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4. Policy and planning for integrated coastal area management


There are a number of international conventions and regional directives that offer protection to coastal areas. As yet there is no international convention on forests, although a set of non-legally binding Principles on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of Forests Worldwide (commonly referred to as the Forest Principles) was widely adopted at the Rio Conference in 1994.

The policy directions set out below, are drawn from regional and selected country experience.

4.1.1 Sustainable development

Sustainability needs to be addressed in the widest sense possible. Many of the issues that need to be addressed in order to achieve sustainable development originate outside the forestry sector (e.g. more general problems stemming from population pressure, poverty, inequitable access to resources, unemployment and health, and specific problems caused by adverse environmental externalities21 generated by other sectors in the coastal area). Unless a concerted effort is made to tackle these problems, sustainable forest management cannot be achieved.

Efforts are also needed at the international level to: `assist technology transfer and the sharing of skills and information; to ensure that trade in forest products is sustainable and equitably rewarded; to coordinate forest monitoring and accounting and to compensate countries that protect forest assets for global benefits, on the basis of services supplied' (Sargent and Bass, 1992). The latter is still a controversial issue, but the principle is incorporated to some extent in the Conventions on Biological Diversity and Climate Change.

4.1.2 Land-use policy

A national land-use policy should be defined and/or reformulated and implemented. Such a policy should use sound and clear criteria for land-use classification and for the reallocation of uses to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of coastal forest and wildlife resources and provide for the establishment of a permanent resource base.

Permanent forest and wildlife reserves. To ensure protection and conservation, coastal forests that have been classified for protection or production purposes should be constituted as legal reserves, regardless of ownership.

Reallocation of land to other uses and the need for environmental impact assessment. Activities with potentially adverse impacts on coastal forest ecosystems, in particular proposals for converting existing coastal forests to non-forest uses, should be subject to environmental impact assessment (including an assessment of cumulative impacts).22 Such activities include: the construction of dams; coastal protection and flood control measures; housing and industrial estates; large-scale tourism facilities, marinas, ports and other infrastructure; mining activities; dredging and filling; oil exploitation; and waste disposal.

To minimize the adverse impacts generated by the forestry sector, environmental impact assessments of forestry activities suspected of generating adverse environmental effects should also be required by law (examples include the construction or extension of forest industries and the establishment of large-scale plantations requiring the conversion of existing natural ecosystems or large amounts of water for irrigation).

Increasing the resource base. Community-based coastal plantations and private wood lots should be promoted to expand the forest resource base. Concomitant measures to clarify the usufructuary rights and land tenure arrangements for rural communities should be made. A strategy for the restoration of degraded forest areas should be formulated.

4.1.3 Sustainable management of coastal forest ecosystems

Multiple-use concept. Single-use management of coastal forests should be avoided as this forecloses the many direct and indirect benefits and services that the natural coastal ecosystem can offer on a continuing basis. A policy statement on the need for multiple-use management of coastal forest resources, particularly for forestry, wildlife, fishery and agriculture development and conservation should therefore be formulated and politically supported at the highest level of government.

Management plans. The continued provision of forest products and services is greatly dependent upon the effectiveness of forest and wildlife management measures. Management plans for coastal forests should therefore be prepared and implemented, integrating the production of selected wood and non-wood products and providing for forest services corresponding to the available resources and the current and projected demand. Such plans should identify the carrying capacity and maximum sustainable use levels for various activities, including allowable annual harvesting levels for wood and non-wood forest products, and ensure that these are never exceeded.

Multiple-use management should be promoted within each forest management unit involving as many different species, varieties and clones as feasible to conserve biological diversity and reduce risks. Where uses are incompatible, a classification of individual forest ecosystems or parts thereof for specific priority purposes may be needed. Such classifications should be based on resource surveys, demand for particular products and services and the ecological, technical and economic suitability of resource uses.23

Whereas there is already a tradition for ten-year management plans in forestry, the plans have often had a very narrow scope, concentrating on harvesting and silvicultural practices for a few commercial timber species. The scope of forestry plans should be broadened to take account of other direct and indirect uses of the forest and the interactions occurring within the sector as well as between the forestry sector and other sectors in the coastal area.

Criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. The establishment of criteria for sustainable forest management should be promoted and indicators identified that can be monitored on a regular basis. Box C.7 provides examples of such criteria and practices recommended to achieve sustainable forest management.

Achieving sustainability in forest management

For all types of forestry, whether plantations or natural forests managed for timber or other products, sustainability can be achieved through:

  • maintaining the harvest of all products at sustainable levels by: careful control of harvesting levels, timing and frequency; minimizing damage through harvesting residual stock; and monitoring and feedback into silvicultural management;
  • maintaining essential ecosystem processes by: retaining continuous vegetation cover; returning nutrients to the soil (e.g. through in-forest debarking and conversion); minimizing soil compaction by the careful use of light machinery and animals; maintaining watercourse patterns; and careful control of chemical use;
  • maintaining biological diversity at ecosystem, species and gene levels by: adopting multispecies/variety/clone systems wherever feasible; incorporating secondary succession as far as possible, rather than treating it as a weed problem; and integrated pest management;
  • satisfying the needs of people living in and around the forest by: involving local people at all stages in forest boundary definition, planning, management, harvesting and monitoring of the forest, and forest product processing; employing local people; compensating for foregone rights and privileges; providing access and usufruct rights; providing recreation facilities; ensuring landscape and cultural compatibility;
  • ensuring economic sustainability: on the part of the forest user, through investing in processes that minimize external inputs of materials and energy, recycle and reduce waste and, especially, turn `waste' into products; and through investment in forestry research, species/provenance selection and breeding; and on the part of governments, through creating conditions that will ensure that forest users stay in business but do not reap an excessive portion of forest rent.

Source: extracted from Poore and Sayer, 1987.

4.1.4 Institutional matters

Jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of government agencies and the rights and privileges of government institutions and organizations, NGOs, communities and individuals affecting the conservation and use of coastal forests should be clarified. Where existing institutions and organizations are found to be inadequate to meet the needs of effective renewable resource management, legislative and administrative action should be taken to build effective administrative structures and to provide funding for appropriately skilled staff.24

Devolution of power and appropriately qualified institutions. To ensure sustainability, each forest area or management unit should be managed in accordance with the local ecological and socio-economic conditions. For this to be achieved, responsibility for forest management can be, where possible, devolved to local institutions and the capability of these to manage forests for multiple purposes must be strengthened. Where traditional forest management systems exist, these should be reinforced.

Forest and wildlife service. In view of the special needs of some types of coastal forests, establishing a management unit within the forest and wildlife service (or other department holding such responsibility) that is responsible for management planning, harvesting, reforestation and protection of coastal forests may be appropriate in countries endowed with abundant coastal forest resources.

Research, information, communication and training. Important prerequisites for sustainable forest management include applied research documenting positive ideas and developments in the field of multipurpose management of forest ecosystems, diffusion of information in appropriate formats to generate support for suitable solutions, consultation and dialogue with the various partners in forest management (including forest dwellers and other forest-dependent rural groups), and human resources development to ensure that enough people are adequately trained in new approaches and practices (Salleh and Ng, 1994; Montalembert and Schmithüsen, 1994).

Additional prerequisites essential for the formulation of an ICAM strategy aimed at enhancing positive and complementary cross-sectoral interactions and minimizing competing and antagonistic interactions include a sound knowledge of the ecological links between coastal forest ecosystems and other terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and of the impacts of human actions on such links.

Applied research, information dissemination, establishment of communication channels and consultation mechanisms, public awareness campaigns and training of government staff, local communities and other interested parties in issues related to the conservation and sustainable use of coastal forest ecosystems within the framework of an approved ICAM strategy should therefore be actively promoted.

4.1.5 Social issues

Sufficient coastal forest areas should be designated for the supply of goods and services needed by local rural communities. Equitable distribution of forest management incentives, costs and benefits between the forest authority, forest owners, rural communities and private entrepreneurs is another vital requirement for the optimum contribution of coastal forests to economic welfare.

4.1.6 Fiscal policies

Forest revenue systems that fail to capture the potential economic rent of timber production and to cover economic replacement costs (reforestation and maintenance) and that levy charges on the volume of wood removed regardless of species, grade and site conditions (leading to high-grading and destructive harvesting techniques) should be amended.

Incentives to rehabilitate degraded areas and subsidies to private owners providing public services are examples of incentives with a positive effect on the coastal forestry sector and these should be promoted further.25


4.2.1 Direct government investment

Physical infrastructure. The provision of physical infrastructure such as roads linking forests to markets may decrease the transportation costs for forest products, stimulate production and demand, and generate additional income for local people. However, the construction of roads can also lead to overexploitation of coastal forests and to human encroachment.

Purchase of land. Where coastal forests are privately owned and deemed to be of national importance (e.g. for biological diversity conservation) the government can purchase them to secure their protection.

Education and training. Most coastal forests and forest resources are owned by the state. Consequently, government plays a major role in the preparation and implementation of forest and wildlife management plans. Plans can also be implemented, under agreement with government, by agencies, enterprises, local communities and even individual forest users.

Education and awareness include:

4.2.2 Institutional and organizational arrangements

The creation of effective administrative structures and the provision of funding for appropriately skilled staff and for research are important prerequisites for sustainable development.

As mentioned in Section 4.1.4, specific institutional actions include: revision and clarification of jurisdiction, obligations, rights and privileges; devolution of power to local institutions and strengthening of these where needed; and the creation of a special unit within the forestry and wildlife service responsible for coastal forest ecosystems, where appropriate. The revision of tenurial arrangements and the establishment of mechanisms for public participation are also necessary.

More imporantly, the creation of a coordinating committee for ICAM is needed for formulation and implementation of integrated forestry management.

4.2.3 Command and control measures

Command and control measures in the form of laws and regulations are very common but do require that the government has the workforce and resources necessary to enforce them.

Land-use zoning. The decision in many countries to require by law the retention or establishment of a buffer zone of trees along coastlines and waterways to provide protection against the actions of wind and waves, habitats for wildlife and detritus for the aquatic food web is an example of a specific land-use zoning measure adopted to enhance some of the existing, positive interactions between the forestry sector and other coastal sectors. Minimum distance limits between developments and natural forests such as mangroves and the creation of protected areas such as national parks and wildlife reserves with restricted access in the core zone are other examples of land-use zoning.

Environmental impact assessment. The enactment of legislation to require the carrying out of EIA prior to the approval of certain development activities is an important measure to prevent adverse environmental impacts and one that has been introduced in most developed and many developing countries.

The critical point is to ensure that the EIA be conducted early in the planning process and that the result be taken into due consideration in the decision-making process.

Pollution control. The most common form of pollution regulation is through the setting of environmental standards including the total prohibition of the use of certain chemicals. However, other methods of pollution control have recently gained a lot of interest Ð in particular, economic instruments.

Restrictions on resource use. Restrictions on resource use aim at minimizing unsustainable use of coastal forests and their resources and reducing the adverse environmental effects of forestry activities. Typical measures include placing limits on the size of area that can be cleared at one time and the imposition of appropriate timber harvesting methods in erosion-prone areas, prohibiting the felling of trees in buffer zones along coastlines and waterways, limiting the number and types of animals that can be hunted or making restrictions in the hunting season, and limiting the number and size of charcoal kilns or sawmills allowed to operate in an area.

On an international scale, restrictions on forest resource use are also found in the form of trade restrictions, such as those employed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Requirements can also be unilaterally imposed by individual countries in the form of export or import restrictions (e.g. import restrictions on tropical timber from countries that cannot prove that the timber originates from sustainably managed forests) although unilaterally imposed import restrictions may conflict with the rules of the World Trade Organization.

4.2.4 Economic instruments

Economic instruments can also include various forms of taxation (e.g. penalties, tax incentives, subsidies, tradable permits).26

Charges. Charges in the form of royalty and stumpage fees for timber or a license fee to allow the harvesting of non-timber forest products are imposed in most state-owned forests and the level of this charge can be raised to reduce demand and increase government revenues. However, it is often the poorest section of the population who is affected by such measures and they should therefore be designed with care. A user charge, such as an entrance fee, can also limit the use of a recreational area or the number of visitors to a wildlife sanctuary. Import taxes are another form of charge that is frequently employed.

Subsidies and tax incentives. The removal of inappropriate subsidies (favouring inefficient and wasteful use of resources) is often required to prevent or minimize adverse externalities. Incentives can be in the form of grants to landowners as compensation for wildlife damage, subsidies for rehabilitation of egraded areas and tax incentives for plantation establishment.

Tradable permits. Although these are not often used in the forestry sector, they are becoming a more common form of pollution control measure and may be applied to forest industries, the effluence of which is adversely affecting the quality of nearby water courses.


The management of forests constitutes the core of any strategy or programme in the field of forestry. In its broadest sense, forest management deals with the administrative, economic, legal, technical and scientific aspects of the conservation and use of forests and associated wildlife, within the framework of a technically sound and politically accepted overall land-use plan. It implies various degrees of human intervention, ranging from action aimed at safeguarding and maintaining the forest ecosystem and its functions, to favouring given socially or economically valuable species or groups of species for the improved production of goods and environmental services.

In technical terms plan development includes the formulation and implementation of forest management plans, which help control and regulate harvesting of specified goods, combined with silvicultural and protective measures applied to varying degrees of intensity to sustain or increase the social, ecological and economic values of the forest (Vantomme, 1995).

Most coastal forests and forest resources are owned by the state. Consequently, government plays a major role in the preparation and implementation of forest and wildlife management plans. Plans can also be implemented, under agreement with government, by agencies, enterprises, local communities and even individual forest users.

The levels of forest management plans are usually tied to geographical units as illustrated in Box C.8.

Different types of forest management plan

The regional management plan covers a region or province that is territorially divided into a number of forests or forest districts that are sustainable units, including coastal forests. Whereas provinces and districts are civil administrative units, which may be demarcated socio-politically, forest districts are delineated according to natural terrain features, which may or may not coincide with the administrative units above. As the area covered is extensive, the planning horizon is necessarily long-term, because large investments are needed for plan implementation. Regional forest plans often have a time frame of ten to 20 years.

At the forest management/working plan level, the management area is most likely to be a forest district, often constituted as a forest reserve. The forest management plan covers all of the forest and, although predicted removals and a felling plan are prepared for the whole rotation (e.g. 25 to 30 years), the plan period may be ten years or less as a result of the difficulties of forecasting the economic and demand situations over long periods.

The working plan, on the other hand, only covers areas in which forest operations are to be undertaken within the working plan period, which is often shorter than the forest management plan for the district in order to take account of new factors or changes (normally five to ten years). The working plan may be further divided into separate plans covering silviculture, harvesting operation, etc.

An operational plan entails a further division of the area in that it deals with detailed specifications for on-site operations to be carried out in the near future (one to three years at most) and may be prepared for each range within the forest.

Source: FAO, 1994a.

The basic planning steps applicable to each planning level, with minor modifications, are described in Box C.9.

Steps in forestry planning

Setting the terms of reference

Define the management area, the planning horizon, the financial and human resources and the time-frame allotted to undertake the tasks. This will not be a problem in a plan revision exercise, where the area is known and past survey cost data are available. For an unmanaged area, however, attention should focus on what is practicable and affordable.

Assemble baseline information

Relevant socio-economic, ecological and resource data are collected, compiled, analysed and documented in a structured format. Existing maps, available data and past inventory records are consulted and updated.

Identify constraints

Constraints are generally inflexible but may be circumvented in some cases. For example, if the tract of forest to be managed is too small, a switch to higher value-added products or service management may justify the operating cost involved. Alternatively, where land is available, the forest estate could be enlarged through land acquisition or reservation. Constraints are categorized as follows:

  • technical/biological: technical or biological factors may constrain the extraction methods to be applied or the products to be produced. For example, site limitations will restrict the species that can be established;
  • financial: the rate of return on capital may be insufficient to meet the rigid standards set by lending institutions;
  • socio-economic: a plan cannot operate in isolation. The resources allotted to its use will become unavailable for other uses. The overall benefit to the community involves employment generation, environmental impact and `invisible' benefits derived from savings in other sectors, such as improved fisheries, ecotourism and coastal protection. Local customs, culture and religious beliefs may constrain the use and promotion of certain products or services, such as alcohol from fermented nypa sap or wild boar meat;
  • institutional: these are limitations imposed by the organizational and managerial ability of the body executing the plan, and include such issues as the legal framework, social patterns and attitudes, low literacy rates, etc.

Formulate objectives

Production goals should be designed to meet as many of the societal needs for each resource use as possible within the limits of sustainability. Other goals regarding the environment, soils and water protection and rural development are also considered within the framework of the global ICAM strategy.

Develop management alternatives

Where economic and financial data are available, management alternatives may be compared in terms of their cost-effectiveness, taking into account other equally valid considerations, versus social, cultural and environmental factors. The choice and ranking of priorities will depend on the alternatives that can best achieve the preferred set of objectives.

Prepare management plan

The term `management plan' is here used in the generic sense to include plans applicable to each planning level. This plan should be part of an ICAM programme to ensure sustainable multiple use of the coastal forest and wildlife resources.

Implementing the plan

An activity schedule to implement plan targets is drawn up. Further data may need to be collected, such as regeneration sampling prior to logging.


Periodic review of plan outputs is required to see how well objectives are being met and to make adjustments as required. To facilitate the evaluation process, indicators for measuring the success or efficiency of the adopted plan are drawn up.

Plan evaluation and revision

Ideally the forest management plan should be evaluated at least once during the planning period and revisions incorporated where necessary. However, because of the amount of work involved in such an exercise, plan evaluation is often only undertaken in connection with the preparation of the next management plan. Such an evaluation should, inter alia, encompass an assessment of the following:

  • standing stock and growth rate compared with the estimated production and the actual yield;
  • the environmental impacts of the current harvesting system and an examination of mitigation measures that could be undertaken;
  • plan objectives;
  • the need for changes in current silvicultural operations;
  • further research needed in order to refine the present management prescriptions.

Source: adapted from FAO, 1994a.

21 See Part A, Sections 1.5 and 1.6, and the Glossary.

22 See Part A, Box A.6.

23 See Box C.7.

24 See also Part A, Section 2.3.5.

25 See also Part A, Table A.5.

26 See Part A, Table A.5.

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