1.2. Economic Situation and Trends, Asia-Pacific Region
1.3. The Growing Importance of Non-Forest Areas (NFAs)
The purpose of this document is to examine the background and circumstances surrounding the production of wood materials from non-forest areas (NFAs) in the Asia-Pacific region; to assess the current situation and trends with respect to the extent, distribution, and yields of NFAs based on available records and complemented by professional judgement; and, in line with the trends that emerge from the assessment, to visualize the future prospects and the most likely scenario regarding the quantity and distribution of small-sized industrial raw materials and local wood supply contributed by NFAs to the national wood balance.
Since the forecast of the future of non-forest wood resources are based on a mix of often incomplete statistical information, analyses of influencing factors such as national forest policies and programmes, and exercise of professional judgement, the numbers arrived at are to be taken as indicative figures rather than precise data.
1.2.1. Demographic Situation
1.2.2. Impacts of Economic and Population Growth upon Forest Resources
1.2.3. Major Causes of Deforestation in the Asia-Pacific Region
The Asia-Pacific region is today regarded as outstanding in many different ways. Economically, it is growing at a rapid pace. Most of its member countries are still classified as "developing", but five of them have attained yearly GDP growth rates exceeding 8% and 11 have economically expanded by more than 6% per annum. Furthermore, 15 nations have reached per capita GDP levels greater than US$2,000 per annum (Table 1, Annex).
In international trade, the region has developed into a significant trading partner. Its high endowments in natural resources and in productive but low-priced human resources have catapulted it to become a key source of industrial raw materials (e.g., roundlogs, mineral ores) as well as high-quality but competitively-priced manufactured goods (e.g., electronics, furniture, garments) for the export markets. At the same time, because of the rising prosperity and improved purchasing power of its huge population, it has become itself a huge and fast-growing market that absorbs an increasing proportion of the finished products, particularly durable and capital goods, exported from advanced countries. The growing importance of the Asia-Pacific market is further reflected in the aggressive competition among the exporting Western nations to supply that market and carve out larger market shares for themselves.
The region is saddled with a heavy population that is expanding at a very fast rate, ranging from 1.2% to a high 3.2% per annum. In certain cases, people pressure on land is now extreme: Bangladesh has about 840 persons per sq km. Others with high densities are India (314), Sri Lanka (282), Vietnam (232) and the Philippines (230) (Table 2, Annex). The region is now home to more than 3.1 billion people, or greater than half of the population of the world (Rao, 1994). There exists a potential danger that population may rise to levels beyond the capacities of some nations to sustainably support ecologically and economically.
High population densities are, at times, aggravated by imbalanced distribution. For instance, Indonesia has a national density rate of only 109 persons per sq km but about 68% of its total population is concentrated on Java island which covers only 7% of the country's land area. The result is a very high concentration of over 814 persons per sq km on that island. Such uneven distribution generates other problems: the need to transfer and redistribute resources, products and social services from areas of light to those of heavy concentrations of people.
The accelerated economic growth in the region, coupled with the rapid population expansion, has elevated the pressures on resources to unprecedented levels. In the forestry sector, such escalation is reflected in deforestation rates which, for the entire region, have risen from two million ha per year in the 1970s to 3.9 million ha per annum in the 1980s (Rao, 1994). Many countries are currently threatened with rapid loss of forests: the forests of Cambodia, Laos, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam are diminishing by more than 100 thousand ha yearly; India, Malaysia and the Philippines by over 300 thousand ha per annum; Myanmar by greater than 400 thousand ha per year; Thailand by some 515 thousand ha, and Indonesia by about 1.2 million ha per annum (Table 3, Annex). The proportion of land that remains under forests has declined to extremely low, possibly irreversible levels in some cases. For instance, ten countries in the region have lower than 30% forests, and four (including Bangladesh and Pakistan) are now below 10%. While the global figure today is 0.64 ha of remaining forests per capita of population, the Asia-Pacific rating is down to only 0.19 ha per person (Table 4, Annex).
Exploitation activities triggered by economic expansion and population growth have been the main causes of deforestation in the region: (1) timber harvesting that fill the increased raw material needs of growing industries, and (2) conversion of forests to agriculture and settlements to provide food and abodes for the expanding population.
Authorized logging, guided by appropriate forest management plans, is not a threat to the sustainability of forests since only mature trees are removed and the volume of yearly harvests do not exceed the annual growth of the stand. Similarly, well-planned conversion of forestlands with gentle topography, good soil quality and accessible location, into agricultural purposes means allocation of land to its "best use" so it is not be regarded as "deforestation" in the negative perspective from which it is often perceived.
Spontaneous, unplanned and unauthorized conversion of hilly forest areas into farms and human settlements is the greatest cause of deforestation in the region today. By sheer force of numbers, encroaching farmers equipped with light cutting tools and aided by fire may inflict more damage to the forest compared to the heavily-mechanized loggers. The destruction wrought by each individual farmer is minimal but their aggregate impact is extensive.
Ironically, areas set aside as permanent forests for sustained-yield management often attract more unauthorized settlers since access roads built for timber harvesting also provide easy access for them. Moreover, where the large and mature trees have been harvested, so the small residual trees left behind for future extraction are easier to cut and burn preparatory to cultivation.
1.3.1. The Nature of Non-Forest Areas
1.3.2. Tree Species in Non-Forest Areas
1.3.3. Ecological and Socio-economic Effects of Trees in Non-Forest Areas
As countries face expanding wood demand and shrinking forest resources, they exert efforts to strike a balance between wood supply and demand. In countries where demand far exceeds supply, the conventional approach to expand the wood supply is for government to reforest denuded forestlands. The other less known but increasingly important approach is to encourage the local people and communities to establish small-scale tree plantations in non-forest areas (NFAs) such as farmlots, agroforestry farms, and communal land areas. Small-scale block or line tree plantations in NFAs are rapidly proliferating because government is providing conducive policy and economic incentives, and because entrepreneurial tree farmers are drawn to it by wood prices that are escalating to attractive levels. Thus, it is anticipated that NFAs devoted to tree crops will further expand and will contribute an increasing share to the national wood supply.
NFAs are either public or private cultivable lands outside the forest zone that can be, and are often used for growing small stands of trees (often multi-purpose tree species (MPTS)) for a variety of non-forestry purposes, such as windbreaks, shelterbelts, erosion-control hedges, nurse trees, shade trees, or live fences; for the production of non-wood goods, like fruits and nuts, fodder, green manure, or latex; or for the production of locally-needed wood materials like fuelwood, poles and small timber for local construction. When market opportunities arise, the trees may also be managed for industrial raw materials, such as pulpwood, small-diameter sawlogs and peeler logs, or posts and pilings.
Some NFAs are devoted purely to trees in small block plantations and are referred to as farm woodlots, tree farms, village forests or community woodlots. Others contain a combination of agricultural and tree crops and are known as agroforestry farms, homegardens, mixed plots, food gardens, integrated farms, etc. Agroforestry farms may include contour hedges, shelterbelts, firebreaks, boundary plantings, live tree fences, and trees on canalsides, roadsides, railwaysides, etc.
In Asia, NFAs are managed either by individual farmers or by communities. Community-managed NFAs are expanding rapidly because a number Asian countries are actively promoting community forestry after it had been clearly demonstrated that people's participation means more effective rehabilitation, management and protection of tree resources. In the South Pacific island countries, on the other hand, NFAs are generally controlled and managed by clan or tribal groups rather than by individuals since customary ownership of lands and other natural resources by such groups is the norm (Vergara, 1977).
Trees grown in NFAs generally fall under two species groups:
1. Those that emerge as natural regeneration after removal of the original forest vegetation. They may be further divided into two subgroups:a) the fast-growing pioneer species such as Trema orientalis, Albizia procera, Albizia falcataria, Anthocephalus chinensis, or Endospermum peltatum that often arise after logging in Southeast Asia. These pioneers generally have wind-borne or bird-disseminated seeds for quick and wide dispersal, and are capable of germinating quickly, growing rapidly and competing effectively with other plants. Regarded at first as "weed species," many were eventually found suitable for a wide variety of commercial products, such as pulp, paper, core veneer, chipboards, matchsticks, toothpick and laminated corestock for blockboards, so farmers started managing them as non-timber forest products from NFAs.
b) the slower-growing climax species that eventually overtop the pioneer vegetation and take over the area towards the later part of the vegetative succession. These are usually high-value hardwood trees, such as Dalbergia in South Asia, Tectona in northern Southeast Asia, or Dipterocarps in southern Southeast Asia. Because of their commercial value, they are often favoured and cared for by farmers once they emerge, but their capacity to establish themselves is heavily dependent upon the presence of good mother trees.
2. Those selected and planted in NFAs by farmers or communities. Most NFAs today contain planted rather than natural-regeneration trees. In general, the planted trees are chosen because they have traditionally filled the wood needs of local people, are in demand in the local markets, are suited to the local soil and climate, and are compatible with the other crops raised by the farmers. In addition, they are usually fast-growing to satisfy the minimum-resource farmers' expectations of early harvests and incomes. Since many non-indigenous species satisfy these criteria, it is not surprising to find many NFAs stocked with such fast growing timber species as Leucaena leucocephala, Gmelina arborea, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Populus deltoides, Acacia mangium, Albizia falcataria, etc. However, it is also clear that there are some NFA farmers who prefer indigenous species whose slower growth is compensated by their high values - such as Tectona grandis in Myanmar and Thailand and Dipterocarp and Pterocarpus species in Indonesia and the Philippines.
Other woody species with valuable non-wood products, such as Para Rubber for latex, Palm Oil and Coconut for vegetable oil, are also extensively planted in NFAs. When their non-wood yields decline below acceptable levels, they are cut down and their contribution to the wood supply are substantial. However, they are included under "Estate Plantations," not in this document.
188.8.131.52. Ecological Effects
Tree planting in NFAs has some positive ecological effects: (1) Woody perennials, either in pure stands or in agroforestry mixtures, help minimize soil erosion and nutrient loss on sloping sites and, thus, contribute to the maintenance of productivity; (2) Nitrogen-fixing trees intercropped with annuals help improve site fertility and productivity. (3) The diverse species mixtures in agroforestry farms significantly reduce the ecological risks associated with monoculture ecosystems.
However, there could also be negative ecological impacts of trees in NFAs: (1) Untested exotic species that replace or supplement indigenous farm crops sometimes lead to species/site mismatches or species mix incompatibilities that in turn result in low yields or even crop failures. (2) Monocultures are easier to manage and, therefore, often preferred by forest farmers, but they are vulnerable to insect infestation and disease attack. (3) The high growth rate of fast-growing species (FGS) leads to higher frequency of biomass harvest and, thus, to more rapid nutrient depletion and reduction of site productivity.
184.108.40.206. Socio-economic Impacts
Positive socio-economic impacts of trees in NFAs have also been noted: (1) tree/annual crop combinations in "land-hungry" countries (e.g., Bangladesh) lead to more intensive use of land and, therefore, usually higher returns per hectare per year compared to single-crop systems. (2) Trees interplanted with food crops stand to benefit from the care, fertilizer and irrigation inputs intended for the latter. As a result, they grow faster, hasten wood production and increase wood supply. (3) Tree crops in heavily-populated upland areas provide alternative employment and supplemental incomes during the "dry and lean" months when rainfed annual crops are not feasible.
Adverse socio-economic effects may, however, be encountered in managing NFA tree crops: (1) Extraction of grown nurse trees in agroforestry systems sometimes inflicts damage to the valuable main crops such a Coffee or Cacao. (2) The small size and wide dispersal of NFAs cause difficulties in collecting and assembling the products. (3) The location of NFAs in remote and relatively inaccessible sites lead to high farm-to-market transport costs that could render the undertaking economically non-viable. In such cases, trees planted in NFAs could function well for environmental protection and conservation but may not be viable as a sustainable source of wood supply; especially for industrial use.