Description of plantation resources
Estimates indicate that at the end of the nineteeth century, about 30 percent of the land area was covered with forest (Harwood and Boland, 1994). Now Eritrea has no domestic supply of timber, all wood being imported (FAO, 1998).
Development of forest plantations
Eucalyptus spp. were introduced during the period of Italian colonisation, between 1889 and 1941. Since then, depending on site conditions, many Eucalyptus spp. have been planted.
Prior to the country´s independence in 1991, there were more than 10 000 ha of plantations. Due to the lack of silvicultural maintenance, few of them now exist. Species planted were Eucalyptus spp. and Acacia spp.
A new land policy was proclaimed in 1994 and during 1991-1997, about 65 240 000 seedlings were planted. Their purpose was mainly non-industrial, for soil and water conservation (FAO, 1998).
Eucalyptus spp. and indigenous Acacia spp. are planted. Eucalyptus spp. are planted to produce poles used in house construction.
Both plantations and natural regeneration of Olea africana and Juniperus spp. are established in some areas. Both are native species.
A lot of different species are planted around homes throughout the country (Harwood and Boland, 1994).
The government drafted a forest policy since 1996, indicating that soil conservation should be promoted through reforestation.
A small project was proposed to re-establish plantations on the scale of 500 ha. Species used in the project would include softwoods used in Ethiopia and Kenya (FAO, 1998).
It is certain that timber demand for construction will increase due to the increasing population. However, afforestation programmes need to be coupled with sustainable management principles, improved silvicultural techniques and community participation. There is need for continuing research on these aspects (FAO, 1998).
Pole production cannot meet domestic demand (Harwood and Boland, 1994).
FAO. 1998. Forestry Data Report on Eritrea. En Workshop on Data Collection and Analysis for Sustainable Forest Management in ACP Countries. Nakuru, Kenya, October 12-16, 1998. EC-FAO Partnership programme (1998-2000) Project GCP/INT/679/EC. Rome.
Harwood, C.E. & Boland, D.J. 1994. Final Report to Ministry of Agriculture. In CSIRO-ICRAF Advisory Visit to Eritrea. Asmara, 8-20 November, 1993. Government of Eritrea and World Vision Australia.