2. Change Drivers
Before we discuss about the change drivers that bring about changes in the forestry sector we would like to make clear that the causes and effects of these drivers are interconnected that it is hard to find a clear demarcation between the drivers. However, for the sake of easy understanding we will list and discuss them separately in order to fulfill the present objectives.
The main change drivers are:
2.1. Development Oriented Land Tenure System.
2.2. Land for Agriculture and Grazing.
2.3. Forest Fires.
2.4. Alternative Energy Sources.
2.5. Government Institution and Budget.
2.6. Trained Manpower.
2.7. Extension Services and Public Awareness.
2.8. Standard of Living.
2.9. Housing and other Construction Purposes.
2.10. Proper/Conducive Forestry and Wildlife Policy.
2.11. Factories and Industries.
2.1. Development Oriented Land Tenure System
Basically there are three categories of land ownership in the country. The State owned land, the "Diesa"or the village/communal/ownership and the family ownership. Of the three land ownership the most common in the highlands is the village or communal ownership. Under this system a family or a household has the usufruct rights of land for a limited number of years, land is redistributed among family members on rotational basis every 5 or 7 years. Although it is fare and egalitarian in nature it does not present an opportunity for long term investments with lifetime usufruct guarantee on the land. Moreover, it is a system full of exhaustive land disputes that lead to bare fallow which are not beneficial to the litigate parties. It is a system where farmers because of limited tenure ship rights refrain from planting perennial trees on their farms for fear of losing their right to collect the benefits of their investment after the expiry of their tenureship. Outside the family plots, the grazing lands are communally administered; and management that involves the community has failed, as this type of management does not induce individual motivations. Under this type of management the livestock freely roam and browse, constantly depriving the regeneration of the vegetation.
The traditional land system has been inadequate in promoting sound environmental management practices and sustainable agricultural development. This system discouraged permanent improvement of land and encouraged the pursuit of short-term gains. This led to severe resource depletion, including almost deforestation of the country. In order to arrest the further deterioration of land and to improve land use, the Government promulgated a comprehensive land reform law. The law guarantees security of tenure based on the usufruct principles (NEMP-E, 1995).
The GoE is working on its implementation. Seminars/ workshops are given to people to elaborate and clarify the advantages of the new land tenure system vis-a-vis the old system. The same campaign is done through the mass media and soon it will be implemented.
However, private individuals are given land in any part of the country for developmental purposes (industry, factory, agricultural development, construction of hotels, restaurants, any type of workshops, and other developmental works). This will help for the development of the country.
The question of land becomes serious when one comes to the farmer level. This will definitely be solved in the near future though one cannot definitely pinpoint out the exact time of its implementation but the indications are that it will be improved very soon.
2.2. Land for Agriculture and Grazing
The present agricultural practices for the production of crop and animal husbandry in Eritrea like in most underdeveloped countries are traditional farming. Most of the farm implements are not modernised. Most farmers do not use improved seeds. They use inadequate amount of or no pesticides, weedcides, insecticides or fertilizers. Because of the lack of these inputs, the crop yield is very poor both qualitatively and quantitatively. The yield is below expectation. Most of the farmers have small holdings and their lands are in bits and pieces and in different localities and as a result of these farmers spend much time in travelling long distances to reach at their farm areas. Most of them depend on rain to plough and sow their fields, and are therefore subject to climatic variability. There is a lack of rotational practice. Most of the farmers think that the larger land they have, the more yield they would get which is not always true. Because of this notion, farmers would go on clearing vast areas of forest/woodland and convert these into farmlands at the expense of forestlands. These practices are some of the causes for the forest area shrinkage. Almost all-cultivable land is in use in the highlands.
When one comes to the animal husbandry sector the condition is not much better than the crop production sector. In Eritrea rangelands constitute about 47 % of the country and most of which about 57 % are in the western lowlands (Consultative Workshop, 1996). People living in the highlands and lowlands of Eritrea possess a large number of livestock (cattle, camels, goats, sheep, etc.). In 1973 before the escalation of the liberation war livestock estimation was about 5 million goats and 2.5 million cattle. In 1990, just a year before liberation the estimates were 2.5 million goats and sheep and about 0.9 million cattle. This shows that during the 3 decades of war there is a reduction of goats and sheep by half and by about a third for cattle (Consultative Workshop, 1996). For 1992, a year after the war ended the estimates for goats and sheep, show an increase to about half of that figure, which is about 1.3 million. According to World Bank report of 2000 livestock estimates for sheep and goats was 6.7 million and for cattle was1.9 million. When one compares the livestock population growth of 1990-1992 to that of 1992-2000 there is reduction in the population growth of livestock. Livestock provide milk, hides, skin and meat, which are the sources of food and cash income for the agro-pastoralists. Livestock products provide some five-percent of GDP. However, the yield of these products is not high. The wealth and status of an individual depends upon the number of the livestock he/she owns. The number of the livestock is beyond the carrying capacity of a specific grazing area. This practice is detrimental to the environment in general and to the livestock and to human population in particular.
The woodlands in general and those located in the Western Lowlands in particular, are subjected to heavy pressure as a result of forest clearing for agriculture, collection of fuelwood and also intensive grazing.
The livestock owners tend to clear new forest/ woodland areas in order to convert them to grazing areas. The livestock graze or browse on the existing vegetation covers. Farmers lop trees and cut shrubs to feed their animals as a result of which a large tract of forest /woodlands are destroyed every year and are converted into semi-desert or desert conditions. The areas are also adversary affected by livestock trampling the soil thus altering the soil structure, which prevents tree, shrub or grass seeds from sprouting. Natural regeneration is affected seriously when grown trees, that could be mother trees supplying seeds, are cut and young shoots or seedlings are eaten up by grazing stock.
Decline of forest cover in the lowlands had a dramatic effect on the environment especially on biological diversity and on the well being of the local people. Concessions for modern agricultural production in the Western Lowlands have been the major single source of deforestation in the past few years. All these lead to the destruction of forestland, which brings about shrinkage in area.
Because of deforestation, mismanagement of existing resources and natural calamities a variety of avi-fauna and flora has been dwindled in number greatly. As a matter of fact, many of them are either extinct or damaged. Many tree and shrub species are endangered in Eritrea like Boswellia papyrifera, Adansonia digitata, Tamaridus indica, Balanites aegyptiaca, Ximenia americana to mention but a few of the endangered species.
2.3. Forest Fires
Since time immemorial, settlers in the old times set fire to the highland forests in order to construct their settlements and with increase in population more areas had to be put under fire to acquire more land for settlement. Since then the culture of setting fire on forests has been continuing as tradition and is being exercised by the rural population especially when additional land is required for cultivation and grazing. Although there is no reliable data regarding the magnitude of the forest that had been lost due to fire in the past, the destruction and the irreversible damage that fire caused to the forests of the country was enormous.
Fire is one of the most dangerous hazards in the woodlands and savanna areas of the southwestern zones of the country. Repeated and uncontrolled burning in these wood and grasslands causes extensive loss of vegetation cover exposes the soil to erosion and effects other factors leading to environmental degradation. During the period between 1993 and 1999 a total area of 71,247 ha of woodland and savanna have been burnt in Gash-Barka Zoba in the Southwestern Lowland areas; and during the same period 1,600 hectares of forestland were burnt in the Green Belt Zone of Zoba Maekel. The total forest and savanna areas destroyed by fire amounts to 72,847 hectares (Forestry and Wildlife, LRCPD, MoA, 2,000.Unpuplished and uncompiled data from the Zobas). Most of the time forest fires are deliberate. The reasons for putting fire to the forests are varied. Reported causes of these fires were smoking beehives, burning dried grass to promote regeneration and intentionally. However, the knowledge and efforts to prevent it from happening or to suppress and control it are not coordinated.
2.3.1. Forest Fire prevention measures
The measures taken to prevent forest fires are:
Creating public awareness among the masses especially among the rural people through the mass media (films, seminars/ workshops, newspaper, radio, etc).
Firebreaks are constructed within the plantation areas and natural forests. In some localities forest roads are used as fire breaks.
Fire towers are constructed and are maintained annually.
As a long- term objective it is planned to have stand-by fireguards.
2.4. Alternative Energy Resources
Fuelwood consumption differs from place to place, depending on access to fuelwood collection area, price and availability of other alternative sources of energy. Information on production and consumption of wood is generally scarce. However, with regard to fuelwood some studies have estimated the aggregate consumption levels. A household consumption survey carried out by the Ministry of Energy and Mining in 1996 indicates that the firewood represent about 80 % of the total energy consumption of the country, and that a further 16.7 % is made up of from dung and agri-residues which is a direct loss of organic matter to the soils. These organic matters ought to be used as manure in agricultural fields so that soil fertility could be maintained. In terms of firewood, (both charcoal and fuelwood) consumption accounts for about 1.48 million tones per annum, which is much lower than previous estimates made by other studies such as by the National Environment Management Plan for Eritrea (NMPL-E.) which put annual consumption at 4.4 million cubic meters equivalent to about 3.1 million tones (FAO, 2000).
This level of fuelwood consumption is too high if consideration is given to the fragile forests and woodlands in Eritrea. Presently, most of the fuelwood comes from the Western Lowlands, including from clearings of agricultural concessions and settlements. However, as time goes by, if alternative sources of energy are not introduced so as to replace fuelwood, the increased demand for fuelwood by the growing population will outstrip sustainable supply, and lead to more deforestation.
At present the Eritrean society in general and the rural people in particular are using woodfuel, cow-dung and agri-residues as sources of household energy.
The total annual off-take for 1995 was estimated at 0.55-0.58 million tones. However, this would rise with the increase in population. About 100,000 tones of woodfuel were supplied in 1995 from land clearances by commercial agricultural concessions, equivalent to approximately 4,000 hectares. Of this total, a high proportion 83-87% of the annual off-take is consumed locally i.e. Asmara, the capital and the remainder was used elsewhere, mainly in the major urban centers in the highlands. More than 90 % of the total quantity of woodfuel is consumed in the form of pure fuelwood as opposed to charcoal (charcoal production in Eritrea is forbidden by law), 8.3 % animal-dung and 1.6 % agricultural residues (FAO, 1997).
The average standing wood biomass (air-dry basis) was 22.5 t /ha. Minor branches (less than 3 cm in diameter) and foliage brings this figure up to about 31.5 t/ha. Deadwood, which was measured separately, had an average mass of 1.5 t/ ha. The riverine forests exert a powerful influence on the average biomass stocking of 23 t / ha for live wood. A figure of 17 t / ha, disregarding the riverine forests, provides an average more typical of the prevailing vegetation types (FAO, 1997).
The long term sustainable use of the forest resources for woodfuel production would require that annual off-take should not exceed the annual increment of the forest concerned. The area of the natural forests / woodlands of the Western Lowlands where most of the fuelwood comes is estimated to as 3.5 million ha of which around 60-70 % is judged to be accessible. Assuming an average mean annual increment of 0.15 t/ ha /yr. for an accessible area of 60% of the total area, the total fuelwood production, on sustainable basis, was estimated at around 0.336 million tones annually (See Table 3).
At present, however, the MoA, has promulgated a ban on the cutting of live trees. Consequently, only the stock of deadwood may be collected officially from the natural forests and woodlands. Considering the area of forests and woodlands (3.5 million ha,) and including agricultural lands, the extent of accessible deadwood collection area is estimated to be 3.69 million ha. Based on actual field measurements of an average 1.5 t/ ha of deadwood, the total existing stock of dead wood in the Western Lowlands is estimated to be 3.3 to 3.9 million tones. The gap is now being filled by the stock of dead wood sufficient to cover a few years’ requirements. The threat to the existing meager forest and woodland cover is therefore real in the short to medium term, as the utilisation of present planting will be possible in about a decade from today (FAO, 2000).
2.4.1. Woodfuel Gap
When the annual woodfuel gap off-take quantity of 0.55-0.58 million tones is compared with the annual sustainable fuelwood production from the western lowlands natural wood vegetation, say 0.336 million tones/yr., it is evident there exists a substantial woodfuel gap of, say, between 0.21-0.24 million tones annually and that the present level of woodfuel off-take from these natural forests/woodlands is not sustainable. Even now, without clearance for agricultural concessions, this gap would be larger by 100,000 tones per year, and one can imagine what will happen with population increment in the next two decades.
If the present woodfuel gap was to be met by over cutting of the standing trees/ shrubs from the natural forests/woodlands, then it would require an area varying between 9,100 to 10,400 ha to clear cut each year. This would be incompatible with the national policy on environmental protection. If, in accordance with the current policy and directives, reliance were placed in filling the woodfuel gap from the stock of deadwood, then this palliative would become exhausted with 15 years period leaving the fundamental problem of sustainable use unaddressed.
The availability of dead wood supply for, the next two decades, year 2020 provides a unique opportunity to bring about a fundamental realignment of fuelwood consumption demand with sustainable production levels in the Western Lowlands. This would require the reduction of demand for woodfuel by around 20 %, the enhancement of biological productivity by 37 % of the natural forests/ woodlands, the improved utilisation of available dead wood stock and live wood increment resource stock effectively increasing accessibility by 20% to around 80% of the forest resources.
2.4.2. Current Indicators of Fuelwoood Shortages
Although the availability of woodfuel is not sufficient in the Western Lowlands at the present time, the situations are better compared to other parts of the country, particularly the highlands. These differences in wood situation are manifested in the utilisation of energy sources. In the highlands fuel diversification has long been adapted, especially by the households, to ensure fuel security. However, such fuel diversification strategies are not yet prominent in the Western Lowlands region, which implies that the shortage of woodfuel is not such a big problem at present but with the depletion of the resources and increase in population there will be acute shortage of fuelwood in the near foreseeable future.
However, this does n ot mean that the present woodfuel consumption and production systems of the region are fully sustainable. The situation of the woodfuel scarcity is worsening, as can be illustrated by the ever-increasing distance and hardship in collecting fuelwood. Taking the distance and time of fuelwood collection as indicators of the situation of woodfuel scarcity, between year 1960 and 1991 for instance, the average distance of fuelwood collection in the Western Lowlands has increased from 2.1 to 17.1 km and the time from 1.2 to 6.3 hrs. Studies made in the year 2,000 reveal that the average distance travelled and round trip time taken to collect fuelwood varies from as low as 6.7 km to 17.2 km (Semere and Zemenfes, 2,000) and the time taken varies from 8 to 10 hours among the administrative zones. One can imagine what will happen twenty years from now. These are important indicators of fuelwood scarcity.
In 1995, study indicates that fuelwood consumption by household sector was estimated at 1.29 million metric ton per annum and the per capita consumption was 440 kg per annum (FAO, 1997). However, the 1998 survey shows that fuelwood consumption by the sector was estimated to be 0.8 million tones per annum, the per capita consumption being 250 kg (Semere and Zemenfes, 2,000). The focus on wood consumption as a fuel should not obscure the very high dependency on animal dung (8.3 %) and agricultural residues (1.6 %) in national energy use (See Tables 4 and 5).
This condition has partly been aggravated by the woodfuel dependency of the highlanders in the region. Although the proportion of the transported woodfuel quantities from the region is small at present, the dependency of the urban centers in the highlands has its input on the use of the natural forests /woodlands of the region. And the effect of this would be even more serious, in the foreseeable future as a result of the increase in fuelwood demand both nationally and at local level on one hand, and ever declining productivity of the natural forests/ woodlands, on the other hand.
Currently, in some of the regions, for example, Debubawi Keih Bahr, Semeinawi Keih Bahri, parts of Anseba and Debub there is shortage of firewood. However, these areas have the potential to grow trees on farmlands, along homesteads and in school compounds. The wood products from such plantations may be enough for their immediate needs. However, this will be materialised provided that the new land tenure system is implemented.
2.5. Governmental Institution and Budget
During the Ethiopian regime there was, of course a governmental institution that caters for the development and management of forestry and wildlife sector however, this was a nominal body. It was poorly staffed both in number and in experience and in the level of education, and above all there were budget constraints.
Administratively, the sector was not well coordinated and there was little or no work relationships or communications with the other parts of Ethiopia. This is clearly seen today by the lack of forestry and wildlife data such as the extent of area planted, with respect to species, forest map, management prescriptions, survival rates, mean annual increment, etc. These data are lacking both for the plantation as well as for the natural forests. There were little data on wildlife. Lack of the availability of data hinders one from planning future development works.
Because of the lack of adequate budget a lot of supervision work has not been done which promoted illicit tree cutting that led to the destruction of forest trees which was the cause of desertification.
The lack of budget hindered the sector from carrying out extension works and public awareness to urban and rural people. Because the sector was inadequately set up both financially and administratively it was incapable in performing tangible office as well as field works. Worst of all some of the sub regions had no structural relationship with headquarters because of the prevailing conditions i.e. war for liberation. Nothing has been done in the fields of training nor on research, as a matter of fact there was no Research Unit as such.
Since independence however, one can see some sort of improvements in the field of forestry and wildlife. There is a support given to the forestry administration at national Zoba and sub-Zoba levels. There is a back up from the government in respect to budget allocations. Budget is allocated for afforastation and for the creation and establishments of wildlife parks, reserves and sanctuaries. There was hardly anything of this type in the past.
A National Tree Seed Development Project with the objective of developing a centralised national tree seed center and tree seed resource conservation and other seed research has been established recently.
Another project known as Integrated Watershed Development which deals with soil and water conservation works around the catchment areas and staff training, and Greening Eritrea a project that deals with soil and water conservation works, afforestation, feeder road construction, dam constructions, etc. are effectively working.
There is an international coordination with donor institutions and organisations in which DANIDA could be named at this point of time. DANIDA helps the MoA in general and the Forestry and Wildlife Division in particular to improve the Division’s standard both financially and administratively.
2.6. Trained Manpower
Before independence the number of educated staff in the fields of forestry and wildlife at all levels was very little. There was and still is a shortage of educated manpower in the fields of Agriculture in general and Forestry and Wildlife Sector in particular. There was no political will to equip the sector with trained staff. Educated Eritreans were deliberately made to leave the region and go somewhere else to look for a job. People who are not well educated and have neither deep knowledge of the customs, habits and norms of the Eritrean societies nor experiences of the science of forestry and wildlife were made to work in the sector. Such practices had detrimental effects on the environment of the country.
However, since independence the MoA being aware of the shortage of manpower is fully devoted to upgrade its staff by sending them abroad for higher studies, by giving in service training and arranging seminars and workshops. These seminars or workshops could be within the country or abroad. Efforts are also being made to recruit graduates from Universities. At present there is a build-up of trainees of different disciplines in the Forestry and Wildlife sector.
2.7. Extension Services and Public Awareness
Lack of trained manpower brings in a gap in the provision of extension services and public awareness. Extension services are very vital for the development of any sector. It is through extension services that urban and rural dwellers are to be reached at. It is through this service that one makes people aware of any type of development scheme. If any project scheme is to be implemented in any locality, the participation of the local people from the very initiation or inception of the project is vital.
During the colonial era because of the prolonged war for independence though it may be true that it was very hard to reach the rural people nevertheless, it was possible to carry out extension works to the urban people had there been any political will.
The lack of extension services is clearly seen in the field of forestry. Almost all plantations and conservation works have been failed. There are now remnants of stone works left from terraces done for soil and water conservation. The tree planting practice was a failure this is partly because the society was not involved in the programme.
Nowadays the LRCPD of the MoA is represented at sub-Zoba level for delivering extension services. At that level as few as two personnel of the Forestry and Wildlife i.e. a forester and a wildlife scout were represented in each village. In the twenty-six villages studied by FAO in 1997 there were 16,13 and 8 extension service men for forest plantation enclosure and forest management respectively.
Lack of communications between the staff of any sector and the society concerned brings in a gap in information that affects development negatively. There was very few seminars/workshops given to farmers about the ill-effects of excessive cutting, about the causes and effects of climatic changes; about ways and means of arresting or minimising desertification, and environmental degradations which are the causes of the loss of many tree, shrub, grass and wildlife species.
However, since independence efforts are being made to raise the awareness of the people about environmental conditions. The Eritrean Government has been successful in the identification of the environmental problems in the various sectors. It has been also successful in articulating the mechanisms to solve the environmental related problems. Eritrea became independent just recently, and her attempt at addressing environmental problems at this very early stage is laudable. The Government of the State of Eritrea has also been promoting awareness of environmental issues among its citizens through mass media. For example issues concerning soil erosion and land degradation have been disseminated through radio and newspaper.
2.8. Standard of Living
Eritrea is one of the underdeveloped countries and the standard of living is low. As said earlier 80 % of its population depends on agriculture and consumes about 90 % woodfuel as household energy, and a large amount of wood for house construction. The mere fact that a large proportion of the population depends on wood for fuel and construction is the sign of low living standard. Because of low income people cannot afford to use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or electricity or any other type of modern fuel as a source of energy and they will continue cutting live trees and collect dead wood, cow-dung and agri-residues for the use of household energy source. By the same token, people would go on cutting live trees for house construction. These practices will certainly diminish the extent of forest areas.
Hand in hand with the low living standard there is a population increment which brings about loss of forest area. The population of the country is increasing at the rate of 2.9 % annually. Most of the people live in rural areas. Because of the increment of the demand in wood for different purposes people would go on cutting trees, and shrubs there by diminishing the extent of forest areas.
Most rural household uses kerosene for lighting while some use it for cooking. Most of the cooking, space-heating and other income generating activities like smithery, pottery, etc. depend on biomass fuel. The per capita electricity consumption in 1998 was 50 kWh and only about 20% of the population have access to electricity. The rural population having access to electricity is around 2 %. This is a direct manifestation of the low level of rural economy (Semere and Zemenfes, 2000).
The fuelwood consumption in year 2000 would be around 822,000 tons or 1.65 million cubic meters. A study made on the energy sector by CESSEN ANSALDO/Finmeccanica Group (1986) show that the rate of harvest in Eritrea was 1.47 % of the stock (about 20 % of the yield); another comprehensive energy sector study made in Eritrea by the Department of Energy Ministry of Mines and Energy in collaboration with Lahmeyer (1995) show that the rate of harvest was 2.4 % to 2.8 % of the stock. Both figures are well above the critical threshold of 1.25% of stock recommended for sustainable harvest of fuelwood in sub-Saharan Africa. These figures reflect the growing stress on the biomass energy resources of the country (FAO, 2000; Semere and Zemenfes, 2000).
2.9. Housing and other Construction Purposes
In the Eritrean society, especially in the highlands where the population is very high, people live in traditional houses called "Hidmo" in Tigrigna, the language spoken in the highlands of Eritrea, which needs a lot of wood for its construction. Although a thorough research has not been done, on average about 100-200 of different sized trees and 5-6 lorries of shrubs and thatched grasses would be needed to construct one such traditional house. If one village has an average number of say, 1000 such houses one can imagine the amount of wood needed for the whole village. A vast tract of forest area must have been cleared throughout the country in order to provide raw materials for "Hidmo" construction.
Currently in Eritrea, it can be said that there is virtually no timber trees left for construction, except some old eucalyptus trees, which supply raw materials for the sawmills, which are working at low capacity, all timber is imported. Some 60,000 cubic meters of sawn timber and semi-finished timber is estimated to be imported annually (FAO, 1997). This is expected to increase substantially in the coming twenty years in line with expansion of the construction of industry and growing demand for furniture by the people living in the country and those returning from abroad. Construction and transmission poles and scaffolding are also imported. These are expected to increase further inline with the high pace of construction and electrification planned for the country (FAO, 2000). Matches are produced in Asmara from imported splints. Undoubtedly Eritrea has an expanding need for construction grade soft wood timber, paper, plywood, sawn wood etc. spurred by an expanding population and expectations of rapid development. However, if the income is improved people would start constructing modern houses which need less woody materials or they would look for alternatives e.g. bricks, hollow blocks, corrugated iron sheets, iron bars, steel, etc. If the income increases, the need for wood will be minimised and the impact on forestland will be very much less.
Still worse during the 30-Year-War-of Liberation the invading Ethiopian Army cut forest areas for the search of logs and poles for the construction of barracks which would be used for shelter and house construction. This practice was so intense that a large tract of forest area was destroyed that changed into a desert or a semi-desert condition.
The Italians expropriated Eritrea’s timber heritage. During the Italian colonial era, logging in Eritrea was intensively carried out. Up to 1947, 55 sawmills and small wood processing firms were established in the country (LRCPD, MoA, 1999).
The major tree species exploited by the logging companies were Juniperus procera, Olea africana, Hypaene thebaica, Balanites aegyptiaca and Acacia albida. Trucks transported saw logs and, in areas where access was difficulty cable were used (LRCPD, MoA, 1999).
At this time, except about four old sawmills, which most of the time are idle in Asmara, all other sawmills are either non-existent or closed due to a lack of sawlogs (LRCPD, MoA, 1999).
As shown in Tables 6 (a) and (b) the quantity of sawn wood imported was decreasing because the existing saw mills are old and their number has been reduced. Instead of using imported wood they are now using eucalypts wood grown within the country. Fuelwood and charcoal importation has been reduced which might be due to the use of alternative energy sources or people are getting their supply from the lowland forests. The amount of panels and different types of papers is increasing because of high demand of the products.
2.10. Proper/Conducive Forestry and Wildlife Policy
The existing policy, and associated rules and legislation are known as Forest and Wildlife Conservation and Development Proclamation No.192/1980, was inherited from the Ethiopian Administration. The policy does not fully appreciate the conditions of Eritrea because of this it was hard to layout any kind of resource plan either for the natural or for the plantation forests. Lack of proper policy on Forestry and Wildlife hinders one from delineating areas of natural forest and wildlife, prevents one to carry out plantation forestry, deters one to make adequate maintenance and protection and follow-ups, to legally fine culprits and prevents one from legal ownership. Because of the lack of policy there is excessive encroachment and trespassing.
In addition to the above Proclamation two directives issued by the MoA in October 1992 and March 1994 which deal respectively with Clearing Procedures and Utilisation of Trees in Agricultural Areas and Regulation of Land Clearance for Agricultural Concessions. The October 1992 Directive identifies species of trees of outstanding importance that should be preserved, prohibits cutting of trees along river courses and springs for a distance of 50-100 meters from the stream banks depending on the width of riverine forest, prohibits clearing of slopes greater than 35 degrees, and includes guidelines to reduce the risk of bush fires (Eritrea: Refugee Integration Project, 1996). However, at present the cutting of trees is prohibited up to a distance of 700 meters away from both sides of the water bodies.
The March 1994 Directives prohibits "allocation for agricultural concessions of woodlands that contain trees of socio-economic and ecological importance" with land cover greater than 25 %. In areas with less than 25 % tree cover the directive reaffirms that ecologically important tree species should be left standing. Species of outstanding importance include but are not limited to Ficus vasta, F. sycomorus, Acacia albida, Olea africana, Juniperus procera, Hyphaenae thebaica, Tamarix aphylla and Adansonia digitata. The other provisions of the MoA directives include the requirement that allocations of land for rain-fed agriculture in blocks greater than 40 hectares should be space d at intervals of a minimum of 500 meters to allow passage of livestock, provide wind breaks and facilitate native species conservation. Agricultural blocks less than 40 ha should reserve natural corridors at least 50 meters width for the same purposes. The March 1994 directives further provides that, where riverine margins were previously cleared, developers are required to replant areas 50-100 meters from the river banks depending on the width of natural forest occurrence (Eritrea: Refugee Integration Project, 1996). However, at present the replanting is to done 700 meters away from the water bodies.
Most staff is aware of these directives and takes an active role in informing the public and "enforcing" them. They are, however, limited in their ability to "enforce" these regulations, in that the directives lack the force of law and there are, therefore, no formal means for imposition of specific penalties or sanctions against violators. Nonetheless, there is a sense that these regulations are generally respected when agricultural developers are clearly informed and MoA staff are available to participate in development of land use plan.
2.11. Factories and Industries
Majority of the population of Eritrea lives in rural areas. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, with more than 75 % of the population earning its livelihood from this sector, although its contribution to the GDP is not much. There is a dire need for job opportunity. There are no enough factories to accommodate the rural people. As long as a large portion of the people continue to live in rural areas and as long as these depend on agriculture for their livelihood they will continue to illicitly cut forest trees and sell the produce for cash. This will bring about loss of forest areas. Trees and shrubs like Acacia Senegal, Junipers procure, Boswell sp., Chomiphora spp.and Hypaene thebaica, etc. were cut excessively for their monetary values.