7.2 Regulatory issues
7.3 Policies and woodfuel trade
7.4 Fuelwood to reduce imported energy
7.6 Future directions for research and action
The woodfuel scenario in Sri Lanka is highly complex. This is partly due to its spatial context which tends to get overlooked in the process of generalization. For instance, this study reveals that the woodfuel scenario of the rural areas of the Kandy district is not relevant to the urban scenario. This study also demonstrates that inter-regional flows and the commercial mechanisms are important to the urban area. This implies that the supply/demand balance noted in the FSMP regarding Kandy District does not apply to the urban area. In contrast, the deficit situation noted by Howes and Endagama (1995) is a reality because the interregional flow itself is evidence of this. This suggests that generalisations regarding either the balance or a deficit are of little significance where spatial imbalances exist in the production and consumption patterns. Furthermore, the inability to highlight such conditions may result in inappropriate planning and underevaluation of the interregional linkages and income opportunities related to the woodfuel trade. While information on market potentials remains unavailable to the local producers they will not be motivated to involve themselves in rural-urban trade.
The policy issues pertaining to gender and woodfuel trade are associated not only with the forestry sector alone, but also with the local resource-based development sectors, environment, industries, energy sector, trade, health, and overall development within which gender equality has to be emphasised as a national priority. In fact this situation has a much broader geographical context because these aspects are relevant to local, national and regional development. This multi-sectoral context points to the need for harmonising the discrepancies between sectoral policies.
One critical limitation that we observe across regions and sectors is the missing agenda for gender equity or policy concerns to eliminate prevailing gender gaps and achieve the goals of gender equality. This implies that although one could argue that women themselves should come forward to achieve the goals, the national policy guidelines, rights to resources, regional development agendas and intervention mechanisms could do much to satisfy women's needs, because the majority of women's work is decided by external governance.
It is important to note that, although the state has ratified the relevant international conventions and prepared action plans for women, gender mainstreaming has not taken place. In this context, the wood energy development sector, among many others, needs to set its mandate. When one turns back to the FSMP (1995) of Sri Lanka it can be seen that it has stressed the fact that although no serious crisis is likely to emerge, there are local difficulties in meeting the basic energy needs sustainably. Urban consumers, are the ones who face serious difficulties in meeting their needs sustainably, while rural users, the women, will have to face a greater burden with the increasing demand and competition for woodfuel resources likely to emerge in the future.
The need in this situation is to draw up plans to enhance production, improve flow mechanisms, regulate prices and ensure better returns to those who work in the production sphere and manage the supply sector. Similarly, to contribute to the country's development production sectors using wood energy must be guaranteed a sustainable supply at a reasonable cost. National level estimates on supply and consumption have no meaning unless both sides are stimulated and amalgamated efficiently.
The research findings presented in this report enable us to reexamine future policy implications although full coverage pertaining to gender in the woodfuel flow needs national level investigations. However, the elimination of predominant gender disparities in the commercial woodfuel mechanism must become a national priority if the state is committed to accomplishing gender equality. This goal cannot be achieved in isolation and without introducing local agendas. The subsequent discussion is an attempt to point out some major concerns.
The commercial woodfuel trade in Sri Lanka is a rarely investigated phenomenon. The woodfuel trade is largely dominated by the private sector, although the depots of the State Timber Corporation are authorised to sell fuelwood derived from the natural forests and forest plantations. It is important to note that the depots of the State Timber Cooperation have no links with the local delivery mechanism so their efficiency in supplying is low when compared with the private sector. The fuelwood business is subjected to regulations of the Forest Department which is under the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Forestry. Fuelwood of many species grown in non-forest lands cannot be transported without transport permits.
The transport of fuelwood is regulated by this permit system. The procedure involved in getting permits is cumbersome so on the one hand it discourages the supply from external areas, trade and urban-rural linkages and the involvement of small scale suppliers. On the other hand, every effort is made by the suppliers, primarily the small-scale traders, to avoid getting permits. Transport permits are issued for those who can show that the trees are felled on valid permits. As the issuance of transport permits is kept under the control of the administrative bodies of the respective areas, it is often done more on personal contacts enabling only an established group of people to be involved in the business. This situation suggests that the resource mobilisation through which the imbalances between supply and demand, which have been noted as a main issue in FSMP, could be smoothened has not been fully encouraged.
The state regulations pertaining to 'tree felling' and 'transportation' are interrelated. It is an offence to fell some species without permits. If trees are felled illegally there is no way for the producer to contribute fuelwood for the market. None of these are relevant to rubber wood trade, but a permit system was introduced for coconut in early 1977. Many of the better quality species like jak, teak, etc., producing high density wood, grown in homegardens, or in farmers' own lands have to go through this procedure. The fuelwood transportation should, in fact, go through legislation related to timber transport.
The permit systems have been introduced to maintain trees and perennial vegetation cover. In addition, it is also seen as a measure to inhibit deforestation and the illegal transportation of timber including fuelwood. These regulatory measures have been considered as a necessity. The permit system has been enforced on the assumption that wood has been produced from titled lands. The tree growers' title ownership was a requisite for them to get benefits from a harvest of timber and fuelwood. What often happens is that if tree growers have no titles to the lands, then they repetitively use one permit to cut a number of trees. There are many practical advantages and disadvantages related to this system. It has requested farmers to justify their tree harvesting needs. This has a tremendous adverse impact on women because they have no titles to the lands on which they grow trees, even if the lands belong to the household. Harvesting of species producing non-timber products or valuable timber have been delayed until their natural cessation. The disadvantages are greater for the small-scale producers. They have to go through the formal procedure several times, if they want to harvest and transport woodfuel a number of times a year. Opportunity to contribute to the small-scale tree growers from woodfuel trade, under these circumstances has been controlled or reduced. For large-scale tree growers, particularly the better-off ones who have coconut and rubber plantations, the procedure is straightforward, because complete site felling and transportation can be done on one permit. The regulatory measures are not only non-stimulatory but also discourage farmers, including women, from joining the commercial sector.
However, it is important to note that the woodfuel trade started without State interventions. Neither development potential, nor market investigations have been done to improve the flow mechanisms to maximize returns to the suppliers and encourage users. Trade is operated by intermediaries on their own account in an informal manner. For women who do not have title ownership to the lands, these regulatory measures create a double burden associated with both harvesting and transportation.
In this study an attempt was made to understand woodfuel flow patterns and mechanisms and their gender related aspects. The permit system discourages small-scale producers and intermediaries from enhancing flow mechanisms. It impedes the cash returns to the producers, because rather than delivering fuelwood to the urban markets where a relatively high price can be fetched, farmers tend to sell them to dealers or to local entrepreneurs.
In addition, the state regulations have a direct impact on production. In the long run, local people are unable to harvest the trees that they plant on common areas. Land and tree tenure issues pertaining to the development of state lands need more attention and it may be possible to introduce joint management strategies in the future. This means that the state policy in promoting tree planting should guarantee the returns to the tree growers and sustainability. At present either people have to select poor quality woody perennials whose wood can be transported without permits or prepare to accept low returns on their investments by engaging in illegal trade.
The species specific regulatory system is non-stimulatory with regard to indigenous species. Yet, it is important to note, as has been noted in the field survey, many species producing fuelwood are not fast growing species. Indigenous tree planting for the by-products of fuelwood has a strong social context and for women it is most beneficial. Due to the regulatory barriers indigenous tree planting cannot be promoted with the intention of promoting commercial ventures. These measures impede farmers from getting maximum benefits. The inability to get transport permits results in burning timber to clear land in dry zone areas.
The gender implications of these regulations are extremely important because women do not have equal title ownership to land. In fact, this was found to be one of the main reasons why women are not involved in the woodfuel trade. Moreover, they cannot be involved in getting harvesting permits or permits for transportation. The permit applications for harvesting trees and woodfuel are submitted by men thus impeding women's involvement. Thus women's primary concern over fuelwood for self-consumption rather than trade is reinforced. The state regulations obviously reaffirm men's involvement and authority in the woodfuel trade due to their ownership rights to the lands on which trees are grown. No attempts have been made so far in Sri Lanka to develop a full picture and analysis of the gender perspective on woodfuel development. In this respect it is a research priority to screen the regulatory measures, trade mechanisms, production scenarios, and propose the ways and means to ensure gender equity and equality in the forestry and related sectors in Sri Lanka as well as in the countries in the region. The responsibilities in this regard cannot be placed on the forestry sector alone but a committment should be made by all the state agencies responsible for promoting gender equity and equality.
The FSMP (1995) has recognized that improved access to bio-energy resources and the promotion of fuelwood production as a by-product in various agroforestry systems will help to reduce the need to substitute imported energy for fuelwood, thereby saving foreign exchange. The need to promote flow mechanisms along with production to reduce adoption of alternative types has not been taken into consideration. Whether the forestry sector intends to see fast adoption of new forms of energy or is ready to promote production and speed up the delivery mechanism and support services is not clear.
While the state is planning to reduce imported energy and save foreign exchange, women are trying to reduce household expenditure on energy and save family expenditure. What we see here is a common intention to reduce the pressure on expenditure by way of increasing production and reducing the use of costly alternatives.
The projected trends in bio-energy, as given in FSMP, point to an increase in homegarden supply from 26% to 33% between 1993 and 2020. If this is to be achieved, then gender sensitive support services are needed, simply because the activities related to fuelwood in homegardens, fences and hedges are performed more by women. The market can be expanded only if reliable supply systems are organised and the commercial potential of bio-energy and its propects for generating income (including for women) are incorporated into wood energy policies. At present, these are missing in the forestry sector.
In association with the proposed state strategy to improve security of land and tree tenure and to provide extension, credit, low-cost seedlings, and other support services to promote fuelwood production, there is a need to identify committed and efficient actors who are in need of such assets and who have demonstrated an interest in undertaking this challenge. This task cannot be fulfilled without analysing the gender related patterns and practices. It is also necessary to know whether the need here is to make local people self-sufficient or to become producers for the commercial sector.
If the goals are to narrow the gap between the sustainable supply and demand in specific locations, the matter in hand is simple but unachievable because the gap between supply and demand tends to vary. Spatially some areas produce an excess that cannot be consumed by local consumers, while in other areas demand is so high there is no way to promote the local supply to satisfy it. The challenge here is to create interregional linkages, for instance by linking demand concentrated urban areas with rural hinterlands; rural industrial clusters with local and neighbouring production areas. This study has revealed that, although all fuelwood types can be burned, only certain types can be used in the manufacture of quality products. Therefore local and interregional flow mechanisms are needed for the benefits of both producers and consumers. Suitable mechanisms to deal with these aspects must be determined and introduced.
The findings of this study reveal that a clear distinction exists between urban and rural areas in the woodfuel trade. Some of these findings can be turned into recommendations from the perspective of gender and the promotion of woodfuel trade to enhance the returns to tree growers.
i. Regulatory reforms
As long as woodfuel trade is highly regulated in terms of permits, the trade will be under the control of affluent intermediaries who can either escape from the regulatory procedures or get permits without serious difficulties. As the supply of woodfuel for local industries and self consumption is people's own contributions to the sustainability of these systems, the need here is to relieve them from the pressure coming from state agencies so that they can reap the benefits of their investments. Transport licenses should be issued to the farmers involved on the grounds of their engagement, irrespective of their gender. Farmers (men and women) must be given licences to transport pruned branchwood without any difficulty. Technically such practices will improve tree production and lead to better land husbandry. Rather than issuing licences for transportation separately, licences valid for transportation must be issued to those who are engaged in managing tree stocks. This will strengthen the flow mechanisms between rural and urban areas, and provide opportunities for small-scale producers to enter the urban trade. The spatial imbalances in woodfuel availability can be smoothed out through efficiency in trade for which regulatory reforms could contribute tremendously.
ii. Trade efficiency
The bio-energy shortage cannot be eliminated only through promoting production; an attempt must also be made to improve transportation systems. Transportation has no institutional framework, and the private lorry transporters involved in transportation operate quite independently of each other. As a result their supplies are irregular and unreliable. The State Timber Corporation, which has the authority to sell timber from forests and plantations, is not involved in transportation. To improve efficiency in the woodfuel trade woodfuel dealers must be motivated to organize themselves to ensure better distribution of supplies among depots and to the end users.
iii. Wood energy development
At the national level, strategies are needed to reduce the adoption of fuelwood substitutes. Such strategies can be justified in terms of local sustainability, renewability of the bio-energy and in terms of enhancing cash returns to tree growers and rural dwellers. On the one hand the forestry sector has attempted to promote tree farming by private sector and small-scale farmers, and on the other every effort has been made to control the free flow of wood. In fact, as has been mentioned by the transporters, severe penalties on the transportation of fuelwood of some species point to the fact that engagement in such risky business is not worthwhile. Wood energy development has many junctures, from the level of production to the consumption, so the problems in all these segments must be addressed.
iv. Management of woodfuel
In the non-commercial area and production segments women play a vital role. Their day-today handling and engagement points to the fact they are the key actors in managing the stocks. From the point of view of energy security, they avoid acute scarcities under which food processing, food preparation and the consumption of boiled water etc, are threatened. The connection between energy security and food security must be formalised. The other important aspect is related to efficient use: Either by adopting improved stoves or by greater efficiency of use in the kitchen etc. women can contribute to energy conservation on a day-to-day basis. From the perspective of energy development and management discussed by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, 1992), it can be stated that women can contribute tremendously to the efficient management of woodfuel at the household level, in every kitchen on a day-to-day basis. Efficient use management is not only a way to reduce waste, but also a way to reduce the pressure on supply sources and ensure the availability of stocks for the market. The management of local woodfuel resources, in particular the small-scale woodfuel production units, is extremely important if we are to continue the supply of woodfuel to small-scale industries such as bakeries. The sustainability of these industries depends on their being able to obtain wood locally and regularly.
v. Gender specificity of commercial and non-commercial flows
The wood energy sector is one area among many others where gender equality has not been taken into consideration. One question which needs to be raised here is to what extent the fuelwood trade can contribute to improving the living standards of those who are involved in the production of woodfuel and in the flow mechanisms, and how well can it contribute to eradicating gender disparities in getting benefits. There is a well-marked distinction between the woodfuel for household well-being and for cash returns. The findings of this study show that women do not benefit from the cash returns from the trade of woodfuel so the system makes no contribution to uplifting the living standards of women. The process of promoting women's engagement should begin from the level of their right to production sources; their entitlement to get legal permits to harvest and transport, and recognition of their roles in the woodfuel systems. Providing opportunities for small scale producers to be involved in the commercial woodfuel trade would empower women and uplift their living standards.
vi. Inter sectoral linkages
The sectors like energy, agriculture, rural development etc., responsible for forestry development, as a whole must take initiatives to form and strengthen local organisations to prepare local agendas to increase local production. The requirement is to strengthen local flow mechanisms, integrate wood energy into development, enhance wood energy based industries, promote rural-urban delivery systems, introduce pricing systems, and improve technology from the level of harvesting to the level of consumption. In Sri Lanka no single agency is responsible for all these, so there is a need to establish inter-sectoral linkages with the involvement of the people. How should sectoral interventions be organized to deal with local situations, production systems and people, especially as people consist of heterogeneous groups, and may differ in terms of interests, skills, and socio-economic status? What social variable could be used to identify practically desirable groups worth analysing? Adoption of gender as a social variable and analytical framework is of little value unless those who are involved in this area are able to apply gender concepts in a practical, effective and reasonable manner.
vii. Gender analysis of policies
Sectoral policies, particularly the forestry and energy policies, need to be analyzed from the gender perspective. Without such analysis mainstreaming gender will not be possible. Each sectoral policy has stressed the goal to contribute to uplifting people's living conditions. Yet regulations and policies have not assessed their differential impacts on the lives of men and women separately. As a result the needs for equality and equity in development are not effectively recognized.
Research pertaining to commercial woodfuel flow must be conducted to construct local, regional and national scenarios. The study outlined in this report is only an entry point. One of the objectives must be to construct agendas for local forestry, energy and trade on which regional and national frameworks for production, trade and technology can be introduced. Due to the diversity of the production systems and spatial differences it is difficult to generalize, or to replicate the situation of one area to another area.
ix. Understanding of rural urban linkages
The research information pertaining to gender in commercial and non-commercial woodfuel flow mechanisms is limited and sketchy. What is known is the consumption patterns. The linkages between urban commercial distribution mechanisms and the flow from hinterlands are less understood. Better understanding of these is necessary for policy reforms and regulatory reforms.
Two types of training are needed. The first is gender sensitization for all agencies involved. The second is participatory development for extension services in the forestry, agriculture, energy and rural development sectors. Training and experience in community participation and gender planning in land resource-based development are essential to ensure the benefits of woodfuel trade for men and women. A series of training programmes are needed, and should be designed by local institutions. To avoid replication a coordinating body should be identified and supported.
For future development regional, national and local agendas are needed for an integrated approach. In addition to the sectoral integration for which many countries in the region have their own mechanisms, the principles of equity and equality need to be built into the process.
The lesson learned in this study is that the commercial wood energy flow mechanisms are found at two levels. The first is in the form of local circulation and the second takes place inter-regionally. If countries in the region are to prepare for crisis management, the serious imbalances prevailing in some areas/localities and the possible destruction that industries will have to face must be taken into consideration. Similarly, to capture the development potential flow mechanisms must be properly investigated. The promotion of mobilisation mechanisms simultaneously with production enhancement will stimulate producers, managers, intermediaries as well as consumers to contribute to the development efforts pertaining to wood energy. All these aspects are insufficiently investigated matters so these areas must be prioritised in research.
The relationship between gender and wood energy tends to exist at every stage in the process, from production to consumption. It can be argued that as both genders are involved the benefits must be shared. The knowledge accumulated by the two gender groups, and their engagement patterns and activities, have yet to be fully discovered. As a result information delivered to policy makers, wood energy planners and technical experts seems to be sketchy. As most of the woodfuel is used for self-consumption and not for business and income generation, its contribution to human well-being has not been given enough emphasis and the economic implications of the scarcities have not been fully investigated. While women play a central role in the self-consumption sector men dominate the business sector. In this respect many actors of different calibre will have to make a collaborative effort to carry out gender sensitive planning and execution of development programmes to contribute to those who are adversely affected by scarcities and by inadequate incomes, and also to those who are practically engaged in the process - at various stages in production, mobilisation and consumption.
The actors who could potentially contribute to gender responsive development are the Rural Wood Energy Development Programme of the FAO, national mechanisms or responsible co-ordinating bodies of the states, local administrative systems and ordinary people - men and women. Most research related to women and wood energy affirms the fact that women are the responsible gender for providing woodfuel, one of the basic needs, and they are the major victims of resource depletion. The fact proven here is that in the wood energy sector too the notions of "housewife" and "basic needs" have been strongly connected with women and the ideology regarding their gender roles. A collective effort is necessary to eradicate gender bias in contextualizing woodfuel as women's responsibility and as a commodity of economic and survival importance.
To contribute to improving the socio-economic well-being of rural communities, particularly of women who have shouldered the responsibility for procuring fuelwood and silently managing the production systems, many efforts are needed. These include:
i. Set an agenda for the future
Development of regional, national and local agendas to make changes across the region in terms of improving conditions of women and their income generation capacities. RWEDP, in particular, has expressed a great interest in this issue. It has the institutional set-up to bring together experts and those who are concerned with the issues and to facilitate this process in the future.
Although almost all the member countries have prepared their own plans to improve their wood energy sectors, as part of the development of the forestry sector, no country has so far made a noteworthy effort to mainstream gender into the policy frameworks and prepare gender sensitive plans and programmes. This implies that, as has happened in the forestry sector, the strategic interventions may isolate people, women in particular. The time has come to realize that isolated, mushroom type interventions are not making a sound enough change. This study has revealed that whatever the efforts the state makes, women still have to bear an enormous burden of collecting fuelwood from all sorts of sources, some of them remote, while men are engaged in work which has a 'masculine' labour label or leads to an income. To overcome these problems RWEDP should step up its support to the relevant policy formulation agencies in their gender mainstreaming activities, while the forestry sector has to reorient its strategies on the ground.
Although 'woodfuel' is not a neglected part of the forestry sector's policies, in reality the assets allocated to this sector are insignificant. It is a basic need, a renewable resource and a commodity which can easily be produced locally. Nations will either have to prepare for this with local people, or ensure that countries can adopt alternative energy types without burdening the users. In the preparation of local level agendas, focusing on specific spatial contexts, the countries in the region need to be guided by technical experts, sectoral administrators, social scientists, economists and gender experts. The future directions for woodfuel production, flow mechanisms, and energy security must be worked out on the basis of international collaboration but the preparation of local development plans must be given priority.
ii. Gender focused research
It is noteworthy that existing research in this area is often piecemeal and insufficient. To contribute to improved living conditions research needs to be expanded to cover the socio-economic aspects of development including gender, production scenarios, flow mechanisms, and technological improvements. Not only must all these components be planned in a gender sensitive manner, but the conditions for gender equality must be ensured. The research presented in this report is a case study. It is difficult to replicate the results without knowing the ground realities across areas of diverse bio-physical and socio-economic conditions. Similarly, this study has not investigated the production situations in detail, for instance, production source management. To prepare for the future, member countries of the region must conduct in-depth studies, to accumulate information needed to prepare local, national and regional agendas for better integration of gender concerns.
The other crucial need is to establish regional co-operation around "Gender and Wood Energy" for which RWEDP could take the initiative. Networking is a way to strengthen capacity, learn from knowledgeable persons, share and exchange experiences. The experience pertaining to community/social forestry programmes started in the 1980's in the region can be reviewed to identify future directions. The proven fact is that the programmes that have marginalised gender concerns in fuelwood development have only marginally contributed to solving the problems and improving the lives of most women. In Sri Lanka, tree stands consisting of a few exotic varieties have been established under the name of fuelwood development programmes, but these programmes have not been able to improve the overall fuelwood situation. Rather than repeating this mistake again, new plans of action need to be prepared, exchanging experience and knowledge that has been accumulated by various sectors/experts in the region.
A network could bring together gender specialists, wood energy technical experts, sectors dealing with forestry, agriculture, energy and trade. While regional co-operation is essential to prepare for the future, national groups can form their own local networks as a responsible facilitating body to connect all the concerned agencies with ordinary people, and prepare locally adoptable mechanisms to improve production, mobilisation and consumption. It can become an advocacy body dealing with all aspects of wood energy. To work out a suitable programme, a Regional Advocacy Body needs to be formed.
iv. Criteria to identify change
Similarly, to review the work and evaluate the achievements regional experts must establish suitable criteria to screen the contribution of wood energy development to improving the living standards of people, and also its contribution to gender equity. Although the need for gender planning has been emphasised, the specific criteria out of which appropriate changes can be identified have not been worked out. The criteria may reflect the broad goal of gender equality and socio-economic and environmental goals etc. Both long term and short-term goals must be addressed collaboratively. In this regard what has been done so far is to get measurements of biomass production from experimental plots, to determine their potential contribution. What is needed is to see what contributions are being made practically to improve people's lives. Women are probably most sensitive to such changes and are most likely to feel improvements associated with changes in income. A set of indicators should be worked out with local men and women who can monitor and evaluate them and test them for their relevance. Guidelines for the region and the countries involved must be prepared to improve the likelihood of the indicators being adopted. To accomplish this goal research must be done in each country, so appropriate methodologies must be worked out with a group of experts and then studies must be initiated. A set of guidelines for gender equity in wood energy development can be circulated for wider adoption.
v. Training and awareness
Although much effort has been made across the region, with the initiatives of the United Nations to encourage support programmes to uplift women's living standards, the people in different levels in the bureaucratic hierarchy have not been able to grasp how gender mainstreaming can be realised, how evaluations can be carried out, and how to improve the situation. "Gender sensitization" is relevant to all the sectors involved in wood energy development. Whether or not it will be well accepted by senior officers is not known. To accomplish the goal of contributing to uplifting the living standards of women through wood energy development, much work should be done to raise awareness regarding gender as a matter of development concern, as an important socio-economic variable, as an analytical framework, and as a tool for planning. This is where we can turn theory into practice. So far a comprehensive training needs analysis has not been done. Therefore, it is proposed to conduct a training needs analysis and provide support for all the countries concerned to organize a series of training workshops. The people to be involved in these may be senior level policy makers, provincial administrators, local governments, NGOs, and community groups. To begin with, countries should identify training needs and prepare individual plans. The RWEDP can, with a group of experts, screen the training needs and guide the countries and provide its support by way of exchanging experts etc., and training of trainers within respective countries. Most of the directions proposed here are designed to bring resources together and make a collective effort.