1. Management team
2. Policy options
3. Technical options
4. Implementation and monitoring of the management scheme
5. Evaluation of the management scheme
The management of a particular forest presupposes that there are actors, and, in line with this theatrical terminology, individual roles, together with a director.
However, any approach by analogy is suspect and it will be dangerous to push too far this metaphor, whose relevance is essentially due to the intimate nature of the theatre. But speaking of a director, it may not be inappropriate, but at most a matter of argument, to identify him with the management team: a director who knows how to work alone and impose his authority, but at the same time is able to move with the times, hear his actors out has the capacity to adapt and even rewrite the script in order to guarantee its long-term success.
This team of managers will develop in terms of its composition (multidisciplinary), its work (knowledge of the natural environment, the socio-economic object, management and monitoring) and its role (as the spokesperson with the political and local government authorities, the local people, the management bodies).
The forest management activities will form part of the major stages of commencing the operation, carrying out the survey, implementing the management scheme, and organizing the monitoring and follow-up.
Lastly, the script: this must contain all the texts for analysis, synthesis, programming, budgeting in economic and financial terms and forecasting, and can be organized today by two computerized tools: relational databases and the GIS.
It has been decided to set out the guidelines under five headings:
- management team;
- policy options;
- technical options;
- implementation and monitoring of the management scheme; and
- evaluation of the management scheme.
1.1 A multidisciplinary team
1.3 An evolving team
Three elements must be taken into account: the team must be multidisciplinary which is capable of holding dialogue and co-operating with very different partners (research, administration, the local people) and it must be evolutionary, between the start-up, surveying, implementation and monitoring phases.
The team should comprise an initial technical unit embracing all the skills required in the areas of forestry, livestock husbandry and socio-economy. A second unit which comprising a project head and a manager would be in charge of administration management and direction, and lastly, the team should be concluded with a logistical support unit comprising the Secretariat and computer-skilled staff.
a) The role of the technical unit
Its role is obviously to carry out the studies and surveys in order to become better acquainted with the environment embracing the whole field as dealt with in the second part of this document and to propose management scenarios.
It is important for the working methods that are adopted to encourage exchanges and interdisciplinary approaches. More specifically, the logistical support unit must propose tools that are able to take part in these synergies. The GIS and relational bases can provide the keys to this approach.
b) The role of the administration, direction and management unit
This manages, in the administrative and financial sense of that term. It must be capable of drawing up budgets, evaluating the costs of various management options and the revenues associated with different management scenarios.
It directs the whole team, to the extent that it guarantees that the project operates properly and complies with the programmes.
It holds discussions with local administrators, fund donors and the local population or those affected by the forest management scheme during co-ordination activities when undertakings are required. It guarantees that relations between the management team and the local people are in compliance with the procedures adopted by the project. This central position in organizing dialogue and disseminating information is particularly important.
c) The role of the logistical support unit
Using appropriate computerized facilities (relational databases and GIS), this unit analyses and synthesizes the information. Its effectiveness depends upon its capacity to trigger off an interdisciplinary approach in conjunction with the technical team. Apart from this traditional function it must also realize that it is the memory of the management scheme. This means that it must provide the other members of the team and the present and future partners with flexible, user-friendly and well-informed tools that will enable them to monitor and understand the way in which decisions and choices are organized and handled.
Dialogue, interviews and concerted action are essential in the method proposed here. These are sensitive activities and it is essential to master the practice of them, otherwise there is a risk of obtaining doubtful information and co-ordination will not be clearly spelled out. The difficulty stems from the fact that there are many diverse partners with whom to dialogue, but also the fact that they are either suppliers of information or agents involved in management. In other words they are dealt with either on a question and answer basis or within the framework of concerted action which must lead to a compromise. The patrimonial approach and negotiation with all the agents involved are essential prerequisites.
It is therefore important for the management team to weigh up these problems properly and identify everyone involved, working according to a sufficiently strict protocol and code of professional conduct.
As the team was envisaged in paragraph 2.1, it must temporarily be reinforced by involving specific skills. For example a specialist in wildlife, a botanist, a geographer, a biometrician, etc. This means that it must have set up a network of correspondents in the area of research or development which it can consult according to its needs.
The training activities must not be neglected. They are intended for the partners who will be led to play important roles during the management phase, and technicians from the forestry services and perhaps even students.
The team that will be in charge of monitoring the development activities must be set up either from members of the management team itself, or those whom it has trained. If all the forests in a particular country are placed under management, simplified and more economical methods must be adopted.
2.1 Local management and national development
2.2 Involve all the partners in the long term
2.3 Training and the development of forestry systems
2.4 Seeking self-financing
2.5 Global resource upholding
The political options that we shall be discussing now relate to the general principles of approach designed to fit within a framework of sustainable and integrated management. This does not mean that it is a set of commandments (which may prove not to be suitable for all situations), but it involves highlighting a number of distinctive benchmarks in the debate.
It has been said several times that forest management must form part of a broader action involving land use planning. But this is a system which can be extremely complex in terms of its incorporation into a broader context because harmonization is necessary between different parties (forestry, agriculture, urbanization, public works, industrialization, etc.) and at different levels (nation-wide, local). This is a factor of coherence, but often of inertia, to the point that once they are tackled head-on, these problems might in fact be the root cause of failure. A number of ways have been suggested which involve democratization and decentralization. But apart from the fact that they only provide a favourable framework, they are not always easy to implement.
One could suggest to the mere manager, without any political authority or substantial financial facilities, three precautions to be observed in order to ensure that his work is properly incorporated:
* Take proper account of national programme documents and texts regarding development and physical planning, and where they exist in particular NFAPs or NEAP. These programme documents will make it possible to see where the work fits in and extend it.
* Make contact with all the other management initiatives currently being implemented, and with the groups, associations and organizations working on forestry issues in order to promote an exchange of information and to harmonize their approaches. This proposal might seem modest and even superficial, but considering the fact that certain projects that are working in close proximity remain completely ignorant of one another, suggests that it may not be useless.
* Seeking solutions closely related to the actions they intend to support, without requiring major institutional changes. For example, amending a small number of carefully chosen regulations may make it possible to find the proper legal setting for new political options, such as the firewood trade and transport. It is preferable to do this rather than try to change the forest or the rural code, whose drafting is a very lengthy and painstaking process.
On many occasions, the opportunity has arisen to recall that sustainable forest management forms part of the contractual framework of a compromise, which is discussed and elaborated with all the partners involved. Furthermore, this desire is found in most criteria and indicators systems currently under debate.
It is not necessary to return to this principle. However, less emphasis has been placed on the fact that this compromise arrangement forms part of a long-term strategy, in a context which one hopes will develop, and which is therefore in movement. The management plan must take account of potential developments. It is less certain that it will manage to govern them. It must therefore be flexible and adaptable without challenging any of the principles or its purpose. This presupposes that dialogue with the partners can be sustained. This point is re-examined below in paragraph 5, devoted to monitoring.
For a long time the relationship between the forestry services and the rural population was based upon that of governors and governed. Over this last decade there have been far-reaching changes in the practices of certain forestry administrations in the tropical countries. The forester is no longer viewed merely as a forest warden. He is now being asked to play a much wider role with greater social responsibility (group promotion, training, advice, etc.) in direct partnership with the local people.
This development is necessary if the objectives of sustainable management are to be attained. To do this, major vocational training efforts must be deployed. The forest management operations can be useful in this endeavour by incorporating a training programme in their objectives as a consequential and priority issue. Obviously these operations can and must be implemented by involving in the approach teams of researchers and forest managers working with the same spirit.
Note 1: In the dry tropical forest zones, it is rare to find scientific skills. They are sometimes non-existent in the forestry services themselves, and it is important that an effort be made to ensure that a real sustainable development policy can be implemented. Management projects can work towards this by taking in young researchers or young engineers. Any rational management undertaking must involve a training and research operation.
Note 2: One of the difficulties in management is the confrontation between many different actors and many different uses for the same resource and the same forest area. To deal with this kind of difficulty, effective techniques have been developed over recent years (still poorly disseminated in the dry zones) consisting essentially in seeking common long-term objectives shared by all the actors involved in forest development.
As a matter of fact, serious conflicts can be settled by moving beyond the short and medium term, because in this way the parties taking part in the negotiation can act independently of the technical options which are personal to them and which they are ready to defend. When the common long-term objectives have been negotiated, organizational and technical solutions which might have been difficult to accept earlier may emerge.
These negotiations make it possible, for example within the framework of decentralizing renewable resource management, to enable negotiations to take place between government, communities and local facilities in order to contract the sustainable and viable management of these resources.
If the government wishes to manage substantial areas of forest land, the technical solutions must be financially reasonable. This objective has direct repercussions on the technical options to be taken into account and is certainly one of the greatest technical challenges facing the coming years. For unless the international community is able to marshal considerable funding, it would appear difficult to count on any perennial development schemes which are not partly self-financing.
The example of Nigers new forestry policy shows that costs of around US$10 per ha can, under certain organizational circumstances, ensure a satisfactory return.
In order to attain the objective of having economical and economically sustainable management schemes, persons with sufficient financial skills to be able to evaluate the costs and the returns on different management scenarios should be made members of the management team. They need:
- recognition by the local people as being essential partners in the prior negotiations within the framework of the patrimonial approach;
- simplified administrative procedures and institutional arrangements;
- standardized methods making it possible to propose a minimum framework within which to invent the flexibility of local solutions;
- reduced management costs in order to ensure replicability at nation-wide level.
Forest management must not propose options which may threaten the production capacity and biological diversity of the forests or silvo-pastoral lands. This does not mean that these lands are rigidly unchangeable in their structure. The notion of intact unity must be understood globally, and should not prevent developments and partial transformations. This bias towards global guarantee of forest resources is opposed to the total conservation of the forest, but it may be the only way to conserve the quasi-wholeness of forest potential and environmental functions.
This approach is only conceivable if it does not lead to irreversible situations which only provide temporary solutions.
3.1 Technical options associated with the social sciences
3.2 Technical options associated with the forestry approach
3.3 Technical options associated with livestock
It is impossible to approach the technical options from three points of view, namely those of the specialists of the social sciences, forestry and livestock. All share the same principles:
- a dynamic knowledge of the environment and its potential;It is clear that this apparent linearity is a decoy. All these activities belong to a complex and comprehensive approach but to a certain extent the distinction between them makes it possible to identify certain stages in management work.
- an evaluation in terms of the global context and know-how of possible development proposals;
- confronting within the framework of a multidisciplinary, integrated and sustainable approach, all the constraints associated with each management option;
- the search for methods for practical implementation and monitoring; and
- economic, administrative and regulatory evaluation.
Approaching the populations, mainly those who have settled in the forest and peri-forest zone, must be undertaken before any other field activity can take off.
a) Need for negotiation
The local populations must be rapidly located and described in terms of their structures. Their activities, particularly those associated with their relationship with the forest, must be identified. This initial approach is a matter of urgent priority, but it cannot be finalized immediately. It has to be refined as the study proceeds.
The objectives of the management project must be disclosed to the people. No field action involving knowledge of the biological, physical and in part economic environment should be undertaken until this first phase is completed.
b) Main areas of study undertaken by the social sciences
The following avenues of study may be identified in the field of social sciences:
- the appropriation and use of the forest;In some cases other ways can be explored, particularly when the region is a place of large migration flows.
- the weight of administrative, regulatory and customary constraints;
- the economic disciplines associated with forest use; and
- the place of other activities, whether agricultural, industrial, commercial, etc.
The methods and tools available for dealing with these different points have been seen in Chapter VIII and therefore they shall not be mentioned here. It should be recalled though that this approach must not be purely descriptive but also analytic and systemic.
c) Conflict identification
There are many conflicts. It is necessary to objectively evaluate their magnitude and rank them according to the degree to which they are unlikely to be settled. Conflicts concern:
- breakdown of the activities of the same user;At a given moment, except in periods of instability, all the conflicts typify a state of balance. To study it, it is necessary both to carry out an individual and a global analysis. The same applies to seeking solutions. Some conflicts can be solved by taking a regulatory approach, others by putting into place new local organizations, by providing financial incentives or by seeking common long-term objectives. All these solutions must be envisaged but it is only in their overall consistency that the final proposals should be found.
- users among themselves;
- users and the forest, in terms of its physical and biological nature;
- users and the administration; and
- users and commercial channels.
This latter stage directly precedes the management proposals.
d) Organizing the actors
Apart from their role of analysing the socio-economic object, the social sciences have another function. They must make it possible to identify the groups and the future organizations which will guarantee the continuity in time of the compromise made when the management plan was put in place, as a result of their commitment to it. Forest management certainly broadens the debate to all the partners, but at the same time it modernizes the social space and should encourage the emergence of new responsibilities. The social sciences are able to make a powerful contribution to identifying them.
As far as forest management is concerned, recent developments have emphasized the importance of the human factor and of biodiversity (a notion difficult to measure and control). This recentring is sometimes carried out to the detriment of the forestry approach and the efforts to be made in order to acquire an indispensable knowledge of the forest, and its capacities and potential. It is an exaggerated risk. There can be no sustainable forest management unless one gains mastery in comprehending the quality of the forest area.
a) Knowledge of the forest environment
The importance of clearly characterizing and describing the environment has already been stressed. In Chapter VI there is an inventory of tools and means available for doing so. There are two points that deserve being mentioned and integrated. Knowledge of the forest environment must be gathered in conjunction with specialists:
- from the social sciences - taking account of the zones and the non-wood products associated with different uses; andb) Evaluating the stand dynamics
- livestock - the simultaneous characterization of the wood and grass resource, taking account of the range lands.
Numerous experiences have shown that the most dangerous shortcomings have not been so much due to the capacity or otherwise of carrying through one particular type of silvicultural scheme, or preserving certain forms of biodiversity or even reaching a compromise between the users, but rather in the difficulty of deciding the regeneration and replenishment capacities of the stands. In practice, this shortcoming translates into poor evaluation of the rotation period and of the cutting unit, etc., as well as in risks of shortage or loss of value of the resource. This demands very careful attention. If the methods proposed do not make it possible to carry out an exact estimate, when management choices are made it is necessary to act according to the principle of prudence and to put into place a monitoring system which will make possible if necessary to adapt the options that have been decided upon.
Supposing a stands mean annual increment estimated at 3m3/ha/year, applying this principle of caution would mean putting in place a provisional management plan based on a lower mean annual increment of 2.5 or 2.0 m3/ha/year.
Except in areas with little anthropogenic influence, zoning (namely the spatial organization of forest uses) is advisable even though certain activities such as tourism take different approaches.
This notion covers two different things. Firstly, the distribution of forest resources between the users or groups of users, and secondly the organization within a given area of a particular harvest. The second aspect has to do mainly with firewood harvesting in time and in space.
In the first case, and from a theoretical point of view, it is not a priori necessary to envisage a single type of zoning associating territories and users. Within a silvo-pastoral framework this would be an extravagant approach at all events. One may therefore consider multi-zoning approaches, involving fuelwood, grazing lands, hunting, and forest products allotments. One may conceive, but it is rather unlikely that such a solution will be envisaged because it gives rise to endless conflicts and disputes. In practice, it is during the course of negotiation that these difficulties can be overcome, and it must be possible to put into place two zoning plans to structure the land around the two most important end uses: fuelwood/firewood harvesting and livestock breeding.
Regarding the second aspect of zoning which leads to subjecting firewood logging to a progressive harvesting scheme within a compartment layout, it is an inevitable choice if one wishes to optimize, monitor and accompany harvesting through a silvicultural technique.
d) Logging regime and accompanying silvicultural methods
The choice of a logging regime depends on the type of forest and the objectives. For forests whose main product is timber, the rule will be high forest or coppice-with-standards. In the less dry zones of these forests, regeneration cutting can be through regeneration cutting provided that the crowns and the branches are left on the ground in order to cover it.
In the case of forests which are mainly sources of fuelwood or fodder, the simple coppice system with clear-cutting will be replaced by the coppice selection system, provided that the forest is not already overharvested. This form of harvesting through wood gathering, small-wood rummaging or by large wood selection and by topping and pruning park trees is wholly appropriate, provided that the volumes harvested do not exceed the current production. Around the large towns and in all the overharvested forests, the simple coppice system should be adopted excluding fruit trees, fodder trees and medicinal trees.
Rotation must be suited to each particular case. The forest manager will ensure that he studies the environment before laying down any rules of the kind that have currently been adapted to suit the forest at Tientiergou (Niger), namely:
- In a firewood production zone, a ten-year rotation should be adopted, in which shrubs with a basal diameter in excess of 6-8 cm would be subjected to the coppice selection system, depending upon the fuelwood species (Part Four, Case Study No 4).The forest manager will ensure that simple silvicultural operations are used, studied jointly with the populations neighbouring the forest and tailored around their own expertise:
- The extraction of timber will concern species with a basal diameter of over 35 cm (equivalent to 25 cm diameter at 1.3 m height). If, however, the forest is seriously degraded, the rotation period shall be longer, with improvement planting/seeding of forest clearings followed by a grazing exclusion period. The golden rule is to harvest less than the allowable cut (the principle of prudence mentioned earlier).
- The choice of the period and the optimum height of the cut, from the physiological point of view, the optimum period would seem to be during the vegetation rest period, namely in the dry season. This must also take account of the cropping calendar particularly in regions where seasonal shortages of labour may arise. Cutting shall be level with the ground in order to encourage the emergence of proventitious sprouts.After felling, the grazing exclusion period will be reduced in order to meet the needs of both, livestock breeders and pastoralists. When the carrying capacity is in a state of balance with the environment, a deferred grazing period of 6-10 months can be envisaged in the specific case where regeneration is implemented through vegetative reproduction (sprouts, root suckers). In timber production forests, the protection period (grazing exclusion) envisaged is three years. Vegetative reproduction of priority species by sprouting and root suckers should be investigated longer in order to reduce the period of grazing exclusion, which penalizes livestock breeders and pastoral people on the move.
- Release-cutting of certain stump sprouts may encourage the growth of selected shoots, but it is too early to advocate any rules for this. This may be advised at 12 to 18 months after the cut.
- Abandoned fallow lands can be converted using potted plants or the stumps of fast-growing species (including nitrogen-fixing species).
- Direct seeding is rarely advisable, in view of the great deal of protection this requires to prevent them from being destroyed.
- In timber forests, the results seem to show that selective thinning can increase the growth in diameter of some heliophilous (sun-loving) species. One can imagine that thinning will be all the more beneficial if the tree benefiting from this operation is young, but there is no real proven experience in dry tropical zones.
It has been shown that bush fires are harmful. Nevertheless in the Sudano-Guinean regions, annual early bush fires are prescribed for various reasons (except on poor soils):
- It is rarely possible to suppress all fires. But a late violent fire is always harmful to logging contractors (productivity and shape of the bole negatively affected) and very often it is harmful to livestock producers.Fires in the Sahelian regions of Africa, are less frequent because the grass cover is essentially made up of annual species which do not regrow following exposure to fire. In view of this, early fires must be strictly prohibited.
- Early prescribed bush fires, associated with high but brief (non-continuous) livestock densities, make it possible to preserve sufficient land for grazing purposes: This helps conserve savannas which will otherwise convert to forests.
In the intermediate zones, total protection against fire (in terms of early fires) considerably reduces the biomass of the annual grasses.
Lastly, the forest manager must help and manage wildlife in every case in which the work of the social sciences has led to a long-term agreement between users and beneficiaries. Sightseeing tourism, of which there are many examples, is certainly a major factor not only for development but also for maintaining biodiversity. Setting up sanctuaries for wild animals (and for flora) is an essential component of forest management.
Livestock is relevant to two types of management: extensive (the majority case) using range lands and transhumance (flock on the move); and livestock husbandry associated with agriculture. These two aspects of livestock breeding are obviously quite different, and are often in conflict. In many places, they are also evolving as a result of the sedentary trend of certain livestock producers and of the progress achieved in agricultural polyvalence. It will be necessary to draw a sharp distinction between these two types of livestock farming.
a) Knowledge of herding activities and the related needs
From the point of view of fodder, it was already mentioned above (4.2.) that this should be evaluated at the same time as forest resources. In Chapters VI and VII emphasis was placed on the need to qualify and quantify the value of fodder and to distinguish it in terms of its herbaceous or woody origin.
It should also be added that the health status of the herds must be taken into account as well, and that the siting of the water points and access roads must be registered necessarily, and the pastures and alternatives to them must be known and positioned in space and in time.
Knowledge in terms of livestock husbandry associated with agriculture must not be neglected.
When studying animal husbandry, it is necessary to identify the livestock producers first. The social sciences are responsible for these particularly difficult studies because of the very nature of the activity and the local character of forest management in relation to the pastures scoured (visited) by the herds. There is no doubt that this issue is important in so far as forest management must help groups of animal breeders emerge, that are capable of taking part in concerted operations to manage the silvo-pastoral lands.
The social sciences must be used to ensure that every local development scheme is a tailor-made solution, geared to local requirements and specifics.
b) A few principles to be followed
In order to manage the silvo-pastoral land, it is necessary to:
- Ensure that the range lands are kept sufficiently large for the free movement of the herds. Cattle move within a range of 15 km to graze. One must avoid parcelling out range lands as well as selecting managed areas that are impassable, because if pastoral areas available were reduced this would be likely to increase the difficulties in dry periods.All of this presupposes that the interest groups are organized and that they designate representatives capable of playing their part in the joint management of the silvo-pastoral lands. The emergence of groups of herders and literate representatives is something that should be strongly encouraged. The forest managers will also be responsible for fostering technical innovation and development and putting into place appropriate facilities and infrastructures. The government must ensure that individual or private actions are performed in a way that will guarantee the sustainability of the natural heritage. It must also arbitrate between the contradictory interests of landowners, private corporations and management projects.
- Conserve tranhumance possibilities, and the possibilities of changing grazing regimes where necessary. This is one way of improving production security whatever the circumstances. In principle, the pastoralists try to avoid overgrazing because they know that this has repercussions on the performance of their livestock. Above all, however, they seek to defend their freedom of movement.
- Ensure that there is no imbalance between the carrying capacity of a range land and the actual livestock stocking density. Fodder production is comparatively unpredictable in arid and semi-arid zones. It is more regular in humid and sub-humid zones Whether on private or communal (community) range land, it is very important to control the animal stocking rate at all times. The more arid the climate and the more intense the pressure from grazing, the slower it is for degraded vegetation to recover. Indeed, the process may be irreversible.
- Because water access is one of the fundamental concerns of herdsmen, it is essential to resort to adequate management of livestock drinking water sources in order to optimize animal distribution on range lands, improve the fluidity of seasonal movements and keep animals away from fragile sites and areas under protection.
- Maintain a satisfactory balance between grass and tree covers. Foresters must accept that the trees be fairly spaced out, or even deformed by the livestock, in order to leave room for grass to grow. Herdsman must understand the benefits which trees can provide and therefore show respect for them. This more or less unstable and artificial balance (particularly in the savannas) is not necessarily in contradiction with the maintenance of both plant and animal diversity and it means that the ecosystem can be put to a variety of different uses.
- Ensure that grazing on the fields after harvesting is included in the pastoral circuits in order to browse on the straw and plant residues.
Forest management is the result of many negotiations among different parties. These transactions take the shape of different contractual, regulatory and organizational forms. The implementation of a management scheme is the concrete form of this evolution, but moving away from past and old practices to a new practice cannot be done by waving a magic wand. Implementing a management scheme requires preparation and often accompanying measures as well as particular forms of support. It may even be necessary to implement it gradually. Over this period, greater support should be supplied. The management team, organized in order to understand and propose must develop towards accompaniment and vocational training. The score is now written, but the orchestra needs to rehearse. If the rightful place is not given to this phase and its importance is not properly appreciated, particularly where the forestry services are often disorganized or even absent altogether, many forest management projects run the risk of failure despite all the brilliant and suitable proposals made.
During this take-off phase, which is crucial, there must be no ambiguity about the identity of those responsible for implementing the management plan. The case studies examined below differ on this particular point above all (different agents/actors and officials).
Controlling the implementation of the plan is the key to the success of the whole operation because it is not a question of merely carrying out supervision. Above all it involves monitoring and analysing the relevance of the plan to the evolution of external and internal constraints (the wood market, the state of the stands, demography) in order to investigate all the changes that may be made to the management plan. A management plan is not static, and must be regularly reviewed in terms of the data collected throughout its implementation.
By having available tools in order to monitor the management plan, one is able to ascertain the relevance of the decisions taken and if necessary revise them as the context evolves. The monitoring tools must be sought when establishing criteria and indicators which are adapted to the local structure being studied.
Implementing and monitoring a management scheme are both fully part of the management plan itself. They must have been foreseen and negotiated, carefully appointing the officials responsible, among others, for supervision and monitoring (for example the management team).
The evaluation of a management scheme may partly be confused with its monitoring/supervision. In principle, evaluation is not an ongoing activity like monitoring. It is concerned more with the results than with the procedures and, above all, must be carried out by recognized, external experts or entities which are authorized and trained. The purpose is to validate or invalidate gains achieved in terms of the principles and precautions indicated below, and to redirect the management plan where necessary.
The criteria and indicators being elaborated, which still require testing in the dry tropical zones, must be the essential benchmark for any evaluation once they have been accepted and agreed upon by different countries and placed, for example, under the aegis of the Commission for Sustainable Development, set up by the 1992 Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro.
While waiting for this to be done, a number of principles and precautions may be used to guide evaluation.
The success of a management plan may be gauged by quantifiable data: number of rural markets created; area protected; livestock population; and carrying capacity of the grazing lands wildlife sanctuaries, etc. But it is not possible to elude the following two questions: What does it cost? What will the return be?
An evaluation cannot be objective unless the supervision and the monitoring of the management scheme have been carried out on a continuous basis at the level of the costing of the different operations and the income-expenditure balance sheet. For example:
- The cost of silvicultural operations, such as thinning must be very carefully calculated because the effects (if any) will emerge during the second or third rotation following implementation of the activity itself. A simple economic calculation would probably show that, even with a limited discount rate, private operators would have doubts about such an investment. The State alone can take responsibility for investment with such a poor return, either directly by carrying out the work itself, or indirectly by giving tax relief for users carrying out the work.In reality, to evaluate whether all the parties involved benefit by the development plan proposed and implemented, it must be examined (without ignoring infrastructure, health education, etc.) if living standards, of which the economic aspect is a traditional and reliable indicator, have improved.
- The policy for blocking fuelwood prices to a level below its real value does not calculate the standing value and the renewal of the resource. This may be beneficial in the short term for the urban population and for the government, but this type of measure is incompatible with economically, socially and ecologically sustainable supplies.
The evaluation must consider that any action (even if efficient) aiming at the protection and improvement of the ecosystem and its biodiversity eventually will be vain unless it truly takes account of simple principles of transparency and equity:
- ensuring that the management is carried out for the common good (in a participatory manner) with a fair distribution of benefits and earnings; andThe evaluation must also ensure that the main precautions to guarantee success are properly taken, including:
- avoiding overrepressive or stringent arrangements, so that the parties concerned will be more interested in complying with the management rules rather than breaking them.
- the principle of prudence, revising downwards the extraction intensity (because the production of the resource is not necessarily constant from year to year) and imposing an ecological approach in order to estimate the capacity of the ecosystem to cushion the impact caused by this harvesting;
- adopting simple and more easily controlled and easier to supervise harvesting systems (particularly in view of the lack of monitoring and supervisory facilities available;
- adapting the users to the possibilities that the resource offers rather than the contrary;
- incorporating the notion of natural heritage management, as set out in the Rio de Janeiro Agreements; and
- guaranteeing the security of the local population where the implementation of the management plan has triggered off an impetus for the people to organize themselves around real local issues.