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The state of forestry in Asia and the Pacific

Y.S. Rao and C. Chandrasekharan

Y.S. RAO is the Regional Forestry Economist for Asia and the Pacific at the FAO Office in Bangkok and C. CHANDRASEKHARAN is the Forestry Economist dealing with the same region at FAO headquarters in Rome.

A MALAYSIAN RAIN FOREST - in tropical Asia more than 5000 ha are deforested daily

Following the 15th FAO Regional Conference in New Delhi (March 1980), three significant FAO meetings on forestry issues in the Asian region were held: the fifth session of the Committee on Forestry, a meeting of the Committee on Forest Development in the Tropics, and the 11th session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission.

At these meetings two interrelated issues were discussed: increasing population pressure on a limited supply of land and the widespread depletion or degradation of forest cover and its effect on future supplies of forestry goods and services.

Participants noted that wood will remain an important housing material in rural areas of Asia and that the majority of rural people will continue to depend on fuelwood as their primary energy source. Hence, rural forestry activities constitute an important source of income and employment. In the future, participants felt, forestry policies in this region should consciously be directed toward alleviation of poverty through rural development. In doing so, they should integrate productive, protective and social objectives. One social goal, equity, could be used to reinforce a strategy of growth based on active and voluntary participation of the people living in forest communities.

Deforestation and degradation

The FAO/UNEP study Forest resources of tropical Asia (FAO, 1982 reports that the total area under natural woody vegetation, including shifting cultivation areas, in the countries of tropical Asia was 445 million ha in 1980. This is about 44 percent of the total surface (see Table 1).

The countries with the greatest expanse of natural woody vegetation were Indonesia (158 million ha), India (72 million ha), Burma (53 million ha)' Papua New Guinea (40 million ha) and Malaysia (25 million ha).

Closed broad-leaved forests are the most valuable of forest formations The study reports that the 292 million ha of such forests in the region were distributed over 16 different countries (see Table 2).

Open broad-leaved forests comprise 31 million hectares. They predominate in Thailand, India, Laos, Democratic Kampuchea and Papua New Guinea.

The total area covered by coniferous forests is comparatively small (8.4 million ha), with about two-thirds of these considered productive. They are essentially confined to the Himalayan belt in South Asia.

In addition, the region has some five million ha under bamboo, mainly in India. Viet Nam, Thailand and Burma. There are also 73 million ha of forest fallows and about 36 million ha of shrub formations.

Closed broad-leaved forests and coniferous forests together contain a standing volume of about 45 thousand million m³ of wood. This suggests a regional average productivity figure of about 150 m³/hectare. Hardwood resources in virgin productive forests amount to some 21 thousand million m³ or 47 percent of total growing stock. Those in logged-over forests represent 6.6 thousand million m³ or 15 percent of the total growing stock. Total growing stock in closed broad-leaved forests works out at 43.6 thousand million cubic metres. Six countries account for 88 percent of the standing volume (including conifers): Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, India and the Philippines (see Table 3).

Deforestation, in recent years, has emerged as a central problem, both in Asia and in tropical forests all over the world. Although tropical forests are estimated to contain half the world's plant and animal species as well as offering great climatic and economic benefits, this resource is being "deforested", or converted to non-forestry purposes, at an alarming rate of some 5000 ha daily in tropical Asia. From 1976 to 1980, the total deforested area reached nine million hectares - a yearly deforestation rate of some 1815000 hectares. While this rate is expected to level off at 1826000 ha per year during 1981-85, the trend, if it persists, would by the year 2000 convert some 37 million ha of closed forest area to non-forestry uses. This represents a decrease from a total 306 million ha in Asia in 1980 to 269 million ha in 2000 - or a 12 percent depletion. The average annual rate of deforestation of closed forests is 0.6 percent.

Analysis of deforestation rates by country shows that it is highest in Indonesia (over 500000 ha), followed by Thailand (333000 ha). The range is between 100000 and 250000 ha for Malaysia, India, Laos, the Philippines and Burma. The least affected countries in absolute terms are Bhutan (2000 ha), Pakistan (7000 ha) and Bangladesh (8000 ha). Deforestation is most widespread in logged-over productive forests and least present in unproductive closed forests.

In general, logging operations are causing both qualitative and quantitative degradation of the forests. The extent varies, depending both on intensity of logging as well as on the planning and execution of various operations. Recent studies show that 41 percent of cleared areas were occupied by skid trails, roads, landings, etc. after logging occurred. This means that only 60 percent of the logged area could be replanted after intensive logging. The high intensity of open space and bare soil indicates that many trees are either felled or broken in intensively logged forests. It was estimated that as many as 60 trees/ha of commercial species are either broken or injured. This type of degradation, in varying degrees, was reported in some 44 million ha of logged-over forests in insular Southeast Asia where mechanized logging was practiced.

Logging for export is mainly carried out by multinational corporations. These operations concentrate on commercially exploitable species, ignoring forest products or industries that can improve the living standards of nearby local communities. Critics have noted that commercial logging basically consists of "creaming" the forest for the commercially valuable species. A 1977 study of nine logging companies in a Southeast - Asian country concludes that they did not leave the required number of selected trees behind.

Degradation is also brought about by rural people themselves. In the absence of an organized supply of wood, such populations resort to indiscriminate firewood collection and excessive lopping of trees. Overgrazing leads to depletion of resources, sometimes beyond repair. Fires, pats, mining, and natural disasters have also contributed to forest degradation.

Replanting, meanwhile, is lagging. During the last 25 years or so, the cumulative area replanted reached approximately 5.1 million ha, compared with the estimated 40 million ha deforested within the same period. India and Indonesia accounted for some four million ha out of the region's total of 5.1 million ha of plantations. Six other countries contributed more than one million ha: the Philippines (300000). Viet Nam (204000 ha), Pakistan (160000 ha), Bangladesh (128000 ha), Thailand (114000 ha) and Sri Lanka (112000 ha). Plantations undertaken in Bhutan, Nepal, Burma, Malaysia, Democratic Kampuchea, Laos and Papua New Guinea were marginal. Some two million ha (i.e. 39 percent) of the 5.1 million ha total have been replanted during the period 1976-80. Nearly 40 percent of these were non-industrial plantations, compared to only 24 percent in earlier periods.

AT A VILLAGE WOOD-LOT IN INDIA - products include fuelwood, fodder, poles and sawnwood

FOREST WORKERS AT THE MAT SA PROJECT - do traditional logging methods cause less damage to the forest?

By far the most important industrial plantation species planted in the region is teak (Tectona grandis). Important high-yield hardwood species planted were Albizzia falcataria, Calliandra calothyrsus, Eucalyptus spp., Gmelina arborea and Leucaena leucocephala. Among conifers, Pinus merkusii was the chief plantation species.

Prospects for sharply increased replanting are dim. An analysis of plantation policies, programmes and projects, financed either through domestic or international funds, indicates that the planting effort undertaken between 1981 and 1985 will remain at the levels set in the past five years, i.e. about 2.2 million ha over the five years.

If such trends continue, the medium-term prospect is for a decrease in forest growing stock wtih the consequence of a progressive decline in global export potential of tropical wood products. This decline will be exacerbated by the combined effects of population and economic growth, which will translate into expansion of local demand for forest products. This will aggravate local shortages. Fuelwood scarcities, already a critical problem in less-forested areas, could spread.

The depletion of vegetation cover and deforestation of watershed areas change the patterns of river flows by diminishing water storage capacities. Increasing sedimentation following deforestation raises the risk of flash-flooding. Both eventualities could lead to the depletion of soil, a crucial life-support system upon which the bulk of all food production depends.

Table 1. Distribution of woody vegetation by subregion

Million ha

% of region

Insular Southeast Asia



Continental Southeast Asia



South Asia



Papua New Guinea



Table 2. Closed broad-leaved forests in Asia and the Pacific


Million ha

% of region







Papua New Guinea


















Viet Nam



Democratic Kampuchea



Sri Lanka


















Table 3. Countries with 88 percent of the standing forests in Asia and the Pacific


Standing volume (VOB) (million m³)

% of region










Papua New Guinea









Even under natural vegetation cover, it takes from 100-400 years or more to generate 10 mm of topsoil. Once this topsoil disappears, it has gone, for all practical purposes, for ever. Many countries suffer from some form or other of soil loss. Over the last decade, the loss of the soil's productive capacity due to erosion, salinization, waterlogging and chemical degradation is causing rising concern.

India offers a worrisome example. About half the country suffers from some form of soil degradation. Of India's 3.3 million km² of land, 1.4 million km² are subject to erosion. Another 27000 km² are being degraded by salinity, alkalinity and floods.

The 11th session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission noted the above trends with concern and called on governments to review all aspects of the transfer of forest lands to non-forestry use and to limit future loss of forest lands. The Commission also strongly supported the idea of a Regional Convention on Minimum Forest Cover and Endangered Forest Habitat and requested FAO to convene such a meeting. Such action would be consistent with the World Conservation Strategy (March 1980), which advocated that essential ecological processes and life-support systems on which human survival and development depend be maintained.

Forestry for rural development. The importance of forestry activities in generating incomes for the landless as well as for small farmers and shifting cultivators has received increasing attention. The World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development held at FAO (in July 1979) stressed linen that forestry activities are essential for broad-based rural development. Forestry contributes to rural development by maintaining ecological balance, increasing the supply of products and in generating employment and income, especially for the landless. Forestry can be used to shape both land and people.

There is considerable potential for introducing trees on land that is conventionally seen as strictly agricultural. The objective is not only to increase wood supply and to ease pressure on forests; it is also to contribute to food production, whether directly, by the fruit or fodder from trees, or indirectly, by providing shelter, restoring nutrients from deeper layers, and increasing nitrogen fixation. Tree introductions may take many forms, ranging from occupying strips of land not at that time used for crops to mixing trees with agricultural crops in varying proportions. Annual crops can be alternated with tree fallow. Trees thus used can produce several primary products such as timber, poles, fuelwood, fodder or food.

Mixtures of trees and agricultural crops can occur in either intercropping or multiple-cropping systems. Recent research shows that these agroforestry practices can be highly productive. Yields may be 20-50 percent higher than for the same crops grown separately. Yield advantage appears greatest when annual crops arc mixed with perennials, including trees.

Several improved varieties of Leucaena leucocephala (ipil ipil) have been found to be a rich source of fodder and fuel. Trials in India with giant varieties showed that average fodder yields of over 10 tonnes/ha/cutting can be obtained even on relatively poor soils with very light irrigation. In less than four years, the trees grew to a height of over 10 m and yielded 200 tonnes of wood per hectare. Even in areas with less than 400 mm annual rainfall and with no irrigation whatsoever, the average height reached 9.5 m in less than four years.

Another Asian tree that can produce both fodder and fuel is Calliandra calothyrsus, which in Indonesia grows 2.5-3.5 m in six to nine months. Trees can be harvested for firewood after a year, or their edible foliage and fruit can be used for animals. They are also valuable for soil restoration and conservation. Once in full production, they yield 20-100 m³/ha firewood yearly.

AN ERODED RIVER BANK IN PAKISTAN - topsoil requires centuries for regeneration

REFORESTATION IN THE UPPER SOLO RIVER BASIN - because trees protect watersheds

In view of this potential, several Asian countries have given increasing support to community forestry. In the design of plantations, monocultures of exotic species are viewed sceptically while there is a positive bias toward multiple use and species-mixing based upon local needs. More farmers are making plantations of tree crops on private farm land. Wood-based industries and private companies are collaborating with forest departments to assist in rural community development. Government corporations in some countries have strengthened the social content of their programmes. An increased flow of aid and institutional credit for forestry projects, designed to alleviate rural poverty, is an encouraging feature in recent years.

However, it is not yet clear whether, beneath the surface of this apparent change, a strong enough momentum exists to secure people's participation and provide direct benefits to the rural communities. So far there seems to be little evidence of institutions that allow participation by local people. Attitudinal changes in various forestry services do not appear to be deep-rooted. Despite these constraints, several countries have achieved progress.

FAO is aware of these useful experiences. It is, therefore, assisting countries to reinforce approaches integrating forestry in rural development. FAO's Forestry for Local Community Development Programme, which is supported by SIDA, became operational in November 1979. It provides small-scale supplementary assistance for countries to initiate or accelerate projects or programmes which support forestry activities at the community level. These must be of direct benefit to rural people. During its first 12 months, the FAO programme received requests for assistance from six countries in Asia. The requests were for assistance in preparing large-scale projects, studies to define future action, developing programmes to make community-level forestry more responsive to the needs of rural women, and training for those involved in community forestry. Supporting activities were carried out to disseminate information about community-level forestry.

A multi-country seminar on Forestry for Rural Community Development was held in Thailand in 1979. In conjunction with this seminar, group study tours were dispatched to the Social Forestry Programme in Gujarat, India, and the Prosperity Approach Programme in Java, Indonesia. In June 1980 another group studied the Village Forestry Programme in the Republic of Korea. Two publications related to the topic, namely, Forestry for local community development (FAO Forestry Paper No. 7), 1978, and Forestry for rural communities, 1979, are used in many countries. A study of the agroforestry systems of India and Sri Lanka has also been completed.

The demographic aspects were considered in a regional project executed at the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAPA), Bangkok. With support from the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), a project entitled "Population data in forestry communities practicing shifting cultivation in Asia" was executed during 1978-80. This project collated the scattered data relating to countries where estimates are available. It shows that some 28 million people are dependent on shifting cultivation, over a total forest area of about 74 million hectares. The areas or countries most affected are Kalimantan Island in Indonesia, the northeastern and dry central states of India, the central highlands of Viet Nam, Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia, Mindanao Island in the Philippines and parts of Burma, Thailand and Bangladesh in that order. The estimates concerning the area and the number of people involved should probably be regarded as conservative: other estimates exist which indicate that at least 80 million people and 120 million ha of forest land are involved. A country-level action programme has evolved in the Philippines from this project. Indonesia, India and Thailand have prepared draft proposals.

Table 4. Population involved in fuelwood-deficit situations in Asia and the Pacific, 1980



(in millions)

Acute scarcity






Prospective deficit





A SHIFTING CULTIVATOR'S HOME IN THE PHILIPPINES - land scarcity forces relocation into forests

Not all slash-and-burn practices are destructive to forest or deleterious to the soil. Managed systems - where controlled burning is practiced, where soil fertility is not totally drained to start with, and where a sufficiently lengthy fallow period is maintained - can sustain a forested condition indefinitely, although such forest is unlikely to produce commercial timber. Slash-and-burn systems which destroy forest productivity are those which exhaust the soil and encourage weed growth, leading to accelerated soil erosion and a disruption of the water-regulating function of the forest. Where population density is low, the climate is favourable and long fallow periods are prevalent, damage to forest and soil can be minimal. Although the original forest is destroyed, it is generally replaced by secondary forest which is also productive.

However, there has been increasing population pressure on forest land. Fallow periods have been shrinking. Abandoned slash-and-burn areas are increasingly converted into sterile bush or stretches of grassland with little soil fertility. The problems of shifting cultivation communities need to be understood more fully. Solutions to ensure progress in their well-being are found within the context of overall rural development.

Management prescriptions imposed from above and which ignore the values, culture and natural creativity of the people to whom the approaches are directed are unlikely to succeed. Indeed they often prove counter-productive. Community forestry has social dimensions, including demographic factors, which need to be explored. Traditional approaches should be replaced by new modes of communication and decision-making originated by people who live and work in these communities.

Critical in this approach is a change in the attitudes of government agents. The fifth session of the Committee on Forestry (May 1980), which considered the approaches advocated in the FAO paper Toward a forestry strategy for development (FAO, 1980), recognized this need. The paper stressed that "reformed" forestry strategy should focus sharply on eradication of poverty by seeking to provide the rural poor with greater access to goods, services and opportunity generated by economic growth. Such a strategy should also promote self-reliance and equitable participation of the rural people in forestry and forest-based activities. The Committee concluded that the approach was particularly relevant to the conditions in developing member countries, and fully consistent with the Declaration of Principles and Programme of Action of the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (WCARRD).

The fuelwood situation

Wood, which is cheaper than fossil fuels and also locally available, is the dominant domestic fuel for rural people and for many of the urban poor. Throughout the world, more than 1.5 thousand million people use wood daily for cooking and heating homes. Developing countries in the Asian region alone use about 1200 million m³ yearly. About half is used for cooking, a third for heating, and the rest for processing and agricultural use.

Wood-fuels, including charcoal, provide at least 80 percent of all energy used in thousands of Asian villages. Charcoal is preferred in urban areas, primarily because of its efficiency in use (greater heat intensity, lack of smoke) and transportability. Charcoal production centred in small-scale enterprises in forest regions is a relatively common practice in some parts of Asia. Charcoal, although produced by rural people, is essentially a commercialized urban fuel.

In tropical Asia, energy needs to sustain daily household life and small-scale industries at the village level vary from a low of about 1.0 m³ of wood equivalent per inhabitant per year in the plains and hills of South and Southeast Asia to a high of 2.2 m³/inhabitant/year in the mountainous areas. In Southeast Asia where wood is still quite abundant and conveniently located, about 1.0 m³/inhabitant/year is consumed. In China and South Asia, where wood is scarce, per caput consumption drops to 0.5 m³ and below. In the Pacific region, where wood is more readily available to local communities, the level of per caput consumption is generally high. It reaches 1.7 m³ in Papua New Guinea.

In the near future, rural people will continue to depend, as they do now, on traditional fuels - charcoal, fuelwood and agricultural residues. They do not have viable options to these fuels. At the same time, the twin processes of deforestation and degradation are affecting the access of rural communities to their traditional energy sources. Population pressure is draining forest resources, in some cases to the extent of removing all trees and scrub cover. In the densely populated Gangetic plain, forest cover has been reduced to 0.35 percent of the land area in West Bengal and to about two percent in Uttar Pradesh. The impact is greatest around cities where industries are concentrated. Bangkok's yearly consumption of three million m³ of fuelwood has an impact on a large part of Thailand's remaining forests.

The search for domestic fuelwood follows a predictable pattern. When dead wood disappears, people lop branches off living trees and then, eventually, the whole tree itself is felled. Even the stump, thorns, scrub and bush are uprooted. Once fuelwood becomes scarce, people turn to animal dung and crop residues for fuel. Such organic waste, if returned to the soil, would help improve its nutrient level, its structure and its capacity to retain moisture. But with fuelwood scarcity, 400 million tonnes of cow-dung are now burnt yearly in parts of Asia, the Near East and Africa. One tonne of dung burned may mean the loss of as much as 50 kg of potential food grain. The result is a reduction in crop yields and a corresponding pressure to plough land covered by trees.

For a long time, both in the developed and the developing countries, there has been a reluctance or inability to recognize that most people in the world depend upon wood for their primary source of energy. They heat their homes, cook their food and often run their basic trades and industries on firewood (see Unasylva, Vol. 33, No. 131 and No. 133, 1981). A recognition of the critical implications of an emerging scarcity of fuelwood and in some countries it is already serious was perhaps the most important single accomplishment of the UN Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy that took place in Nairobi in August 1981. A global reconnaissance survey of fuelwood supplies and needs, which included a map showing where and to what extent fuelwood shortages exist in the Third World, was FAO's most important contribution.

The UN Conference concluded that two thousand million people - three-quarters of the population of developing countries, depend on fuelwood and other traditional fuels for their daily domestic energy needs. In the developing world, fuelwood deficits amount to about 400 million m³ and affect roughly 1150 million people. Some 1050 million rural people live in situations of growing deficits where minimum needs are met at the cost of depleting existing resources. A further 100 million people live in scarcity situations where they are already unable to satisfy their minimum energy needs.

COLLECTING FIREWOOD IN NEPAL AND INDIA - man-hours instead of power lines

COLLECTING FIREWOOD IN NEPAL AND INDIA - man-hours instead of power lines

In 1979, fuelwood and charcoal removals in the Asian region amounted to nearly 736 million cubic metres. Industrial wood removals came to some 101 million m³ in total. Since there are no systematic forecasts of the future supply situation, it is best analysed in terms of emerging scarcities.

Acute scarcity situations are foreseen in zones with high population, a high level of needs, and low resources. Such zones are found mainly in the mountainous areas of northern India and in the hills of Nepal.

Deficit situations are foreseen mainly in the Indo-Gangetic plains of the Indian subcontinent, southern India. Bangladesh, central Thailand and Java. Deficits are especially marked in the more densely populated areas where forest and woody vegetation are already destroyed and agricultural residues largely depleted.

Prospective deficit situations cover a wide range of situations where available fuelwood supplies could fall short of current energy needs by the year 2000. Among these are Pakistan and other regions of India, Thailand and Sumatra.

The only areas where a satisfactory fuelwood situation now exists are those parts of Bhutan, Burma, Laos, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines where an abundance of forest resources coexist with low population densities.

In the Asia-Pacific region in 1980, close to 1024 million people already found themselves in fuelwood-deficit situations. About 31 million people were living in acute scarcity areas and unable to meet their minimum energy needs. Some 832 million people inhabited deficit areas and another 161 million faced prospective deficit situations (see Table 4). By the year 2000, the population facing deficit situations, if current trends continue, will increase from 1024 million to 1671 million. Of these, 1434 million, or 86 percent, live in villages.

An analysis of fuelwood dependence indicates that in South Asia, two-thirds of total energy supply are supplied by fuelwood. The supply situation here is generally acute in all countries except Bhutan. Continental Southeast Asia also relies heavily on fuelwood. Here the supply situation is satisfactory in Laos and Democratic Kampuchea, but critical in Burma and Thailand. In insular Southeast Asia, about half the population in the Philippines and Indonesia depends on fuelwood and in some parts of these countries the situation is approaching critical levels. In tropical Asia, however, Malaysia is the least dependent upon fuelwood and the supply situation elsewhere is satisfactory. Papua New Guinea, for example, is characterized by medium dependence and a satisfactory supply. However, even in those countries where the general supply situation is considered satisfactory, localized situations exist or are foreseen. One example is the highland provinces of Papua New Guinea.

Fast-growing hardwood species, useful as fuelwood, are being planted to a significant extent in most Asian countries. Fuelwood plantations accounted for nearly a third of the total plantation effort up to 1980. Between 1976 and 1980 the stress was placed on fuelwood plantations whereas before 1976 it had been on industrial plantations. In the last part of the decade, out of a total of some two million ha planted, nearly 40 percent were fuelwood plantations compared with only 24 percent in the earlier period. Five countries had more than 100000 ha of fuelwood plantations by 1980: India (532000 ha), Indonesia (472000 ha), the Philippines (235000 ha). Pakistan (160000 ha), and Viet Nam (127000 ha). Together, they accounted for nearly 95 percent of the region's total fuelwood plantations.

Forestry on the human level

These are some examples of current projects in Asia aimed at bringing the benefits of forestry to the daily needs of villagers. The emphasis is clearly on fuelwood production but environmental protection for better agriculture is closely associated with the wood-lots.

· Bangladesh, where 150 new extension centres were created, 120 million seedlings were distributed and land was afforested in over 8000 villages. There was also extensive planting along roadsides, railways, canals and on coastal embankments. Tobacco growers were encouraged to meet their future need for firewood by supplying them with seeds and seedlings to raise plantations.

· India, where an area of 800000 ha has been planted under social forestry projects throughout 1980. Following the lead of Gujarat State, which started the programme in the early 1970s, there has been a rapid spread of forestry for rural community development in almost every state of India, notably Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

· Sri Lanka, where in a recently launched nationwide programme of social forestry, about 1.2 million tree seedlings were supplied to schools, public institutions and the general public in 1980. A community forestry programme to combat emerging fuelwood shortages is about to be started in four arid districts with multilateral assistance.

· Nepal, where the Government has promulgated new rules which may lead to far-reaching changes. Every village panchayat is eligible for 125 ha of land for the creation of panchayat forest (PF). All income from the sale of products from PFS will go to panchayats themselves. This will affect some 2935 panchayats throughout the country. In addition, every village is entitled to 500 ha of degraded forest land for establishing protected panchayat forests (PPF). Revenue from PPFS is to be shared by panchayats and the Government at a 3: I ratio. The Government will provide seedlings free of charge, prepare management schemes and assist with trained staff. Some 1105000 ha of forest land, almost a quarter of the existing forest area, have been earmarked for this programme.

· Indonesia, where a so-called "prosperity approach" in Java is not confined to raising plantations, but is being extended to villagers. The programme encompasses such varied activities as tree planting, house building, taungya intensification, honeybee projects, elephant grass plantations, traditional medicinal plant cultivation, and fisheries. People appear to be responding positively because these activities raise their living standards.

· Thailand, where previous efforts in creating forest villages have been expanded. By 1980, this programme included 70 villages in low-land areas and eight project sites (1760 ha of village wood-lots) concerning hill tribes in highland areas.

· The Philippines, where in 1980 a Forestry Extension and Education Division was created to disseminate information, transfer technology and encourage people's participation in tree planting. Government support has been extended to people raising tree farms or planning agroforestry plots. The President then decreed every citizen of ten years of age or older should plant one tree each year for five consecutive years. Some private logging concessions are also active in implementing community-oriented reforestation programmes, as one operated by the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP).

LOPPING A TREES LAST LEAVES IN NEPAL - a buffalo consumes 40 kg fodder per day

· The Republic of Korea, where forest associations play a significant role, at the village/community level, in raising and protecting forests on private lands. There were, in 1980, 20453 village forest associations with a membership of nearly two million people. The Government subsidizes these associations and provides extension support. Well-managed private forests were set up as models.

· Japan, where in 1978 a forest owners' association was set up, providing for development of forest owners' cooperatives.

· China, where the magnitude of the effort in reforesting devastated areas has aroused great interest. In 1958, the late chairman Mao Zedong exhorted his people "to cover the country with green trees". He also decreed the execution of forestry projects, wherever possible. These decrees were implemented thoroughly. What evolved was a "four-side forestry" approach: planting trees wherever possible, along all four sides of houses, around the perimeters of villages, on both sides of canals, commune fields, etc. People's participation in planning and implementing reforestation targets was sought. The production of timber, fuelwood, fruits and litter for organic manure (which constitutes the life-blood of soil in China) all increased, providing supplemental income. The result is that since 1950 the area under forests in China has doubled.

· Democratic People's Republic of Korea, where the planting and maintenance of trees and forests is literally the business of all people. Mass mobilization for the task of afforestation is almost total. Work teams for reforestation and afforestation have been organized in every enterprise - wood-based industries, food-processing units, textile mills, coal-mines. It is mandatory for all forestry-related enterprises to constitute core teams for afforestation consisting of 5 percent of their workers or members. Enterprises not directly related to forestry need allocate only 3 percent of their workers toward the afforestation core team. The teams are trained in all aspects of the raising and upkeep of plantations. It is claimed that over the last 30 years all areas fit for planting trees have been planted and that there are no large unplanted areas left in any province in the country.

Recent efforts in increasing fuelwood plantations are the response to region-wide concern over dwindling supplies. They also reflect a desire to meet the needs of local communities, together with a broader aim of securing for forestry an enhanced role in rural development. The location, design, choice of species and technology used in fuelwood plantations are visibly altering. There is an increasing emphasis on village wood-lots, agroforestry, silvipasture and multiple-product forestry. In choosing species for fuelwood, most countries favour short-rotation species with ability to coppice vigorously and pro duce dense wood of high calorific value. Species selected are usually managed on a rotation of eight to ten years. There are indications that for some species it may even be reduced to three years (e.g. Calliandra calothyrsus and Sesbania grandiflora).

Customary methods of extracting energy from firewood are highly inefficient, allowing most of the heat to dissipate. Open-fire cooking is estimated to require five times as much energy as a kerosene stove. Simple wood-burning stoves lose as much as 90 percent of the heat. Studies in Indonesia show that a good stove design can increase efficiency from a level of 6-7 percent to as high as 19-23 percent. More efficient use of fuel is obviously one of the most important ways of dealing with over-use and shortages of fuelwood. Consequently, stove design now commands more serious concern. FAO, the World Bank and other international agencies and governments are realizing that investments in everyday cooking efficiency translate into savings. Programmes and funds for improved stoves are already under way, but much more support is needed.

In view of the vital importance of wood-based energy, the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) underlined the necessity to incorporate wood-based energy production within an integrated system of forestry and forest industry management. APFC highlighted the need for rationalization and improved supply of forest-based wood energy. It supported the action programme suggested by the Technical Panel on Fuelwood and Charcoal of the United Nations Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy, namely: intensifying productivity of existing fuelwood resources; creating new fuelwood resources; organizing fuelwood distribution; improving conversion technologies; improving wood-burning stoves; and substituting wood-fuels with traditional or commercial fuels. Subsidized supply of alternative fuels to developing countries, which are poor in rural energy resources, was also suggested. It was recommended that FAO, under its programme on Forestry and Rural Energy, provide technical support and assistance for strengthening of institutions, mobilization of resources, training, research and extension.

Tropical timber utilization and marketing

The rate at which forests are logged is, to a great extent, a response to an increasing demand for timber and fuelwood by a growing population. Demand by rural populations for small timber, poles, bamboos and fuelwood has spiralled. With the growth of urban populations, demand for processed wood products (paper, plywood, particle board, fiberboard has surged forward. Furthermore, timber has emerged as a major foreign exchange earner. All these factors lead to increased log harvests.

Recorded removals of roundwood, as a consequence, registered an average annual rise close to three percent in Asia. This is well above the world average. In terms of quantity, fuelwood and wood for charcoal constitute the bulk of the removals. Non-coniferous logs constitute a high proportion of output.

Insular Southeast Asia accounts for more than 80 percent of total log production. The pattern of production and exports within different count tries of the subregion has undergone substantial alteration over the past decade. Log production has declined in the Philippines from 11 to 7 million cubic metres. This drop reflects the decreasing potential of the forests, coupled with a growing awareness of the need for conservation and an expanded domestic demand. There was an increase in domestic production of sawnwood and wood-based panels.

In the Philippines exports of logs fell drastically under the spur of export curbs: from 9 to 1.8 million m³ over 10 years. In Malaysia, log production rose from 17 to 30 million m³ in a decade, an increase mainly attributable to production in Sabah and Sarawak. The proportion of logs exported declined from 64 percent in 1968-70 to 54 percent in 1977-79.

The most marked changes were observed in Indonesia. Log production there trebled in the past decade from 7.7 to 26 million m³ while exports during the same period grew from 4.3 to 19 million cubic metres. Thus, Indonesia's share in the subregion's log production escalated from 21 to 48 percent and exports from 17 to 51 percent. There was also increased domestic processing, especially in wood-based panels, as evidenced in the rise from 5000 m³ in 1968 to 526000 m³ in 1979. The emergence of Indonesia as the most important log producer in Asia and in the whole tropical world is an outstanding feature of the 1970s.

There are many economic arguments which have been advanced in favour of exploiting tropical forests. One of these is foreign-exchange earning potential. Indonesia. Malaysia and the Philippines together earned some US$2330 million through export of logs in 1979 alone. (Indonesia earned US$1500 million, Malaysia US$690 million and the Philippines US$140 million.) Whether the full export value can be viewed as a benefit to the exporting country is a matter of debate. Since much of the current exploitation is being carried out through foreign-based transnational corporations, net foreign-exchange earnings come after deducting such items as profit repatriation and imports of equipment.

To capture the maximum value added through domestic processing, some countries are progressively restricting log exports. In India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Thailand, log exports are practically banned. In Peninsular Malaysia the export of 16 popular species in log form has been banned since 1979. In Indonesia, from 8 May 1980, concessionaires may export logs only after they have supplied specified quantities of logs for domestic processing. Government policy here seeks to encourage domestic processing.

The forests of insular Southeast Asia, which hitherto constituted an important resource with significant export surpluses, may actually see a steady decline in overall removals after 1985, with a potential drop from some 75 million m³ in 1985 to 70 million m³ by the year 2000. This decline will have an impact on the policy of promoting domestic processing of logs. For example, Indonesia's 1200 sawmills and 16 plywood mills currently utilize only a fraction of its log output. More than three-quarters of the logs produced are exported. This situation is likely to change as domestic processing units begin to require more logs. Industrial wood output in Indonesia may reach 40 million m³ by 1985 and fluctuate around that level up to the year 2000. Estimated annual output of wood from plantations in 1985 will be some 0.5 million m³, rising to 1.4 million m³ by the year 2000. Removals from Malaysia are estimated to slide from a peak of 33 million m³ in 1979 to barely 18 million m by the year 2000. In the Philippines, only a marginal increase in removals is expected: from 9.33 million m³ in 1979 to 10.95 million m³ in the year 2000 of which between 3-4 million m³ are likely to be plantation grown.

FAO is working with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to develop a programme of cooperative measures in the tropical timber trade. The latest in a sequence of activities was the intergovernmental Meeting of Tropical Timber-Producing Countries held in June 1981 in Bangkok. The meeting discussed the report of the consultative mission to major tropical timber-producing countries in Asia and the Pacific. Subject to the concurrence of governments, it was proposed that an intergovernmental consultative forum of developing tropical timber-producing and exporting countries be established. This would be an interim arrangement before setting up a regional tropical timber community. As a preparatory step, the meeting designated Malaysia to act as coordinator and to communicate with the governments on arrangements for the first meeting of the intergovernmental forum.

INDIAN FORESTRY WORKERS STUDY LOGGING METHODS - chain-saws cut production time anti reduce timber waste

Forestry education, training and research priorities. A review of forestry education and training facilities suggests that a major concern is to expand training facilities in Asia to meet emerging needs, particularly in forest extension work.

An appraisal was carried out in 1977 in six selected countries: Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. It revealed that there were some 4000 professional foresters and 10500 forest technicians in those six countries. Theoretically, an additional 17700 professionals and 50000 forest technicians will be needed between 1977 and the year 2000. Moreover, some 50000 forest guards and 150000 specialized forest workers should also be trained.

In view of the growing needs of integrated forest management and involvement of forest services in rural development, it is necessary to modify and update the content of forestry training. More than ever, foresters must become sensitive to the problems, perceptions and values of rural people.

As in the case of education and training, facilities for research related to forestry and forest industry are far from sufficient. Changes in research priorities are needed as the complexity of the problems involved increases. Thus, the seventeenth International Union of Forestry Research Organizations' (IUFRO) World Congress emphasized that research on agroforestry should be intensified to integrate forest operations as a whole. It should be devoted to combined agricultural and forestry production systems, to the economics of multiple-use forestry and to monitoring ecological changes in tropical forests.

Modern forestry strategy should be clearly geared to the eradication of poverty on the basis of a greater access of the rural poor to goods, services and opportunities generated by economic growth and to promoting self-reliance and equitable participation of the rural people in forestry and forest-based activities. Governments need to review their policies relating to forest protection, wood energy, tropical timber trade, training and research. Priority areas include:

· Safeguarding forest resources and the environment and maintaining a minimum cover. This includes attention to all aspects of transfer of forest lands to non-forestry uses:

· Thorough assessment of social, economic and environmental impacts of fuelwood production and the implementation and the development, on a priority basis, of programmes for increased production and for the efficient use of fuelwood:

· Formulation of national plans and policies for forest production and processing, and for rationalizing trade to strengthen domestic and, more particularly, rural economies;

· Intensification of research on agroforestry, combining agricultural and forestry production systems and promoting multiple-use forestry.

Strengthening national self-reliance and promoting technical cooperation among developing countries are major objectives of FAO. National governments can make full use of these mechanisms to promote forestry development in a spirit of cooperation and mutual assistance. The accumulated experience of FAO is at the service of governments and, therefore, of people.


FAO. 1980 Toward a forestry strategy for development. COFO - 80/3.

FAO. 1982 Forest resources of tropical Asia. Technical Report No. 3.

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