4. Opportunities for improved management


Improving resource productivity
Improving harvesting methods
Post-harvest technologies
Multiple-use management for wood and non-wood harvests
Strategies for domestication
Innovative options in the use of medicinal plants
Ecotourism
Local wildlife management
Farmer-led initiatives
Summary
References
For further reading



Earlier chapters have described how to understand the current extent, use and management of a locality's non-wood forest resources. They have noted that many traditional systems that once were environmentally sound must now be adapted to handle increasing pressure on these resources for livelihood and income. This chapter begins to address how communities and enterprises can adapt systems for management that are culturally, economically and environmentally sustainable.

This chapter explores the following forms of adaptation:

• improving productivity;
• reducing waste in harvest and post-harvest treatments;
• improving multiple-use forest management;
• domesticating key species;
• innovations in management for production of goods and services (e.g. medicinal plants, wildlife); and
• ecotourism.

Chapters 5-7 will explore the closely related issues of better market linkages, processing techniques and business practices for adding value locally (usually through some form of rural processing) to ensure that a greater portion of a product's market value accrues to the people who manage the forest resource.

For the options discussed in this chapter, some key principles of management apply (Vantomme, 1995):

• wood and non-wood resources should be managed in an integrated way to meet subsistence and market needs;

• harvests should not exceed the resource's ecological carrying capacity, and should be planned to maintain the diversity of local biological resources;

• planning is a continuous, dynamic process and must respond to new opportunities and conditions, including improved data collection;

• the process for making decisions on resource management should be transparent and equitable in order for decisions to be effective.



Improving resource productivity


Chapter 3 identified several measures for improving plant productivity in forests, practiced by some forest-dwelling groups. These were:

• selective weeding around valued species;
• enrichment planting of these species in the forest;
• selective felling of trees to open the canopy and stimulate seedling growth.

The three practices are interdependent. For example, selective weeding (regular removal of all vegetation within a radius of about 1 m of the desired plants) succeeds only when selective felling has opened the canopy overhead.

Enrichment planting aims to increase the number of desirable plants in the forest with minimal disturbance to the forest ecosystem. Its success depends mainly on:

• adequate opening of the overhead forest canopy early in seedling growth;
• the amenability of the desired plant species: fast-growing, gap-filling species work well.

Experience suggests that the following (mainly timber) species, among others, are amenable to enrichment planting: in West Africa, Terminalia superba and T. ivorensis; in East Africa, Maesopsis eminii; in South America, Cordia alliodora, Simaruba amara, Swietenia macrophylla, Cedrela odorata, Carapa guayanensis, and Virola species; and in Asia-Pacific, Toona ciliata. Locally preferred species should naturally receive priority for testing.

Producers can improve forest plant yields by propagating seeds or cuttings from individual plants known to have good yields and superior growth.

The above measures can bring about relatively small increases in supply from wild sources. Often, more significant gains are possible by reducing waste in harvesting, storage and transport operations.

Improving harvesting methods


Pre-harvest preparations
Harvest techniques



Harvesting - broadly including harvest planning, pre-harvest and post-harvest treatments - is the most important process in managing a resource. It directly affects both the yield and the health of the living resource. Improvements in the harvesting process can make the difference between a healthy forest and degraded land; they can also decide whether an enterprise returns a profit or loss (Table 4.l).

Table 4.1: Potential benefits to producers of improved harvest activities

Activity

Potential financial benefit

improve harvest techniques

increase income 10 percent or more

increase harvest efficiency in the forest

increase income 5-10 percent or more

reduce post-harvest losses through improved:


forest storage and/or transport

reduce losses by 5 percent

local warehouses

reduce losses of 25 percent of product

transport to distant processing plants

reduce losses of up to 35 percent of product

Source: Clay, 1995

Pre-harvest preparations


Good harvesting requires good planning, linked closely to the resource inventory. Like an inventory, a good harvest strategy starts with a clear understanding of tenure and resource rights (see Chapter 2). It requires careful timing to optimize yield taking into consideration the transport, processing and marketing involved. For example, many fruits transport with fewer losses if they are harvested just before they fully ripen. Sound harvest planning covers logistics, training for harvesters in efficient harvesting techniques, and financing of operations.

Depending on the tenure regime, harvesting is typically arranged and funded in one of three ways (Reds, 1995):

• collectors with extractive rights harvest, often with some kind of patronage from a purchasing agent;
• lease with collection rights hire contract labourers to harvest the material for a daily wage;
• resource- or lease-owners finance harvest, using credit.

Secure tenure can provide means (collateral) by which collectors can obtain credit for meeting harvesting costs (see Chapter 10), and incentive for using harvest techniques that maintain long-term supply. Collectors with only short-term rights (or no tenure rights) often find ecologically destructive harvests easier and more profitable than sustainable techniques.

To finance future harvest operations, producer groups should seek agreements with traders or manufacturers in order to establish and obtain royalty fees based on product resale. Few groups have already negotiated such agreements, by which they receive an environmental premium of five percent of sales or other royalties based on the value of sale to the end user or consumer. Five percent of the endvalue received by traders in New York or London markets can mean that producers receive nearly a third more income from the product (Clay, op. cit.).

Harvest techniques


Producers should learn about all available harvest technologies. They should assess them (perhaps with technical assistance) on the basis of:

• how much time and labour they demand;
• a comparison of costs and returns;
• their environmental impact.

Improved knowledge of species. Harvest planners can use knowledge of the species' biology to make harvests more efficient. For example, in Southeast Asia, harvest of the essence of gaharu (Aquilaria malaccensis and related species) depends on a fungal infection of the wood. Experienced harvesters say they can determine if a tree's wood is infected without destructive felling,, thereby saving effort and trees. Newcomers who lack this knowledge have destroyed large forest areas by felling trees to determine if they are infected; this waste can be reduced by having experienced harvesters train the newcomers.

Improved knowledge of technical options. For some products, harvest efficiency can be improved by harvesting fewer plant parts. In the Amazon, for example, harvest of pau rosa (Aniba rosaeodora) for its essential oil has almost always entailed felling the tree. However, the oil can be harvested efficiently and sustainably by removing only leaves and twigs, for example through coppicing (Clay, op. cit.). In Indonesia, the State Forest Corporation, Perum Perhutani, has improved the harvesting of Melaleuca species for cayuput oil by coppicing trees on a five-year cycle, permitting economically viable leaf harvests without killing the trees.

Improved equipment. Simple changes of equipment can reduce the impact of harvest. For example, a common brace and bit can make it possible to harvest the balsam of the same copaiba tree (Copaifera multijuga) for decades; by contrast, harvesting with an axe causes wounds that can kill the tree (Clay and Clement, 1993). In South America, buriti fruits (Mauritia flexuosa) are often harvested by felling the tree; "climbing bicycles" could improve access to the fruits for harvest without felling (Clay and Clement, op. cit.).

Post-harvest technologies


Post-harvest losses due to spoilage are common and rob producers of potential income. Fortunately, technologies that reduce these losses are often available and economical, including techniques for depulping fruits and drying plant materials (see also Chapter 5).

Better post-harvest storage further reduces losses. In many cases, research results describe what type of storage warehouse and conditions (temperature, airflow, moisture levels, etc.) are best for reducing spoilage.

Multiple-use management for wood and non-wood harvests


Combining harvests of a non-wood product with other NWFPs, or with timber harvests, can optimize overall forest management. This type of multiple and diversified uses, traditionally practiced by some forest dwellers, can ease the economic pressures on both wood and nonwood resources. In planning, resource managers should analyze the inventory information to determine complementary harvest strategies and uncover potential conflicts between wood and non-wood harvests. The local community should participate in prioritizing harvestable products and strategies.

Strategies for domestication


Community forests
Household-based agroforestry
Selection and breeding for farmers' preferences
Genetic conservation
Commercial plantations



Chapter 2 discussed advantages and disadvantages of species domestication. In certain cases, maintaining the wild resource may require some kind of domestication strategy in order to reduce pressure on such wild resources. In West Africa, declining forest resources and increasing demand for certain products is causing people to rely more on trees growing on farmland (Falconer, 1990). The same trend appears in Asia.

Domestication can take place in several ways: (1) enrichment planting in forest areas, (2) smallholder cultivation, and (3) commercial or community plantations (Wickens, 1991). The range of combinations allows communities to adapt a domestication strategy to suit their needs and preferences.

Domestication helps to improve the NWFP resource in quantitative and qualitative terms. It is to be noted, however, that domestication calls for certain research issues to be addressed and information generated and analyzed before it can be widely adopted: can the species desired be domesticated?; if so, what are the specifics involved? is there variation in the desired characteristics?; if it exists, is this variation genetic in nature or caused by environmental factors?; can improvement in desirable characteristics be best achieved by genetic (phenotypic) selection, by silvicultural interventions, and/or by a combination of both?; is such improvement economically practical and feasible?; what parallel action will be needed to ensure the conservation of the genetic resources of the species? (Chandrasekharan, 1994)

Community forests


Community forest reserves of planted and volunteer species can provide forest products and relieve pressure on the natural forest. In Sumatra, Indonesia, farmers in the late 1800s planted areas with the resin-producing damar tree (Shorea javanica) and fruit species (mainly Durio zibethinus and Lansium domesticum). The damar produces a clear resin which is exported for use in paint and varnishes. These agroforests - now comprising roughly 65 percent damar trees, 25 percent fruit trees and the remainder wild trees for timber - continue to be managed by those farmers' grandchildren. Some plantations contain 39 tree species at a mean density of 245 trees per ha (Michon, cited in de Foresta and Michon, 1994).

Household-based agroforestry


For small-farm households, agroforestry (involving combinations of trees, other plants, livestock and/or farm crops) offers a viable way to manage non-wood forest production on farm land. Throughout the tropics, farmers have incorporated trees and other forest plants into their farming systems for centuries. Besides being familiar in traditional forms, agroforestry makes effective use of scarce resources (Leakey and Newton, 1994). It also can increase farm household security by diversifying on-farm produce.

Domestication strategies should address farmers' short-term needs by including proven species that yield some sort of produce fairly quickly. Usually farmers decide the composition and nature of their agroforestry systems themselves (Lescure et al., 1995). Support services should be directed by farmer demand for planting stock.

Local domestication can start by studying basic seed storage options, identifying promising cultivars, and establishing nurseries. Simple techniques can make big economic differences. In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, two small improvements in nursery procedure - the use of root trainers in place of polybags and culling of seedlings - could have saved tree-growing efforts an estimated US$ 73 to $ 127 million (Contreras-Hermosilla, cited in D'Silva and Appanah, 1993).

Text box 4.1: Integrated forest management in Mexico

The Plan Piloto Forestal (PPF) project in Quintana Roo, Mexico, has adapted integrated forest management to local socio-economic conditions. Begun in 1983, the project has promoted forest conservation and local development by involving nearby communities in managing natural forest for wood and nonwood products. The project focused on two species: mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) and chicle gum (Manilkara zapota). Chicle latex and honey production provide about half of the total forest income.

First, to ensure local participation, the project had logging rights assigned to the ejidos, or local communities. PPF then helped these communities to organize themselves for managing the forest in a way that would ensure they received the economic benefits.

Essentially, the PPF applied:

• better harvest planning and technology to reduce destruction of residual trees (e.g. directional felling);
• enrichment planting of logged areas;


• strictly controlled access to the permanent forest reserve (FAO, 1995).


Selection and breeding for farmers' preferences


In selecting species for agroforestry, farmers often aim to maximize stability - rather than quantity - of production. They also often select species for characteristics preferred for both subsistence uses and marketable produce.

In one study, farmers in six Asian countries identified breeding criteria for agroforestry species, according to their use of each species. Where one species provided several locally-used products, farmers preferred a combination of traits that accommodated all uses. But for species that had a clear primary use, farmers specified the characteristics of that use; farmers often ranked the characteristics of most valuable market use as most important (Raintree and Wickrarnasinghe, 1992).

Farmers' preferences for planting material vary depending on their farm size, cultural background, gender, wealth and market options. Any government or NGO strategy to support the local farmers should be formed in discussion with them, focusing on the most desired and promising species first.

Text box 4.2: Joint forest management in India

India's Joint Forest Management programme has revitalized the management of that country's forests by involving local communities. In the Gorela village, Rajasthan, this has allowed integrated management for timber and two forest products rarely considered by foresters - grass and fodder.

In Gorela, a variety of social groups engage in subsistence farming. At least 40 percent of the village households practice commercial dairying, with a secure market just 10 km away. Livestock include cows, buffalo and goats. Women traditionally collected fodder, fuelwood, gums and oils from the forest, and villagers grazed their animals on grasses there.

In 1980, the villagers grew concerned by increasing forage scarcity and began working with the Forest Department (FD) to replant and protect the resource. The table presents planting figures for six tree species in various campaigns, and shows how the emphasis on fodder species grew as the campaigns involved villagers more in the choice of species.

Table 4.2. Trends in number of seedlings planted for six species in tree-planting campaigns in Gorela

Species

Uses

1980

1985

1987

1990

1991

1992

Australian acacia

timber

-

4000

9090

-

-

-

Inga dulce

timber

-

40000

27849

-

-

-

khair (Acacia catechu)

fuel, fodder

4271

15000

10010

10000

10068

70000

desi babul (A. nilotica)

timber, fuel, fodder

-

-

14750

3000

5010

8000

amla (Emblica officinalis)

fruits fodder, small timber, fuel

-

-

-

-

325

2000

Neem (Azadirachta indica)

medicine, oil, timber, fodder

-

-

2998

2500

3000

-

Sample survival rate (percent)


76

89

98

88

72

94

In 1992, the village and FD jointly formed a Forest Protection Committee, which organizes regular patrols, and meetings every other month. The FD manages timber harvests and shares proceeds with the village! Unauthorized felling and illegal grazing is punished with heavy fines, but villagers can collect fallen wood, fodder and other non-wood products.

Despite the diversity of social groups, they all agree on the need for fodder from the forest. Joint management is addressing this immediate livelihood need for subsistence and income (Zutshi, 1994).


Genetic conservation


Domestication and cultivation does not substitute for conservation of genetic diversity. If no provision is made for preserving the genetic variation found only in wild sources, domestication is often followed by the decline and even disappearance of wild populations (Nair and Merry, 1995). Because genetic improvement of domesticated species requires infusions from wild populations, domestication programmes should maintain in situ (natural or on site) and/or ex situ (planted elsewhere) stands of natural varieties. The agroforests of Sumatra described above combine the advantages of domestication with genetic conservation. So does the Nepalese project for medicinal plant products described in Chapter 2. Farm-based agroforestry can help to maintain some portion of this diversity by selecting genetic resources from a range of wild sources.

Commercial plantations


Commercial plantations are a common avenue of promoting domestication. They often allocate resources effectively for selection and improvement of superior individuals, but their high capital requirements tend to put them beyond the means of most rural producer groups. Often commercial plantations are managed and owned by large-scale entrepreneurs who do not plan sufficiently for local benefit-sharing, leading to inequity and land-use conflicts.4/ Furthermore, the methods and equipment prevalent in commercial forestry tend to foster monoculture stands, which erode forest genetic diversity and greatly increase the risk of infestations by pests and disease.

4/ There are a few notable exceptions to this pattern. The Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines and Sabah Forest Industries of Malaysia provide examples of benefit-sharing agreements with local farmers (Awang and Taylor, 1993).

Innovative options in the use of medicinal plants


Biological and chemical compounds
Ethnobotanical research



In recent years innovations in the promotion of the use of medicinal plants have shown potential to generate income for local communities and provide for long-term forest maintenance. These include:

• commercial development of traditional herbal medicines;

• research on bioactive compounds for pharmaceutical products (often somewhat inaccurately called biodiversity prospecting);

ethnobotanical research (the scientific study of traditional knowledge and customs concerning plants).

All three fields are still evolving, so their long-term prospects are not fully known. Yet their rapid recent growth suggests that they should be considered as possible components of an overall strategy for forest management.

On a local and national scale, traditional healing is being re-appreciated and offers an underexploited market for NWFPs. The traditional medicine project in Nepal (see Chapter 2) created local markets and achieved a profit in just over two years. In Indonesia, companies like PT Jamu Air Mancur, which cites an annual income of US$ 10 million and employs 700 people, are growing with rising urban demand for traditional herbal medicine (FAO, 1995).