0085-C1

Forests, Source of Life for the Forest-Based Industries

L. Ratha Krishnan[1]


Abstract

The objective of the present study is to analyse and understand the relative dependency of different forest-based industries on forests and their survival strategies in the context of diminishing forest cover and non-availability of timber in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, India. A stratified sampling technique was adopted to select small-scale industries and a census method was used to choose medium and large-scale industries. The study found that Government policy was mainly responsible for the fast growth of forest-based industries in the selected districts. Forests provide raw materials to large, medium, and small-scale industries. Hence, forests are a source of life for the forest-based industries. As the New Forest Policy (1988 and 1992) restricts the felling of green trees, the industries are now facing the problem of raw material shortages. Among the industries taken up for the study the medium and large-scale industries have better prospects than small industries. Many small wood-based enterprises, cart manufacture for example, experience problems. More afforestation and a commitment by the forest department to supply forest produce to industries is the only way for sustained survival of small-scale wood-based industries in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, India.


Introduction

Timber industry in India was initially confined to produce building materials, agriculture implements, bullock carts, and railway sleepers. Forest based industries were encouraged because of its rural identity and its ability to solve the problem of unemployment and poverty. In addition, the policy makers had also perceived that natural resource based industrial development is a pre-requisite for the economic development of less developed countries like India. Hence, the Government, both at the Centre and State encouraged establishment of small, medium, and large-scale forest based industries in the region. Due to this policy, the country witnessed heavy pressure of industries on forests for raw material purpose.

This paper attempts to fill this void by exploring some important issues relating to growth of forest industries and their reliant on forests for survival. The major objective of the present study is to analyse and understand the relative dependency of different forest based industries on forests and their survival strategies in the context of shrinking forest cover and non-availability of timber. Shimoga and Uttar Kannada (hereafter referred to as UK) districts[2] of the Western Ghats[3] of Karnataka was selected for the present study.

Materials and Methods

The study was based on both primary and secondary data. The secondary data pertaining to forest dependence, intake, and outturn of logs and timber supply to local industry and other related data were collected from forest department, statistical bureau, and the Karnataka Industrial Development Corporation. In order to assess the extent of industrial dependency on forests, primary data was collected from two types of respondents. The respondents who directly depend on forests for their survival, such as the small scale industries form first category and the higher officials from medium and large scale forest based industries represent as second category of respondents.

Stratified sampling technique was adopted to select small-scale industries and census method was used to collect data from medium - and large-scale industries. All the registered small enterprises in the District Industrial Centre (DIC) were considered for selection. 10 per cent (124) of the total units registered at the DIC was selected for the present study. Using the census method two large and one medium scale selected industries. A well framed and pre-tested interview schedule was used to collect the primary data from the sample respondents. The fieldwork was carried out during the year 1993 and the secondary data was collected for a period of two decades, 1973-74 to 1991-92. The collected data was analysed with the help of simple statistical tools such as ratio’s, growth rate - linear and compound, and co-efficient of variation.

Results and Discussion

Forests have always played a significant role in shaping the life of mankind and the economy. Perhaps, forests have contributed much to man’s comfort and enjoyment as well as to his economic development down to ages. They provide wood and other products to meet the domestic and industrial requirements of men. Forests also serve as a source of life for forest industries.

Trends in Forest Utilisation at Macro Level

Forest covers about 19 per cent of the total geographical area of India. The area under forests has come down from 640134 Sq.kms to 639182 Sq.kms. between 1988-89 to 1989 -90. On an average, the country is loosing about 47600 hectares of forest area per year. The loss was due to deforestation for industrial and firewood purpose and diversion of forestland for non-forestry purpose.

As against the loss of forest cover at the all India levels, the area under forests have shown an increasing trend in the study area. On an average 10536 hectares of forest area was being afforested every year in Karnataka. The increase was owing to regeneration and conservation measures adopted by the State, transfer of non-wooded district forests, and ‘C and D’ class revenue wastelands from the revenue department to forest department for afforestation purpose.

Trends in Outturn of Forest Produce in Karnataka

Table 1 explains an overview of outturn of forest produce in the State as well as in select districts. A cursory view of the table reveals a downward trend in the production of major and minor forest produce in the State as well as in the select districts. The extraction of major forest produce had declined from 1320829 cu.m to 339832 cu.m in 18 years period in the select districts. Similarly, the extraction of minor forest produce also declined from 57065 tonnes to 5847 tonnes between 1973-74 and 1990-91. The trend remains same for the State as well. The decline in the production of forest produce was owing to strict enforcement of forest policy, namely less exploitation and sustainable management of forest resources.

Among the forest produce, the extraction of firewood was found to be higher. It is due to higher dependency of people on forests for firewood purpose. Bamboo shares a majority in the minor forest produce because it is used as raw material in paper industry and cottage industry such as basket weaving. Since bamboo produces quality pulp, the paper mills located in this region have consumed more bamboo than any other softwood. Furthermore, subsidised rate of supply of bamboo is also a reason for higher outturn. A noteworthy aspect of the above table is that the industries located in the study area had extracted more than 50 per cent of major and 30 per cent of minor forest produce from the select districts alone. Thus, forest is an instrument for growth of industries in the districts.

Table 1: Trends in Outturn of Forest Produce

(MFP in cu.m and mfp in tonnes)

Year

Major Forest Produce

minor forest produce

Timber

F.W

Total

Bam.

Cane

Other

Total

Out-turn of forest produce in the State

1973-74

1069067

1481970

2551037

385295

701

10521

396517

1977-78

1472260

1323802

2796012

143745

569

23948

168262

1981-82

636809

677889

1314698

170737

1093

13871

185701

1985-86

452622

499029

951651

68815

1528

11565

81908

1990-91

148232

358885

507073

47316

2500

12499

62315

Out-turn of forest produce in the Select Districts

1973-74

52204

798788

1320829

55542

120

1403

57065

1977-78

549992

690628

1240620

54962

396

2209

57567

1981-82

241436

335566

577002

98559

474

2149

101182

1985-86

151390

474445

625835

28985

319

1366

30670

1990-91

96653

243179

339832

5296

252

299

5847

Sources: (i) Various Annual Administration Report of the Karnataka Forest Department, Bangalore.(ii) Anon, 1980, 1984, 1987, Karnataka Forest Statistics, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Bangalore.

Trends in Industrial Removal of Forest Produce

It is found from the Table 2 that industrial removal has shown a negative growth rate. Among the forest produce, the extraction of softwood was found to be more homogenous than the removal of other forest produce by the forest based industries in the State. The higher extraction of softwood and bamboo was due to the existence of two paper mills in the districts. Within the two paper mills, the private owned West Coast Paper Mill (WCPM) has extracted more softwood (107106 tonnes) and bamboo (640363 tonnes) than the Government managed Mysore Paper Mill (MPM), which has extracted 68759 tonnes of Eucalyptus and 202036 tonnes of bamboo during the study period.

Table 2: Industrial Removal of Forest Produce

(MFP in cu.m; Bamboo and other Softwood in Tonnes)

Year

Industrial Removal in the State

Industrial Removal in the select districts

Timber

Bamboo

other Softwood

Timber

Bamboo

Other Softwood

1982-83

187599

243649

109260

80846 (43)

71095 (29)

44136 (40)

1984-85

56177

77476

84097

41765 (74)

32110 (41)

28949 (34)

1986-87

71750

59421

34950

52569 (73)

28372 (48)

18479 (53)

1987-88

86096

67772

40425

43407 (50)

34862 (51)

13502 (33)

1988-89

9468

35244

58806

6992 (74)

20341 (58)

32816 (56)

Sources: (i) Various Annual Administration Report of the Karnataka Forest Department, Bangalore. (ii) Anon, 1980, 1984, 1987, Karnataka Forest Statistics, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Bangalore.

Notes: (i) Eucalyptus is included in other softwood (ii) Figures in Parentheses indicate per cent share of industrial removal in the select districts to State

The industries located in select districts have removed 63 per cent of timber, 45 per cent of bamboo, and 43 per cent of softwood to the total removal of forest produce in the State during the study period. The higher quantity of removal of forest produce in the districts was due to the location of a large number of wood based industries in the districts. Hence, forest act as a source of life for large number of traditional as will as modern forest based industries.

Forests, Source of Life for the Forest Based Large and Medium Scale Industries

Forest serves as a source of livelihood for the large and medium scale industries located in the study area. Several industries were operating in the study region. However, few forest-based industries have got the privilege to extract forest products on their own. The Indian Plywood Manufacturing, MPM, Western Indian Match Company, Harihar Polifibres, WCPM, and Karnataka State Veneers are a few worth mentioning. Taking advantage of this Policy decision, many private industrialist have got long-term agreement with the forest department and started to exploit the forests in a haphazard manner.

Table 3: Forests, Source of Life for Large and Medium Scale Industries

(Timber in cu.m and Bamboo in tonnes)

Year

Total Removal in the State

Industrial Removal in the State

Industrial Removal in the select Districts

Timber

Bamboo

Timber

Bamboo

Timber

Bamboo

1982-83

502883

371492

187599 (37)

243649 (66)

80846 (16)

71095 (19)

1984-85

477234

163715

56177 (12)

77476 (47)

41765 (9)

32110 (20)

1986-87

488935

92370

71750 (15)

59421 (64)

52569 (11)

28372 (31)

1987-88

395399

108253

86096 (22)

67772 (63)

43407 (11)

34862 (32)

1988-89

189126

81924

9468 (5)

35244 (43)

6992 (4)

20341 (25)

Sources: (i) Various Annual Administrative Report of the Karnataka Forest Department, Bangalore. (ii) Anon 1980, 1984, and 1987, Karnataka Forest Statistics, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Bangalore.

Note: Figures in Parentheses indicate per cent share of forest industries dependency on State forests.

Although the raw material received from forest department was considered to be permanent, the supply is declining year after year. Industries located in the select districts have received 16 per cent of timber in 1982-83, which has been reduced to 4 per cent in 1988-89. Similarly, the supply of bamboo to industries also declined from 31 per cent in 1986-87 to 25 per cent in 1988-89 (see Table 3). The trend remains same for the State as well. The forest department supply of bamboo is found to be more homogenous than the supply of any other raw material. The department supply of other raw material shows a negative growth rate.

As forest department has reduced its supply, the forest based medium and large-scale industries are depending on private source for their raw material requirement. In addition, industries are meeting their raw material requirements through industrial captive plantation and also by importing it from other States and other countries. The industries have also substituted bagasse, pine trees, eucalyptus and acacia for bamboo. Nonetheless, the forest is a sole dependable source of raw material, required by industries and also the only major level player for the survival of large and medium scale industries in the study area.

Dependency of Small Scale Industries on Forest Products

The small-scale industries in the study area consume teak, rosewood, sandalwood, bamboo, cane and other jungle woods for their survival. These raw materials can be broadly grouped as major and minor forest produce. The small-scale industries like Wood Timber Sawing and Furniture and Cart Manufacturing require major forest produce. On the other hand, the Bamboo and Cane Manufacturing and sandalwood Carving enterprises require minor forest produce. Based on the survey, the 124 sample industries were grouped under six sub-groups, namely Wood and Timber Sawing (WTS), Wooden Furniture (WFU), Cart Manufacturing (CMG), Rose and sandalwood Caring (RSC), Miscellaneous Wood Industries (MWI), and Bamboo and Cane Manufacturing (BCM).

Forests, Source of Life for the Small Scale Industries

The small-scale industries purchased wood and timber from two main sources, namely from the forest department or Government and from private parties. Almost all our respondents have purchased wood and timber from the forest department. About 54 per cent of major forest produce and 67 per cent of minor forest produce were exclusively supplied by the forest department to the small-scale industries. Table 4 further explains the role of different agencies in supplying wood, timber, bamboo, and cane to the small-scale industries. Among the sources, the smuggles have also supplied all kinds of forest produce except sandalwood. The small-scale industries depend on this source to the extent of 16 per cent for minor forest produce and six per cent for major forest produce. Although the quantity supplied by bootleggers is less when compared to other sources, their role may become intensified in case of heavy demand for forest products by the small-scale industries in future.

Table 4: Forests, Source of Life for the Small Scale Industries

(Wood and Timber in cu.m; Sandal wood in Kg; Bamboo and Cane in no.)

Source

Major Forest Produce

minor forest produce

Teak

Rose

Jungle Wood

Total MFP

Sandal wood

Bamboo

Cane

Total mfp

Government

425
(44)

719
(72)

4360
(52)

5504
(54)

2630
(100)

8150
(57)

99850
(68)

108000
(67)

Malki Holders

215
(22)

146
(15)

1630
(20)

1991
(19)

-

-

22000
(15)

22000
(14)

Farmers

50
(5)

-

1589
(19)

1639
(16)

-

5100
(36)

-

5100
(3)

Saw Mills

195
(20)

84
(8)

278
(3)

557
(5)

-

-

-

-

Smugglers

89
(9)

46
(5)

458
(6)

593
(6)

-

1080
(7)

25950
(17)

27030
(16)

Total

974
(100)

995
(100)

8375
(100)

10284
(100)

2630
(100)

14330
(100)

147800
(100)

162130
(100)

Source: Computed from Primary Data Collected in 1993.
Note: Figures in parentheses indicate per cent to total.

The Government or the forest department was the only authorized dealer for extraction and supply of sandalwood. Therefore, no middlemen were found here, however, the bootleggers play substantial representation in supplying other forest produce to small-scale industries. Particularly, the CMU industry is completely depend on smugglers for hard and softwood. Nonetheless, the forest is the main source of supply of rose wood in the Western Ghats. Since rose wood is a national property, the forest department alone can extract it from forests and supply the same to the small-scale industries, especially RSC. The table clearly explains the role of forests for continuous survival of small-scale forest industries. Almost 60 per cent of small and cottage entrepreneurs have depended on forest department for its sustained raw material supply.

Impact of Wood Shortage on Forest Based Industry

Almost all small-scale industries have informed to the researcher that they face shortage of wood and many have lost their occupation. They are slowly migrating to some other occupation. The deforestation coupled with shortage of wood had severely affected the small scale industries, particularly CMG and RSC industry. It was also found that deforestation and non-availability of forest produce was mainly responsible for the closure of many traditional industries like Ayurvedic and woodcraft industries. As far as medium and large-scale industries are concerned, they try to fulfill the wood requirement either through their own captive plantation or through private supply, sometime by importing wood from foreign countries. As an alternative, the wood based large scale industries have already started to replace a few raw materials like bamboo by other substances, such as bagasse pulp from sugar industry, unfamiliar soft wood such as acacia, pine and eucalyptus. Since the supply of wood and timber is scarce, the small scale industries have started to combine synthetic nylon wires, plywood, sunmica, and steel along with wood, timber, bamboo, and cane products.

Conclusion

Forests no doubt serve as a source of life for the forest based small, medium, and large-scale industries in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, India. However, due to the shrinking forest area the industries are facing wood famine since 1985-86. Interestingly, they have tried to meet the demand on their own through industrial captive plantation. Nonetheless, long term plan is needed such as planting trees on wasteland, encouraging farmers to grow trees on farm lands, mixed captive plantation, and optimum utilisation of wood resources seem to be an immediate and wise solution for solving the present problem and for sustained life of all forest based industries in the study area. To conclude, the Government should supply raw materials for the survival of small-scale industries than the medium and large-scale industries. Because the small scale industries play a pivotal role in creating employment, reducing regional disparities, increasing avenues to use locally available resources, and their eco-friendly nature.

Literature Cited in the Text

Adkoli, N.S, 1988. “ Industrial Plantations in Karnataka”, My Forest, 24(4): 223 -228.

Chandrakanth, M.G, J.V.Venketaraman, and J.K. Gillers 1989. “Inter sectoral Linkages in Forest Sectors of Karnataka: An Emprical Analysis”, in Advances in Forestry Research in India (Vol. III), Ram Prakase (Edi.), International Book Distributors, Dehra Dun: 280.

Rathakrishnan, L, 1997. “The Prospects of Forest Based Small Scale Industries in 21st Century”, Encology, 11 (11): 7-19.

Nadkarni, M.V with Syed Ajmal Pasha and L.S. Prabhakar, 1989. The Political Economy of Forest Use and Management, Sage Publications, New Delhi: 182.


[1] Reader in Rural Industries and Management, Gandhigram Rural Institute, Gandhigram - 624 302, Tamil Nadu, India. Tel: Res. 0451 - 438658; Off: 0451 - 452371-375 (Ext. 202); Email: rathakr@rediffmail.com
[2] Throughout the report Shimoga and Uttar Kannada (UK) districts have been represented as Shimoga and UK to mean its association with the district boundary and not related to the name of the place.
[3] A range of hills starting in the southern portion of Gujarath around Dangas district and the territory of Nagar - Haveli and Dadra runs almost parallel to the Arabian Coast in the Deccan. Peninsual right down to Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu. The Ghats commences on the border of Goa in Karnataka and run southwards through Uttar Kanara, Shimoga, South Kanara, Chickmagalur, Hassan, and Coorg districts in Karnataka (Adkoli 1976:161)