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Support and promotion strategies

Photo 30. Hedgerow promotion policy (Calliandra calothyrsus) in the island of la Réunion. (© Cirad)

Unquestionably, one major stage in the promotion of Trees outside forests is to reach a sufficiently broad agreement on the definition of these resources and ensure acknowledgement of their social, economic and ecological contributions. The next stages are to encourage the formulation of policies incorporating the international environmental targets, devise strategies better attuned to the current trend toward decentralized decision-making, and measures that reflect stakeholder interests and economic exigencies.

Major international conventions and initiatives

Mounting awareness in the international community since the 1970s of the degradation of treed areas in the tropics has prompted a search for ways to check the process and introduce instruments to favour the forest. Chapter 11 of the UNCED debates on the forest in June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro established a major world plan to control deforestation in the form of "a non-binding declaration of principle". Since that time, a great many international initiatives have sprung up. These include the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF), the United Nations Forum on Forests, and numerous regulatory processes defining criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. The conventions that came out of the Rio process, such as the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change (UNFACC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the United Nations Convention on Desertification (UNCCD) comprised major agreements with an impact on viable forest management and tree use.

A number of mechanisms have been set up to help developing countries which are signatories to these and other conventions and agreements to fulfil their obligations. One dealing explicitly with forestry questions is the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. It urges interested parties to apply and/or devise policies and measures to promote sustainable methods of forest management, afforestation and reforestation. One result of the many forums and publications on eco-certification of forest products, criteria, indicators, and other topics is that a great many countries are now working toward viable management of forest and forest areas. Some have already elected to set aside vast areas. China and Brazil have each opted to set aside 25 million ha (FAO, 1999a).

Trees outside forests rarely feature in these initiatives. Nonetheless, environmental organizations, leadership circles and even public opinion are increasingly sensitive to the forest/tree/environment connection. Agroforestry-related approaches favouring trees and plantations have the side effect of throwing the spotlight on Trees outside forests. Since the June 1996 Forest Resource Assessment experts' meeting in Kotka (Kotka III), Trees outside forests have increasingly taken their place on the world stage (Nyssönnen, A and Ahti, A, 1996). Though not yet systematically inventoried, they do now appear as an item in forest resource assessments.

Innovative approaches and legislative renewal

To support and promote strategies for Trees outside forests, we need to bridge the gap between different stakeholder approaches. On the one hand we have institutions hammering out policies for Trees outside forests and devising strategies based on decentralized powers and more attention to participatory approaches. On the other, we have the primary users and managers of this resource, who have their own technical and socioeconomic agendas, targeted at food security, income, and making natural resources last. The interests of these two major groups can diverge immediately once issues of usage and control are tabled. Clashes can be avoided by steering negotiations in the direction of sustainable resource management.

Decentralization, negotiation and planning

One expression of population growth and its all too frequent partner, impoverishment, is heightened competition for the use and control of tree resources. Land and tree development and the economic dynamics this sets in train give rise to phonomena of appropriation that, in turn, engender serious conflicts. This context sets the stage for a tight correlation between resource overexploitation and poverty.

In this context the concept of sustainable development, which places people at the heart of resource management, assumes its full meaning. High on the agenda are decentralization and the transfer of state-owned resources to local communities, plus the assumption of greater responsibility by users. This is especially true of tree and shrub resources. User responsibility simply implies the recognition that local people are dependant on their resources, and have a real stake in managing them in accordance with their own priorities. The devolution of powers also implies more opportunities for users to benefit from tree resources, and greater sensitivity to local community needs on the part of government. All stakeholders will have a common target: the implementation of sustainable management systems.

Divergent views and practices concerning access rights, management objectives and systems, data and resource access are all possible sources of conflict (FAO, 2000b). In Vanuatu, for instance, earmarking land for commercial plantations runs counter to traditional land management practices, and this can give rise to social conflict (Walter, 1996). Likewise, resource access often finds itself in contradiction with a more commercial orientation. The relations between farmers, loggers and foresters speak volumes on this topic (Box 32). In the Dominican Republic, a long period of deforestation and conflict was followed in the 1980s and 1990s by a series of NGO-led initiatives which renewed interest in tree-planting. A real range of species and techniques were proposed to farmers, and the planting of trees on non-forest lands and in micro-woodlots turned out to be quite profitable.

Conflict resolution involves negotiating change and enlisting consensus. It means ensuring that the interests of those most dramatically affected by economic sidelining, especially women, receive due consideration. Because, obviously, promoting sustainable resource use does assume that resources are equally accessible to men, women, and other marginalized groups. This implies an understanding of the specific roles of each group in tree management, and how these roles dovetail. And that in turn means shedding light on the constraints and opportunities of each group in terms of usage and control, respecting social control mechanisms (Box 33), and the choice of relevant actions to enhance the social and economic status of the underprivileged.

Box 32:

Relations between farmers, woodcutters and foresters

Resource appropriation and use conflicts and the exacerbation of these conflicts, usually conditioned by some economic dynamic, are a central problem in sustainable tree resource management. Projects aimed at managing fuelwood markets have been established in the past ten years or so in the Sahel, especially in Niger, to enhance farmer control over production circuits so that farmers can reap the benefits of reasonable and sustainable wood use with institutional backing (Montagne, 1997). The recommended approaches involve enhancing the value of standing trees. Quite apart from how the fuelwood market is structured, success is contingent on solving the tug-of-war between urban merchants who `mine' wood resources and village communities not yet in a position to control their own resources. The approach aims to reform national legislation and make it more responsive to coordinated management of fuelwood supply circuits by the various stakeholders.

Box 33:

Ignorance of customs and usages can lead to conflict

Trees are rare where the Mafa of the Mandara mountains in northern Cameroon live, and women had a hard time gathering the fruits, foliage and even fuelwood needed for the household. While there was nothing in particular to prevent women from planting trees, post facto taboos can easily crop up. This is what happened after one NGO intervened to expand women's productive activities. An agroforestry project was developed to establish tree nurseries and tree plantations. While the men allowed this to happen, authorising the planting of fairly ephemeral fruit trees such as papaya (two or three years), the women, who had invested in the project, had to cope with substantial harassment. Accusations of witchcraft fostered disaccord. The project showed that planting a tree could become a serious matter, highlighting the potential for women to gain a certain freedom, and prompting changes in the web of social relationships (Abega, 1997).

Approaches must aim to enlarge resource access, and the capacity to manage and control resources, ensuring all will benefit. It is quite well known, for example, that women can expect more return from their investment by working in communal fields. This was demonstrated in Bangladesh, where women were mainly responsible for the success of village plantation programmes (Hocking and Islam, 1996). Moreover, success in off-forest tree projects (and this is true of both agroforestry and community afforestation projects), is proportional to the attention paid to existing means of communication and mechanisms within the community. These may be informal, in local languages, voiced by people of legitimate standing and with the appropriate back-up materials. Women more readily gain access to land, technical assistance and credit through socially recognized organizations and groups. These groups also stand a better chance of empowering women and paving the way for negotiated participation within the family circle and at the local and national policy level.

Institutions may also lack the necessary capacity to anticipate or manage conflict, and they may not be able to offset financial problems occasioned by the lack of staff and equipment. Overlapping domains of competence and activities among the various institutions can also limit their capacity to reconcile the interests of different stakeholders. We also need to remember that ecological degradation can be the direct outcome of political situations such as crises or war, or fragile governments. Many observers in Asia agree that the degradation of forest formations is not attributable to a gradual process of resource removal, but is rather due to contemporary disturbances within the policy-making and institutional structures responsible for forest management (Dove, 1995). Countries in economic transition, like the central and eastern European countries, are clear evidence that poor natural resource management is more an institutional problem than a direct consequence of poverty (Mearns, 1996). In Europe, especially in France (though perhaps less entropically), ambiguous situations having to do with land ownership rules and regulations also engender conflicts of appropriation, resource access, and uncontrolled clearing (Gadant, 1991).

Legislative consistency

There is considerable legal pluralism and overlapping of legislative instruments in most countries, and this fosters a lack of consistency and coordination within the various legal texts. We need to devise laws that are not sectoral and not contradictory, but which will address the issues of land rights and the right to trees and tree products.

Taking France as an example, the road ahead is plainly long and rocky. France opted in 1983 for decentralization, giving local governments the opportunity to manage their own areas and to implement new policy. The 1992 water law, the 1993 landscape law, the 1994 town planning law and the 1995 laws on agricultural modernization and environmental protection were expressions of the official commitment to address landscape and environmental issues in land use planning (APCA, 1996). These laws comprise various stages in the evolution of land use planning law, leading to a gradual shift from agricultural management to the concept of rural land management. France did give some consideration to the concept of Trees outside forests, especially the preservation of trees in specific agroforestry systems such as the fruit-tree meadows that are part of the national legacy (Bélouard and Coulon, 2000).

In both developed and developing countries, legislative and regulatory texts tend to be dispersed throughout a number of different codes. One recommendation, therefore, would be to harmonize national, regional and local tree and management policies and laws on treed areas, because the lack of clearly readable and homogenous laws can create a serious obstacle. Simply adapting existing law to local specifics may be sufficient. It would be helpful to legalize local management experiments. In any case, in establishing new laws regulating relations between private owners and public users, discussion groups, contracts, pluriannual objectives and follow-up indicators are all essential components. And this should be done with an eye to sustainable tree resources development, with profit taking a back seat.

Conceivable orientations and actions

The full potential of Trees outside forests remains to be explored, and above all enhanced. We need to develop strategies to learn more about the topic, and to make sure this information reaches the right audience. That implies training and extension approaches designed to fully exploit the potential of this highly diversified resource. Such measures will be more forceful if accompanied by economic mechanisms to backstop the introduction of wood and non-wood products into formal markets, where they can realize their full potential.

Photo 31. Land management and the maintenance of trees, hedgerows and micro-woodlots in rural France. (© Bellefontaine/Cirad)

Support measures

Not so long ago, the main thrust of forest research was still natural or plantation forests. Very little attention was paid to Trees outside forests. Agroforestry research did more closely approach the core interests of peasant farmers, who are often responsible for large numbers of trees growing singly, in rows or in clumps. Agrarian research mostly ignored the connection between crops and Trees outside forests, except where pastoralism was concerned. The agricultural sector was much more excited by the operative word "intensification", and more interested in addressing the positive and negative effects of intensification. Learning from the setbacks and successes of this orientation, new approaches were developed, especially those of the second Green Revolution, on which many subsequent rural development policies were modelled. Its major elements were biological diversity and ecosystem resilience14 , satisfactory yields but at lower economic and ecological cost, low-input techniques and risk-avoidance through plant associations (Griffon and Weber, 1996), plus genetic improvement and support for annual crops, and the marketing of these crops. Agroforestry research orientations mostly echoed this approach, especially for optimizing crop/tree ecological and economic interaction (Griffon and Mallet, 1999).

This all suggests how Trees outside forests can provide new research and development orientations leading to more effective use of available land. Bringing rural populations into the picture can also slow the flight from the countryside and forestall potential overexploitation of the rural environment. Possible research topics include fallow enrichment, dual mycorrhizium-bacteria inoculation, natural plant propagation, intelligent fodder tree-trimming, better pruning practices, preserving local and traditional lore, and finding ways to strengthen the bond between individuals and off-forest trees. We need to develop assessment tools to chart the latter's many resources. These should underscore sustainable management indicators and at the same time give weight to the social dimension. This latter and rather elusive topic requires more methodical and systematic research designed to elucidate not just customs, but also practices, and how people perceive their natural environment.

It is also research's role to review both the beneficial and the harmful effects of development activities by placing them in their proper context. Socioeconomic studies which give due consideration to men and women's specific roles and realities can illustrate the problems each faces with respect to access and improved management of products. More importantly, such studies can influence policies for a more equitable distribution of wealth by promoting the development of new skills and the recognition of existing knowledge.

Extension and training needs are often very broad, but courses and curricula on Trees outside forests are few, with the exception of some fruit-trees such as olives and date palm. Training and extension efforts to promote trees are still too sectoral and discipline-ridden. They should be broadened and reinforced to promote Trees outside forests, and to extend viable management techniques and ways to enhance wood and non-wood resources to stakeholders. Multidisciplinary extension approaches should incorporate local practices and stimulate new networks to fully address the range of goods and services typical of this multi-function, multi-use sector.

Economic mechanisms

Another useful promotion strategy for Trees outside forests involves ecologically-oriented economic instruments. This might involve the introduction of taxes or fees, quotas, markets, subsidies or premiums, labelling or eco-certification: all useful mechanisms provided peasant farmers participate in framing them and are regularly updated on new developments. Growers will be induced to invest if they have some control over the potential benefits of these innovations. Specifically, this means the power to negotiate prices, to gain access to new markets or to profit from value-added. Eco-certification and decentralized tax procedures are part of this approach.

Hopes of improving living conditions in the developing countries are easily dashed by the inability to dispose of one's output through some formal marketing structure. The following sad scenario is all too frequent: some small-scale production is developed and then expanded. Other villagers, attracted by the income, begin to turn out the same product, which lowers the price and raises the cost of the raw materials involved. The raw materials are next overexploited and thus become less readily available or even unavailable, having disappeared. This is followed by a total collapse of the market, and a worsening of living conditions. Each economic actor loses in this scenario, and the harm from the ensuing ecosystem decline and the non-regeneration of the resources have their most direct impact on the inhabitants of the rural environment in question.

At the same time, marketing and organizational conditions, though crucial to success, are less than optimal. The primary market supply situation is all too frequently in a state of chronic disorganization, and the appropriate legal, financial and land tenure context simply not there (Müller, 1997). Gum Arabic, a major non-wood forest product, is a good example of this problem. Poor pick-up, storage and sorting circuits, and unregulated transactions among traders are the source of widely recognized downstream constraints, and at the same time, upstream legislative provisions to regulate the collection of this major, non-wood, forest product are mostly non-existent or at best inadequate.

The by-products of Trees outside forests, produced by small-scale, rural or per urban, informal production sectors, are still insufficiently targeted by private funds and the competent state authorities and associations, despite their clearly incisive social role and parallel economic contribution. There is a great need for a better understanding of the interaction between trees, individuals, and social groups. This would help to organize production circuits and develop urban and rural areas.

Since the 1980s in Niger, co-managed rural fuelwood markets based on contractual arrangements between the state and rural communities have been in place and operative (Mahamane et al., 1995). Rural communities are directly concerned and responsible for the product, whilst their long-term security is clearly written into the contract. The environmental costs are internalized by a set of differential taxes calculated in accordance with the distance between the fuelwood production site and the main town served, the further away the production site, the lower the tax. This is designed to penalize those who overexploit resources near urban areas (Mahamane and Montagne, 1997). "The introduction of taxes on removals from the ecosystem can have the required impact provided that the conventional taxation route is reversed, with communities levying the tax, retaining a percentage, and transferring the remainder to the state services (Griffon and Weber, 1996). Trees perform many environmental services, and their economic enhancement has considerable impact on the incomes of the actors involved.

By-products of Trees outside forests can benefit from eco-labelling or specific designations conferred by their soil protection, fertility improvement or biodiversity conservation properties. The objective of this kind of product qualification is to gain access to niche markets, such as the market for biological products, and to get a better sale price from acknowledged product quality or production technique. Product certification is valid for both wood and non-wood products. Certification does entail the extra cost of controls and record-keeping. Both eco-certification and decentralized taxation is one route some countries might like to explore. In all likelihood, landscape management plans, product-tracking and eco-certification (Box 34) will gradually become established. This kind of operation could persuade beneficiaries to self-finance planting expenses and to set up a revolving fund to enable the planting of large numbers of non-forest trees.

Photo 32 Simplified land management and contractually co-managed ecosystems (Tiger-bush in Niger (© Gschladt/Cirad)

The labelling of non-wood forest products undoubtedly holds the greatest promise in terms of benefits. But the implicit constraints of tracing product origin also deserve attention. For the public and the consumer to be comfortable with the image of the product, a logo representing a specific region or place of origin, plus specifications, are essential. Numerous trade restrictions can accompany labelling, and we know that the "green" label, while necessary, may be insufficient in the long term (Griffon and Weber, 1996). In terms of compliance with specifications and establishing the principles and criteria for a given label, it is not easy to strike a balance between producers looking to make a profit and consumers representing a variety of special interests. Some organizations, rather than risking conflict, prefer to offer producers incentives to adopt sustainable forest product management, bringing in different partners, perhaps even the state.

Co-management and contract arrangements (Le Roy et al., 1996), while still in their infancy, do seem essential to forest promotion. This is probably also valid for Trees outside forests. Labels and eco-certification also deserve to be explored. The first two are possible responses to the many sustainable management problems that crop up in development projects targeted at ecosystem protection and land use management. Clearly, we need to appeal to the interests of economic actors, farmers, livestock producers, local authorities and other partners, if we are to breathe new life into a genuine dynamics of sustainable and integrated management of the resource and its products.

Photo 33. The production of labelling walnuts grown on pasture is encouraged. Belley, southern Jura. (© Bellefontaine/Cirad).

Box 34:

Labels and eco-certification

The eco-certification concept originated in Japan in November 1989. The idea is to certify the origin of marketed forest products. In this case, the specific reference is to sustainable management of the forest of origin. Considerable world progress has been made in defining the terms "forest" and "sustainable management" since that time, but the meaning of these terms still varies considerably from one country to the next. Not all actors in the sector see the point of eco-certification of tropical and temperate country timber. Some remain indifferent to the issue of sustainable, viable, tropical forest management. Producer countries feel these labels could translate into overly strict and discriminatory standards. The many criticisms levelled at the concept range from cheating to unfair advantages for the big logging companies, the cost of inspection (which tends to bar small producers and associations from poor countries), the proliferation of certifying organizations and labels (which confuse the consumer), and more. In July 1998, the European countries decided to set up a new system, Pan European Forest Certification (PEFC), which specifies the following: i) the establishment of certification standards; ii) the accreditation of certification firms; iii) verification of compliance with certification criteria. This keeps the system wholly accountable and objective (Barbier, 1999). Despite this clear progress, timber producers still face many obstacles.

14 Resilience is defined as the capacity to bounce back from an external shock to an earlier state.

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