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Part IV: Introduction to TEAKNET

Asia-Pacific Network on teak research and development (Draft proposal for discussion) - Dr. C.T.S. Nair

C.T.S. Nair

Senior Programme Advisor



Teak is one of the most important hardwood species planted extensively in several countries in the Asia-Pacific. The total area of teak bearing forests and plantations in the Region is estimated to be about 25 million hectares. Being indigenous to the Region, substantial experience has been gained in the management of natural and man-made stands of teak. Notwithstanding the large scale introduction of fast growing exotics like Eucalyptus and Acacia species, teak continues to be an important species, especially on account of the high quality of wood, the increasing demand, and the ease of cultivation and management. Growing private investment in teak plantations is a clear indication of the perceived potential of the species, although deforestation and unscientific management have substantially reduced the area of natural stands.

While problems in the countries in the Region are similar and considerable experience exists in dealing with them, there is no effective mechanism to share this and to facilitate the improvement of techniques for conservation, management and utilization of teak plantations and forests. The need for developing a suitable mechanism to facilitate exchange of information was discussed during the China/ESCAP/FAO Regional Seminar on Research and Development of Teak held at Guangzhou, China during March 1991. There was a general consensus to the proposal for establishing an “Asia-Pacific Network on Research and Development of Teak” (TEAK-NET). In addition to enabling effective dissemination of information, it was proposed that the TEAK-NET should facilitate (i) establishment of relevant data bases; (ii) publication of scientific papers; (iii) exchange of germ plasm; (iv) human resources development through training, exchange programme for researchers, etc.; (v) research extension; and (vi) cooperative and coordinated research, where possible. It was proposed that ESCAP and FAO should jointly develop a detailed plan for the network mechanism, including the administrative, operational and financial implications and approach concerned member governments to formally establish the network.

Networking refers to formal and informal ways in which individuals and organizations establish contacts with one another and develop working relationships to exchange information and cooperate and coordinate professional activities. Informal networks operate on personal contacts and are very effective when the number of people involved is small. Formal arrangements become necessary to deal with complex problems. Networks could deal with a broad area of interest or it could be a highly specialized area. FORSPA belongs to the first category, dealing with the broad area of research. The IDRC supported International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), the International Neem Network and the Multi-Purpose Tree Species (MPTS) network are some of the topic specific networks in forestry. There are several commodity/crop specific networks in the agricultural sector. Efficacy of these networks vary depending on the commitment and interest of the participating institutions and individuals, the initiatives of the lead institution and the resources available. These networks have significantly contributed to exchange of information, reducing costs, minimizing duplication and enhancing efficiency.

It is in the above context that the following proposal for establishment of the “Asia-Pacific Network on Research and Development of Teak” (TEAK-NET) has been formulated.


As in the case of other networks the primary objective of the TEAK-NET is to facilitate exchange of information and to promote collaborative efforts to deal with common problems. There are already several problems in the conservation and management of teak, such as decline in productivity during successive rotations, absence of natural regeneration, and pest and disease problems. Information on how these problems are being tackled in different situations will help considerably in devising appropriate local level solutions. Some of the areas in which the network could help are:

(i) Exchange of information on nursery and planting techniques, management systems for natural and man-made stands, tending and thinning, site productivity maintenance, pest and disease management, improved utilization and demand, supply, prices and direction of trade.

(ii) Exchange of seed and other planting materials and standardization of trials to facilitate international comparison.

(iii) Collaborative studies on critical areas that are of common interest to two or more countries in the Region.


To fulfil the above objectives the TEAK-NET may undertake one or more of the following activities:

(i) Review major developments in the conservation, management and utilization of teak (through a seminar organized once in three years).

(ii) Information dissemination through:

(iii) Support and catalyze collaborative research on problems of common interest and facilitate the exchange of seeds and other planting materials for trials and studies.

(iv) Facilitate the exchange of expertise among the countries/institutions who are part of the network.

(v) Any other activity that are relevant to the main objective of the network.


4.1. Stages of development of TEAK-NET:

The structure of any network will primarily depend on the activities proposed to be undertaken. A limited number of activities can be accomplished through a less formalized and simple organizational structure, whereas several interrelated activities would necessitate a more formal structure, requiring a clear definition of responsibilities of those involved in the network.

The simplest arrangement is to have a Network Centre (Stage 1) which will act as a link between members (institutions and individuals) in the network. This would require a strong network centre, which should be capable of interacting directly with all the members. Such an arrangement will be appropriate if the number of people/institutions involved is limited and the sphere of activities is defined narrowly. While this could be a starting point for establishing the TEAK-NET, soon it will have to consider a system to actively involve a larger number of people and institutions. This could be accomplished through country focal points and networks or topic-specific regional focal points (Stage 2).

With increasing activities, there will be need for more effective planning and coordination as also to provide opportunities for members to actively participate in the management of the network. Establishing a Steering Group (Stage 3) would be one option. This would necessarily require stipulation of rules concerning the constitution of the Steering Group and defining their responsibilities.

4.2. Members of the TEAK-NET:

4.2.1. Eligibility:

The strength of any network is entirely dependent on its members, and hence this forms the most critical element in the network. Depending upon the scope of activities envisaged, it is possible to define the criteria for eligibility to join the network. Considering the broad objective membership in the TEAK-NET should be open to:

(i) Institutions/agencies/departments, both public and private sector involved in:

(ii) Consumer associations; and

(iii) Individuals with demonstrated and sustained interest in various aspects concerning growing, managing and processing of teak.

4.2.2. Membership fees:

To ensure that at least a limited part of the resources are mobilized from within the network, it is appropriate to charge a membership fee which reflects the value of the services provided by the network. Three different kinds of membership could be envisaged in the case of TEAK-NET:

(i) Institutional annual membership;

(ii) Individual annual membership; and

(iii) Life membership (for both individuals and institutions).

In determining the membership fee it is necessary to take into account the ability of members to pay, the cost of network activities and the scope for mobilizing resources through other means (e.g. donor support, cost-sharing by member institutions, etc.).

4.3. Regional Network Centre:

A strong institutional base is critical to the effective functioning of a network and the main criteria to be adopted in identifying the TEAK-NET Centre should be:

The TEAK-NET Centre will be responsible for most of the key activities and in particular:

To facilitate this, the Centre should have (i) a network coordinator (part time or full time), (ii) support staff (part-time or full time), and (iii) communication facilities. Since one of the most important function of the TEAK-NET is information sharing, it is appropriate that a Teak Information Centre is developed as an integral part of the Centre. This would necessarily involve establishment of additional facilities.

It should be possible to involve participating institutions in some of the activities through decentralization of responsibilities. For example, editing and publishing the newsletter could be assigned to one of the institution for a specified period. Such an arrangement is possible in the case of publications, meetings and development of data bases also. Nevertheless the Network Centre will have to assume the coordinating responsibility, including the mobilization of resources.

4.4. County level/Regional focal points:

As indicated in para 4.1, the diversity of experience and the complexity of the problems would make it imperative to develop focal points in support of the network and as shown in Fig. 1 (Stage 2), this could be (i) at the country level (encompassing all topics dealing with teak) or (ii) at the regional level (for each of the important topics) or (iii) a combination of both. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. While a national co-ordinator will be able to provide an integrated approach, it could turn out be insufficient to deal with problems that require direct interaction among specialists.

The most viable approach therefore would be to develop a flexible arrangement depending on the interests of network members. Thus the network should be able to accommodate geographical/ country based as well as topic/subject/problem specific groupings. What ever be the structure, the focal point should be able to provide the necessary leadership and direction to the concerned group. Generally country level focal points and co-ordination arrangements would be more stable, whereas problem specific groups are likely to be transient, depending on the severity and significance of the problem.

4.5. Steering Group:

4.5.1. Functions:

In the case of a large network, it would be appropriate to establish a Steering Group of elected members which will be responsible for taking crucial decisions concerning various network activities. The Steering Group will be responsible for approval of the annual plan of activities and to organize the review of the functioning of the TEAK-NET. It will also draw up the criteria for provision of support by the TEAK-NET, especially with regard to funding research projects and participation in meetings.

4.5.2. Composition and mode of establishment:

(i) Composition: The Steering Group should have representation from key interest groups in particular those concerned with resource management, processing and research. They should be chosen in such a way as to represent Government agencies, research institutions, private sector and international organizations concerned with teak. No country will be represented by more than one member. Total number of members in the Steering Group may vary between 6 to 9 and the Steering Group will have a Chairman and a Vice-Chairman elected by the members of the Steering Group from among them. The Chairman will preside over the meetings of the Steering Group and the Vice-Chairman will discharge the responsibilities of the Chairman in the absence of the latter.

The TEAK-NET co-ordinator will be an ex-officio member of the Steering Group and will be the Secretary to the Steering Group.

(ii) Establishment: The Steering Group will be established through consensus among the members, failing which election based on simple majority will be resorted to. The term of the Steering Group will be for a period of three years. Nomination/election of the Steering Group will be usually done at the time of the Regional Seminar which is to be organized once in three years.


5.1. Period of the Work Plan:

While it is advantageous to have a work plan for a longer period, indicating the activities that are proposed to be undertaken, there are several uncertainties that affect the conceptualisation of such a work plan. Adopting the interval between two successive Regional Seminars has the following advantages:

(i) The Regional Seminar marks the end of one work plan and the beginning of a new work plan. Since the Regional Seminar will be the major event involving substantial participation of interested groups, it will provide a unique opportunity to review what has been accomplished and what is proposed to be undertaken during the next work plan with the involvement of the maximum number of members in the TEAK-NET.

(ii) New Steering Group is constituted at the time of the Regional Seminar, and it is advantageous to have the duration of the Work Plan coincide with that of the Steering Group.

For the above reasons it is proposed that the first work plan covers a period of three years, 1995 to 1998.

5.2. TEAK-NET Work Plan:

The activities and responsibilities for establishing and managing the TEAK-NET during 1995-98 are indicated below:

5.2.1. Establishment of TEAK-NET:

(i) Discussion and finalization of proposal:


June 1995

(ii) Constitution of Steering Group:


June 1995

(iii) Identification of host country:


June 1995

5.2.2. TEAK-NET Centre:

(i) Appointment of Co-ordinator and support staff:


July 1995

(ii) Office and communication facilities:


July - Sept. 1995

(iii) Establishment of Teak Information Centre


- office facility:


Oct. - Dec. 1995

- documentation facilities:


Jan. - Mar. 1996

- collection of literature:


Jan. - Dec. 1996

5.2.3. Strengthening TEAK-NET at country level:

(i) Country level coordinators and networks:


June 1995 - Dec. 1996

(ii) Topic-specific groups:


June 1995 - Dec. 1996

5.2.4. Information Services:

(i) Publication of TEAK-NET News:


every quarter from Sept. 1995

(ii) Establishment of an Internet group and electronic bulletin board


5.2.5. Development of data bases:

(i) Directory of professionals involved in teak research and development:


June - Dec. 1995

(ii) Data base on teak seed orchards/ seed production areas:


Jan. - Dec. 1996

(iii) Directory of ongoing/completed research/studies:


Jan. - Dec. 1997

5.2.6. Coordinated studies:

There are several topics which could be studied on a regional basis, essentially to compare the experience from different countries and to draw lessons that could be applied on a wider scale with appropriate modification. Following is a provisional list that may be considered for collaborative studies.

(i) Regional review of teak provenance trials:


Jan. - Dec. 1996

(ii) Studies on changes in productivity in successively cropped areas:


Jan. 96 - Dec. 1997

(ii) Comparative study of plantation management practices:


Jan. - Dec. 1996

(iii) Pest and disease management problems:


July - Dec. 1997

(iv) Global trade of teak wood and trends in demand, supply and prices:


Jan. 1997 - Mar. 1998

5.2.7. Third Regional Seminar on Teak and meeting - of the TEAK-NET:

(some time during March - June 1998)

The Third Regional Seminar will mark end of the proposed Work Plan and will provide an opportunity to review the key issues, assess the effectiveness of the Network, chalk out a work plan for the next three years and nominate a new Steering Group to implement the Work Plan.

(i) Identification of host country:


(preferably at the end of the second Regional Seminar, but not later than June 1996)

(ii) First information note:


Jan. 1997

(iii) Identification of key topics and speakers:


Jan. - Mar. 1997

(iv) Resource mobilization:


Jan. - Dec. 1997

(v) Finalization of programme:


Jan. 1998

5.3. Preliminary Budget for implementation of the Work Plan:

The expenditure involved in implementing the Work Plan is provisionally estimated as below.

(i) Establishment of TEAK-NET Centre:


US$ 120,000

(ii) Country level and topic-specific group meetings:


US$ 50,000

(iii) Information services:


US$ 50,000

(iv) Data base development:


US$ 15,000

(v) Coordinated studies:


US$ 75,000

(vi) Third Regional Seminar:


US$ 150,000



US$ 460,000

The main sources of funds will be (i) contribution by host and participating institutions/individuals in kind or through membership fees, (ii) charges for participation in the seminars and meetings, (iii) donor contribution and (iv) support from regional and national projects. The Steering Group has to work out the details and assist in the mobilization of resources. While donor support could be sought for some of the well defined activities like data base development, coordinated studies, initial investment on improving communication facilities, etc. long term sustainability of the network will primarily depend on internal resource mobilization.


The structure and functions of the TEAK-NET proposed above reflects the current perceptions and the existing capabilities of the countries in the Region. The rapid advancement of communication technologies (in particular, the potential of electronic information exchange as in the case of INTERNET) is bound to significantly alter the structure and functions of the network. More horizontal interaction would alter the role of national and regional focal points and network centres and some of the traditional functions of network coordination would become less important and even irrelevant. While networking will continue to be relevant and necessary, the precise mechanisms will undergo significant changes. Technological development will improve ability to exchange information, but would require continuous adaptation of network structures. Ultimately what matters is the commitment of the participants to share information and to freely interact with others and their ability to take advantage of the opportunities offered by technological advancement.

Logging elephants - importamt partners enageged in the teak forestry of Myanmar.

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