or strips (enrichment planting), is long term. Most of the initiatives have been ad hoc; rehabilitation work has rarely been extensive enough to be used as a model for further application, and maintenance and continuity have been lacking. Rehabilitation has not generally been given the same priority as plantation research; enrichment plantings have been considered too costly, skill intensive and unpractical. Costs are often calculated in narrow financial terms, without consideration of such values as biodiversity conservation, watershed protection, non-wood forest products and other benefits.
With this background, the Forestry Research Support Programme for Asia and the Pacific (FORSPA) initiated the Asia Pacific Forest Rehabilitation Network (APFReN), whose main thrust is to establish demonstration sites in several countries to showcase how rehabilitation can be undertaken. The demonstration site (about 100 ha) in each country is a focal point where various techniques can be tested on a secure site for long-term observations. The site can be the focal point for extension and training on rehabilitation technologies. The first demonstration plot was initiated in the Lao People's Democratic Republic in 1999. Since then, four other demonstration sites have been set up, in Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam. Establishment and management protocols have been developed and preparation and treatment plans are in place. In general, these activities take into account the current status of the forest and the potential role of the forest in terms of conservation and production. Improved rehabilitation techniques using native species are applied to enhance the commercial value of the forest. Other related issues such as monitoring, maintenance and calculation of the economic viability of the techniques are being addressed.
APFReN hopes to raise interest in rehabilitation work in the region and facilitates the sharing and exchange of information, experiences, technology and expertise. The network plans to hold several meetings on the subject in the near future. The demonstration sites will form the basis for region-wide exchange of results and experiences.
For further information about the network, please contact:
Dr S. Appanah
FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Forest rehabilitation demonstration site in Cambodia
- FAO REGIONAL OFFICE FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC