Description of plantation resources
Unlike neighbouring countries, El Salvador has little forest cover. The country is not self-sufficient in timber and fuelwood, which must imported to meet domestic demand. The greatest demand is for fuelwood.
Between 1870 and 1900, much of the natural forests were replaced by coffee plantations. Later sugar, cotton and sugarcane were introduced as export products, resulting in deforestation of most of the flat land and zones near the coast. (Rodriguez Cruz and Vaquerano Gomez, 1999).
The recent twelve-year war largely prevented the country from developing a forest industry and greatly increased deforestation (Boyd, 1998).
Plantations are defined as forests that are established by the hand of man. Their major uses are for wood and firewood, and they avoid the need to extract timber products from natural areas and reserves (Rodriguez Cruz and Vaquerano Gomez, 1999).
Small-scale plantations are supported by a national programme involving more than 30 000 producers. Incentives are provided through the Banco Multisectorial de Inversiones.
Development of forest plantations
The total plantation area reached 3 853 ha in 1977 and 6 593 ha in 1996.
The first national inventory of plantations was initiated by the government in 1995. It included classification per area and species. In 1996, volume and area of plantations for commercial use were estimated (Rodriguez Cruz and Vaquerano Gomez, 1999).
In 1996, the Registro Nacional de Plantaciones was established to collect and present data on forest plantations throughout the country.
At the end of 1998, a program of incentives for reforestation was developed, targetting the families who live in fragile zones of the San Salvador volcano (MAG, 1999).
More than twenty species are planted, mainly broadleaved trees, of which Tectona grandis is the predominant species. It accounts for about 38 percent of the planted area. Inga vera, another broadleaved species, accounts for about 18 percent and Pinus caribaea, Gliricidia sepium and Eucalyptus spp. account for about 0.5 percent each (Rodriguez Cruz and Vaquerano Gomez, 1999).
If the registration of new plantations is to work, it will be necessary to come to an agreement with the different institutions and/or private companies involved in the forestry sector. The purpose is to improve the flow of information relative to the establishment of new forest plantations (Rodriguez Cruz and Vaquerano Gomez, 1999).
Due to lack of financial resources and the capacity to implement forest legislation on a national scale, forestry activities by the government are limited (Boyd, 1998).
In 1992, it was predicted that the population would double during the next twenty-four years and this would be accompanied by a commensurate demand for forest products (Rodriguez Cruz and Vaquerano Gomez, 1999).
Boyd, E. 1998. A compilation of forest plantation statistics for selected African and Latin American countries.
MAG. 1999. Breve descripción de los recursos forestales en El Salvador. San Salvador. Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería.
Rodriguez Cruz, E.A. & Vaquerano Gómez L.A. 1996. Actualización del registro nacional de plantaciones y cuantificación de volumen, Proyecto Fortalecimiento de los Recursos Forestal, Agua y Suelo. San Salvador. Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería.
Ronnie de Camino, V. & Marielos Alfaro, M. 1998. Teak (Tectona grandis) in Central America.