if economics is the same everywhere, lives are not."
Partha Dasgupta (9th October 1997).
The highest current estimate of the world's remaining forested areas is about 3.6 billion ha from an originally forested area of more than 6.0 billion ha (United Nations University, 2002). Primary forests are the ones that have undergone the greatest transition, with an average of 14 million ha of tropical forest having been lost annually since 1980 (United Nations University, 2002) mostly as a result of changes in land use from forest to agriculture, livestock grazing, wildfires and over-exploitation of wood resources (United Nations University, 2002; Government of Nigeria, 2000; Government of Tanzania, 1997; Government of Uganda, 1997). For instance, Nigeria was once covered by extensive vegetation ranging from humid tropical forests in the south to savannah grasslands in the north. Today a great percentage of that forest cover has been removed, with the rain forest now accounting for only 2 per cent of Nigeria's surface area and being depleted at an annual rate of 3.5 per cent (Government of Nigeria, 2000).
In Ghana, the change in forest cover last century was of the order of 7 million ha, not insignificant for a country whose forest sector contributes over 10 per cent to the national GDP (Brown, 1999). Conversion of primary forests to secondary forests should be avoided at all costs for countries like Uganda where the contribution of the forest sector to the national GDP is in the order of 20 per cent (Government of Uganda, 1997). Tanzania's forest area has declined from 44.3 million ha (or 50 per cent of total land area) in 1938 to 33.1 million ha (43 per cent of land area) in 1987 (Government of Tanzania, 1997). All these examples point at pathways defining the conversion of primary forests to secondary forests. It is logical that the destruction of primary forests is immediately accompanied by a proportionate expansion in secondary forests. Taking the broad definition of secondary forests provided for the purposes of this workshop, and seeing that these secondary forests can still offer most of the economic, social and ecological services offered by primary forests, there is a need to move towards a strategy that enhances the value of secondary forests from both the agricultural and pastoral perspective and hence promote the conservation of secondary forests, or at least create incentives that will delay their conversion to other `worse' land uses (Smith, et al., 1997).
What are the political or policy and institutional implications of this phenomenon of primary forest `decline' into secondary forests? A general answer may be provided by two hypotheses advanced by Smith et al. (1997) in their work in Latin America:
1. There exist important areas under small- and large-scale holders containing secondary forests, which, through appropriate technological and political intervention, can be expanded and/or enriched in terms of their economic and ecological values.
2. Secondary forests are highly variable in their ecological characteristics and in terms of the objectives of management regimes imposed on them by forest owners/managers. By inference, it is highly probable that the required interventions are equally variable. These two hypotheses touch on two closely related issues relevant to this workshop. The Anglophone African countries represented here are endowed with varying categories of woody vegetation formations. This is a geographical and ecological fact, but it is also a political fact in that Anglophone African countries are former colonies of Great Britain. In general terms, therefore, one could say that, for every country, the ecological and geographical factors of the national forest patrimony constitute the natural constraints within which a well directed political, institutional and technological policy should operate in order to maintain or even improve the integrity/value of that national patrimony.
Nowadays, with globalisation taking centre stage, we notice a tendency towards regional agglomeration in almost every sector of the economy. It is in such a context that the SADC, for example, issues a statement like (SADC-ELMS, 2001):
Total forest area = 28 per cent of total area;
The sub-region has four broad forest and woodland zones:
i) Lowland tropical forests
ii) Afromontane and temperate forest
iii) Grassland savannah woodlands, and
The morale of the story is: no matter how much political groupings or agglomerations (e.g. SADC, ECOWAS, EU, etc.) may comfort each other in their capacity as member states, the bottom line is that individual nations' performance will only reflect what that nation can do, and not what the grouping purports to represent. In fact, a general analysis of the socio-economic aspects of the evolution of secondary forests dynamics is based on the progressive change in time. The latter is marked by agricultural fronts characterised by two main pathways, namely the colonial pathway and the local community pathway (Smith, et al., 1997). A third pathway not to be left out, however, is the so-called accidental pathway, which is due to military conflicts or litigation, for example.
Poor countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are likely to continue thriving as rural economies well into the future, which means that they will continue to depend heavily on forest products for their livelihoods. This evokes a small debate around property and natural resource rights in different economies. Orthodox discussions of property rights tend to zero down on a private-versus-public dichotomy (Dasgupta, 1997). This may be misleading because there are many societies throughout the world who have permitted their people to hold assets in other `traditional' forms of ownership (e.g. ownership among members of local communities).
The implication is that, when we talk about the need for institutional reforms and reforms in the structure of property and natural resource rights, for example, we should include the need for strengthening those institutions that complement the orthodox dichotomy. Failure to incorporate this level of economic detail may lead to over-generalization or a mismatch of cause-effect relationships. For example, the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development (1999) lists three policies that contribute to forest decline as:
It is clear that these three causes of forest decline were compiled by people who considered the biophysical and commercial aspects of forests more than the human well-being aspects of communities that live in and around the same forest areas.
There is an interesting puzzle in contemporary economics: How is it that an economy can be said to be growing and yet at the same time contain a large number of economically disenfranchised people? As Dasgupta (1997) puts it, how do we explain the persistence of large-scale poverty traps in a growing economy? In most cases it has all to do with discrepancies, inconsistencies and general inequity within the economy, exacerbated by the dependence on economic indicators that are based only on the assumptions of the orthodox dichotomies, to the exclusion of the local, `traditional', especially natural resources-dependent economies. Here, I shall give an example from Mozambique.
For the past four years I have been involved in a project on forest and wildlife resources management in Mecuburi Forest Reserve, the largest such reserve in Mozambique. Although in principle the forest reserve should not be inhabited, it actually is home to about 40000 people, most of who claim that their ancestors also lived and later died in the reserve, even before the reserve was proclaimed as such in July 1950. During a simulation of carbon-trading games with the inscribed communities (i.e. those communities living within the boundaries of the forest reserve) in September 2001, I estimated an average willingness to accept compensation of USD130 per household per year for five years. This works out at USD26 per capita per year for five years, assuming an average household size of five, which is applicable for that part of Mozambique. The same sample also helped me estimate the average household income at about USD100, or USD20 per capita per year. Even if we were to compensate these households, their per capita income would never get anywhere near the USD210 indicated by UNICEF (2001). Can we, therefore, not safely conclude that the use of orthodox gross national income (GNI) per capita, in this particular case, does not reflect the poverty traps, of which Mecuburi is one, in Mozambique's rural areas? And how many Mecuburi's are scattered all over sub-Saharan Africa?
The rest of this thematic paper is divided into five sections. Following this Introduction is material on selected Country case studies and lessons, especially those case studies with lessons considered relevant to the theme on political/policy and institutional issues in secondary forests. The second section is on Knowledge gap analysis in which I discuss and contrast between what we know and what we do not know related to political-institutional issues around, and the values of secondary forests. Next comes an overview of the Potential constraints and conflicts concerning the management of secondary forests and within the policy/political and value contexts of the same forests. Conclusions are next, followed by recommendations in the form of Research priorities and immediate actions under the theme of political/policy, institutional and value of secondary forests in Anglophone African countries.