2. Current Status of National Forestry Statistics related to Wood-products
The total area of forests in Mauritius is about 50,000ha and 60% of it belongs to the private companies or individuals. However the 20,000ha belonging to the state has a better growing stock and state forests are sustainably managed. Private forests have been over-exploited and are mostly used for deer ranching. Some are gradually being converted to other land uses.
The bulk of timber and other forest products come from Shooting and fishing lands. The Forestry Service is the only government department empowered to sell wood from state owned lands.
Information on timber production is readily available for the public sector, whilst production from the privately owned forest estates is not easily accessible.
2.1. Types of information collected
The whole procedure starts with a senior officer authorising a Range Officer. The country is divided into 4 Ranges to issue cutting permits to contractors (wood exploiters). The nature of the forest produce and the quantum to be issued is specified by the senior officer. The Ranger issues cutting permits in strict accordance with the specifications of the senior officer and their copies are sent to the senior officer, the Internal Controller and the section officer who is charge of the area where timber is to be exploited.
After felling of trees, logs and other small wood obtained are measured according to existing procedures. Details of measurement are entered in a field book and then transferred in a ‘statement of log measurement’ book. The volume is then compiled and the value of the logs calculated as per the price list. The accounts of every contractor are sent to the Range office weekly. The contractors then pay for the value of the forest produce exploited, at the respective Range office and present the receipt of payment to the Forest Rangers. Before delivery of the produce is effected in the forest, it is checked by the Flying Squad and/or the F.R. Internal Examiner and periodically by the Range Officers or the Deputy Forest Rangers.
2.2. Methods of Data Compilation, Validation and Dissemination.
At the end of every month, Forest Rangers compile the total volumes of forest produce sold to contractors working in their respective ranges in the relevant form and submit the information to the Senior Officer who has authorised the exploitation.
The forms are then sent to the Records section. Officers of the records section compile the returns from all the Rangers and prepare a consolidated monthly return for the Ministry. The monthly returns are compiled at the end of each calendar year to reflect the volume of timber and other forest produce sold for the year. This information is included in one chapter of the annual report of the Forestry Service.
The annual report is printed by the Government printer and tabled at the National Assembly, before its circulation to all ministries and other Government organisations. The report is also sent to all commonwealth countries.
2.3. Most important Wood products
2.3.1. Local production
The most important locally produced wood product is sawn logs of Pinus elliottii. The bulk of it is produced from state owned forests. The sawn wood is used mainly for shuttering to cast concrete slabs and columns for small buildings up to (2000M2). The annual local production is about 7000M3
Eucalyptus poles (with base diameter less than 18cm) is used mainly for scaffoldings in the construction industry. The annual production from state lands is about 1,200 M3 and about the same quantity is produced from privately owned forests.
(lops and tops). There is a great demand for the small wood produced after logging. This is converted into wood chips to be used as litter in the poultry farms. The annual production of small wood is about 6,000M3.
The Forestry Service is the major producer of timber in Mauritius. There is only one concessionaire who has an agreement with the Government to buy 4000M3 of timber annually. There are also about 65 licensed wood exploiters who together buy about 3000M3 of timber annually. Some of the wood exploiters run their own sawmills.
The annual imports of wood products for Mauritius are about 1.5 billion rupees (60million USD approx.). A detailed breakdown of the volume, value and origin of imported wood products is given in Annex III. The two main categories are sawnwood and other reconstituted wood and the various types of paper products, which together account for more than 90% of the total imports of wood products.
220.127.116.11.Sawn wood/plywood and Veneers (fibres boards (MDF)
Sawn Hardwoods and reconstituted woods are used mainly in the furniture and joinery industries, which cater for the local market only. Recently, some companies are importing unassembled wooden furniture from the SouthEastern region, mainly Malaysia and Indonesia.
2.4. The most important wood industries in Mauritius
The Furniture/Joinery and Sawmilling activities account for 75% of the 20,000 jobs in the Forest Sector. The following gives a breakdown of the relative importance of the wood industries in Mauritius based on employment.
Industry No. of persons employed
(i) Sawmilling 200
(ii) Wood chips production 50
(iii) Furniture/Joinery 15,000
(iv) Ship Models Manufacturing 500
2.4.1. Sawmilling Industry
There are 2 main sawmills in Mauritius using band saws and about 40 small sawmills, scattered all over the island, using one single circular saw. The total sawmilling capacity in Mauritius is estimated at 20,000 M3. The bulk of the round wood sawn is from locally produced timber. The bigger sawmills import hardwood squares, which are sawn according to specifications from buyers. The total volume of round timber sawn is estimated at 10,000 M3. There is excess installed capacity for the time being.
2.4.2. Wood Chips
There are only two firms that produce wood chips in Mauritius. The total processing capacity is about 10,000 M3 annually. Presently, the production of wood chips is 7000M3
2.4.3. Ship models manufacturing industry
This industry employs about 500 persons. They produce replicas of historically well known vessels with veneers and a limited amount of hardwoods. However, the added value of the product is very high, as there is a high component of manual labour involved. Statistics on production is not readily available.
2.4.5. Furniture/Joinery Industries
The Furniture/Joinery industries employ by far the highest number of persons. There are three main firms which employ about 100 persons each and there are hundreds of small cabinet making units employing between 3 to 20 people, scattered all over the island. The bulk of imported sawnwood (mostly Dipterocarps from S. E. Asia) and plywood/veneers are consumed by this sub-sector. Some of the big firms with high tech woodworking machines produce high quality furniture for the high-income group. However, more than 90% of the industry produces low quality furniture for the population at large. (Statistics are not available at present in quantity produced)
2.5. Evaluation of Data
2.5.1. Data on Local production (Forest produce from state owned lands)
The statistics on production and sale of wood products (Timber, poles, small wood) from the Forestry Service is quite accurate and reliable as there are various controls and checks at every level of the hierarchy. Data on production from privately- owned forests is not readily available as there are no legal provisions at present that compel private forest owners to submit this information.
2.5.2. Data on Imports
The data on imports are favourably accurate. All relevant information on imports and exports is stored at the Customs Department database, which is linked to that of the Central Statistics Office. The Central Statistics Office retrieves information from the Customs Dept. to compile statistics for the various sectors. The information supplied by the Central Statistics Office is quite reliable (although a few human errors have been detected over the past five years). Such errors have been detected after a scrutinised analysis by the Forestry Service.
2.6. Strength and Weaknesses in the existing system of National data collection, analysis and dissemination
The data on production and sale of timber and other forest products from the forest department is very accurate and reliable, as the system of collection is subject to a lot of scrutiny and there are a lot of counter-checks at every level. Furthermore the major part of local production comes from state owned forest lands.
At the level of imports, all data is computerised. As there is no import duty on timber and veneers, the risk of fraudulent entry is minimal. There are also other built-in controls and crosschecking in the system at the Customs Department.
The data supplied by the Central Statistics Office is analysed by the Forestry Service and compared with those of previous years. If certain items are conspicuously out of place or do not conform to the trends of previous years, the Forestry Service requests the Central Statistics Office for a review of the information.
At the level of local production, no data is available from the Private sector.
There is no legal provision which compels private forest owners to submit detailed information on sale of wood products
Both the Primary and Secondary processing industries do not supply information on quantities processed and sold.
Information for a calendar year is supplied by the Customs Department and Central Statistics Office to the Forestry Service by the end of the first quarter of the following year. The information is incorporated in the annual report of the Forestry Service at the end of the 3rd quarter. The draft annual report is sent to the Permanent Secretary for approval before going to the Government printer. A first draft of the text is printed and sent back to the Forestry Service for proof reading before it is finally printed. The document is then tabled at the National Assembly and then circulated to the various Ministries and Departments in Mauritius and to other foreign organisations. The Forestry Service must devise standard formats for each sub-sector, which deals with processing and production of wood products, with a view to having more uniformity and coherence in data presentation. This will in turn render the compilation and analysis easier for the Forestry Service.