TOPICS IDENTIFIED FOR DISCUSSION
a. Are Eucalyptus plantations really hazardous to the environment or not?
b. If there are any negative features how do we minimize them?
c. A review of recent findings.
d. What are the alternatives to Eucalyptus?
e. Identification of gaps and directions.
CONCLUSIONS ON BIO-PHYSICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
Eucalyptus is an efficient biomass producer, it can produce more biomass than many other tree species. It also consumes less water per unit biomass produced than many other species of trees; but as a result of its fast growth and high biomass production Eucalyptus species consume more water than other, less productive species. Growing Eucalyptus in low rainfall areas may cause adverse environmental impacts due to competition for water with other species and an increased incidence of allelopathy. Generally, the areas which receive an annual rainfall of less than about 400 mm are less suitable for Eucalyptus wood production purposes due to this reason.
According to the information available, growing Eucalyptus as such does not cause soil erosion. Soil loss under Eucalyptus plantations has been reported within the acceptable limits (12.6 tons/ha on a 40% slope under 2,500 mm rainfall in West Java).
When Eucalyptus is grown as a short rotation crop for high biomass production and removal, soil nutrients are depleted rapidly.
Eucalyptus foliage and bark contains a large amount of nutrients, and the retention of foliage and debarking of logs at the felling site is therefore a good management practice in order to retain a sufficient amount of nutrients at the site.
Artificial application of fertilizer is an alternative management practice to add nutrients to the soil, particularly for short rotation crops.
Allelopathic effects of Eucalyptus is more prominent in areas with low rainfall (less than 400 mm annually)
Allelopathic effects may have implications when other species are grown near Eucalyptus trees. This is important especially in agro-forestry systems.
The biodiversity of a natural forest and that of a Eucalyptus plantation are not comparable. The natural ecosystems are very diverse, whilst the biodiversity of Eucalyptus plantations is limited.
Pest and Diseases
Termite attacks are common the Region. Susceptibility to this pest varies with the species. Some species such as E. camaldulensis and E. tereticornis are more susceptible than others.
Corticium salmonocolor "Pink disease" is significant for some species in high rainfall areas in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Silviculture and Management
The management process is generally oriented towards the production of maximum biomass, adopting short rotations and intensive management practices, which may result in adverse environmental effects such as soil compaction, soil erosion, nutrient export, pollution and other adverse effects due to the use of fertilizers, weedicides and pesticides, and fire hazards.
Intensive management practices, which may create adverse environmental effects include:
a. Site preparation - use of heavy equipment.
b. Weeding - mechanized, use of weedicides.
c. Protection - chemical pest control.
d. Thinning - mechanized.
e. Harvesting - mechanized .
f. Rotation age - more impacts occur in short rotations and with frequent disturbances to the site.
Breeding of high yield clonal varieties may or may not increase the number of attacks by pests and diseases and require greater inputs. This is common with regard to most plantation species.
Effect on micro-climate
Not unique to Eucalyptus, effects on micro-climate conditions include lowering of the temperature, CO2 fixation, shading etc.
HOW TO MINIMIZE ADVERSE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
(a) Reduce biomass production - by reducing the number of stems per area.
(a) Retention of bark and leaves on the site.
(b) Establishment of cover crops.
(a) Eucalyptus should be grown in areas with moderate to high rainfall. Avoid areas with an annual rainfall below 400 mm. Areas with rainfall 400 - 1200 mm are suitable with careful management. No special precautions are required in areas with rainfall above 1200 mm.
(a) Encourage a mix of species rather than monoculture, where feasible, and establish cover crops or encourage undergrowth.
(b) Use biological rather than chemical pest control.
Impacts due to management:
(a) Site suitability classification - match selection of species and sites, reduce weed competition and thus fire hazard.
(b) Soil cover cropping - for weed control.
(c) Biological control - for pest control.
(d) Harvesting - choice of machinery or manual felling.
(e) Harvesting - leave foliage and bark on the site to retain nutrients.
(f) Fire hazard - not unique to Eucalyptus; organized fire protection systems should be followed.
ALTERNATIVES TO EUCALYPTUS
Miscanthus vinensis giganthu. A fast growing tree indigenous to China. Biomass production is reported to equal 60 tons/ha/year.
IDENTIFICATION OF KNOWLEDGE GAPS
The following areas were identified as knowledge gaps with regard to Eucalyptus. More emphasis should be given to implementing research in these areas.
(a) Matching of species, provenances and sites.
(b) Species mixture. To identify Eucalyptus and other species combinations.
(c) Nutrient cycling of Eucalyptus in poor soils vis-a-vis good soils.
(d) Tree breeding leading to improved seed and vegetative sources.
(e) Optimum stocking on specific sites - in order to balance environmental impacts and biomass production.
(f) Eucalyptus plantations as a habitat for wildlife.
Agroforestry system with Eucalyptus and
Royal Forestry Department plantation, Thailand
Review of country situations reveals that, in general, there is no objection to planting of eucalypts from the social point of view. It is also accepted that its planting is economically viable. However, Eucalyptus planting has been blamed for social impacts when taken up on public land occupied by peasants and also when natural forests are cleared for raising plantations to meet the needs of industries. This has also been the case when the eucalypt planting is taken up in community areas formerly used for meeting fodder needs, or when people depending on the area were not consulted. In certain cases, particularly in social forestry programmes, it was a mistake not to have considered the influence of market forces, due to which project objectives were jeopardized.
Plantations of eucalypts have provided relief to the rural people by meeting their needs for firewood and small timber, otherwise obtained from natural forests resulting in a reduction in the rate of depletion of natural forests. This has also meant that less labour is required for collection of fuel, an activity often carried out by women.
Eucalypt planting has acted as a buffer against financial crisis for many poor farmers on land unsuited to sustainable agriculture. As a result, in many developing countries, the area of private planting is much greater than that planted by government departments or industries.
Eucalyptus plantations help increase job opportunities both in planting and in downstream industries, when taken up on non-agricultural lands.
Mis-information about eucalypts, particularly among the city elites and some NGOs has been causing problems for farmers interested in planting Eucalyptus trees.
In many countries, regulating disincentives imposed by the government restrict the planting of fast growing trees including eucalypts. In some of these countries a relaxation of these restrictions has resulted in large scale plantings of eucalypts. Meeting the raw material needs of forest industries with Eucalyptus wood should not be disregarded.
Small farmers in some countries are faced by marketing problems when they try to sell their products. They are also exploited by middlemen and industries.
In regions, in which diversion of land earlier under agriculture to eucalypt plantations has resulted in reducing employment opportunity, intensive cultivation practices providing gainful employment with improved returns may be encouraged.
Many of the social issues associated with Eucalyptus spp. plantings are the result of its introduction on public or communal land without consulting the people on their priorities. Particular care must be taken in aspects concerning the needs of the landless people who previously enjoyed free access to these sites for wood and non-wood supplies and whose rights are curtailed by the plantation programme. Providing a stake in such plantations to these people will reduce social conflicts.
In the case of encroachment by subsistence farmers upon government lands, land tenure may be settled with the occupants with a condition that agroforestry or tree farming should be practiced, instead of enforcing eviction and undertaking planting of eucalypts for industrial use. Eucalypt farming to produce mixed end products assures better returns, particularly to small farmers in developing countries.
In is preferable to use indigenous species if these serve the same objectives as well as the exotics. Their acceptability is normally better.
It should be asserted that pollution control measures be implemented fully in forest based industries; blame is often apportioned to eucalypts.
Public appraisal of plantation projects proposed by the government, industries and companies would be useful. This will help to reduce inequities.
Most controversies on the subject of eucalypts are due to lack of dissemination of the available data and information concerning all aspects of eucalypts. Both the positive and the negative ecological, economic and social aspects should be made widely known.
POTENTIALS AND THE NEED TO SECURE MAXIMUM RETURNS
In many developing countries, ecological degradation is the direct result of denudation of tree cover for use as wood fuel and from shifting cultivation. Extensive areas of land not under any use, such as eroded areas, land with brackish or saline soil etc., are also found in many countries of the Region. Tree planting with suitable eucalypt species will serve the multiple purpose of rehabilitating the degraded land, helping to meet the biomass needs of the people and, thereby, halting further reduction of the tree cover elsewhere.
Quality planting material of eucalypts is lacking in most countries. Private enterprise should be encouraged to produce such material, particularly to meet the needs of farmers.
Research on tree breeding to produce genetically improved, high quality planting material with high potential with regard to industrial and non-industrial produce is lacking. This research should be promoted to improve the economics and to provide social benefits.
Potentials offered by eucalypts in the production of honey, mushrooms and oil are not explored in many countries. This should be rectified.
BENEFITS TO LOCAL COMMUNITIES
In many developing countries, in which firewood meets the fuel needs of a large sector of the population, the easy establishment of eucalypts on degraded or poor soils with fast rate of growth and with coppicing power, have proved to be of immense benefit to rural communities. Additionally, whether grown on government land or on private farms, lops and tops of eucalypts have been a welcome source of fuel for the poorest sector. It is suggested that, in the case of government plantations, lops and tops, which form about 25% of the above ground biomass, should be made available to the poor and landless people within the community.
DEVELOPMENT OF PROCESSING AND MARKETING
The use of immature wood of some eucalypts as poles and timber is sometimes difficult because of inherent problems associated with its fast rate of growth. Many of these problems have now been solved through research but the technologies yet remain to be transmitted to the people. This needs urgent attention.
Marketing imperfections abetted by restrictive government regulations pose problems in disposal of produce in some regions. Such regulations should be removed to encourage tree planting. Market imperfections can be overcome by price support, particularly to small farmers, or by promoting cooperatives for the disposal of their produce at remunerative prices.
The group recognized that sound policies on manmade forest development cannot be formulated in isolation. These policies must be considered within the framework of national forest policies, which include principles on natural forest conservation and sustainable utilization, watershed management, rehabilitation of degraded forest lands, community/social forestry development, forest land use and allocation, promotion of sound forest industries (from small, local cottage industries to large ones), forestry research and education, legislation, etc. They are a part of the broader framework of national economic and social development policies, especially those related to sustainable natural resource management, equity and poverty alleviation, employment creation, reduction of population pressures, and people's participation in development.
The group noted that generally, policies on manmade forest development should have four major aims, namely to:
i) meet increasing demands of timber, fuelwood, fodder, fibre, paper, etc. (production issues);
ii) reduce heavy pressure on natural forests (protection/conservation issues);
iii) contribute to community development (social and economic issues); and
iv) rehabilitate and restore damaged forest ecosystems in a place where natural recovery cannot be foreseen within a short period (environmental issues).
The group also recognized that national forest policies, including policies on manmade forests, have considerable areas of overlap, inter-connections, and interaction among the main issues affecting the effective policy formation within and outside the forestry sector, especially with national land use and agriculture policies. Therefore, it may not be practical to find solutions to one issue without considering linked problems. In many cases of manmade forests for production of industrial raw material, issues are immediately linked with not only a national economy but also the international economy. Thus, there are risks and opportunities.
Under such circumstances, the group underlined that the introduction of fast-growing species including Eucalyptus species in reforestation and afforestation programmes has been highlighted. The group discussed given subjects in a general framework of manmade forests, but the majority of group members assumed that issues on eucalypt plantations are included in this framework.
Firstly, the group urged discussions on some guiding principles as follows:
1) There is an urgent need in the Region for the review and updating of national land use and forest policies in order to ensure that they are socially fair, economically viable and environmentally sound.
2) Policies should include the protection and regeneration of natural forests and better utilization and improvement of marginal and degraded lands.
3) An important feature of such policies is to increasingly involve local people in the participatory protection, management and utilization of all kinds of forests and common lands.
4) In the decision making process, each level of local communities affected by reforestation and afforestation policies, strategies and programmes should either be consulted or involved with a full set of information related.
5) The benefits to, and the fulfillment of the basic requirements of, local communities should be regarded as a top priority.
MAJOR POLICY ISSUES AND STRATEGIES ON SOUND DEVELOPMENT OF MANMADE FORESTS
The group recognized the following major highlighted below and made recommendations with regard to strategies to be implemented:
1) Legal arrangement of land tenure and ownership should be clarified.
2) The potential role of alternative forms of land use in degraded natural forests and on marginal land should be sought.
3) Sustainable land use in forests and forest fringes be considered.
4) Promotion of Agroforestry on private lands is one of the most important approaches to increase the productivity of the land and thus to release pressure on the natural forests.
Creation and management of forest plantations
1) Choice of species including Eucalyptus being planted on private land should be made by land owners (farmers and private companies) in relation to site and end use objective. As a guiding principle, it is necessary at the outset of any reforestation project to determine the principal purpose and to maintain awareness of this purpose (objective) throughout.
2) On community forest and other common land, choice of species should be made to fulfill the basic needs of local communities and to match the sites available.
3) Use of genetically superior planting materials (seeds and plants) should be seriously considered, particularly for wood production on farms. Noting the great potential to multiply production levels, the slow reaction from traditional Forest Services to supply these materials, and the positive contribution evident in private enterprises, the Group recommends that:
i) traditional Forest Service tree breeding programmes be reviewed and directed to supplying source material of superior genetic stock for private multiplication of the relevant species, cultivators etc. for tree farming programmes;
ii) international agencies extend their mandate to encompass private industry tree improvement research and development programmes;
iii) international aid be redirected to the centers showing the greatest potential for early return on tree breeding investments.
1) Diversification of the end products should be considered in the development of plantation forests.
2) Shifting of the emphasis from industrial products to non-wood forest products (NWFP) in community/social forestry programmes.
3) Some fast-growing tree species, in particular eucalypts, have the same characteristics as agricultural cash crops and should be treated accordingly.
1) Decentralisation and transfer of responsibilities for the management of manmade forests from government agencies to local communities, user groups, and private enterprises of various kinds.
2) Promotion of domestic processing of and value-adding activities regarding harvested timber and NWFP can greatly contribute to enhancing the socio-economic conditions of local communities. It can create, increase and/or diversify job opportunities and income sources.
3) Economic viability is essential for sustainable management (or operation). Thus, it is necessary to maintain suitable techniques and improvements for marketing the products. Consideration should be given to expanding potential markets.
4) Economic returns may be enhanced by establishing large scale plantations.
5) Promotion of rural organizations such as tree growers cooperative should be strongly encouraged.
Institutional arrangements for financial support and security
1) Tree growing farmers, cooperatives and private companies should be provided with a package of incentives, including: tax reduction or exemption, land tenure, lease agreement and/or land entitlement.
2) They should also have facilities of subsidies, credit and insurance for guaranteeing the security and sustainability of production activities. The same applies to agroforestry schemes.
1) Amelioration of existing legislation obstacles is needed to encourage sustainable and effective management of plantation forests.
2) To further facilitate the production, harvesting and marketing of forest products, appropriate legislation systems are most essential.
Research supports and information services
1) Research is needed in the fields of bio-physical and environmental factors, social and economic impacts of manmade forests, including eucalypts.
2) Capacity/capability building programmes should be developed in the government organizations, universities, forest research institutes, private sector, and NGOs.
3) Research results should be provided to every user group in an easy-to-understand media form, including translation into local languages, and by practical approach such as on-the-job training.
4) Such services should be expanded by extension services.