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The ecological principles underlying approaches to the sustainable management of natural forests, briefly reviewed in Part I, have been long understood. The same elements, in particular the manipulation of the forest canopy in relation to regeneration and growth, form components of a wide variety of silvicultural and management systems, from strip-shelterwood clear felling operations to highly selective polycyclic management. The factors determining the degree of success, particularly in the attempt to move from the small scale research or pilot-phase operations to management of entire forests, have been fundamentally economic, social and political forces, deciding the level of capability for management, including the adequacy of its information base, and its freedom of action to interpret and to apply ecological principles.

Similarly the implications of genetic systems and genetic structure for the conservation of intraspecific variation are sufficiently established even though detailed knowledge of their expression in the individual species is almost entirely lacking. A central activity in any strategy for genetic resource conservation must be the gathering of that information, in respect both of patterns of variation across a species range and the actual mating system, seed dispersal mechanisms etc operating within the populations. The almost incalculable number and variety of investigations needed to cover all species of actual or potential economic importance requires rigorous setting of objectives and priorities for each forest area or management unit, and in accordance with the national Forest Genetic Resource Conservation Strategy.

In both respects, of management and conservation, every nation and to a degree every forest, is unique. The choice of strategy will depend as much on socio-economic forces around the forest, and on national policies for land use and for development both within the forestry sector and in other sectors, as on the basic scientific principles for management and conservation. Key factors will include the relative importance of the forests for the export of timber and for the needs of local communities; their existing extent and distribution in relation to population density and demands for land; the importance of their influence on local and regional environments; the national and global value of their genetic resources, in terms both of principal economic species and of biological diversity in general; and the nature and degree of threat to valuable ecosystems, species, genetically distinct populations and genes.

The following three case studies have been chosen to illustrate the principles outlined in Part I of this publication, in three contrasting situations, and the ways in which sustainable forest management and, more recently, genetic conservation, are being approached in each country. The starting point in all three is seen to be considerations of national policy and land-use but the nature and balance of the activities in progress, and the implication for future action and research vary greatly between them. The ideal basis for the development of a National Strategy for the Conservation of Forest Genetic Resources is a review of the forestry sector, in its wider context with other sectors, and the preparation of a national forestry action plan. This in effect has been the case in Ghana, which was one of the very first countries to be involved in the development of a National Plan, within the framework of the Tropical Forestry Action Programme (see e.g. FAO 1985b).

The Ghana case study illustrates many aspects of the common problem of harmonizing genetic resource conservation with the utilization of existing resources for development. Timber is important to the Ghanaian economy and the forests' environmental role is important in sustaining agricultural production. At the same time population pressures are rising and demands from local communities around the forests are increasing, relative to the diminishing resource. The resources of the principal economic timber species have been depleted to a critical level in some cases. Responsive action by the government has provided the information base for revised policies and strategies now being introduced and implemented. Within these the conservation of forest genetic resources is seen to be largely dependent on national action to increase the diversity of management in both the forest and the forest industry sectors, and this action to depend in turn on international trading conditions. In view of its wide applicability this study has been treated at length, to illustrate the range and interdependence of actions.

In contrast the Brazil case study focuses on a single large region within the country, within which the forest biome and its genetic resources are still largely intact. As a result of this the possibilities exist for integrated programmes of conservation and development, involving planned coordination of action in both protected areas and production forests, and multiple-use forest management, with involvement of local people. The major problems and challenges relate to the scale of action needed, and the complexities of coordinating programmes involving many administrative divisions and possibly even more technical and scientific bodies, generating large quantities of data, as contributions to what should be a single coherent strategy for the region.

The Indian case study focuses down even further to a single unique area of natural forest. In contrast to most other tropical countries the forest has been under planned protection and management for well over 100 years but now as the result of increased population pressures, the survival of the natural ecosystem and of viable breeding populations of key species have been judged to depend on a new and more active approach to the integrated development of the forest resources, with involvement of communities within and around the forest. Both this approach and the scientific surveys and research needed to provide the basis for efficient conservation strategies, are essential elements in all three case studies.

All three case studies illustrate the emerging principle that the conservation of valuable genetic diversity depends on a greater diversity of forest management approaches, specifically adapted to the existing diversity of ecosystems, species and demands on the forest. They also demonstrate the universal need for the rapid and efficient collection and interpretation of essential information on the composition and dynamics of the forests, as the basis for more exact systems of sustainable forest management compatible with genetic conservation concerns.

To complement the above, the case study of Cordia alliodora (Appendix 1) describes detailed studies undertaken on the biology and “functioning” of an important species of present-day economic importance, to illustrate the information needs in this regard and the utilization of data collected in development or refinement of genetic conservation strategies.


6.1 The Economy

The forestry sector in Ghana is the third highest source of export earnings after cocoa and minerals, and accounts for 5 to 6% of the gross domestic product (GDP), providing employment to about 70 000 people (Asabere 1987). Export earnings in 1987 represented 11.4% of the total, with cocoa contributing by far the greatest proportion (60%). However timber is seen to play a key role in the economy (Frimpong-Mensah 1989). Forests cover about 11.3 million hectares or 48% of the total area of the country (Ghartey 1990), and in addition to meeting all its timber requirements they supply some 75% of energy needs. The population of 14 million people is estimated to be increasing at 3% a year and population densities range from 17 persons per square kilometre to over 150, with an average of 63 (WRI 1990). With a GNP per capita of US$ 390 the country has a low-income economy, heavily dependent on the agricultural sector.

The high forest zone, roughly one third of the country, supports two thirds of the population. The forest itself, which covered virtually all the 8.2 million hectares of this zone at the beginning of the century, has been reduced to about 1.7 million ha. The principal cause of deforestation has been demand for agricultural land and to a considerable extent the successful retention of a national estate of reserved forests, in the face of such massive conversion, is the result of sound land-use policies. However there is now relatively little high forest left outside gazetted forest reserves and with the population doubling in 22 years, and projected to reach a total of 37 million by the year 2 025 (WRI 1990), the area of land under agriculture is still increasing.

6.2 The Environment

The protective role of the forests was recognised from the outset, and particularly its influence on local climate and hydrology; and the dependence of the major agricultural crops, especially cocoa, on the maintenance of the forest cover (Gent 1929, in FAO 1985a). While the principal concern was for the agricultural activities within the high forest zone there is now increased understanding of the wider influence of the moist forests on the savanna zones to the north, covering 66% of the country. These include four vegetation types, progressively drier, from the Derived Savanna, and Southern Guinea Savanna zones, to the Northern Guinea and Sudan Savanna. The rainfall ranges between 800 and 1, 200 mm/year but has shown a decreasing trend over the past 30 years. Most significant are the length and severity of the dry season and the uncertainty and erratic nature of the rains. Since the main rain-bearing winds come from the south west, to displace the severely dry north eastern winds, the rainfall in the savanna zones is influenced by the state of the vegetation in the south of the country, and particularly the forest cover, which through transpiration effectively recycles the precipitation northwards. Although the West African data are less complete the situation is believed to be similar to that in the Brazilian Amazon in regard to the links between forest and the hydrological cycle (Salati 1987). Increasing deforestation in the northern part of the country, with annual fires, has already caused substantial ecological degradation and increasing population pressure seems certain to aggravate the problems. The possibility of global warming is a further reason to retain as far as possible the stabilising effect of the remaining forest cover.

6.3 Diversity

The rain forest flora, both herbs and trees, changes clinally from west to east across the country over a distance of 300 km, with increasingly dry climate, and changes in soil type (Whitmore 1990).

Ghana's biogeographic affinities are Guinea-Congolian in the south west, Sudanian in the north, with the important division of the high forest zone by the “Dahomey Gap” to the east, separating to some extent the forests of the Upper Guinea from those of the Lower Guinea. Although the forests are not rich in biological diversity or endemism, in comparison for example with those of Cameroon, over 2, 100 plant species have been recorded in the forests (Hall and Swaine 1981), including about 680 tree species (Hawthorn 1990a).

6.4 Management for timber production

As a result of an initial survey of the sector in 1908, following the enactment of a Timber Protection Ordinance the previous year, the reservation of selected areas of forest was proposed but met with opposition from the local chiefs (FAO 1985a; Asabere 1987). However by 1939 some 1.6 million ha had been reserved in the high forest zone, surveyed, demarcated and constituted under the Forest Ordinance. About 70 per cent is made up of production reserves, which are the source of future supplies of timber, as the unreserved forests still remaining are not expected to survive as timber production areas beyond the end of the century. The remainder of the permanent forest estate is reserved for protective purposes, a proportion of this area being made up of plantations. There are 13 wildlife reserves covering a total of nearly 1.2 million ha, of which four are in the high forest zone and nine in the savanna. Within the high forest zone the areas reserved strictly for protective purposes are those which are most inaccessible and which cannot be easily or safely logged (Tufuor 1990a), and are not therefore necessarily representative of the range of plant communities in the zone.

The tropical high forest zone, which is the main source of timber, shows a wide range of variation in plant communities, which have been broadly grouped into four ecological types: the Wet Evergreen Forest (Cynometra - Lophira - Tarrietia association), the Moist Evergreen Forest, the Moist Semi-Deciduous Forest and the Dry Semi-Deciduous Forest (Hall and Swaine 1981).

Three main approaches to the management of the forests have been made over the past 40 to 50 years, namely the Tropical Shelterwood System (TSS), enrichment planting, and the Modified Selection System (MSS) which was introduced in 1956, and has been the main system employed throughout most of the zone, particularly in the Moist Semi-Deciduous Forests, until 1970. The main features of the MSS were stock-mapping of all “economic” trees over 7 ft (2.1 m) girth and selective felling on a 25-year cycle. The yield was regulated by area, with minimum girth limits set according to the species class. Felling was based on the stock maps, starting with the largest trees and going down until the prescribed yield had been achieved. However trees below the minimum girth limits were never permitted to be felled, even if there proved to be insufficient trees above the limits to make up the prescribed yield. Moreover there was a stipulation that the remaining stock should be left well distributed over the compartment, so that in some cases a tree well above the limit might be left as the only one in that part of the area (Asabere 1987). This relatively simple system of control, although based on incomplete data on forest dynamics, was reasonably solid and ecologically sustainable.

In the late 1960's the felling cycle of 25 years was increasingly criticised by timber concessionaires as being too long and resulting in the accumulation of over-mature trees subject to decay. As a result it was decided in 1970 to permit the felling of all economic trees above 3.4 m girth or above 2.1 m girth (depending on species class) and to reduce the felling cycle to 15 years. The assumption that all trees over these dimensions were over-mature was not based on systematic studies, and such an investigation later revealed that the trees in the highest classes with girths of 3.4 to 4.0 m were far from being over-mature. Rather than reducing waste of timber it appears that the blanket application of salvage felling throughout the production forests, irrespective of stocking, encouraged more wasteful and less efficient practices, with large numbers of logs being left to rot in the forest (Asabere 1987).

The greater intensity and frequency of logging, concentrated on the few preferred species, with the removal of all the largest trees (whereas previously some had been allowed to remain) was bound in time to have an increasingly dysgenic effect on the populations. At the same time the tendency to increase the size of gaps in the canopy, as the result of removal of all large “economic” trees regardless of their proximity or situation, must lead to greater structural changes, and to a stronger shift in species composition towards the pioneer species, and with greater danger of dense climber tangles developing. There would therefore be a predictable adverse impact both on the genetic resources of the species being logged and in terms of overall diversity, as the prescriptions applied throughout the forest.

From the mid-1970's to the early 1980's the forestry sector suffered a marked decline both in the production of logs and in the total value of timber exports. This accompanied general economic problems, related to the overvalued currency (cedi) and linked to the poor state of logging, transport and sawmilling equipment, lack of spare parts, inadequate investment in roads and infrastructure generally, and inadequate funding of the Forestry Department. From 1983 a series of macro-economic and sectoral reforms, followed by renewed investment in equipment and infrastructure, assisted by multilateral and bilateral funding, led to a progressive recovery in log production and export revenue, which had been substantially achieved by the end of 1987 (Frimpong-Mensah 1989).

With the restoration of export-led logging and milling operations there was a danger that exploitation would override concerns for sustainable management, centred on sustained yield of timber. The initiation of the Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP) in 1985 had promoted the concept of joint sector reviews, with assistance from several donor agencies, and in May 1986 a TFAP review was started in Ghana, led by the World Bank, with direct collaboration and assistance from FAO, CIDA (Canada) and ODA (U.K.). Following the studies, project preparation, appraisals and negotiations the Forest Resource Management Project was initiated in March 1989, with funding from the World Bank, Denmark and the U.K. This provided the opportunity for the Government of Ghana to undertake a comprehensive review of the forestry sector, linking conservation to production objectives, and related policy considerations.

6.5 Policy: linking production and conservation

The 1948 forest policy provided a broad basis for both production and conservation objectives, if interpreted in that spirit. It included specific reference to the maintenance of the permanent forest estate, the protection of environmental values, management for sustained yield, research with emphasis on ecology and silviculture, public education, staff training and optimal land use (Kese 1989). Existing legislation (principally the Forests Ordinance (1927) and associated Forest Reserves Regulations; the Concessions Act (1962); the Timber Operations Decree (1972); the Forest Protection Decree (1974); the Trees and Timber Decree (1974) and the Timber Industry and Ghana Timber Marketing Board Amendment Decree (1977) with some provisions of the investment Policy Decree) provided a suitable basis for policy application. The success of the original forest reservation policy was strikingly revealed by Landsat imagery which showed clearly defined reserve boundaries which had been generally respected, in contrast to the surrounding deforestation (Hawthorn 1989). Revision of the National Forest Policy, completed early in 1992, further strengthened environmental provisions relating to soil and water resources, with specific references to the conservation of flora, fauna and biological diversity, and to sustained yield of non-timber as well as timber resources. This implied due attention to in situ conservation of genetic resources.

At the same time as the strengthened concern for the environment and biological diversity there are the increasing demands on the economy and on land resources from the expanding population. Revised and strengthened inter-sectoral policies, with appropriate sectoral strategies, are essential to secure the appropriate reconciliation of conflicting production and conservation demands. Grut (1989) from a study of the forestry sector in Ghana and in Guinea, has shown that on an analysis of timber production alone, the most profitable option would be to take out all merchantable timber (i.e. to well below the normal minimum diameter limits set by management) in one felling. Calculations used to reach this conclusion did not consider the substantial, but usually non-market, values of non-timber forest products, and the severe impacts on forest structure, ecology and species composition that might result.

6.6 Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP)

The role of non-timber forest products (NTFP) is critically important to the long-term conservation of the forest resources and their genetic diversity. A detailed study undertaken in the context of the forest Resource Management Project in Ghana (Falconer 1991) shows that NTFP's form the main link between the reserved forests and the communities living immediately around it. The study revealed the importance of a wide variety of products in human nutrition, medicines, materials for house building, household and agricultural implements, fuelwood, fodder, and trade and processing activities based on NTFP's. For house building materials the most important qualities sought were durability and insect resistance, for the principal building poles in particular. These qualities are commonly associated with denser and harder wood more frequently found in slower-growing species (usually non-pioneer species). It was evident that many chiefs and elders in the communities linked the value of the forest strongly to their traditional collection of materials for house building.

Forests were also found to be very highly valued for medicines. All the people interviewed used plant-based medicines and 80% relied on them exclusively. Most of those commonly used were gathered around the village and in fallow areas of secondary forest, rather than in the forest reserve. Nevertheless the forest itself was seen as an important source of medicines by the majority of those interviewed.

For many households the gathering, processing and trading of forest products provided an important source of supplemental income, especially in the periods of less agricultural activity or when there is an acute need for cash. For some of them NTFP's provided the main source of income, either directly or as a source of materials used for production equipment and raw materials used in off-farm processing activities.

Forests were the main source of traded NTFP's in the region although in some areas and for some products fallow lands were important sources of supply. In many communities people claimed that increased land clearance for agriculture, increased bush fires and degradation of the fallow environments (secondary forests) had depleted the NTFP resources so that collectors and processors had come to rely more heavily on the forest reserves. For many products, including bushmeat, the study revealed the importance of the fallow areas as sources of supply. The degradation of the secondary forest was seen as a great problem by many communities and more and more the forests remaining in reserves are likely to become important sources of NTFP's.

Flexible forest management systems which can meet local needs as well as those of the timber industry offer the best prospect for long-term security of a wide range of tree and plant species. There is also scope for the propagation and cultivation of some species in buffer zones around the forest, and provided that the source of seed or selected clonal material is taken from the local populations in the forest this could be an acceptable aspect of in situ conservation for the species concerned.

6.7 Forest Revenue Systems

A major problem in conservation and sustainable management in many countries has been the apparently low rate of economic return from the natural tropical forest (Mergen and Vincent 1987) despite the evident real value of the resource (Leslie 1987). This is frequently due to failure to capture appropriate levels of revenue from timber (Repetto and Gillis. 1988). Grut (1989) shows this clearly in respect of Ghana: both the levels of royalty set and the effectiveness of collection of the fees due have hitherto been extremely low. Even with the very low level of stumpage demanded the revenue actually collected was only one sixth of the amount due (Grut 1989). The very low level of royalties on timber in Ghana, and the need for substantial increases, particularly for the most valuable and marketable species, had been recognised earlier (FAO 1985a). Substantial increases have now been introduced and others are expected to follow. Assuming that these are also implemented to raise average stumpage fees to about 10% of weighted average FOB log export value by 1994, with increased effectiveness in revenue collection rate to 50% by the same date, revenue would be sufficient to meet the entire costs of the Forestry Department, and not only the costs of management of the production forests (Grut 1989).

Both the size and length of tenure of timber concessions are key factors in determining the interest and capability of the concessionaire in sustainable management. The fragmentation of concessions in Ghana was criticised earlier (Asabere 1987) and suggestions made in the context of the Forest Resource Management Project to set a minimum size of 10 000 ha and duration of 50 years are under consideration by the government authorities. Related to these suggestions are consideration of more strongly market-determined allocation of concessions, to secure the best value possible, and a more significant level of concession rent. The latter could be particularly influential in securing conservation objectives, including in situ conservation of genetic resources. It has been suggested, for example, that substantial concession rents would be set, based on a formula derived from weighted FOB values, less costs of logging etc and an adequate level of profit. The concessionaire could subsequently claim back a proportion of the fees paid, in respect of costs incurred in sustainable management and conservation activities. The latter would then be seen by the concessionaire as a revenue-earning opportunity (Grut 1990). Such reforms of revenue levels and collection can also potentially improve recovery and reduce waste of timber, both in the forest and in industrial processing (Asabere 1987; Chachu 1989). The Government of Ghana has set up a special Committee to evaluate measures to improve forest management and productivity in the timber industry, and the Committee is expected to review the size and related aspects of timber concessions.

Ghana had earlier introduced differential royalty rates for 50 timbers. The new royalty fee structure being set involves considerably higher increases in respect of the species in highest demand, and therefore in danger of depletion, than for those currently neglected. This has important implications for the conservation of the genetic resources of the main economic species. However, such action cannot be effective in isolation, as many lesser-known species have lower natural durability and therefore require special care both to ensure that the logs are not left lying in the forest and for appropriate seasoning and preservation treatments. Others which may have more durable but hard and possibly siliceous timber require special processing equipment. The securing of an adequate market return for such lesser-known species may be assisted by local processing (Asabere 1987; Ofosu-Asiedu and Ampong 1990; Parant 1990) for which investment in equipment, infrastructure and training may be needed. Ghana is promoting further processing of timber, and log exports as a proportion of total export volumes have been falling from 63% in 1988, to 53% in 1989 and 42% in 1990. However in 1989 less than 6% by value of Ghana's forest products exports were processed beyond air-dried timber (ITTO 1990).

There are also important forest management and silvicultural considerations, as well as ecological concerns, related to the promotion of harvesting of lesser-known species, and these are reviewed below. However the implications of the results of the forest inventory carried out clearly indicate the need to make maximum sustainable use of the neglected timber species, while reducing pressure on the stocks and the genetic resources of the principal economic species. This is in line with the new recognition that harvesting convenience and the demands of the wood industry alone should not be allowed to determine forest management (Chachu 1989) but that royalty rates, girth limits and other objectives and intensity controls should reflect the ecological differences between species in their regeneration and growth, as well as ultimate timber values (Hawthorn 1990b). There is already abundant evidence of the impermanence of classifications based solely on market acceptability and valuation of timber.

6.8 Forest Inventory

The first survey of forest resources in Ghana was made in 1908 and the first National Forest Inventory in 1947, covering 1 290 square miles of forest (Logan 1947). The main focus of this and subsequent inventories in the period 1952 to 1973 was the then currently merchantable species, of which only 26 “economic” species were listed compared with 334 “secondary timbers” (FAO 1985a). In 1985 a new National Forest Inventory was started, primarily also to provide an estimate of the total commercial log volume, in view of concerns that the demands of the rehabilitated timber industry would exceed the sustainable supply from the forest. However broader aims were included, to supply the wider information needed for sustainable management, and to assess the biological productivity and ecological status of the forest, including the collection of data on non-timber forest products, and on non-woody plants and fauna (Adlard 1990).

To meet the primary objective stratified random sampling was done over 546 000 ha in 43 forest reserves. Stratification was based on the ecological survey and classification by Hall and Swaine (1981). In addition to measurements of tree diameters, for volume estimations, assessments were made of form and quality, together with crown classification, observations on logging, burning etc. About 420 tree species were recorded, and grouped into three classes according to their current market acceptability, size and frequency of occurrence:-

Class I:Species exported from Ghana at least once during the period 1973 – 88, including all the main economic species plus some lesser-known species being actively promoted for export (total 66 species).
Class II:Species attaining 70 cm diameter (marketable size) and present at a frequency of at least 1 tree per km2, although not previously exported (total 58 species).
Class III:All remaining species, not considered to have potential for timber production.

All the data were stored on computer and constitute an important database on species occurrence and distribution (Wong 1989).

The gross national standing volume of timber of exploitable size was estimated as 102 million m3, concentrated mainly in the Class I species. However the bulk of this volume was found to be made up by the less desirable species, while the volume of the traditional economic species was very limited and heavily dependent on one mainstay, Triplochiton scleroxylon, which although in constant demand is not intrinsically of high value. It appears that current exploitation of most “economic” species is unsustainable and that they have a very limited resource life (i.e. the period during which the existing supply of trees of exploitable size will be exhausted). The valuable Meliaceae (Entandrophragma angolense, E. cylindricum, E. utile, Khaya grandifoliola, K. ivorensis, K. anthotheca), as well as Milicia (syn. Chlorophora) excelsa, are likely to be exhausted within 2 to 3 decades at current levels of felling. Among the most valuable species Pericopsis (syn. Afrormosia) elata is estimated to have a resource life of 3 years or less (Alder 1989). The calculation of the species resource life can only be approximate, based on the division of the existing resource by the rate of extraction, and if with a diminishing resource the rate of extraction were allowed to rise, the resource life would be even less.

The implication is clear: the future of a viable timber industry in Ghana is dependent on a substantial and rapid move into the marketing of presently under-utilised species, in Class I. This could be achieved by the promotion of perhaps 10 to 15% of the 50 odd presently under-utilised species listed, with maximum reliance on those well represented in the forest, alongside the sustained logging of Terminalia excelsa. If this were done with effective monitoring and controls to limit the logging of the principal economic species to sustainable levels, to allow their populations to recover between logging cycles, there need be no long-term danger to the genetic resources of these species. However their future existence is clearly dependent on positive action in this regard.

Growth data for the estimation of increment rates were based on measurement of about 11 000 trees in 256 permanent sample plots. The development of a forest growth simulation model (GHAFOSIM) for Ghana forests is in progress (Alder 1989; 1990) and will be assisted by the progressive accumulation of data from the greatly expanded number of permanent sample plots, in which all trees of all species over 10 cm diameter (dbh) are measured. This will provide a much more complete understanding of the forest dynamics. It is evident that no single management strategy will serve adequately for all the forests but that for efficient linking of production to conservation the management of individual reserves or concessions will need to be decided separately, within an overall picture of the genetic diversity in the forests as a whole.

6.9 Setting Priorities

Conservation of the principal economic tree species is clearly a high priority, and is seen to be dependent on developing the markets for presently lesser-used species. However conservation of intra-specific variation in these species is also of greatest concern, including the maintenance of viable populations of genetically distinct provenances. In the absence of direct evidence of provenance differences from field trials and/or isozyme studies the best guide is likely to be patterns of environmental variation. These may be seen directly from environmental variables or indirectly from patterns of vegetation. The way in which population-level variation in individual species reflects patterns in the community as a whole is apparent in many cases (Okafor 1975; Hall and Swaine 1981). The assumption that this occurs is recognised in the botanical survey being carried out in association with the on-going National Forest Inventory (Hawthorn 1991).

The aim of the botanical survey is to develop a computerised database of the distribution of vascular plants in the forests of Ghana, thereby securing clearer definition of the substantial floristic variation within each of the forest zones recognised by Hall and Swaine (1981). This will reveal patterns of intra-specific variation at local as well as national level, and the relationship between them, and thereby assist in designing strategies for the conservation of economic plant species.

The survey gives particular attention to patterns of distribution of rare plants and trees as a direct aid to their conservation. The importance of combining taxonomic, ecological and chorological information is recognised in the study, in order to set priorities for conservation of selected areas. Preliminary analysis (Hawthorn 1991) has defined three sets of conditions-under which rare plants are most likely to be found. One of these is among the dry forest species in or near the coastal or Afram plains. Such West African Dry Forest is now of very limited distribution and some species are unknown elsewhere except for occurrences in East Africa, while others are endemic to Ghana.

Special consideration should also be given to fire prone reserves in the Dry Semi-Deciduous zone, where the forest plants are especially at risk. The threat of fire to the genetic resources is particularly acute where the population of mature seed-bearing individuals has been severely reduced, seed years may be infrequent and a fire following seed fall or seedling establishment can be catastrophic. This may be the case with Pericopsis elata, particularly at the fringe of the species' range.

The botanical survey is also developing an objective rating system for the classification of plant species in terms of priority for conservation. This will be used to assist the selection of areas, for example within production forest reserves, where forest management should take particular account of the importance, and the nature, of conservation objectives. The classification being developed will be based essentially in the information on distribution, derived from the earlier surveys of Hall and Swaine (1981), together with the more general observations in the Flora of West Tropical Africa for the wider picture, the substantial herbarium collections at Legon and Kew (Royal Botanic Gardens) and the new data from the botanical survey. This will provide a basis for highlighting the “genetic hot spots” in Ghana's forests, as concerns ecosystems, species and genetic resources of species targeted for conservation.

Most categories in the rating system are concerned with degrees of rarity, both within Ghana and in the wider contexts of Upper Guinea (the region within which the contribution of the Ghanaian flora is likely to be most significant), West Africa and Africa as a whole. However for the conservation in situ of the genetic resources of species of known economic importance a separate category is recognised. This includes species that may be fairly common or widespread but heavily exploited, and requiring individual attention and control, particularly in regard to the conservation of intraspecific variation. This category includes all the heavily utilized timber species, canes (rattans) and other species of known economic value (e.g. Thaumatococcus daniellii, a source of sweetening agents and other potentially commercial organic compounds). Under this classification species are allocated a “Red Star” rating if, as in the case of sought-after timber trees, a significant proportion of the mature individuals are affected by exploitation pressures (e.g. species with a short resource life, as listed above); or if it is advisable to “flag” the occurrences of a species in the forest for conservation of specific provenances.

An additional and immediate practical outcome of the botanical survey will be a report on the current status of existing Protected Areas and of the degree of protection afforded within the production reserves, with recommendations regarding forest management in these latter ones, particularly in the more sensitive areas and those of exceptional biological value. This will assist the development of comprehensive approaches to reconcile the production and conservation objectives, within the Forest Management Units (FMU) now being established.

6.10 Management and Harvesting

The Modified Selection System, described briefly above, had apparently succeeded in maintaining satisfactory levels of timber yield but at the expense of the stocking of the main economic species. Data from the on-going inventory and intensified permanent sample plot network will permit the future development of detailed and flexible management plans separately for each management unit (single reserve or large concession area) using simulation models to be derived from continuation of the work initiated on the Ghana Forest Simulation Model (GHAFOSIM). Such an approach, capable of incorporating information from the botanical survey, and ecological studies on regeneration in relation to logging intensity, pattern and methods, offers the best prospect for combining genetic conservation with production, both at the local and the national level. The possibilities for effective integration of conservation and production objectives in forest management plans have been strengthened by the introduction of Forest Management Units (FMU), which group the existing production reserves into units of about 50 000 hectares. Each FMU will be subject to a management plan, incorporating the recommendations on the conservation of biological diversity and genetic resources, emerging from the botanical survey.

As an interim measure a forty year felling cycle has been imposed and stock surveys and stock mapping of all compartments are being undertaken to determine the permissible yield. This is calculated for each species in each compartment by a simple formula which takes into account the number of trees above the minimum felling limit, and those in the diameter class immediately below, which will form the next crop. The formula also allows for the 30% retention of the mature crop and 20% mortality in the residual population intended for the next felling cycle (Ghartey 1990). Provided that logging controls are enforced to prevent unnecessary damage to advance growth and to the conditions for regeneration (see below), and that sufficient seed bearers of the important economic species are left where needed, this interim regime should be sufficiently conservative to prevent further degradation of the genetic resources of the forest. However this is ultimately dependent on action to promote the lesser-used species, in order to maintain acceptable levels of harvest while conserving the remaining genetic resources of the most valuable and most depleted populations.

In November 1990 the Ghanaian authorities imposed Forest Improvement Levies on six species of log exports, complementing export bans already in place on 19 other species, including the valuable Meliaceae. The levies are intended to conserve the species concerned and to provide logs for domestic processing (ITTO 1991). The success of these moves and of plans for greater reliance on the lesser-used species will have a major influence on the possibilities for future management.

The impact of increased logging on the genetic resources of presently under-utilised species will also need to be considered in respect of each forest reserve and management unit, in the preparation of management plans. However the inventory shows that overall over 40% of the potential timber harvest from species in Class I (i.e. those that have been exported at all) is made up by four species still in abundant supply in the forest (Ghartey 1989). A strategy based on the promotion of these up to the limits of the annual allowable cut, together with lesser contributions from some other presently neglected species, should be consistent with more balanced management of the total genetic resources of the forest, provided that satisfactory conditions for regeneration are maintained.

6.11 Regeneration and Silviculture

Under the TSS system introduced in 1946 the attempt was made to influence regeneration of the relatively few desirable species by manipulation of the canopy and cleaning operations but it was judged unsuccessful and abandoned in the mid-1960's. Since then, apart from attempts at artificial regeneration through enrichment planting, the attempts to influence the crop through silvicultural operations under the MSS were directed to favouring the young trees in the 1 to 5 ft (0.3 to 1.5 m) girth class by improvement thinnings (Asabere 1987). Nevertheless from the viewpoint of long-term sustainable management, and the conservation of the genetic resources of the principal economic species, an understanding of the effect of logging on the species composition of the regeneration is essential.

In association with the National Forest Inventory, regeneration studies were undertaken in logged and adjacent unlogged forest within the Bia South reserve (Hawthorn 1990b), to assess the various effects of logging operations on the pattern of regeneration of the tree species. A secondary objective was to describe the state of the vegetation as a whole following logging, as background information on the biotic environment of the developing trees. Since the forest had not been exploited previously, and the only control exercised had been through the minimum girth limit, with all trees above that limit eligible for removal, the logging intensity in some compartments had been very high. However this effect was mainly confined to the most desirable species such as Khaya ivorensis and Entandrophragma utile. Large trees of less desirable species had been left. Logging had been done in the three years immediately prior to the study.

The main subdivisions of the species “guilds” recognised were between true pioneer species and understorey pioneers (small trees and shrubs) on the one hand, and between non-pioneer light demanders and shade-bearers on the other, although it was recognised that these divisions may be arbitrary separations in what is a continuum of preferences. The report on the study (Hawthorn 1990b) is detailed and reveals a complex situation. Nevertheless some clear conclusions were drawn regarding the effects on early seedling regeneration e.g:

  1. the overall species diversity is not likely to be adversely affected by well-controlled logging, although the balance of species is expected to change unless special steps are taken to prevent this. The trend will be declining levels of regeneration of some valuable (non-pioneer) timbers (e.g. Entandrophragma spp, Khaya spp) and greater relative abundance of others (e.g. Triplochiton scleroxylon and Terminalia spp);

  2. large canopy gaps show very poor regeneration of preferred species and low species diversity;

  3. regeneration of most timber species, particularly non-pioneers, requires the retention of parent trees evenly dispersed throughout the forest, for example in small unlogged pockets within logged compartments;

  4. small gaps and skid trails helps to add to overall species diversity.

Clear general guidance can therefore be given regarding strict logging controls, to keep road widths and the area of loading bays to a minimum, to avoid the creation of large canopy gaps and to ensure the retention of seed bearers evenly spread through the forest. To avoid damage to regeneration logging should be restricted to a single short period. With such provisions there seems little danger of any sudden loss of genetic resources of the main economic species, and good possibilities to retain a high level of species diversity at least of a wide range of Class I timbers.

The most serious threat to genetic resources is undoubtedly fire, and associated studies of fire damage suggest that logging, especially in the drier forest types, may render the forest more liable to fire (Hawthorn 1989). The recommendations for controlling the intensity of logging are therefore even more important in fire prone areas.

Although the results of these studies are both valuable and encouraging more widespread and comprehensive data will need to be gathered from the expanded series of permanent sample plots, which could also be the sites for more detailed studies in population dynamics, pollination and seed dispersal systems and agents, and other ecological processes (Adlard 1990). These could provide a scientific basis for possible future silvicultural action to influence the regeneration and development of selected populations maintaining high levels of genetic diversity.

6.12 Reproductive Biology

While much valuable information on genetic systems may be gained from well-documented phenological observations, more detailed and systematic studies of the key economic species (e.g. Entandrophragma spp, Khaya spp, Milicia excelsa, Pericopsis elata) which are in urgent need of action to conserve their constituent populations, are strongly advisable. Data on reproductive biology, used in conjunction with information on species distribution and variation patterns in individual species, can assist in determining both the siting of in situ conservation areas and sampling strategies for complementary ex situ conservation. The principles involved are summarised in e.g. Bawa and Krugman (1991). Their application is also illustrated in the case study on the reproductive biology and genetics of Cordia alliodora, in Appendix 1.

6.13 Integration and Security

The database developments associated with the forest inventory and the botanical survey provide a framework for planning the integrated management of genetic resources, both within fully protected areas and in production reserves. They also provide a basis for monitoring future changes in the forest under the influence of prescribed harvesting and management regimes. However there will be a need for high-level decisions on the balance to be struck between timber exploitation and the conservation of biological diversity, to ensure that the necessary “trade off” between short-term financial costs of conservation (including revenue and profits which may be foregone) and the longer-term social, economic and environmental benefits are settled in the national interest, and where appropriate with international assistance. This is likely to be needed particularly in enabling the essential changes in the timber trade, to largely replace current dependence on the few principal economic species, with very limited resource life, by the promotion of lesser-used species, with greater reliance on local processing and the export of components and finished products. Action in these areas of international trade, linked to investments in local provision of physical capacity and human resource development, will determine the feasibility of forest management systems linking sustainable production and genetic resource conservation.


The Amazon basin as a whole contains the largest single extent of tropical forest in the world, of which approximately 60% (some 350 million ha) lies within Brazil (Dubois 1991). About 280 million ha are closed forests with the potential to produce industrial timber (FAO 1981). At the same time the forests are almost certainly the richest in the world in terms of total biological diversity, and cover a wide range of forest types. The possible contribution of the potential production forests to the conservation of such diversity and of forest genetic resources is therefore very high.

According to Cochrane and Sánchez (1982) some 93% of the soils of the Amazon Basin have major fertility deficiencies and although perhaps half of this area is underlain by soils of good physical properties, and might be capable of sustainable agriculture or pasture use, given substantial inputs of nutrients and under careful management, they are susceptible to rapid degradation after clearance of existing forest. In addition studies have indicated the interdependence of the local hydrological cycle and the forest cover (Salati 1987) and it has been suggested that to safeguard local and regional climate, until a fuller understanding of this relationship is achieved, about 80% of the area should be kept under forest cover (Prance 1990).

Despite some recent immigration into the Amazon region from elsewhere in Brazil the human population is still low relative to the total area, with over 40% of the Brazilian population concentrated in some 10% of the national territory in the south eastern region. Nevertheless the pressures on currently forested land in Amazonia will inevitably increase and it is essential to develop sustainable systems of land use which will be compatible with the need to retain a forest cover over substantial areas for its environmental influences. The opportunity still exists to develop patterns of land use which optimise the sustainable management of natural forest, with the simultaneous conservation of the rich biological diversity of the region. This requires the integrated planning and development of the systems of fully protected areas and production forest reserves, with both systems contributing appropriately to both conservation and development objectives.

7.1 Legal framework

The Forestry Law (1965) makes provision for the creation of reserves both for protection and for production objectives. Under Article 5 it decrees the creation of:-

  1. National, State and Municipal Parks and Biological Reserves, to protect exceptional natural features, flora, fauna and scenic values, and to reconcile this protection with educational, recreational and scientific objectives.

  2. National, State and Municipal Forests, for economic, technical or social objectives, including possible afforestation.

In specific reference to the Amazonian forests the Forestry Law calls for the utilization of the forests to be placed under technical constraints and management plans.

In addition the Fauna Protection Law of 1967 makes provision for National, State and Municipal Biological Reserves, and the Law for a National Environmental Policy of 1981 covers the establishment of Ecological Stations and Environmental Protection Areas. The Federal Constitution of 1988, in reference to the rights of the people to an ecologically stable environment, requires the public administration to ensure proper ecological management of ecosystems and preservation of the diversity and integrity of the genetic heritage of the country. It further declares the Brazilian Amazon forest, the Atlantic forest, and three other regions, as a national estate, placing limitations on their utilization, to guarantee preservation of the environment (Schubart 1990).

The principal legal category of reserves which offers the best possibility to combine management for timber production, and other forest products, with the conservation of genetic resources in situ is the National Forest. This corresponds approximately to the IUCN Category VIII (Multiple Use Management Area/Managed Resource Area) and has as its primary objectives the sustainable harvesting and management of the forest, principally for timber and other forest products, together with maintaining the protective functions of the forest over water resources, and the conservation of biological diversity, flora and fauna, insofar as this is compatible with the principal production objectives. Appropriate scientific and technological research, and environmental monitoring, are also envisaged. The basic criteria for the selection of an area as a National Forest are the potential for sustainable production of timber and/or other forest products. If rare, endemic or endangered species are present that might be adversely affected by the production operations it is suggested that another more restrictive category of reservation would be more appropriate (Padua 1989). There has been a marked increase in the number of National Forests in Brazil in the past three years, particularly in the Amazon region, where Schubart (1990) lists 24 such Forests up to the end of 1990, covering a total area of over 12.6 million hectares.

Extractive Reserves are the other major category where direct productive uses of the forest may be combined with conservation of genetic resources. According to Padua (1989) these are intended to meet the needs of social groups who are dependent on the gathering of forest products for their survival, and who harvest in a sustainable manner according to traditional practices and in conformity with pre-established management plans. Secondary objectives include the conservation of biological diversity, and possible contributions to scientific and environmental education and monitoring. On this interpretation the harvesting of timber is specifically excluded. The traditional products of extractive forest management, as the term is used in Brazil, have been primarily rubber and Brazil nuts, although a wide variety of other fruits, fibres etc may be included.

To provide a legal basis for the concept the former National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) issued a Decree in July 1987 which provided guidelines for the settlement of Extractive Reserves as a mode of agrarian reform in the Amazon region (Allegretti 1990). The Decree used the concept of land use concessions, ceding use of the Reserves from the State to the practitioners during a minimum period of 30 years, with specific regulations on land use practices. It also established a mechanism by which the State could mediate between the inhabitants of the Reserve and outside economic interests. Administration of Extractive Reserves on this model is by a group elected by the local inhabitants, either in the form of a cooperative or an association, thereby avoiding subdivision of the land into separate private holdings. According to Schubart (1990) the legal status of Extractive Reserves has yet to be finally decided but action has been taken under the National Environmental Policy (January 1990) to create Reserves of this nature. Insofar as some Extractive Reserves are being created inside National Forests the legal basis for combining their traditional practices with some selective harvesting of timber may be envisaged.

The principal categories of reserve forming the fully protected area system in Brazil include National Parks (IUCN Category II), Ecological Stations, Ecological Reserves, Biological Reserves (all equivalent to IUCN Category I), and Environmental Protection Areas (similar objectives to IUCN Category V but including specific reference to biological diversity). All of these have significance in the conservation of ecosystems, species and genetic resources. In addition Wildlife Refuges and Game Reserves might provide incidental protection to plant genetic resources.

7.2 Setting Priorities

The First International Seminar on Tropical Forest Management in Brazil, in 1985, in stressing the “need to maintain and preserve biological diversity in any undertaking in the Amazon”, drew particular attention to the importance of a better understanding of forest dynamics and the interactions in processes such as seed dispersal, pollination, regeneration systems etc (Siqueira 1989). It also stressed the importance of typological classification and zoning of forests for production and conservation objectives. The principles involved have been discussed earlier, and in particular the vital necessity for gathering data on variation and variation patterns in species and populations, and on autecology and breeding biology, as a basis for action towards in situ conservation of genetic resources of priority species. Compared to some other tropical regions in the New World the Brazilian Amazon has a long history of botanical surveys and substantial holdings in several herbaria (Daly and Prance 1989). Nevertheless the sheer scale of an inventory needed to establish and interpret patterns of distribution of communities, major tree species and their probable intraspecific variation in relation to the existing environmental conditions and past history, is vast.

The total area of Amazonian forest within Brazil in all of the reserved categories is probably around 5% of the total forest. While the location, individual size and shape of Protected Areas are more important than overall percentage figures there is clearly scope for the selection of a substantial number of additional reserves, given the limitations of the soils and the acknowledged environmental importance of forest cover. At the same time, for long-term security and in the face of increasing population pressures, the development of multiple-use management areas (predominantly National Forests and Extractive Reserves) that can contribute to the conservation of genetic resources in situ and complement action in fully protected areas, will be necessary. Since most of the Amazonian forest biome is still largely intact the possibility exists to plan the networks of production reserves and fully protected areas in an integrated manner, to maximise the effective use of the land and the resources devoted to management and protection. This is an important aspect of the zonation referred to by Padua (1989).

Vegetation mapping in Brazil has a long history but has been complicated by the use of a variety of classification systems. Knowledge of the Amazon was significantly advanced by the use of radar imagery in “Projeto RADAM” in the 1970's and although the maps produced were purely physiognomic they were extremely detailed. This information was used for the most recent vegetation map of the Amazon (Prance and Brown 1987) which recognises four main sub-types of the rain forest on “terra firma” (about 53% of the region) as well as several types of seasonal transition forests, savannas and savanna woodlands, forests on white sand soils, several types of inundated forests etc.

Prance (1977; 1982) has drawn attention to centres of endemism believed to have been isolated refuges for tropical moist forest flora during the cooler and drier periods coincident with the Pleistocene glaciations. While the theory of refuges as an exploration of existing patterns of diversity and species distribution may be contested there is general agreement on the location of the centres of endemism.

An important first step towards the preparation of a plan for the selection of conservation sites throughout the country were taken in 1982, with the publication of the Plan for a System of Conservation Units in Brazil (IBDF 1982). This plan has yet to be implemented as a coherent whole, the information presented in it is still valid and is still useful. In respect of the Amazon region a further major step was taken by the International Symposium on Priority Areas for Conservation in the Amazon Basin - Workshop 90, held in Manaus in January 1990 (Rylands 1990; Prance 1990). This meeting produced the initial draft of a map covering the entire Amazon basin, showing 94 proposed priority areas, in three levels of priority for conservation. The final selection of areas was the product of discussion between some 100 scientists working initially in small specialist groups (plant systematics; plant ecology; mammals; ornithology; herpetology; ichthyology; entomology; geomorphology and climate; and units of conservation). The botanists and zoologists subsequently pooled data from their component specialist groups to consolidate the first proposal for selection of areas while the data from geomorphology and climatology were used to identify fragile soils and ecosystems most in need of protection. Finally a synthesis was made from the botanical and zoological priorities to produce the draft map. Much further work is needed in the field to select actual sites for protected areas or for managed multipurpose production forests, in which conservation concerns are fully reflected. This may be progressively assisted by data from an ongoing study on the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments, north of Manaus.

Although this initial prioritization is based on limited and unevenly distributed sources of information it has the great advantage of being regional in coverage, and can provide an initial framework for more detailed studies. It also provides some guidance for the allocation of priority to conservation objectives in existing production reserves.

7.3 Management Options

The earliest attempts at natural forest management for the sustainable production of timber in the Brazilian Amazon are comparatively recent. Experimental silvicultural work in the tropical moist forest at Curua-Una, near Santarém, Pará, began in 1957. It included some experimental logging and regeneration studies on a small scale and the trials then established are still monitored. In 1972 some management activities started in a second area, designated as the Tapajos National Forest (600 000 ha) in 1974 and as a result of studies and assistance from FAO a full management plan was prepared, envisaging selective harvesting, with a 70 year rotation based on natural regeneration, and a substantial component of line planting, to be harvested after 35 years (UNDP/FAO 1980). The aim was to allow logging of 1000 ha annually but the market conditions, heavily affected by an economic downturn in the early 1980's and by the availability of logs virtually free from large-scale forest clearance in other areas, prevented the implementation of the plan. However the forest has been well protected and studies have been undertaken which, together with the intensive inventory and studies undertaken initially, suggest the adoption of a polycyclic harvesting system, with cutting cycles of 30–35 years. Provision was made in the management plan for Biological Reserves and phenological studies, as well as 48 sample plots (Carvalho et al 1984), and the spatial distribution of 11 major species and the regeneration of 106 species were studied.

Regeneration in the Tapajos forest is generally encouraging and frequently abundant, especially of valuable and fast-growing gap opportunist species such as Vochysia maxima after some opening of the canopy (Viana 1990). The ITTO, in response to a request from the Brazilian authorities to develop a demonstration model for forest management in the region, is providing assistance for controlled logging in the Tapajos National forest, to allow for pilot studies of management systems and silviculture on an operational scale, in concert with continued research into forest ecology and dynamics. An associated research proposal makes provision for identifying and protecting seed production stands of major species in the natural forest, covering a wide area in Amazonia, in collaboration with various organisations, as sources for future enrichment planting.

In parallel with the study of forest management systems linked to genetic conservation objectives in specific areas, research into the genetic diversity and genetic systems of individual species will be needed. This applies for example to Swietenia macrophylla, which is apparently endangered by dysgenic selective logging outside the Reserved Forests. Other species likely to be given high priority for such action include Aniba rosaeodora, which has been subject to intensive exploitation for its essential oil content, and appears to show some chemical differences between provenances. In regard to in situ conservation of forest genetic resources the system of Genetic Reserves established in the Jari forest estate, with studies of phenology, ecology, regeneration and mortality, should provide valuable additional data.

7.4 Secondary Forest and Non-Timber Forest Products

Although the scientific approach to natural forest management for timber production is relatively recent and limited in scale other models of traditional systems of management, including utilization and management of timber trees, exist which may be incorporated in a comprehensive system of genetic resource conservation. Secondary forests are now widespread in recently settled areas of Amazonia and although frequently seen as examples of land abandonment following shifting cultivation or pasture degradation they are in fact used and managed by a variety of rural communities (Dubois 1990). Some of these forests include a high proportion of economic species, although selective logging of accessible areas along the rivers and streams has seriously depleted the populations, with possible dysgenic effects. Dubois (1990) proposes systems of enrichment planting, combined with the management of natural regeneration, to intensify productivity of a variety of tree species, in association with other crops, in agroforestry systems dominated by the perennial vegetation. With appropriate attention to seed sources and management practices such systems could contribute to in situ conservation, as well as to the retention of forest cover and sustainable livelihood for the local people.

Undoubtedly the longest history of forest management in Amazonia is that of the indigenous communities, harvesting mainly non-timber forest products (NTFP's). The Amerindian groups and “caboclos” (residents of the floodplains, of mixed descent) have detailed knowledge of the forest resources they depend on for survival (Parker et al 1983; Anderson 1990). The indigenous reserves may contribute to in situ conservation of some timber species but in addition knowledge of local traditional practices in the harvesting of NTFP's might be incorporated in management systems in National Forests and Extractive Reserves, with the possibility of retaining a wider base of species diversity in production systems.

7.5 Information, Research and Coordination

Prioritization and coordination of research are essential to focus resources where they are most needed, in terms of the areas to be productively managed, and the centres of diversity and endemism most endangered. For this reason, the association of Biological Reserves and Ecological Stations with the new National Forests, with provisions for research in aspects of ecology, phenology and forest dynamics relevant to silvicultural and conservation objectives, to be conducted in advance of the preparation of management plans and actual exploitation, is most likely to support efforts in in situ conservation. An example of this strategy is seen in the recent siting of a Biological Reserve for scientific research under the Museu Goeldi, Belem, in association with the Caxiuaná National Forest.

Equally important is the establishment of efficient, computerised databanks, to facilitate the storage and retrieval of information on species distribution, with related environmental and other data bearing on the nature and future use of the genetic material. A good example within Brazil, although outside the Amazon region, is the proposed cooperative programme of the Projeto Nordeste for a botanical species inventory, to be carried out in nine states of north eastern Brazil. This is expected to involve collaboration between ten or more Brazilian herbaria, research centres and universities, with the involvement of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K., within which the Biodiversity Database will form a coordinating link. The same principle should enable the progressive development of data needed for planning in situ conservation of forest genetic resources in the Amazon region. The involvement of major Brazilian centres of scientific expertise outside the region, such as the Universities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, as has been recommended (Daly and Prance 1989), may also be facilitated by such coordinating mechanisms.

Skilled human resources are the most vital requirement to gather and interpret the data needed for efficient and coordinated in situ conservation programmes. Because of the intrinsic scientific interest of the Amazon region it is possible to attract substantial international expertise and funding to support expenditions and inventories in this region, to be carried out in collaboration with Brazilian scientists. For example the research undertaken at the Maracá Ecological Station, Roraima, embracing both rainforest and savanna, at the invitation of the Brazilian Secretariat of the Environment, in 1987–88, mobilized the resources of 148 scientists and 55 technicians and resulted in the collection of data involving many new species, and leading to the compilation of the most comprehensive study to date of any forest area in northern Amazonia (Hemming 1989). Such collaborative schemes also offer opportunities for further training of local scientists, both through direct association with other specialists in the field and through postgraduate study offered within the programmes.

The institutional focus to determine the selection of the areas and subjects for collaborative research, and to coordinate subsequent action in accordance with national priorities, is critically important in securing the most efficient use of available resources. In view of the very extensive geographical area covered by the Brazilian Amazon, which includes several states, and the number of research institutions and other organisations which might usefully be involved, such central coordination will be critically important to the success of the overall strategy for in situ conservation of forest genetic resources in the sub-region.


8.1 National Policy

Forest reservation and management, involving detailed working plans based on inventory growth and yield data and associated research, has been practised in the Indian subcontinent for over 100 years.

The concept of Protected Areas in India can be traced back even further to at least the 4th century BC, when the establishment of Abhayaranyas (forest reserves) was proposed (Singh 1985). However in recent times since the establishment of the existing network of Forest Reserves the human population has more than trebled and the cattle population has grown by a factor of 2.5 (Shyamsunder and Parameswarappa 1987; in IUCN 1991b). The country now contains around 15% of the entire human population, expanding at about 2% annually and expected to reach over 1.4 billion by year 2025 (WRI 1990). Through increasing population pressures and the demands of economic development, particularly in the period 1950 to 1980, India has lost large areas of its tropical forests. In 1952 the revised National Forest Policy called for the retention of one-third of the total land area as forests and this remains an objective in the 1988 Policy revision, which reinforced the increasing attention to the role of trees in land-use systems both within and outside the reserved forests. Whereas earlier policies and programmes had placed emphasis on meeting the raw material requirements of wood-based industries the 1988 policy gave priority to environmental conservation and to the needs of local people. Improved utilization of the large areas of degraded lands resulting from past deforestation and misuse had been made a priority action in both national and state government programmes. In 1985 the creation of the National Wasteland Development Board provided a central coordinating point for the massive reforestation programme (target approximately 9 million hectares during the 7th Five Year Plan) to develop fuelwood and fodder supplies. Through reorganisation of forestry research and training, greater attention was focused on aspects of social and community forestry, and to reforestation, in accordance with the revised Forest Policy. At the same time the rate of deforestation was substantially reduced, and conservation efforts were strengthened.

Wildlife protection also has a long tradition in India and by 1988 there were 65 national parks and 407 wildlife sanctuaries covering an area of approximately 131 800 km2 or 4.4% of the land area (IUCN 1991b), although a significant proportion had not yet achieved full legal status. The network of 16 Tiger Reserves, covering 26 000 km2, including large areas of tropical moist forest, has been recognised internationally as a most significant conservation success. Nevertheless major problems remain in securing an adequate national network of Protected Areas for the conservation of biological diversity and genetic resources. To complement such areas, considerable reliance will need to be placed on the protection and management of ecosystems, species and genetic resources outside the Protected Area network, and particularly within Forest Reserves while at the same time taking care to not further deepen the already existing conflict between the needs of the rural populations surrounding Forest Reserves and Protected Areas, for fuelwood, fodder and a range of other forest products. Among the most significant areas for special attention in this respect are the surviving tropical rain forests, confined to the Anadaman and Nicobar Islands, to areas in the north-eastern states, and to the Western Ghat forests in southern India.

8.2 Western Ghat Forests

The Western Ghat Forests occupy the range of high hills extending for about 1 600 km from the southern point of India up the western coast, to about 21°N. Three main regions within them have been recognised (Pascal 1982) with the largest and best conserved areas of the original forest lying in the central region, within Karnataka State. Here the hills range from 700 to nearly 1 900 m a.s.l. The rainfall varies along three gradients: south-north, east-west (with a marked rain shadow on the eastern side) and altitudinally. Annual totals show great variation, but are concentrated within a few months (e.g. at Agumbe the mean of 7 000 mm/year is concentrated in 128 days) with a dry season lasting from 3 months (at high altitude in the south) to 8 months, depending on locality. All the major rivers of South India arise in the Western Ghats and their environmental significance was the prime reason for early demarcation, reservation and the protection of significant areas of Reserved Forest in this area over the past 120 years, since the 1870's.

Despite the legal status of the Reserved Forests, and the efforts of an efficient State Forest Service, large areas were lost to dams, mining and cultivation, including substantial illegal encroachment. Nearly 60% of the remaining forest is classified as degraded, much of it severely, but there is still a significant “core” area of evergreen and semi-evergreen forest (Sinha 1988), of the greatest ecological importance and arguably of at least equally high priority in global terms as any other tropical moist forest in the world. The Western Ghat Forests lie between the African and the Indo-Malaysian rainforest blocks and are isolated from neighbouring areas of rainforest. While the levels of total biological diversity are lower than those present in most other tropical rainforests in Asia, they are rich in endemic species.

Of the 15 000 higher plants recorded in India over 4 000 species are found in the Western Ghats (5% of the land area) and of these 1 800 species are endemic, mainly found in the remaining evergreen forests (IUCN 1991b). These include 130 tree species endemic to the Ghats (Bor 1953) and six endemic mammals, including the lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus), while 84 of India's 112 endemic amphibians are found there (Inger and Dutta 1987). In regard to trees and shrubs, both the diversity of species and intraspecific variation, adapted to the local environment, are clearly of great potential importance. In no other part of the world is evergreen rainforest found under such seasonal climates (Rai and Proctor 1986), and the adaptations of plant populations, including many valuable timber trees, to the climatic conditions may be even more valuable in the context of possible climate change.

Among the most valuable timbers of international significance are Dalbergia latifolia (Indian rosewood), Calophyllum inophyllum, Pterocarpus marsupium, Tectona grandis, Terminalia crenulata, T. paniculata and other species suitable for furniture, doors, windows, interior construction and other high value applications. Many more are of great local importance for house construction, bridges, carts, agricultural and household implements etc. As a result of over-exploitation and particularly illegal logging, overgrazing, fires, encroachment by cultivators and other pressures from the increasing populations, both the effective area and the regeneration of the forests have been severely reduced. In the surrounding areas there are almost as many cattle as people and it has been estimated that at least 10% are dependent on free grazing in the forests. Whereas this had formerly been regulated within permissible limits such control is no longer possible because of the huge numbers involved (IUCN 1991b). The effect on the genetic resources of the tree populations from the reduction and local elimination of regeneration as a result of these pressures is likely to be increasingly severe.

8.3 The Strategy for Integrated Development and Conservation

Despite a clear policy, sound legislation and an efficient Forest Service, which had succeeded in protecting the reserved forests for over 100 years, it became clear that their effective regeneration and therefore long-term survival were increasingly threatened. While the intensified programmes of reforestation were expected to mitigate the pressure, further action was needed to conserve the natural ecosystems and their unique genetic resources. In 1988 the Karnataka State Forest Department drafted a proposal for a project on the Integrated Development of Forests in the Western Ghats to attempt to reconcile satisfactorily the many conflicting demands made on the forests, including the central need to conserve ecosystems and genetic resources. The central element of this strategy was the recognition of three sets of management objectives, namely ecological, economic and social (“local needs”). The conservation of the genetic resources of the tree and shrub species relates in different ways, and to different degrees, to all three of these objectives. However the actual operations needed to achieve conservation will vary from strict protection, involving exclusion of other human activity, to agro-forestry programmes. The concept involves a multidisciplinary approach, and the recognition that local people, who are responsible for much of the biotic pressure on the forest, must play a role in the planning, management and protection of the forest resources. The means to achieve the reconciliation of development and conservation objectives is the Joint Forest Planning and Management (JFPM) system, which derives from practices being developed by the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD).

The two essential elements are:

  1. Joint Planning - a consultative process by which the KFD and local people jointly discuss the ecological and environmental condition of a specific area of the forest, and the scope for it to meet specific needs.

  2. Joint Management - for certain areas, where the KFD and forest users will agree on a division of responsibilities for management and a division of the proceeds. The precise arrangements will vary from one specific area to another and as appropriate the joint management may cover all, or only certain categories of the trees and other plants present.

A key element is the division of the forest into four zones, with an additional zone comprising an area immediately outside the Reserved Forest to be jointly managed to meet the needs of the adjacent villages. Within that a boundary zone of forest, also under joint management with local people, will serve similar objectives. The main part of the forest is to be managed for production of timber and other products, divided into two zones, depending on whether or not there are forest-dwelling people. Finally the “core” zone is strictly reserved for conservation objectives. An important aspect of the management of all areas where joint responsibilities operate is the preparation of contractual forest agreements according to specific micro-level plans. The ownership and statutory responsibility for management over the entire forest reserve remains with the KFD, even where management responsibility may be shared by contractual agreement.

Future working plans for the management of the forest will be prepared by zones. In the “core” zone the plan will be oriented to research, concerned with autecology and the interrelationships between species, and with studies providing a “control” for comparison with the regeneration, growth and yield studies in the production zones, which will be designed to gather the data needed for management, silvicultural and harvesting activities.

The satisfactory harmonization of the different objectives and interests is dependent not only on the process of joint planning and management but also on the incorporation of new information to be gathered in the course of the project into the management process, related to improved understanding of both ecological and socio-economic relationships; and on the realisation and distribution of benefits from improved management of the resource. In addition to the biological research directly related to the conservation and management of the forest's genetic resources, aspects of social and economic research, and the incorporation of staff training and public education into the programme are also needed.

The conceptual relationship between meeting the needs of the local people, restoring and maintaining the productivity of the forest resource and the conservation of overall genetic diversity and genetic resources, is illustrated below.

Efficient data collection, handling and analysis will be an important feature of the strategy, using enhanced GIS capabilities, taxonomic databases, and when appropriate modelling of growth, yield and other features of the production system. Where, because of the severe reduction in the regeneration within the forests, and the need to reestablish viable populations, enrichment planting and gap planting is planned, careful selection and documentation of seed sources will be needed to safeguard the genetic integrity of the local populations. In some circumstances, particularly in the outer zones, the use of exotic species incapable of hybridizing with indigenous populations, may be appropriate. However important opportunities exist to reinforce in situ conservation of the genetic resources of the original forest by artificial regeneration using local seed sources. For some species the strategy may also include aspects of ex situ conservation, possibly in association with the Trivandrum Botanic Garden in the adjacent Kerala State, which has an emerging programme for the conservation of rare and endemic plants of selected centres of endemism within the Western Ghats.

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