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Country Report - Mauritius

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The Forestry Sector in 2020

Native Forests

Privately owned Natural forests

About 800 ha of Natural Forests under private ownership would be lost as a result of increased pasture development for deer ranching, built-up areas and infrastructural development. The native forests with eco-tourism potential would be brought under sustainable forest management with exotic plants weeded out and native plants introduced. There will be virtually no production of Timber from Native forests.

State-owned Native forests

About one thousand ha of privately owned Natural Forests would be acquired by the government to expand the existing National Park. The area of existing state owned Native forests will remain more or less unchanged as they are legally protected. About 200 ha of Native forests in the uplands will be weeded and natural regeneration will be provoked through in-situ conservation. Rare endemic plants will be propagated through ex-situ conservation techniques and reintroduced in the forests.

 

Forest Plantations

Private Sector

In the next two decades there will be no significant investment from the private sector in the creation of forest plantations for the following reasons:

long term investment

high risk to investment from natural calamities e.g. drought, cyclone diseases etc and from theft.

high cost of labour and high interest rates

better and quicker returns from other land uses e.g. cash crops, livestock, fruit production, flowers, etc.

land conversion being more profitable in the short run

In view of the above, it is estimated that about 2,000 ha of forest plantations will be lost especially near the coastal regions for housing development for the high income group.

 

Public Sector

As a result of competition for land by other land based sectors, forest lands which are found in the proximity of inhabited areas will be sacrificed for low-cost Government housing schemes, Industrial complexes, infrastructural development, sports complexes, dams etc. It is estimated that at least 1,000 ha of existing forest plantations will be lost by 2020.

Annex I gives the present and projected estimated extent of the forest areas in 2020.

 

Profile of Growing stock in 2020

Over the next decades, with the projected reduction of the labour force of the Forestry Service, the rotation of pine plantations will be increased from 25 to 40 years so as to reduce the area of Allowable Annual Cut. This will eventually reduce the areas to be replanted after clear-felling annually, thereby diminishing the burden on the Forestry Service. (Annex XIII gives the age class distribution of pine plantations in 2020).

 

Distribution of Species

The species distribution in the State Forest Plantations will not undergo major changes in the next two decades. Some high value hardwood species like Teak, Mahogany, Albizzia and Tabebuia may replace some of the less valuable species like Eucalyptus, Cassia siamea, Cordia sp etc.

 

Timber Supply from local production and Inputs

Native forests are generally not exploited for timber. Timber production will be carried out from forest plantations only. At present only 30% of the demand of utility timber is met from local production. The balance is imported mainly from Madagascar. All hard woods are imported. In the next two decades we will heavily depend on imports to meet the projected increase in demand.

In view of the increasing cost of raising softwood plantations and the very competitive price of pine timber from Madagascar, it will be to the advantage of Mauritius to phase out gradually the production of timber and to resort to imports. There will be more emphasis on the protection and management of the forests for soil and water conservation, conservation of Biodiversity, deer ranching, ecotourism and recreation rather than timber production.

Mauritius may even embark on the production of its timber requirement through the creation of forests plantations in other countries of the region through bilateral agreements on long term leases (Mauritius has already started such a scheme with Mozambique for sugar cane plantations). One Mauritian company has already implanted itself in Madagascar for sawmilling activities and is considering to raise plantations.

 

Non-timber forest Products

Non-timber forest products of the Plant origin

The main NTFP are fodder, vegetal fibres e.g. Pandanus, bamboos, Raphia, wild fruits etc.

Fodder

The volume of fodder removed from the forest is estimated at about 10,000 tons (green weight) annually. The main fodder species is Herbe D’argent Ischemium aristatum. With the expected decline in the cattle production over the next decades very little fodder will be removed from the forest. However, more pastures will be created in the forest to increase venison production through deer ranching.

Vegetal fibres

Pandanus utilis (Vacoas) / Vetiveria spp. The leaves of P. utilis and vetiveria spp and split bamboo stems are used for making baskets, hats and other items of handicrafts. The projected expansion of the Tourism industry will create more opportunities for the handicraft sector. The demand for vegetal fibres will soar. Specific areas will be set aside for the production of Pandanus, aloe, vetivera & bamboos to support the handicraft industry. The traditional processing of wood fibres will be mechanised and fibres will be treated against fungal and insect attacks. About 50 ha of plantations of vegetal fibres will be created to provide fibres to the artisans of the handicrafts sector.

Spice

Schinus terebentifolia (pink pepper). Mauritius exports about 50 tons of Schinus terebentifolius at about 8,000 USD/ton. Schinus terebentifolius is an exotic which has invaded the mid-altitude and lowland forests. It is estimated that the production will decline by 50% in the next two decades as a result of loss of forest lands in the lowland areas.

Wild fruits

The main wild fruit from the forests is the Psidium cattleianum locally called the ‘goyave de chine’. This plant was introduced in the 18th century and has invaded the forest. It is so prolific and invasive that it has now become a pest and is a serious threat to the survival of the native forests. There are two varieties – one providing very tasty red fruits and the other a yellow and bigger fruit. These fruits are very popular among Mauritians. During the harvest season, February-August, about 1,000 fruit vendors earn a livelihood from this activity. The turnover from this business is estimated at 3million USD.

It is expected that this activity will continue to expand as the Chinese guava will further invade the forest and there will be an abundance of fruits. Guava will be exploited on an industrial scale for jam and wine.

NTFP of the animal origin

Venison from deer ranching. Cervus timorensis russa was introduced by the Dutch in Mauritius in the 17th century. It has adapted very well to the warm and dry lowlands as well as the cold and humid uplands. Venison, unlike beef and pork, is accepted by all religious groups of the Mauritian population. Deer ranching has become an important activity both on state and private forests. To-date there are about 30,000 ha of forests under deer ranching. The present annual production of venison is about 400 tons, with about 100 tons from state forest lands. By 2020, the production is expected to double. Most of the increased production will come from private forests. The production from State Forest Land will increase only marginally as the pasture allocation (5% of leased areas) will not be increased. The increase in the demand for venison will come from the increasing number of tourists visiting the island and also from the increase in the local population.

 

Honey Production

The total honey production in Mauritius and Rodrigues is about 75 tons. There are about 400 beekepers with about 2,000 hives altogether. The main tree species which are tapped are Schinus terebentifolius Eucalyptus tereticornis, and Tamarindus indica and backyard flowers and vegetable crops. In the years to come, it is predicted that the production of honey will increase only marginally as this sector is facing a lot of problems. The main constraints are cyclones and droughts leading to shortages. Deforestation and scarcity of apiary sites contribute to loss of interest to beekeepers. The marginal increase in production will come from Rodrigues Island where there are vast areas which will be reafforested to Eucalyptus spp.

Monkey Exports

The species of monkey found in Mauritius is the Macaca fascicularis which was introduced into Mauritius by the Portuguese in the 16th century. They have spread widely and are found practically in every type of forests on the island. They feed on leaves, fruits, birds eggs and fledglings on sugar cane and vegetable crops in agricultural fields on the edge of forest area.

Monkeys are a threat to the native flora and fauna and since the early eighties, feral monkeys have been captured and bred in captivity for export. About 7,000 monkeys are exported annually. There are two companies that deal with this trade in Mauritius and the turn over from this business is about 20 million USD. It is interesting to note that Monkey exporters contribute 50 USD, for every animal exported, to the Wildlife Conservation Fund to be utilised for the conservation of Biodiversity. By 2020, this sector would have expanded considerably as there will be no shortage of monkeys. Monkeys live in very remote areas of the forests. Capture of feral monkeys does not significantly reduce its population in the wild. With the increasing demand of live monkeys to test new drugs, this business will continue to thrive. It is expected that 10,000 monkeys will be exported annually and about 200 more jobs will be created in this sector.

 

Conservation of biodiversity

By the year 2020, the awareness for the conservation of Biodiversity would be very great in Mauritius. Severe degradation of the environment and loss of considerable areas of forests in Africa and the developing world in general would give Conservation of Biodiversity and Environmental conservation higher priority in policy decisions

 

Loss of Natural Forests

It is expected that 1,000 ha of privately owned native forest would be acquired by the government to increase the size of the National Park. About 400 ha of state-owned native forests would be classified as nature reserves.

 

Sustainable Forest Management (SFM)

About 300 ha of degraded native forests would have been weeded and worked under in-situ conservation techniques for regeneration. A limited area of privately owned native forest will also be managed in areas earmarked for eco-tourism activities. The Forestry Service would be using native timber species in their reforestation programme. However, there will be further degradation of native forests as a result of increased invasion by alien species.

 

Capacity Building

The National Parks and Conservation Service and the Biodiversity unit of the Forestry Service would be using high-tech equipment for propagation of rare endangered plants. The National Parks and Conservation Service would have created the following infrastructures:

National Parks and Conservation Service headquarters

A Visitors Interpretation Centre

A modern laboratory and a well equipped greenhouse

A Nursery with a million seedlings capacity

A research unit on Biological Control

Personnel

The National Parks and Conservation Service and the Biodiversity Unit of the Forestry Service would be adequately staffed with trained and specialist personnel.

 

State of Forest Industries

The main types of Forest Industries in Mauritius can be categorised as follows:

Sawmilling

Wood chips production

Furniture making

Joinery

Ship models manufacturing

Primary processing Secondary processing

Sawmilling Furniture

Wood chips production Ship Models manufacturing

Sawmilling

At present, there are three main sawmillers with an annual capacity of more than 5,000 m3 of round wood and about 40 small sawmillers operating with one circular saw. By 2020 with the reduction in the production of local timber, most of the small sawmillers will disappear as they depend entirely on the locally produced pinewood. The bigger ones will survive as they are importers of hardwood squares from S. E. Asia, Africa and Madagascar. No major investment is envisaged in sawmilling except in the replacement of existing machines after their economic lifetime.

Wood chips

Production of small dimension wood from lops and tops will also be reduced following the reduction in annual cut. Production is expected to drop by 30% in 2020.

Furniture making and Joinery

The following gives an indication of the evolution of the furniture making units both small and large. Small units are those that employ less than 10 persons.

 

1990

1995

2000

Furniture making units small and large

1,300

1,400

1,500

Employment

6,160

7,800

15,000

 

 

Raw material and major products

The furniture industry depends entirely on imported timber and reconstituted wood. About 75% of furniture is made of MDF (Medium density fibreboard) plywood and veneers and the balance is made of solid wood.

Most of the furniture produced is made by the small artisanal workshops. They produce low-cost and low quality furniture. High quality solid wood furniture is produced by only 5 large factories. Structural and joinery works with solid wood are undertaken by one company. By the year 2020, the demand for solid and reconstituted wood is expected to double.

Technology

(Annex IV gives the projected demand for wood for the next few decades).

The small artisanal workshops use very few machines like cross cutting circular saws, hand operated, electric planers and sanders. The larger units use more heavy-duty machines and equipments. With the increase in demand, it is expected that quite a few of the smaller units will expand and invest in high-tech machines.

Markets (local)

The demand for low-cost furniture will continue to rise in the next two decades. High quality furniture making, using solid wood will not expand in the same way as population owing to the prohibitive cost of timber. Moreover, with trade liberalisation, imported solid wood furniture will become more competitive than locally produced ones. The main competition will be from Indonesia and Malaysia.

Export Market

Our sources of supply for raw materials are very far and the potential market for our finished products is even further away. High freight costs on raw materials and finished products make our exports virtually impossible. Our immediate neighbours on the African continent and in Madagascar cannot afford the high cost so they are simply not interested as they are endowed with rich hardwood forests. In the next two decades, no amelioration is envisaged for furniture exports.

Ship Models Manufacturing Industries

The ship model manufacturing industries which at present employ about 500 persons has a turnover of Rs 1.3 mil. This industry caters mostly for tourists. With the projected increase in tourist arrivals, there will be considerable expansion. The ship model’s industry has the highest value added in its products. By the year 2020, it is expected to be the most profitable wood based industry in Mauritius.

Demand and supply and future of wood-based industries

Overall, the wood-based industries will expand with the exception of the sawmilling units which depends on locally produced timber. The population increase coupled with tourist arrivals and the rise in the standard of living will further raise the demand for the products of wood based industries. Irrespective of the high cost of imported wood and other wood products, we will resort to import to support the wood based industries.

 

Social and Economic Implication

The forest sector of Mauritius is quite large, when one considers the number of stakeholders that form the sector. The contribution of this sector to the National economy has never been properly assessed. Some of its sub-sectors have been classified outside the Forest-sector. For example ecotourism is classified under the Tourism sector while primary and secondary processing is under the Industrial sector.

The following gives an estimated breakdown of the number of jobs in the various sub-sectors of the Forestry Sector .

Present

Creation/Protection of Forest Resources 1,200

logging/extraction/transport 1,000

Primary processing

sawmilling 200

wood-chips 250

Furniture Industries 15,000

Deer Ranching 1,000

Monkey Exports 200

Eco-tourism 100

Fruits (part-time) 1,000

Handicrafts/Artisan 500

Medicinal plants/spices (p.t.) 100

Ship models 500

 

Relative Importance to other sectors

The following gives the distribution of employment in the major economic sectors of Mauritius. The total active population of Mauritius is estimated at 200,000. The Forestry Sector employs about

 

The forest & the Environment

Protective functions of the forest

The natural as well as the planted forests of the uplands will play a more vital role in the protection of the catchment areas for soil and water conservation. Although the areas under sugar cane will be reduced, other crops will gain importance and will depend on irrigation. The increase in the population along with the projected increase of tourists will result in more demand for water for drinking and other domestic uses. Industrial expansion will require more water supply. Water conservation and its distribution will be of extreme importance – especially in a small island with limited catchment areas.

 

Carbon storage

The carbon storage capacity of the forests of Mauritius (50,000 ha) is comparatively low when compared to our neighbours of the African continent, who are endowed with vast forest resources. This capacity will be further reduced by the year 2020, as a result of the projected loss of forest area.

The Carbon Storage Trust is negotiating with the Government for the funding of plantation of native species in the degraded native forests. These plantations will not increase the carbon storage capacity of the native forests.

There are also attempts to install furnaces that will burn wood to generate electricity. The project aims at removing wood from invasive exotic species (e.g. Psidium cattleianum and Ligustrum walkerii which represent a threat to the regeneration of the native forests. The objective is to reduce the use of coal, which has a much higher CO2 emission than wood, in generating electricity. One company has already submitted a project proposal to install an electricity generating plant from wood and bagasse. Some firewood plantations will be created on abandoned sugar cane lands to supply the electricity generating plant.

 

Institutional Framework of the Forest Sector

Government

The two major government organisations involved with creation and protection of natural resources are the Forestry Service and National Parks and Conservation Service.

In view of the Government’s policy to downsize the public service, the personnel of these two organisations will be drastically reduced and a lot of their activities will be contracted out.

Government will most probably merge these two organisations with a view to bringing more synergy.

Private Sector

Privately owned forests will face tremendous pressure from other land based sectors. Private sector investment will be concentrated in eco-tourism and Deer ranching as forest plantations will not be a commercially attractive venture. Management objectives will shift from the present consumptive use of forest towards a more non-consumptive use with emphasis on the conservation of Biodiversity. Some private native forests will be compulsorily acquired and managed by the state.

N G O

At present there is only one major NGO, the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation which is involved with the conservation of Biodiversity. It works in collaboration with the National Parks and Conservation Service in the running of the Government aviary, where many rare endemic birds are bred in captivity for releasing in the wild. They also have a lease on the state forest lands for the in-situ and ex-situ propagation of rare plant species. In the next two decades, more Non Governmental Organisations will be actively involved in the CBD on state owned lands in line with Government’s policy to downsize the state forest organisations.

 

New arrangement for Training and Research

The Forestry Service of Mauritius is very small (150 technical staff only). It is not cost-effective to run a permanent Forest college. The Forestry Service has recently started a training course in collaboration with the University of Mauritius leading to a certificate in forestry. Negotiations are underway to design more specialised training in the fields of Taxonomy, genetics, Forest inventory, G. I. S, Remote Sensing etc. By 2020, it is expected that the service will have well trained personnel to meet the ever increasing challenges from the sector.

Training for Forest Industries

The Industrial Vocational Training Board (IVTB) runs regular courses in woodwork, and furniture making. There are negotiations with the Forest Industries Training College of Zimbabwe for training course in sawmilling and wood technology.

Research

The Forestry Service has only 4 posts of University trained graduates. It is not envisaged to run a research wing. However, the Forestry Service has started a collaboration with the researchers of the School of Science to undertake research on rare endemic plants. Moreover the university will use the tissue culture facilities for in vitro propagation of very rare and critically endangered endemic/indigenous plant species. The Forestry Service will supply the materials and undertake the raising and hardening of plant-lets and the restocking of degraded native areas. By 2020, it is expected that the collaboration with the University would have progressed considerably and about 50 highly endangered plants would have been brought back from the brink of extinction.

 

 

Annex I

 

 

 

TREE COVER

ACTUAL AREA

ESTIMATED AREA

REMARKS

(ha)

IN 2020 (ha)

Stateland

Plantations

About 1,000 ha converted to other land-uses

(Dams, Roads, Pipe-laying, Housing schemes

12,609

11,600

and other infrastructure)

National Parks

About 1,000 ha acquired from private

6,574

7,575

native forests

Nature Reserves

(I) On mainland

200

600

About 400 ha of state-owned native

forests converted into N.R.

(ii) Islets

599

599

No changes envisaged

Unplantable, protective

About 400 ha converted to N.R. and

or to be planted

300 ha released for industrial

1,885

1,185

development

Pas Geometriques

Plantations

About 100 ha released for coastal

454

355

infrastructure development

Unplantable, to be

About 100 ha lost in squatting and

planted or protective

198

100

recreational parks

Privately-owned Forests

Protected Reserves

Mountain Reserves

3,800

3,800

No loss envisaged

River Reserves

2,740

2,000

740 ha encroachment for

constructions

Nature Reserves

13

13

Will remain almost the same

Forest lands, including

About 6000 ha converted to other land

scrubs & grazing lands

uses (Housing, Factories, Ware-

27,987

21,000

houses, Business parks, Pastures)

TOTAL

57,059

48,827

 

Annex II

 

FOREST POLICY

Management

1.1 The approved forest policy for Mauritius, under which the State Forest Estate is managed, aims at:

effecting the preservation of a tree cover for the benefit of the present and future inhabitants of Mauritius, on areas of land as are required for the maintenance and improvement of the climatic and physical condition of the country; safeguarding water supplies and soil fertility, and the prevention of damage to rivers and agricultural land by flooding and erosion;

effecting the permanent reservation as forests of such areas of land as are required for the supply in perpetuity, at reasonable rates, of all forest produce requi red by the people for agricultural, domestic and industrial purposes;

managing the forest estates with the object of obtaining the highest revenue compatible with sustained yield, in so far as is consistent with (i) and (ii) above;

effecting the fullest possible utilisation of the products of the forests, subject to the requirement of forest management and encouraging the most economic utilisation of both imported and local timber;

carrying out such experimental work as may be required to implement the forest policy;

educating and training Mauritian personnel to the standard required to fill posts of all grades within the Forestry Service; fostering, by education and propaganda, a real understanding among the people of Mauritius of the value of forests to them and to their descendants and encouraging and assisting in every way, the owners of private forests, woodlands, and plantations to manage such crops in a sound manner;

co-operating with other land interests in the achievement of optimum land allocation and usage, and in all projects for soil and water conservation and the prevention of erosion, and accepting the principle that security of tenure and long-term planning are essential for the successful management of the forest estate.

 

 

 

 

 

Annex III

 

 

POPULATION (MILLION)

YEAR

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2020

POPULATION

1.065

1.129

1.191

1.24

1.302

1.342

1.376

Source: Central Statistic Office

 

Annex IV

LOCAL PRODUCTION AND IMPORTS OF SAWN TIMBER & FORECAST (2020)

Year

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2020

Local Production

Mostly Conifer

5,110

4,360

3,000

2,800

2,500

2,300

2,000

Imports

Conifer

2,010

3,101

4,596

5,200

6,500

8,000

10,000

Hardwood

28,100

40,510

42,436

45,100

48,500

52,300

58,000

Total (m3)

35,220

47,971

50,032

53,100

57,500

62,600

70,000

Source: Central Statistics Office & Forestry Service

Annex V

PAST TREND AND FORECAST OF IMPORT OF RECONSTITUTED WOOD

ITEM (Tons)

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2020

Plywood

6,287

16,000

22,000

29,000

35,000

45,000

Fibre Board

2,043

6,000

8,000

11,000

14,000

18,000

Particle Board

2,226

5,000

7,000

9,000

12,000

15,000

Veneer Sheet

87

150

170

200

240

300

Source: Central Statistical Office / Forestry Service

Annex VI

PAST TREND AND FORECAST OF IMPORT OF PAPER PRODUCTS

ITEM (Tons)

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2020

Newsprint

4,205

5,000

6,000

7,000

8,000

9,000

Printing & writing Paper

7,540

10,500

12,000

14,000

17,000

20,000

Toilet & Tissue Paper

2,292

3,000

4,000

5,000

7,000

9,000

Kraft Paper

12,829

20,000

22,000

26,000

32,000

40,000

Carton Boxes

2,750

3,000

5,000

6,000

8,000

10,000

Cigarette Paper

256

400

420

450

480

520

Source: Central Statistical Office / Forestry Service

 

Annex VII

TOURIST ARRIVALS

Year

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2020

No. of tourists

291,550

422,463

600,000

750,000

875,000

1,100,000

1,200,000

Source: Central Statistics Office

Annex VIII

IMPORT OF WOODEN FURNITURE & FORECAST

YEAR

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2020

QUANTITY ( UNIT )

41,673

160,000

180,000

220,000

280,000

370,000

CIF VALUE ( Rs. million)

44

150

200

280

400

580

Source: Central Statistics Office / Forestry Service

 

Annex IX

CONSUMPTION OF FIREWOOD – PAST AND FUTURE TRENDS

YEAR

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2020

QUANTITY (m3)

50,725

60,078

10,237

6,200

4,000

3,000

1500

800

Source: Forestry Service

Annex X

CONSUMPTION OF SMALL BRANCHWOOD* – PAST AND FUTURE TRENDS

YEAR

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2020

QUANTITY (m3)

2,000

3,600

5,000

7,000

7,500

7,000

6,000

4,000

Source: Forestry Service

* (Lops & Tops left after logging used in limekilns, sugar factories, poultry litter beds and Hindu cremations)

* (Lops & tops left after logging used in limekilns, sugar factories, poultry litter beds and Hindu cremations)

Annex XI

TOTAL INLAND ENERGY REQUIREMENT (TONNE) – FORECAST

ITEM

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2020

LPG

34,119

44,000

55,000

70,000

82,000

95,000

Gasoline

83,958

94,000

106,000

109,000

120,000

131,000

Kerosene

42,922

28,500

194,000

422,000

687,000

1,055,000

Diesel

120,172

146,000

170,000

197,000

217,000

268,000

Fuel oil

182,746

173,000

169,000

112,000

168,000

128,000

Coal

63,086

276,000

277,500

279,000

281,000

283,000

Bagasse

1,639,810

2,000,000

2,200,000

2,500,000

2,600,000

2,750,000

Source: Central Statistics Office & Forestry Service

 

 

 

Annex XII

 

FORECAST OF LABOUR FORCE

YEAR

NUMBER

2000

838

2005

755

2010

568

2015

228

2020

100

Source: Forestry Service

 

Annex XIII

 

PINE PLANTATIONS THAT CAN BE SUSTAINABLY MANAGED (6000 ha)

 

YEAR 2000

YEAR 2020

AGE (Yrs)

EXT (ha)

EXT (ha)

0 - 5

509

750

6 - 10

675

750

11 - 15

773

750

16 - 20

640

509

21 - 25

2,580

675

26 - 30

823

773

31 - 35

0

640

36 - 40

0

1,153

 

PINE PLANTATIONS AS RESERVES AND PROTECTIVE BELTS (2,770 ha)

YEAR 2000

YEAR 2020

AGE (Yrs)

EXT (ha)

EXT (ha)

26 - 30

1,057

0

31 - 35

1,443

0

36 - 40

164

0

OVER 40

106

2,770

Source: Forestry Service

 

 

 

 

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