Certain groupings of countries in Africa and Asia have for long been referred to by geographers as the Near East and the Middle East. These terms are variously interpreted. FAO maintains a Near East Regional Office with Headquarters at Cairo but whose responsibility jurisdiction extends to Afghanistan. Now Moslem member governments of FAO in this region contemplate creating a regional forestry body to co-ordinate intelligence and plans and to work towards an interchange of ideas, of men and equipment in a common battle. For the purposes of this article, which has been compiled by the Forestry Division staff from current literature and reports, the individual countries interested in this scheme are referred to collectively as the Middle East.
The countries of the Middle East are in the main already fully cognizant of the potential value of their forests and have adopted or plan to introduce legislation designed to protect the resources that remain or new forests that can be created, and to ensure their rational utilization. It is only on the basis of effective legislation that sound national forest policies can be gradually developed and it is one of FAO's functions to proffer advice on the lines along which forest policy should be developed and to help any individual country that requests assistance.
Generally speaking there is a dearth of forestry technicians and experts in this region. Some countries have tried to overcome this difficulty by obtaining the services of foreign experts or by sending students abroad to attend forestry schools and universities. For the future, it is probable that countries will have to become increasingly self-dependent, or at least regionally independent. For this reason, regular regional technical meetings could help foresters to make those personal contacts which will be so valuable when the new forestry programs get under way.
In the past FAO has, tended to pay regard more to agriculture than to forestry in the Middle East. Now forestry is to receive much stronger emphasis. National inventories of forest resources and comparisons of timber production and requirements should enable reasonable appraisals to be made of import requirements and, in some instances, of export possibilities.
At present, however, it would be to the mutual advantage of all countries in this region to study their common technical problems and to exchange the findings of their research and results of their experiments. A few typical problems should be selected for joint study on the international plane. The following, for instance, merit special attention.
Afforestation and Reforestation
In many instances, afforestation and reforestation must be undertaken to rehabilitate existing forests or create new ones and this raises many social problems. It can provide steady employment and help counterbalance the unemployment caused when grazing is limited in the interests of forest and soil conservation. An immediate exchange of views is desirable on the tree species and varieties best adapted to local conditions, the best planting techniques, and methods of protecting and conserving new forests.
The broader aspects of afforestation must be studied, including the planting of purely protective forest areas, commercial plantations, windbreaks, and shelter belts for agricultural crops. Moreover the vast areas planned to be irrigated for agricultural purposes certainly offer full scope for the planting of windbreaks and shelter belts, which may be expected to produce a far from negligible timber yield.
A general policy of encouraging tree-planting should be adopted and all farmers be urged to plant small woodlots and even single trees. Communities might be encouraged, by various incentives, to plant woodlots near villages to furnish firewood on short rotations.
The shortage of tree nurseries is a serious impediment to work that is already underway, and procedures for the exchange of seeds and plants must be examined in detail. FAO proposes to do this during the coming months.
Some of these problems have already been considered by FAO's Subcommission on Mediterranean Problems and by the International Poplar Commission. The question of how eucalypts can best be utilized is also receiving considerable attention, as indicated in M. Metro's article earlier in this issue.
In the Middle East extensive areas exposed to erosion fall within the domain of the Forest Services. It is planned that these areas shall ultimately be afforested but afforestation cannot be successful unless auxiliary measures are first taken - the terracing of slopes and the creation of water-conserving embankments and other devices. This has already been widely done in some countries but there is still room for improvement and an exchange of information on results would be invaluable. More demonstration areas are needed.
In some places, the soil is so seriously degraded that more than conservation and afforestation is required; preliminary soil fixation measures are needed to make afforestation possible at all. Appropriate methods of dealing with erosion are not generally known or applied in this region and the dissemination of information on this subject is imperative. Finally, the problem of sand-dune fixation is often encountered.
The whole complex problem of afforestation, soil conservation, and water conservation needs to be studied together.
Range lands and grasslands
Improvement of pastures is of constant concern to foresters in this region. During the dry season, if not throughout the year, any forests that exist are widely grazed so that the forester is forced to attempt to control the influx of animals. The problem is very difficult to tackle because there can be no question of simply eliminating grazing without making provision for other pastures or for the employment of the manpower thus made idle,
Some countries have already taken steps in this direction, and others are contemplating action. International collaboration would be mutually beneficial here, since solutions adopted in one country can also be applicable in another. In any case, the problems sometimes involve several countries, for example, where the herds and sometimes even the entire nomadic tribes with their herds move from one country to another.
Technical research is also called for in the improvement of pastures and the introduction of forage trees or bushes in new woodlots, and on means of controlling, restricting or prohibiting the pasturing of flocks.
The Middle East
The area shown in the map above comprises more than that usually referred to as " The Middle East", but it shows the relationships of the area with the neighboring African territories in which many similar forestry problems occur. This map should be used especially when studying the Tables in pages 106 and 108, in which statistics are given for the African countries shown above.
The use of forest products
This entire region suffers from a chronic shortage of wood and it is very important that the limited output should be used to the greatest advantage. More research is essential to improve methods of utilizing existing supplies of wood, particularly of such deciduous trees as oak, poplar and eucalyptus. Such research may lead to the better utilization of native timber as saw timber, railway ties (sleepers), plywood, fiberboard and light packing boards. Improved charcoal manufacture must also be studied, as is now being done in Iran where, in addition, a technical assistance officer of FAO is lecturing to University students on wood technology.
In order to present a background of information on the countries of the region, some condensed sketches of general conditions in the Middle East countries are given below. These are summaries of data reported to FAO, collated by the Forestry Division staff.
TABLE 1 - LAND USE AND POPULATION
TABLE 2 - LIVESTOCK NUMBERS (Thousand bead)
The dominant feature of Afghanistan is the Hindu Kush, a great central range of mountains crossing the country from east to west in a series of deep ravines and broken ridges.
The climate has extremes of temperature, wind and dryness, for which the elevation rather than the latitude is mainly responsible. The maximum temperature may vary from 44°C, in the Oxus valley to 38°C, in Kabul; the minimum temperature may be as low as -23°C to -26°C. In the north the daily variation of summer temperature exceeds 17°C. The heat is particularly aggravated on the western frontier where a hot wind with a velocity which reaches 1,80 km per hour blows continuously from June to September.
The average yearly rainfall is 280 mm., the greater part falling between December and April. An occasional shower falls in summer, but the influence of the southwest monsoon hardly extends to Afghanistan.
On the main ranges at 1,800 to 3,000 m. grow large forest trees, the conifers being Cedrus deodara, Abies excelsa, Pinus longifolia, Larix sp. and Yew Hazel, juniper, walnut, wild peach and almond are also found. In their shade grow several varieties of rose, honeysuckle, currant, gooseberry, hawthorn and luxuriant herbage. Walnut and oak (evergreen and deciduous) descend to the secondary heights, where they become mixed with alder, ash, khinjuk, Arborvitae, juniper, Indigofera and dwarf laburnum, with species of Astragalus. Lower down occur wild olive, species of rock-rose, wild privet, acacias and mimosas, barberry and Zizyphus; and, in places, Chamaerops humilis (which is used for a variety of purposes), Bignonia, sissu, Salvadora persica, verbena, acanthus, and varieties of Gesneria. The lowest terminal ridges, especially toward the west, are naked in aspect and their scanty vegetation is almost wholly herbaceous. On the dreary Kandahar tablelands many vigorous leguminous plants grow, the camel-thorn (Hedysarum alhagi), Astragalus, Ononis spinosa (the fibrous roots of which often are made to serve as tooth-brushes), the sensitive mimosa, and others. In ravines are found Nerium oleander, wild laburnum and Indigofera spp. The chief cultivated trees are mulberry, willow, poplar, ash and occasionally the plane.
The gum resin of Narthex asafoetida from the high and dry plains of western Afghanistan is of commercial value. In the highlands of Kabul edible wild rhubarb is of importance as a local luxury; walnut and edible pine-nuts are both exported. Elaeagnus orientalis, common on the banks of watercourses, furnishes an edible fruit, while Pistacia khinjuk affords a mastic. The true pistachio is found only on the northern frontier.
Apart from the mountain and forest areas, Afghanistan is mainly a pastoral country. Of the total area of 60 million hectares only about 2 percent appears to be under cultivation and the remainder consists of desert land in the south and southeast, and of highland country providing seasonal grazing throughout the year. The soil on the whole is fertile, particularly in the wide loess plains north of the Hindu Kush and in the east and south. In these places and along the valleys wherever irrigation is possible, good crops are obtained. Irrigation is carried out by means of a network of channels, often many kilometres in length, and sometimes subterranean, and FAO is advising the government on the construction of irrigation dams and canals to conserve flood waters. Dry farming is also practised in certain areas. The principal wealth of Afghanistan lies, however, in the flocks and herds which roam the great pasture lands below the mountains: from the pastures around Andkhui come the highest quality lambskin or astrakhan (Karakul) while the southern sheep provide wool, mutton and melted butter.
The forestry problem in Afghanistan is therefore definitely a matter of use of forest cover for water conservation and the reconciling of forestry and grazing.
Cyprus is situated in a region where the climate is suitable for forest crops. Though the rainfall is very variable in different parts of the island, it is sufficient everywhere to support a good forest cover. The country was once densely forested but today there remain only 167,000 ha. of forest (18 percent of the total area); 97 percent of these forest lands are state-owned.
Cyprus is composed of two main mountain ranges separated by a broad plain of agricultural land: (a) the northern range of Kyrenia mountains, a narrow rocky limestone ridge and rising to over a thousand meters, and (b) the southern range of Troodos mountains, formed mainly of igneous rocks and rising to almost two thousand meters. The main forest areas are situated mostly on the upper elevations of these two ranges. The climate is typically mediterranean, with winter rainfall and a long dry period during the summer months. Rainfall is closely correlated with the topography of the island and varies from about 250 mm. at Morphou (30 m. elevation) to over 1,000 mm. at Troodos (1,750 m.). The rivers are torrents, in high flood during times of rain and with dry stony beds in summer. The only perennial stream flows are those flowing out of the extensive forest areas on the southern mountain range.
The main natural forests are predominantly coniferous high forests with an understory mostly of broadleaved species. The moist valley bottoms support a riverain high forest in which broadleaved species predominate. Amongst the principal conifers, Pinus brutia. is the main timber tree in all areas up to 1,400 m. elevation, while P. laricio is confined to elevations above 1,200 m. in Troodos and Adelphi forests only. Other softwood species which grow on the island are Cedrus brevifolia, above 900 m. in Paphos forest, Juniperus foetidissima, above 1,200 m. in Troodos and Adelphi forests only, Cupressus sempervirens particularly on the northern limestone mountains, and Pinus pinea which was introduced centuries ago but has never established itself naturally and is mainly found in lowland plantations. 'The main broadleaved high forest species are Platanus orientalis, Alnus orientalis - both only found in moist valley bottoms, and several species of Eucalyptus, which are confined to lowland plantations. Other hardwood species occurring mainly outside the State forests are Populus nigra, Juglans regia and Quercus lusitanica while understory species are represented by Quercus alnifolia, Q. coccifera, Pistacia terebinthus, Acer obtusifolia, Ceratonia siliqua, Olea europea, Juniperus phoenicia, and Acacia cyanophylla.
TABLE 3 - ROUNDWOOD OUTPUT PER NECTARE AND CONSUMPTION OF FOREST PRODUCTS PER CAPUT
TABLE 4 - OUTPUT OF CONIFEROUS AND NON-CONIFEROUS WOOD (Thousand m3 ®)
The tables above, and those in page 106, should be taken for background material to this article as a whole, and especially when studied in conjunction with the map in page 105. The tragically low output of timber and forest products is made the more clear when Tables 3 and 4 are compared, for example, with the areas of the various countries as given in Table 1.
After centuries of destructive exploitation, Cyprus had, in 1870, during the Turkish occupation, forest regulations providing restrictions on felling - hardly effectively applied - and orders prohibiting the export of timber. By the time of the British occupation in 1878, the forests which had escaped complete extinction were in a most deplorable condition, for besides cutting, clearing, burning and grazing, extensive damage had been done by a destructive system of resin-tapping and pitch-burning. The urgency of saving the remaining forests was so apparent that a Forest Service was immediately set up; the first Forest Law was enacted in 1879, followed by others in 1881 and 1898. The first years were devoted to forest definition and demarcation and to the application of forest protection.
Forest Protection Problems
This was most unpopular as was only to be expected since the forests had traditionally been a no-mans-land for all to exploit or despoil for their personal profit without hindrance. 'Malicious firing of the forests was therefore adopted by the villages as a form of expressing their disapproval for the new restrictions. This, in addition to the customary firing to produce better browsing within reach of the goat flocks or to produce fuel for the markets, reduced the forests to a very poor condition.
The beginning of the century saw the Forest Service firmly established: the forest boundaries had been surveyed, some forest stations had been erected and some lowland afforestation projects started. None the less, forest protection still lagged behind and all early attempts to check the destruction of the natural forests were met by a wave of incendiarism from the villages. In 1912 practically the whole of Kantara forest, an area of about 6,500 ha., was thus destroyed. The 1920s saw the application of scientific forestry by trained staff. From then until the late 1930s, was a time of anxious waiting and building up the Forest Service to a state of efficiency and development from which it could gain control of the forests and settle down to the effective application of protection and development. In 1931 a start was made on examining the whole situation systematically. It thus became evident that systematic exploitation on the basis of sustained yield, coupled with an extensive afforestation program, would provide more employment and so create alternative livelihood for those whose occupation was normally directed at forest destruction, as for example the graziers or others who preyed on the forests in order to gain a minimum subsistence livelihood. By 1938 local circumstances had so changed that effective forest development was at last possible and the work was directed at diagnosing and removing the basic causes of forest destruction within the framework of amicable relations with all concerned. Within the next ten years practically all the mountain forests had been cleared of forest grazing, and large scale afforestation became possible for the first time. In 1939 the obsolete forest laws were brought up-to-date and consolidated into an effective legal background to this new situation. The 1939-45 war period caused urgent demands for excessive fellings, but the Forest Service was able so to control the cut that no silvicultural damage was done. On the contrary, the war period coincided with an extensive forest development plan which provoked intense activity and employment in the forests and the forests emerged from the war in a better condition than ever before and well on the road to recovery.
Long Term Policy
A written declaration of the long-term forest policy was finally drawn up by the Government in 1950. Its main features are:
(1) the direct benefits of forestry as a source of supply of forest produce are to a great extent surpassed by its indirect benefits in protecting catchment areas and controlling soil erosion, and it is therefore intended to extend reservation to all high level catchment areas and other lands and not to confine it to forests producing a direct economic return.
(2) In order to ensure that forest lands so reserved may fulfill their purpose of water conservation, including control of run-off and protection of the soil, it is deemed desirable to bring the vegetative ground cover to the maximum natural density, to free it from risk of injury by men and stock, and where necessary, to undertake field engineering works. To relieve pressure on local forests for timber supplies, considerable imports of timber will be needed, and particularly for fuel the aim should be to provide for the use of alternative fuels such as oil and coal and to develop electric power sufficiently to relieve the forests of all industrial and of most urban demands. In addition the intention is to create village fuel areas to provide sound timber as well as fuel wherever possible, and to encourage the planting of trees on village lands.
(3) Protection forests must be managed under a silvicultural system that does not at any time expose the soil to the dangers of erosion, and all forests under a working plan embodying the principle of sustained yield.
(4) In order to discourage depredations, the needs of the villages within or near the forests ought to be recognized and satisfied; where it is necessary to restrict grazing privileges, reasonable compensation or alternative means of substistence should be provided and even the voluntary removal of isolated villages with insufficient cultivable land to new sites outside the forest should be envisaged.
(5) Efficient management of private forests is to be promoted, principally by giving advisory services, but the imposition of control measures may have to be contemplated where necessary to prevent the deterioration of private forests through neglect or incompetence.
The Forest Service is under the direction of the Conservator of Forests who is responsible for all forestry work within the island; it consists of four territorial divisions and one working-plans division.
The field staff is composed of 7 professional foresters, 2 forest assistants and 150 permanent rangers and forest guards. Its financial resources derive from annual, ordinary and development budgets authorized by the Government. There is statutory provision for the protection and control of private woodlands by the government at the request of the owners; fourteen private forest properties totalling over 1,000 ha. are under this protection.
Approximately 60 percent of the denuded areas in the State forests which are subject to erosion have been treated by "gradoni", gully plugging or contour strip cultivation prior to seeding with forest species. An effective system of fire control is in force. The efficacy of the general patrolling against illicit cutting and grazing is computed at 70 percent. Utilization operations are efficient but are carried out on a small scale only; some improvement in the quality of the products could be achieved by capital improvements to the sawmills and woodworking machinery. The island has practically no export trade in timber and timber products; its import trade, which greatly exceeds production in volume, is confined to Europe.
There are no local facilities for higher forestry education in Cyprus and training of professional staff takes place in the United Kingdom. A Forestry College for the training of forest rangers was opened in 1951, where the full course lasts two years. (See News of the World).
Iran has about 19 million ha. of forest, 11.5 percent of its total area, but a great part has been badly damaged to produce charcoal and fuelwood, and by overgrazing. The country consists of an ancient primary plateau which has undergone alpine folding (Elburz and Zagros mountains) and of quaternary alluvial deposits (plains of the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf). The climate is of a dry-continental character, except in the Caspian region which enjoys a very heavy rainfall. The following table gives an idea of the striking differences in rainfall and temperature in Iran.
Resht (Caspian region)
Forest vegetation is naturally conditioned by the topography and climate, but in Iran centuries of destruction by grazing beasts, and by man for timber and fuel, have pushed the forests off the plains and valleys. Erosion has followed in many areas especially shifting the soil from the mountains down to the plains. There is evidence in Khuzistan that practically all that province has been covered by the deposit of silt from the mountains to the north. The shores of the Persian
Gulf have, for example, thus been pushed back a distance of about 250 km.
The final result is, on the one hand, the creation of a water problem - as too little of the rainfall now percolates into the underground supply in the denuded hills - and, on the other, the uneven distribution of the forest vegetation which is now only found in inaccessible areas or where growth is rapid enough to maintain trees on cut-over areas that are not cultivated.
Existing Types of Forest
The existing forests vary greatly in value and belong to many different types, from the dense forests on the northern slopes of the Elburz Mountains to the completely denuded steppes which serve only as grazing land for sheep. Between these two extremes come all the intermediate types of degraded forests of approximately steppe-like character. Broadly speaking it is possible to distinguish three main forest regions: the northern slopes of the Elburz mountains; the west-south-western zone; and the Persian Gulf zone. There are in addition some isolated stands of wild pistachio trees in the east along the Afghan frontier.
With regard to the first, where there are roughly 4 million ha. covered with forest, some of which have never been cut because they are too far from roads, the main species are the following:
Acer campestre and A. platanoides, Alnus glutinosa, Carpinus betulus, Cupressus sempervirens, Fagus silvatica, Fraxinus excelsior, Gleditschia caspica, Juglans regia, Morus indica, M. alba, M. nigra, Parrotia persica, Platanus orientalis, Pterocarya fraxinifolia, Quercus castaneifolia, Q. iberica, Q. sessiliflora, Salix spp., Ulmus campestris, U. montana, Zelkova crenata. The principal associations are made up of Quercus castaneifolia, unfortunately over-exploited and whose reproduction has been endangered by grazing; Parrotia persica, typical species of the region; and Fagus silvatica, which is very common. Alnus, Salix, and Fraxinus are usually found in humid valleys, while Cupressus is found on calcareous sites and Buxus invades forests badly overcut for charcoal manufacture. In cultivated groves are found Juglans regia, which supplies timber for the export trade, Morus for raising silkworms (only on the coast), and citrus trees in the Ramsar and Shasavar districts.
In the west-south - western zone are found
Diospyros kaki and D. lotus, Robinia pseudo-acacia, Ailanthus glandulosa, Melia azedarach, Myrtus communis, Pistacia terebinthus, Populus alba, P. euphratica, P. nigra, and in particular Quercus persica. This species does well in spite of the great summer drought, either as coppice or pollard.
Finally, in this zone, as in the whole of Iran, there are many village irrigated plantations of poplar, plane, willow and ash.
The Persian Gulf zone is of a very different character, comprising both desert and sub-tropical regions.
The most common species are Melia indica, Mangifera indica, Phoenix dactilifera (date palm), Zizyphus spp. which are also found in the second zone, Tamarix, Acacia arabica and Albizzia lebbek. There are no real forests worth the name.
When speaking of wood utilization, it must be borne in mind that statistical-records of controlled production tell only some of the story; there is a vast amount of illicit felling and removal of wood especially for fuel, consumption of which is enormous. Industrial timber is obtained exclusively from the forests in the north and consists chiefly of walnut, oak, maple, alder and plane. The only woods exported, on a very limited scale, are walnut for veneers and Quercus castaneifolia for barrels; these are sold in the European market, mainly shipped from Khorramshahr on the Persian Gulf. The wood used in the country for joinery and framework is mostly beech, with plane next. Railway sleepers are made of beech and oak but the latter is becoming scarce. There is also a big home market for poplar raised in plantations, particularly in the towns. Extraction is by pack animal only.
Wood industries are still at the artisan stage. The biggest sawmill has a capacity of 30 m3 per day, while the others are only workshops containing in most cases only two ribbon saws and one planer. The usual mode of business is to hire out the machines by the hour to customers who bring their own timber. There is a wood preservation plant in the Caspian region while match-making factories are found in Tehran, Tabriz and Isfahan. There are several paperboard mills using paper waste and straw and a plywood plant is in course of reconstruction.
Considerable confusion exists as to ownership of forest land. In the Caspian region, more than one-half of the forest is said to be the subject of dispute, the remainder being claimed by the State. This state of affairs naturally constitutes a strong incentive to over-exploitation.
The Forest Administration was formed barely ten years ago and consists of approximately a thousand men who control the forests on the Caspian slopes and some pistachio stands in the East. No declaration of forest policy has so far been made and there is no forest legislation. Education and training facilities for professional staffs are meagre.
* See also Forestry in Iraq. G. W. Chapman. Unasylva, Vol. II, No. 5.
Most of Iraq (43,542,000 ha.) falls within the 100-200 mm. rainfall belt, which indicates the types of forest vegetation that can be expected. The usual effects of shifting cultivation as practised in the Middle East, fires, excessive grazing by sheep and goats, and overcutting, combined with the unfavorable ecological conditions, explain why there are now under 2 million ha. of forest cover. Forest cover is again a generous expression, embracing the "souvenirs" of the past and hopes for the future.
The remaining natural forests are situated in the northern and north-eastern mountainous parts of the country and in the narrow flood plains of the great rivers. The mountain forests (Ghabat) are remarkably uniform in character and may be classified broadly into oak forest, pine forest, and mountain riverain forest. The first consists mainly of low oak scrub, generally poorly and badly degraded; in many places the vegetative cover has been entirely destroyed and serious erosion has taken place. Within the oak forest community, three distinct associations can be recognized: from 450 to 750 m. mostly Quercus aegilops with Pistacia khinjuk; from 750 to 1,200 m. predominantly of Quercus aegilops and Q. infectoria with some subsidiary species; finally, Q. infectoria and Q. libani from 1,200 to 1,800 m., with Pistacia mutica and Acer cinerascens. Some of the best forests occur in this latter zone, for instance in the Kharadag north of Mosul, the forests north of Sirsing along the Turkish frontier, and in the region lying between Rawanduz and Sulaimaniya; trees of all age classes are represented with a fair amount of ground cover and often plenty of leaf litter.
This desolate and eroded mountain scenery is typical of much of the so-called forest land in the Middle East.
The scene above is in one of the forests of oak (Quercus infectoria) in the Kurdistan area of Iraq; the pollarded appearance of the trees, however, will be more familiar to Western foresters especially than is the terrain, bare, eroded and, in the foreground, devoid of any apparent under-storey of shrubs or vegetation, although this is one of the better forest areas in the country.
The pine forest is found in a few limited patches in the Mosul Liwa, almost always on red marls; the species is Pinus brutia, which is almost invariably associated with Q. aegilops and Juniperus oxycedrus. The mountain riverain forest is an interesting type in which the chief species are Platanus orientalis, Fraxinus rotundifolia, Salix acmophylla, and S. purpurea. The woodlands, form narrow belts along valley bottoms and alongside streams; they have been despoiled of all valuable timber but would readily respond to protection. The same may be said of the oak forests which could also be rehabilitated in a fairly short time if properly protected. All the local species have, in fact, remarkable vigor and only need encouragement to recover.
In addition to the mountain forests there are the plains riverain forests or Ahrash which cover approximately 20,000 ha. and represent a fourth distinct ecological type. The main species is Populus euphratica with willow and tamarisk, but unfortunately the forest has been reduced to scrub by heavy cutting for fuel and brushwood. If protected, however, it could still recover.
To complete the picture, reference must be made to the poplar plantations (Populus nigra), which are a conspicuous feature of villages in most of the mountain valleys from 600 to 1,500 m. in the Mosul and Arbil Liwas, and to the 56 million date palms which provide a very considerable contribution to wood requirements.
Poplars have succeeded well in parts of Iraq, above shows poles of this timber being transported, on a reasonably good road, near Shaglawa.
That is of part of the Aleppo pine (P. haleppensis) forest at Zawita... one of the few areas under conifers in the whole of the country.
Erosion and Flood Control
Soil conservation and flood control are of primary importance in Iraq. Leaving aside oil, the basis of the country's economy is agricultural prosperity which relies on the regulation of river flow. There is equal danger from too much or too little water in the rivers, and its quality is also of importance: excessive quantities of silt in suspension or too high a concentration of salt, eroded into the river from the drainage areas, impair its value for irrigation. The whole life of the Mesopotamian plain depends on the waters of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, which originate in the northern mountains, the region of heavy winter rain and snow. Although much can be done by the construction of dams and storage reservoirs, ultimate control will be determined in the great catchment areas of the watersheds and in the rainfall zones of the northern plains. In the cultivated parts of the former, run-off after heavy rain can be controlled by terracing and other devices, but in the far greater uncultivated portion, this protection can only be afforded by natural vegetation. Considering that, in addition to the natural forests which are often in poor condition, there is at least an equal area of land once forested but now completely denuded, the seriousness of the problem is obvious.
Denudation and soil erosion in the hill country come from two main causes: shifting cultivation and vineyards on excessively steep unstable slopes. In the plains wind is the principal cause of erosion. Control of shifting cultivation and vineyards would involve the redistribution of rural populations and the establishment of an adequate system of shelterbelts and windbreaks in the plains. The solutions have been carefully considered by the Iraqi authorities, but all involve a great deal of money and time, and trained technical staffs.
Need for a Forest Law
An urgent need in the country is a strong and comprehensive Forest Law, the only present legal authority on forest matters being the Turkish Law of 1867.A 1943 Law for organizing the economic life of the country - an extended wartime measure provides power to control the issuing of felling licenses and the movement of forest produce, but the work of the Forestry Division (part of the Directorate-General of Agriculture under the Ministry of Economics) is seriously handicapped by lack of proper legal powers, apart from any declared forest policy, staff, and adequate funds. The financial resources of the Forestry Division depend on the year-to-year allocations to the budget of the Directorate-General of Agriculture.
As regards ownership, practically all the natural forests are state property according to the Land Code, but they are not yet specifically registered (only 50,000 ha. have so far been surveyed), and the State does not markedly exercise its right of ownership. The land on which it is proposed to establish shelterbelts in the plains is also state-owned but none of it has yet been allocated for this purpose. The only private woodlands of any importance are the quick-growing and irrigated poplar plantations in the mountain valleys to which reference has already been made; these are very profitable and the administration does not interfere in their management.
Research and Irrigation
Afforestation experiments which have been conducted in several places, sometimes with the aid of irrigation, indicate that there is no major difficulty in establishing suitable species, and there is no doubt as to the practicability of producing good timber from irrigated plantations on a sound commercial basis. A nursery has been established at Haji Omran, at about 1,80.0 m. altitude, to provide planting stock for afforesting the higher slopes of the mountains; the trees chosen, suitable for railway sleepers, are both Himalayan species, Cedrus deodara and Pinus excelsa. A large central forest nursery and experiment station is being established at Arbil, the headquarters of the Forest Division. Natural stands of Pinus brutia have been fenced to observe the effect on natural regeneration of closure to grazing.
Out of a land area of 9 million ha., Jordan has only 0.4 percent under forest. These 35,000 ha. seem to represent, however, true forest, even though in a more or less degraded condition, and do not include all the areas with scattered trees or shrubs which are often classed as "forest" in Middle East countries.
There is a great difference between the existing forests in the east and west banks of the river Jordan. The former, in spite of past misuse, show signs of recovery as a result of protection during the past five or six years. Some of the oak forests, such as that of Wadi Sham, are very dense and the pine forests of Dibbin are regenerating remarkably well. On the west bank, there is no doubt that up to 1947 there were several good forest areas, but following the troubles of 1947-48, extensive areas of forest seem to have been completely cleared; even before then there was continual encroachment on reserved forest areas. Browsing by goats has checked regeneration and now the refugees from Palestine have further complicated the situation by lopping trees and even grubbing up low vegetation by the roots, creating a serious erosion problem.
The main types of forest vegetation in Jordan are as follows:
(1) Oak forest. The principal species is Quercus coccifera, often making up 75 percent of the growing stock, in association with Pistacia terebinthus, Crataegus azarolus, Arbutus andrachne, Pyrus syriaca, Prunus spp., Styrax officinalis, Rhamnus spp., Olea, and Rhus spp. When the cover is dense there is little or no undergrowth, but where it is open Poterim spinosum and locally (as at Wadi Sham) Phlomis viscosa occur, with Echium and Onosma spp. Q. infectoria is often present and sometimes forms an appreciable element in the Ajloon and Wadi Sham forests, especially on the escarpment at 750-1,100 m. with a rainfall of 600-700 mm. The parent rock in this type is always limestone. Q. aegilops comes in towards the north on the top of the escarpment, as in Juffain forest, where it occurs pure but with trees widely spaced. The carob (Ceratonia siliqua) also occurs in the oak association on both the east and west bank of the Jordan but sparingly and only where frost is not severe. This type probably covered all the mountains of Jordan to a greater or less degree until forty or fifty years ago, and it is still to be found in the extreme south near Shanbek up to 1,700 m. but with few associates except Pistacia and Crataegus. On the west bank Pistacia lentiscus and P. atlantica are the more frequent associates.
(2) Pine forest. This type is confined to a limited area around Ajloon. Pinus halepensis predominates with a sparse underwood of Quercus coccifera, Arbutus andrachne and less commonly Pistacia terebinthus and Crataegus azarolus, with Cistus villosus and C. salvifolia common in the undergrowth and Poterium in the open. Regeneration of pine is abundant, often profuse. This association occurs in the north only, on limestone at 750-900 m., where the rainfall is about 600-800 mm.
(3) Juniper forest. This type occurs on sand-stone south of Tafileh for some 30-40 km., as far as and beyond Shanbek on the steep westerly escarpment above the Wadi Araba at 900-1,200 m., with a rainfall of about 400-500 mm. A few ancient Cupressus sempervirens occur in this association and the species may have had a more extensive distribution in olden times. The endemic shrub Daphne linearifolia comes in this type on the Sharah plateau at 1,400-1,600 m. and extends towards Petra. Two species of Astragalus, a Phlomis and Poterium spinosum are the principal constituents of the ground flora, together with Origanum sp., and many other herbs.
(4) Pistacia, forest. A few relict specimens of this occur here and there, clearly the remnants of more extensive forests but now forming scattered collections of trees, hardly amounting to an open crop. No associates occur, except Retama raetum, Artemisia herba-alba and Atriplex sp. in Wadi el Butum, and often there is little perennial vegetation of any kind.
Good progress is being made in the demarcation and survey of reserved forests on the east bank, in what was formerly known as Transjordan; practically all such forests are situated in the northern districts but settlement has also started in the south. This work should be started in the west bank without delay in order to check further damage by illicit cutting and over-grazing and prevent squatters from securing proprietary rights in what is correctly government owned forest land. A fairly large area of forest land, or land which could be afforested, is in private hands; a considerable proportion of this is merely low-grade grazing land for goats, and is generally a wasting asset if not a focus of soil erosion. Such land should therefore be afforested either because it is desirable on the grounds of soil conservancy or because it is the most appropriate form of land utilization.
No written declaration of forest policy exists in Jordan, other than the Forest Act of 1926. A revised draft was prepared in 1940 but this has not yet been enacted. As a matter of fact, the 1926 Act is quite satisfactory: what is, however, extremely important is that it should be extended to the forests of the west bank. A Goat Law drafted on the lines of the Cyprus Goat Law is under consideration. If enacted, it would be a great step forward and would constitute a potent weapon with which to combat the acute and widespread evil of free-range goat grazing.
Some first-class conservation work is being done in Jordan, mostly in the north but also at Karak and at Wadi el Kuf on the west bank. The technique is in all cases very similar and consists of "gradoni" work, strip cultivation and direct seeding or planting, according to site condition, with Acacia cyanophylla, which is very promising, cypress, Pinus brutia, P. pinea, almond, Quercus aegilops and Robinia. Some of the areas have been extremely successful.
There is no clear differentiation in this country between afforestation for production and afforestation mainly for soil conservation. In most cases planting serves primarily as a soil conservation measure and has only at its secondary purpose the production of either timber or fuelwood. The plantations at Samu and Wadi el Kuf, however, fall into the category of productive plantations. 'The former is quite remarkable: started a couple of years ago, in spite of some local opposition, acacia, cypress and pine were sown and planted in pockets of soil on a low limestone plateau and it is now most promising. The Wadi el Kuf plantation of 80 ha. was started about 1923 and planted mainly with Pinus halepensis and, on a small experimental scale, with P. pinea, P. canariensis, three cypresses and two acacias. The Aleppo pine is outstanding but the whole plantation is a magnificient piece of forest and demonstrates what could be achieved the country over and what it would look like if properly afforested. Trees along the valley have attained 15 m. in height and 40 cm. in diameter in less than 30 years.
Generally speaking, great progress has been made with afforestation in Jordan during the past three or four years, but much still remains to be done. Sufficient knowledge has been obtained as to the suitability of species, apart from the extreme south near Tafileh and Shanbek where it is felt that cypress will give good results and even cedar might be tried above 1,400 m. One of the reasons for the success achieved is the high standard of work in the 5 nurseries, which are well stocked with strong and healthy plants.
Poplar plantations along valley streams have great possibilities, but besides using Populus nigra, other species or types of faster growth should be tried. Farm forestry deserves to be more widely practised and efforts should be made to popularize it among the peasantry, either in the form of farm woodlots, windbreaks or even shelterbelts. Good examples of woodlots may be seen at Jubaiha near Amman where 18 ha. have been planted by the Forest Department with robinia, cedar and Pinus brutia on private land, to afford protection to the soil and shelter to a pear orchard lying below; and at Yamun village close to Jenin on the west bank, where the District Commissioner got the villagers to plant 12,000 trees on an Arbor Day.
The Forest Department under the Ministry of Finance has at present a very limited staff, consisting of the Director of Forestry located at Amman, 6 Forest officers and 161 forest guards. No forestry education is provided in the country itself but a few students are trained abroad, notably at the Cyprus Forest College.
* See also Forest Conditions in Syria and Lebanon. J. Rolley. Unasylva, Vol. II, No. 2.
The land -area of Lebanon covers around one million ha. comprising the Coastal Plain, the Coastal mountain range proper, the Upland Valley of the Beqaa and the western slopes of the Anti-Lebanon range and Mount Hermon.
Compact, very permeable limestones and sandstones are the characteristic geological formations. If slopes were covered by vegetation, this feature would have the utmost significance in a country of low and unevenly distributed rainfall, most of which tends to be lost by run-off. Both limestones and sandstones and the soils derived from them are sensitive to weathering and erosion, and this accounts for much of the rugged and severe scenery of the Lebanon. The rock formations near the coast are harder than those further inland, the heavier rainfall favors vegetation and erosion is less severe.
The country has a true Mediterranean climate: practically the whole of the Lebanon proper receives a fair average of rain, from 600 mm. to over 1,000 mm. per year on the highest slopes which rise to 3,100 meters. There is, however, great variation from year to year and most of the rainfall comes from November to February. The Anti-Lebanon range, however, has only 200 to 600 mm.; the Beqaa valley and the Coastal Plain have abundant springs. As a whole, the country contains a wide range of climatic variations from the typical humidity of the Coastal Plain through the Coastal mountain regions, down through the more sheltered valley of the Beqaa to the relatively dry heat of the Anti-Lebanon.
There is practically no part of the country where tree growth is inhibited by climate, but the western slopes of the Lebanon coastal range are by far the best for forestry; the western slopes of Mount Hermon are similar to those of the Lebanon proper and require similar treatment. On the Coastal Plain and the Beqaa valley, forestry is concerned only with the establishment of plantations and with what is known generally as "farm forestry" to provide shelter, timber and fuel.
Unlike much of Middle East, the Lebanon has some fine coniferous forests, of which the stone pine (P. pinea) forests near Beirut are outstanding.
This shows a part of the Abies cilicica forest near Kamouan, in one of the most interesting areas of natural forest left in this country.
Ancient Forest Areas
There is plenty of evidence on the extent of the forests in the past, roughly 250,000 hectares. There is even a rock inscription at Mneitre which announces the existence of the private forest of a Roman Emperor and warns people not to touch it. But indiscriminate felling, burning, the browsing of goats and other animals, combined with faulty agricultural practices, have virtually exterminated the natural forest and degraded the soil which supported it. Today only 74,000 hectares of forest remain and the term "forest" must be liberally interpreted. 45,400 ha. are government-owned, 16,400 ha. privately owned, and 12,200 ha. owned by communities.
Two interesting forest areas occur in the northern part of the country on the foothills overlooking the plain of Tell Kalak, between elevations of 400 and 1,400 m., the Akkar and the Dennieh. In the Akkar, as the altitude increases, one finds first coppice of Quercus coccifera mixed with some Pinus halepensis, then coppice of deciduous oaks, and then at about 1,200 m. almost pure stands of Abies cilicica and lastly a very open stand of Juniperus, as the tree line is approached at 1,800 m. Within the Akkar, comprising approximately 8,000 ha. of forest, the forest of Jebel Amona deserves special mention; here is a pure stand of well-grown Abies cilicica, reproducing quite satisfactorily, and practically intact because of inaccessibility. Many of the trees are more than 2 m. in diameter and 30 m. in height.
The Dennieh comprises some good mixed stands of fir and cedar and occasional plots of pure cedar. Unfortunately, these are often mistreated and lopped.
The forests of Hermel and Baalbeck stretch over the eastern slopes of the Lebanon proper, prolonging the Akkar and covering a total of 35,000 ha., 5,000 of which is in the Anti-Lebanon. They consist of degraded coppice of evergreen oak, very open, overcut and heavily grazed and therefore bound eventually to disappear.
To the east of Tripoli, there are limited stands of cedar. Amongst the most interesting is the forest of Ehden also close to the spring of the Kadischa, which is the famous Cedar of Lebanon grove; located in a barren small valley at an elevation of 1,600 meters, this grove consists now of only a few trees but nearly all measure more than 3 m. in diameter.
Further south, the valley of the Nahr Ibrahim holds a stand of almost pure Pinus halepensis, and a vigorous forest of Juniperus occurs near the headwaters of the river up to 2,000 m.
The hill country near Beirut is fairly well wooded by plantations of Pinus pinea established in 1860. Privately owned, they are well tended to yield edible seed, industrial wood, and fuel wood.
In the Jebel Borouk and on the southern frontier there are degraded oak coppice areas and a few forest relicts. In the south, even the goat droppings are, in fact, assiduously harvested and transported by sea to Beirut and Tripoli to be used as fertilizer in the orange and banana plantations along the coast.
The distribution of the forest species may be summarized as follows:
Sea level to 1,600 m.:
- evergreen oak with evergreen underwood, junipers, Pistacia lentiscus, Arbutus, and Myrtus. Scattered wild olive and carob. When preserved from cutting and lopping, this type develops into forest of about 12 in. in height;
- Pinus pinea and P. halepensis. Easily raised in plantations, the former are pruned for crown development to stimulate edible seed production. Sandstone soils preferred; height up to 20 in.;
- deciduous oak: there are many species, some of which have economic importance for special products. Height growth up to 15 m.;
- narrow belts of plane, alder, walnut, willow, poplar along stream beds and in humid gorges.
Above 1,600 in.:
- cypress and juniper, sometimes associated with Pinus halepensis on lower levels. Cypress occur on calcareous and very dry soil, while juniper appears to prefer sandstones. Height up to about 25 m.
Above this level forests of firs and cedars begin, presumably once the main climax type of the Lebanon, with associated cypress and juniper.
It is estimated that about half of the forest area consists of oaks, mainly Quercus coccifera and then decidous oaks like Q. aegilops, Q. cerris, and Q. libani. Conifers come second, the order of importance being Pinus halepensis, P, pinea, P, laricio, Abies cilicica, juniper, cedar, cypress. Secondary species such as walnut, maple, poplar, arbutus and pistachio and semi-forest trees like willow, fig, laurel, almond and olive occur over the rest of the area.
This is an avenue of poplars at Caradj School of Agriculture, Iran, shows a variety of types... fastigiate on the left, semi-erect on the Tight... all doing well.
Below is seen the nursery at the experimental farm near Baghdad, Iraq. The upper right hand photograph shows poplars again, in this instance a plantation near Arne in Syria, where certain strains (to well and are highly prized.
Within recent years, forest research stations and nurseries have begun to appear in the Middle Eastern countries.
A Recent Forest Code
With regard to legislation, the Forest Code of 7 January 1949 placed some restrictions on all Lebanese forests. Clearing and cutting are subject to special laws, and can only be carried out when authorized by the Forest Administration after investigation. Clearing of privately-owned forests is only authorized on condition that the owner has irrigation facilities and replaces the forest by an orchard; the work must be carried out under the supervision of the Forest Administration. Only those trees not considered to constitute real forest types (eucalypts, plane, poplar, walnut, willow, alder, etc.) are exempted from these formalities which are intended to rationalize methods of utilization and ensure the conservation of the forest and soil.
Private forests are generally very small (the average is 5 ha.) and are managed by the owners themselves, under the supervision of the Forest Administration; their main produce is wood for fuel and agricultural purposes.
The efforts of Lebanese foresters are concentrated on the afforestation of 150,000 ha. of bare land considered to be suitable for forestry. Four forest nurseries have been recently established, capable of producing more than one million conifer and 500,000 hardwood seedlings. Afforestation by direct seedling of suitable species is also contemplated.
Torrent control is of great importance and serious floods are in fact sometimes occasioned by torrential rains. Control works are, however, only just beginning. Reclamation of marshy areas in the coastal plain has been fairly extensive, mainly by establishing eucalypt plantations. It is proposed to use poplar in the high plateau of the Beqaa where experiments have already given very promising results.
There are at present several projects under way for re-organizing the administration and management of the government and communal forests; for study of forest pests and diseases and for the prevention and control of forest fires. The main obstacle to the maintenance and regeneration of the forest proper is excessive grazing by herds of goats, coupled wit unauthorized cutting, since the dense population is very badly in need of wood for fuel and other purposes. Vigorous administrative measures have been taken to counter these abuses and a new law on grazing in the forest and on forest exploitation has been passed. Afforested areas will be constituted as reserves and grazing land segregated; grazing within the forest, whether owned by the government, communities, or individuals, will be limited.
Logging and transport are generally done by ox and motor truck. There is little wood industry of any note but there are, nevertheless, 74 small sawmills and box-making factories and 8 veneer-making plants. The principal forest product is fuel, obtained from Quercus coccifera, Q. aegilops, Q. cerris, plane, poplar, Pinus halepensis P. pinea and juniper. The seed of Pinus pinea, besides being used locally, is also exported.
The timber trade is governed by very strict regulations: all wood comes under the control of the Forest Administration and cannot be removed without special permission, including the wood of non-forest species. The national output of timber is not sufficient to cover the country's needs. Exports are forbidden while imports are unrestricted; about 30,000 tons are imported annually, one-sixth consisting of wood for fuel.
The Forest Administration includes a Central Office in the Ministry of Agriculture at Beirut and the following services: 1) Afforestation and Soil Rehabilitation; 2) Forest Utilization; 3) Forest Protection; 4) Hunting and Fishing. There is besides a local service in each of the four departments into which the country is divided, consisting of an engineer, an inspector, 6 non-commissioned officers and approximately 20 guards. The budget of the Forest Administration is included in the overall governmental budget, but it also derives income from fines imposed as penalties for infringement of the forest laws, and revenue of one-third of the value of the products obtained from exploiting communally-owned forests. No revenue is obtained from private owners.
A College of Agriculture was established over 6 years ago in Beirut where a course in silviculture is included: a special one-year forestry course is also to be started. Non-commissioned officers and forest guards are trained at present in the Departmental Schools of Agriculture.
A "Cedar Week" and "Arbor Day" are celebrated every year, and technical advice is given to private individuals wishing to undertake afforestation work. Should individual owners be unable to meet the cost, the government will carry out all work which is considered to be in the public interest. Part of the revenue derived from the forest thus created will in the future serve to reimburse the cost to the government.
The only merchantable timber comes from riparian species such as Platanus orientalis, Juglans regia and Fraxinus rotundifolia and from poplar plantations. Extraction is not greatly developed for either timber or charcoal, which is packed in sacks and loaded on mules and lorries. Domestic demand for all types of forest produce greatly exceeds supplies, despite imported material.
There are no institutions providing higher education in forestry but a few students go abroad for training.
* See also Forest Conditions in Syria and Lebanon. J. Rolley. Unasylva, Vol. II, No. 2.
About 422,000 ha., 2.3 percent of Syria's total area, are considered as being under "forest".
The main topographical features of western Syria are the Jebel Ansariyah range rising to about 1,500 m. in a line of undulating highlands, the Ghab depression, and the eastern slopes of the Anti-Lebanon range and Mount Hermon. In eastern Syria are the steppes and desert wastes west and south of the River Euphrates, the volcanic region of the Jebel Druze and Hauran, the Euphrates valley, and the Jezirah east of the Euphrates. Apart from the central depression and the coastal range, which receives the highest rainfall (over 1,000 mm.) and contains the main forest areas, the eastern plateau is the most extensive area; much of it is suitable only for pasturage but certain upland areas are of interest from the forestry point of view because of the remnants of forests of special type (mainly Pistacia), particularly adapted to extremely dry conditions. Generally speaking, there is a gradation through steppe, semi-desert and desert from west to east and north to south.
Rainfall varies accordingly and corresponds to that of similar localities in the Lebanon, with humidity on the coast and high precipitation of well over 1,000 mm. on the seaward slopes in the coastal plain and Jebel Ansariyah; these areas have a true Mediterranean climate. East of the Jebel Ansariyah the rainfall lessens, dropping to 600 mm. very quickly and further east to 300 mm., with some slight variation due to altitude in the Jebels.
Temperatures vary considerably, and the range is far wider on the plateau, where frost damage can be severe locally. Summer maxima on the plateau may be as much as 49' C.
Soils are mainly clay loams of limestone and marl origin, ranging from reddish brown to white in the desert. The subsoils derived from the basalt lava formations in the Jebel Druze area are particularly fertile. There has been serious erosion in the western rainfall belt, and (by wind) in the flat cultivated plains.
The "forest" land of Syria is mostly not covered by forests in the generally accepted sense but able to produce forests of some sort if -properly protected. Of this area about 90 percent is owned by the state and the balance by private and communal owners. The state area has been reserved and although only roughly surveyed and not properly demarcated, it represents a good beginning.
The areas most suitable for forest growth are readily identifiable by the existing forest remnants. The most important localities are as follows:
(a) The forest region called Kurd-Dagh in the north, to the north-west of Aleppo. It is limited in extent and was practically ruined by uncontrolled cutting during World War 1. Some coppices of Quercus coccifera remain, with occasional pines (P. halepensis and nigra var. pallasiana).
(b) The two forests of Baer and Bassit, covering a total area of about 25,000 ha. to the north-east of Latakia, and forming the principal forest block in the whole of Syria. The Bassit, close to the sea, is covered with fairly dense and almost pure stands of P. halepensis, which unfortunately suffer from fires; the, Baer, at a higher altitude (800 in.), comprises P. halepensis, Quercus cerris and Q. aegilops, these two deciduous oaks regenerating freely. This forest area is, on the whole, undamaged, except round the perimeter where wood is cut for use in tobacco-drying plants.
(c) The Jebel Ansariyah is covered on its crests by fine commercial timber of deciduous oaks, with isolated trees of Cedrus libani, Abies cilicica and Juniperus excelsa; the approximate area is 20,000 ha.
The inland mountain ranges have been practically entirely deforested. Except for the date palm, Pistacia kiniuck is the only desert tree; is of special interest as, even in very difficult xerophytic conditions, it reaches 5 m. in height. Quite extensive areas of this species are found in two parts of the Syrian desert; there are only a few trees per hectare and there is no regeneration on account of browsing by goats and illicit, felling. South of Damascus and Kuneitra, the vegetation consists mainly of dense, stunted scrub of various evergreen and deciduous oaks, very heavily browsed by goats.
The reserved forests are said to be made up of one-fifth evergreen oaks, one-fifth deciduous oaks, one-fifth conifers (Juniperus excelsa, J. drupacea, Pinus halepensis), another fifth of Pistacia, and the last fifth of other species. Among the trees commonly raised in irrigated plantations there is notably a local species of poplar known as roomi, the timber of which is highly prized. There are excellent orchards, groves and gardens in certain localities such as Damascus where 15,000 ha. of trees form a striking contrast to the surrounding desert. Some excellent studies in tree nursery work and in the selection of suitable species for special purposes have been made at various horticultural stations.
In 1930, under the French mandate, the Land Code replaced to a large extent the old Moslem Land Laws and the Ottoman Land Code. The most important category of land is Miri where the State retains the right of ownership while right of occupation is enjoyed by private individuals who can sell, mortgage and lease this right. Continuous cultivation is required, otherwise the land reverts to the State; this alone has caused much land abuse. Originally, the holder of Miri land could not change its character (e.g. by converting it to woodland), without special permission, but this is now altered. Communal ownership or Masha is prevalent in the East, and certainly encourages misuse of land, especially since the land periodically changes hands from one community to another.
Present forest law is embodied in the Forest Code of 1935, with decrees issued from time to time; there is no written forest policy other than reference to certain principles in the Code mentioned above. In 1942 and in 1945 Goat Laws were introduced aiming at the exclusion of goats from forests and orchards.
Domestic demand for timber and fuel is very fat from being met, despite high imports. The forests consequently suffer heavy damage from illicit felling. lopping, clearing, and burning for charcoal. Forest land is still being broken up for cultivation, even on steep slopes; this is permitted under a law which enables a man to claim the land as his own after he has cultivated it for ten years on permit. The soil lasts for about five years and then disappears completely. The rate, for example, at which high forest in the Selemiya area has disappeared in the last 20 years is startling; a few decades ago places where there is now not a tree or even a shrub to be seen carried well-stocked oak forests, including valuable species such as Q. aegilops. Fortunately the first counter-attack, the most difficult, has already been made by government reservation of an area of roughly 380,000 ha. Although a long rest will be required before even the best land begins to yield again, the forest does appear to possess remarkable powers of recovery when goats are excluded. It is hoped that official reservation will save the forest from destruction.
Grazing by sheep and goats remains, however, the chief and most difficult problem of the country. In state-owned forests, grazing is theoretically allowed only on permit and permits are not issued for forests less than 15 years old. There are rights of pasturage, but the numbers of animals are not specified and it is left to the discretion of the Forest Department to fix these numbers. This, besides being too great a responsibility for the department, does not solve the problem, because limitation of numbers of animals should go together with provision of alternative occupations for the herd owners. Grazing on so-called natural pastures or open rangeland also requires close attention since certainly not more than one-quarter of the area available can provide anything like permanent pastures; and it is extremely doubtful whether the total area can support the present goat and sheep population without more extensive irrigation than at present.
A separate Forest Department was created only in 1943 and until recently it consisted, besides the Director, of four "controllers", 25 "agents" and 84 forest guards. The work of the field staff overlaps in some respects that of the Agricultural Department; in some cases "controllers" have to supervise the local work of both Departments. There are said to be 5 well-run horticultural and forest nurseries at Damascus, Aleppo, and elsewhere, under the jurisdiction of the Agricultural Department, which provide seedlings for state planting and, on payment, for private owners.
Is a typical oak forest used also foil grazing, at Haras de Caradjbey... the rich herbage contrasting strongly with the sparse ground cover seen in other photographs in these pages.
A beech, forest near Bolu in the Black Sea region has been invaded by rhododendrons, here as elsewhere a serious forest weed.
Turkey has many areas with fine stands of hardwoods, including especially various species of oak and beech.
Turkey's total area, including inland waters, is around 77 ½ million ha., of which about 13 percent (10,358,000 ha.) is under forest. The country comprises a wide central plateau surrounded by two mountain ranges running from east to west; to the north the Kuzey Anadolu Daglari stretching almost parallel to the Black Sea, and to the south the Toros Daglari describing a vast are. Altitudes vary from sea level up to 3,900 m. in the vicinity of the northern frontier between Turkey and Russia, with peaks such as Mount Ararat (5,165 m.) overlooking all this rugged region. Turkey may thus be divided into the following seven natural regions: the Black Sea region, the Sea of Marmora region, the Aegean Sea region, the Mediterranean Sea region, and Central, Eastern and Southern Anatolia.
Of the total area considered as "forest", only one million hectares are covered with good high forest, and 2.5 million ha. with productive coppice (mainly oak); the rest consists of degraded high forest (more than 5 million hectares) and very poor coppice. Privately owned forests amount to only 30,000 ha.
Just over half the growing stock consists of conifers. For instance, in the upper parts of the Toros Daglari, the main species are Cedrus libani, Abien nordmanniana, A. bornmulleriana, A. cilicica, A. equitroiani. Picea orientalis, Pinus silvestris, P. nigra, P. brutia, and P. pinea. Hardwoods are Fagus orientalis, Quercus sessiliflora, Q. pedunculata, Q. cerris, Q. aegilops, Liquidambar orientalis, Fraxinus ornus, F. oxycarpa, Alnus glutinosa, and A. barbata. On southern slopes, the lower parts are covered with oak and the upper with pine; northern slopes support fir, beech and pine.
Elsewhere high forest mainly occurs on the mountain ranges which have a maritime climate, and the best forests have survived because they occur on very steep slopes difficult of access, as in the Black Sea coastal area. East of Trabzon there are almost inaccessible spruce forests (the forests of Artivire), and excellent forests of pine, fir, and beech extend over thousands of hectares on the mountain summits between Samsun and Zonguldak and in the districts of Kastamonu and Bolu. Some of these are virgin forests in that there has never been any systematic exploitation; the growing stock sometimes amounts to as much as 500-700 m3 per ha.
The Marmora region no longer contains only oak coppice and some beech, capable of producing pitprops and sleepers, while first quality pine stands are still found on the highest slopes in the Aegean Sea region. The Mediterranean area supports the "maquis" proper to this region, but there are tracts of cedar and black pine chiefly useful for soil conservation. The black pine forest of Pozanti, located to the north of Adana, has an annual output of from 15 to 30 thousand m3 of logs which are floated down the rivers to the sea. It is interesting to note that the forests in this area used to be worked for export timber for other countries of the Middle East, and that large scale fellings took place when the Suez canal was being built. The forests have never recovered from this exploitation.
The three zones of Anatolia have nothing left but degraded oakwoods, spoilt by grazing and misuse. The only exception is the very extensive pine forest of Akdgamadeni (roughly 100,000 ha.) situated in the middle of the uplands of Central Anatolia, which represents second-growth forest established after a fire.
Pinus nigra in one form or another is one of the most frequent conifers in the Middle East, but this extensive forest of it near Smyrna, Turkey, has been severely degraded as a result of over-grazing.
The grazing problem is indeed one of the cardinal difficulties of forestry throughout Me region, and the effects of too many uncontrolled livestock are often much worse than those seen above.
Another typical Turkish conifer, Abies bornmulleriana; this forest is near Uludag.
State Control of Forests
The first regulations governing the forests of the Ottoman Empire were issued in 1868; in 1924 a law was passed establishing conditions, for forest management; finally, in 1937 a Forest Law was promulgated which constituted a genuine forest code. From that time the Forest Administration has been entrusted with forest exploitation, from felling of the standing trees to the marketing of semi-finished products (logs, pitprops, pulpwood, sawnwood and fuelwood). Lastly, in 1944, all forests not yet owned by the government were nationalized, so that today All land classified as forest is subject to the forest law and administration, management, utilization and marketing of products are the concern of the Forest Administration. Areas afforested by private individuals form the only exception.
The main objectives of forest policy in Turkey now are:
(a) establishment and maintenance of forest cover on steep mountain slopes, to prevent erosion, help soil conservation, and regulate water-flow, especially to make surplus winter rainfall available for domestic needs and irrigation during the spring and summer seasons;
(b) maximum use of the forest for recreation purposes, to improve the look of the countryside and help tourism;
(c) maximum sustained yield of industrial wood and other forest products, and support of local wood-using industries;
(d) ensuring regular employment and certain privileges to the greatest possible number of forest workers living in villages adjacent to the forests, as a means of reducing damage from fire and illicit felling; and
(e) secure revenue for the government.
A new Forest Law to remedy weak points in the, existing law and to help reach the above goals is now under study by the National Assembly.
The Forest Administration, which has its own budget, consists of a Central Office, under the Ministry of Agriculture, with a Director-General and a Deputy, directly responsible to Parliament, and a Field Staff. There is a body of technical advisers, within the Central Office, composed of a chairman, 4 permanent members and the Directors of the 13 divisions (management, inventory, afforestation, utilization, etc.) constituting the executive service. This technical council examines projects and submits proposals to the Director-General for final decision. The field staff is organized into 15 "conservations", 85 "districts" (each controlling some 100,000 ha.) and 687 "cantonnements", all directed by forest engineers. The Forest Administration, in existence since 1857 but effective only since 1923, also includes 11 "management commissions", each consisting of a chief and four engineers; since 1924 these commissions have brought under management approximately 2.5 million ha. of forest. High forests are managed on the selection system.
It is worth mentioning that all villages which have no available woodlands must plant at least 5 ha. of trees, the planting stock being supplied free of charge by the government. For 1952-56 it is planned to afforest 10 hectares around each of some 250 villages in the Central Plateau of Anatolia, using Marshall Plan funds. To encourage private afforestation, technical plans are prepared without charge by Administration personnel and the areas planted are exempted from land-tax for 50 years, and the sale of produce from income-tax. Finally, the government bank grants 20 year loans at I percent interest.
The Forest Administration itself is concerned with the afforestation of marsh-land, the reforestation of gaps within existing forests, and any undertaking which requires artificial regeneration. Roughly 3,600 hectares of plantations have been formed so far by the Administration, including 1,200 ha. of eucalyptus and over 165 ha. of poplars, besides the sixteen nurseries have been set up covering a total area of 652 ha., the aim being to produce 12 million seedlings a year. Plants (usually 5 years old) are supplied free of charge, as has already been said, to villages and at one-fifth of cost price to private individuals. The plants raised are mostly of poplars for planting in the valleys.
Logs are generally conveyed to storage depots near roads or railways either by animals or Decauville railways, or by floating, and are then sold by auction. A small proportion is converted in the 7 state sawmills, 3 of which have a capacity of more than 20,000 m3 per year. Selling prices of forest products are very high (although sometimes kept lower than cost prices) due to the fact that commercial exploitation of the forests is far from easy while the methods used are often outmoded. Wood can often be imported more cheaply than homegrown timber can be produced, so there are considerable imports. In 1949, for example, 13,000 m3 of sawlogs and veneer logs, 142,000 m3 of pitprops, 112,000 m3 of lumber and 28,000 m3 of pulpwood were imported, along with 6,000 tons of charcoal. This does not mean that Turkish forests are not heavily exploited. As a matter of fact the average production, controlled by the government, appears to exceed annual growth by approximately 3 million m3. This, however, is, not due so much to intentional overcutting as to the salvage and use of windfallen and burned trees (forest fires being frequent). In addition to this, it is estimated that close to 9 million m3 of timber are illicitly cut every year.
Heavy cutting for timber is therefore one of the factors responsible for the present poor condition of the forests in Turkey, but not the only one. A second of great importance is the incapacity of the cultivated soil to feed a population which has increased by 38 percent in 18 years. Consequently there is an anxious search for new land on which to cultivate food crops and raise big herds of goats. On the shores of the Black Sea, for example, some cultivated fields are so steep that the peasants must tie themselves to trees in order to till the soil. This grave problem continues to receive the full attention of the Turkish authorities and all possible remedies have been envisaged, including the re-distribution of rural populations, the modernization of agricultural methods in the fertile areas in order to produce a substantial increase in production, and the building of dams to provide water for irrigation.
Education of foresters is provided in Turkey by the College of Forestry at the Istanbul University; this college was founded in 1857 but only become part of the University in 1948. After a 4-years course, students graduate as forest engineers and start their service with the Administration as chiefs of "cantonnement" under training. A school providing a course of 2 years for non-commissioned officers and forest guards is due to be inaugurated in 1952.
From the climatic and vegetation aspects, West Pakistan has affinities with the Middle East while the eastern region pertains to South East Asia; only the former is therefore being considered in this summary.
West Pakistan covers a total area of about 80 million ha. and at a rough estimate the area under forest is approximately 1,700,000 ha.; much of the land classed as "forest" for administrative reasons does not in fact support any forest growth at all.
The climate has many extremes: from the arid rainless expanses to wet green valley; from many degrees below freezing in the hills to the blistering heat of the plains; from the sand dunes and gravelly desert to the water-logged swamps. These variations necessarily result in great differences in the vegetation and incidence of population. The distribution of forests in West Pakistan is therefore primarily a function of climate, strongly affected by human interference.
The existing forests may be divided into natural forests and artificial forests or plantations. The former cover about 400,000 ha. in the north and north-west mountain and sub-montane areas, about 565,000 ha. in the dry hills of Baluchistan and the tribal areas, some 485,000 ha. in the wet plains along valleys, and scattered dry areas of scrub in the plains of the Punjab which have escaped clearing mainly through lack of communications. The artificial forests or plantations are mostly confined to the Punjab, though they are being created in increasing number in Sind and in other provinces. These plantations have all been created in thickly populated plains and chiefly in connection with irrigation schemes as part of land reclamation projects.
Many Forest Types
The mountain forest type occurs from about 900 m. to 4,000 m. altitude. It consists mainly of conifers such as Cedrus deodara, Pinus excelsa, Picea morinda, Abies spp., and on hot southerly aspects and low altitude Pinus longifolia. Rainfall is highest (1,300 mm.) to the east of this belt and gradually decreases towards the west. The proportion of Cedrus deodara, which is the fost valuable tree, increases as rainfall lessens. The common broadleaved associates, depending upon altitude, exposure and rainfall, are Quercus spp., Acer spp., Aesculus hippocastanum, Populus, Juglans, Salix, Betula, and Juniperus.
The sub-montane type does not occur above 900 m. altitude. The climate is dry and temperature reaches extremes both in the hot and cold seasons. Pinus longifolia, is found on upper reaches but the typical forest formations consist of Acacia modesta, Olea cuspidata, Prosopis spicigera, Dodonaea viscosa and Zizuphus supp.. Ichimum angustifolium and other grasses are profuse.
The Baluchistan hill type is found in very dry areas and is in an extremely poor state at present. Pinus gerardiana, and Juniperus macropoda are the main species but there are others hardy and drought resistant. 'This type occurs from about 1,500 to 3,000 m. above sea-level.
Riverain forests, locally known as bela forests, are found along the big rivers in areas subject to annual inundation or seepage, particularly in Sind and the Punjab. The commonest species is Acacia arabica, which occurs extensively, while others are Dalbergia sissoo, Prosopis spicigera, Populus euphratica, Butea, Salix, and Tamarix.
The scrub forests or rakhs occur all over the Punjab plains and have remained undestroyed mainly because they are located at a great distance from centers of consumption. The species present are of a typical xerophytic character, such as Prosopis spicigera, Salvadora oleoides, Dodonaea viscosa, Capparis spp., Acacia spp., Tamarix spp., etc. Most of this area is not under the control of the Forest Department although more and more control is being gradually acquired.
The artificial forests or plantations have all been established by the Forest Department and now cover an area of approximately 40,000 ha. The main species planted so far are Dalbergia sissoo, Acacia arabica, Melia azedarach, Eucalyptus spp., Prosopis spp., etc.
As regards utilization, Acacia arabica, besides making excellent fuelwood, is used in the manufacture of carts, agricultural implements, tool handles, tent pegs and pitprops. Acacia modesta. is also an excellent fuelwood and in addition is used for cart wheels, sugarcane crushers and agricultural implements. Abies pindrow for packing cases, shingles, railway sleepers (after creosoting). Cedrus deodara is an important structural timber and it is suitable for railway sleepers, carriage and wagon work, house-building, beams, floor boards, door and window frames, light furniture, shingles, ordnance boxes and pattern making. Dalbergia sissoo is the finest wood for furniture, cabinets and carving and a good constructional timber for housebuilding and general joinery and carpentry work; it is extensively used for carts and carriages, agricultural implements and ordnance articles, and is also good as fuelwood. Dodonaea viscosa is a very good firewood species. Juniperus macropoda is an important pencil wood, also used locally as beams and rafters in hut building. Melia azedarach is suitable in small sizes for the manufacture of packing cases, cheap furniture and for rough roofing while it is not considered good for fuel owing to the pungent smell which it emits when burning. Morus alba gives a high quality wood for sports equipment such as hockey sticks, tennis, badminton and squash rackets; it is also used for camp furniture, picker arms and carriage building. Olea cuspidata is suitable for tool handles, turnery and carving work besides making good fuelwood. Picea morinda is used for planking for floors and ceiling, general cheap joinery and water throughs. Pinus excelsa is a well known joinery wood, suitable for constructional work, house fitments, light furniture, shingles, packing cases, cores of laminboards, drawing boards and planetables. Pinus longifolia is a popular building timber, particularly for roofing, flooring, shingles, etc.; it makes good railway sleepers after preservative treatment, and it is also suitable for transmission poles and for the manufacture of matches. Populus euphratica is used for packing cases, match splints and match boxes, light domestic furniture, turnery goods and toys. Prosopis spicigera makes an excellent fuelwood. Tamarix spp. are used for agricultural implements and small household articles in villages.
The position with regard to the production of wood in West Pakistan is serious. In some places there is plenty of timber and fuelwood, in others none at all. The total output of timber is quite inadequate, and present consumption for the area as a whole is estimated to be 40 times less than what is considered to be the minimum requirement. The fuelwood situation is in particular very serious since there is no alternative fuel at all, either for domestic needs or for the industries which now depend upon wood fuel.
Typical of much of the mountainous Middle East is this photograph, with its small area of cultivated hillside surrounded by eroded, shrub-covered slopes.
Notice the contrast between the well-tended area on the right and the neglected part in the center and left, with crumbling terrace walls where erosion is once more gaining a destructive grip. The area in the background is similar to much that in these devastated lands is classed as "forest".
This map of wood research establishments in Germany, drawn by the Institute of Wood Research, Brunswick-Kralenriede, indicates the way in which the stations are well distributed throughout the Federal Republic, while at the same time a number of institutes are grouped close to each important center.
This of course makes for easier exchange of views and information between colleagues working on related problems, but at different institutes. The former state institute at Eberswalde is also shown in this map.