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Rural Dependence on Forest Outputs
Constraints and Conditions


During the past thirty years there has been considerable activity in the field of economic development. A great amount of money has been spent by governments and by international and bilateral agencies in the pursuit of economic growth. The international agencies have been expanded, the number of staff made available to them has grown almost exponentially, and the developing countries have been subjected to a plethora of missions of experts, of one kind or another, all devoted to assisting them to develop their economies.

And yet the degree of development in many countries of the Third World remains alarmingly low. There is still much poverty; there is still much underemployment and unemployment; there is still much malnutrition. In general the conditions of the poor, both in the urban and rural areas, have worsened. Where there has been some economic growth, it has occurred in an inequitable manner. The gap between rich and poor in many developing countries has increased, as it has between the developed and developing economies.

The lot of the rural poor is perhaps more severe, more pernicious, more hopeless, given current policies and programmes, than that of the urban dweller. The problems of towns are concentrated and acute, and are constantly visible to town-based politicians and administrators. Apparent solutions are available ‘off the peg’ in the form of factories, hospitals, schools, and so on. Large sums of money can be invested in a small area, easily accessible for inspection and control. By contrast, the problems of the countryside are diffuse and chronic, and are often visible only to the eye of an expert. To remedy the situation in the rural areas often necessitates the spreading of investment over large areas. This creates difficulties in the conception, execution and evaluation of programmes. There is moreover an ‘overflow mechanism’ which ensures that excessive misery is transferred from country to town by migration. Governments therefore tend to invest mainly in urban development.

The roots of the problem of rural poverty are, in general, population growth and rising expectations. As long as populations remained stable over long periods of time, the way of life that had evolved to sustain them ensured adequate levels of production to satisfy perceived demands. However, in comparatively recent years, most countries have undergone a period of rapid population growth, making it impossible to maintain sufficient production by traditional methods from the available land area. At the same time the spread of information has led country dwellers to increase their demands and to want the benefits that they now know are enjoyed by many in the towns.

In thickly populated regions, many, rural peoples have sacrificed their forests, since wood is less indispensable than food (though in the long run the absence of woodlands may depress farm output). This has often led to erosion, where agricultural crops have been pushed on to unsuitable land. Temporary relief from food shortages has thus been bought by consuming the biological capital of trees and soil, leaving a smaller capital for future production of all kinds.

At the opposite extreme, stand the sparse human communities of dense tropical forests. Their populations have in many cases declined because of imported diseases; and their traditional methods of production by hunting and gathering or by shifting cultivation are constrained by the activities of neighbouring societies and by the shrinkage of the forest area. They inhabit regions of massive biological capital without benefiting fully from its product. New systems of forest management are needed if these communities are to develop.

Between these extremes there are many intermediate cases. Particularly important is that of the more arid lands which are given over mainly to grazing. Here the rural population has often remained relatively constant at a low level, but animal numbers have increased to satisfy the growing demand of neighbouring towns. Natural forests have been reduced to pitiful relics by a combination of grazing, fire and overexploitation. The biological capital of soil and vegetation is maintained near its minimum level. The obvious solution, i.e., the re introduction of woodland into such areas, is particularly difficult and depends mainly, if not entirely, on the community’s willingness to restrict grazing.

Population growth is not the only root cause of rural poverty. In many parts of the developing world, population pressure on the land resource is relatively weak, but still large segments of the rural population remain poor as development takes place around them. This is so because of political constraints and obsolete power and institutional structures, which also contribute centrally to the failure of development to ‘trickle down’ to most of the rural poor.

The following chapters seek to establish principles which are relevant to a wide range of physical and social situations and to give examples of appropriate techniques. It is clearly beyond the scope of such a study to try and take into account all aspects of the complex problems outlined above which lie at the heart of rural poverty. The analysis in this study will concentrate on finding technical solutions, such as selecting appropriate species, finding ways to better organize communities to carry out forestry operations, how to improve the dissemination of knowledge, etc. However, in doing so it is necessary to recognize a basic precept of rural development, which applies much more widely than just to its forestry component.

The central purpose of rural development is to help the rural poor become self-reliant in their efforts to alleviate their situation. It will not succeed unless it reflects the people’s own interpretation of their needs, problems and aspirations. Forestry for community development must therefore be forestry for the people and involving the people. It must be forestry which starts at the ‘grass roots’.

Rural Dependence on Forest Outputs

Fuelwood and Timber
Food and the Environment
Income and Employment

The importance of forests and the goods and services from the forests to the rural peoples in developing countries is mainly threefold. Forest trees provide fuel and other goods essential to meeting basic needs at the rural household and community level. Forests and forest lands provide food and the environmental stability necessary for continued food production. Forests and forest products can generate income and employment in the rural community. Some of the benefits which forestry can bring to rural communities are summarized in Table 1 and are discussed more fully in the following sections.

Fuelwood and Timber

Wood is the dominant domestic fuel for rural people in developing countries, and for many of the urban poor as well. In many parts of the developing world, wood is also the principal structural material for constructing shelter and housing.

More than 1.5 thousand million people use wood daily for cooking their food and for maintaining essential levels of warmth in the home. Wood is the preferred fuel because it can be used without complex equipment, both for use and distribution, and can be acquired at little cost, often no more than the cost involved in gathering it. For the poor there is often no alternative to wood fuel or other locally available organic materials. Commercial fuels, even where they are available, require cash outlays on stoves and related equipment which are generally beyond the reach of the rural poor. One consequence of growing rural populations is, thus, an inexorable growth in the pressures on locally available forest resources and other sources of woody material. The source of wood fuel extends progressively from collecting deadwood to the lopping of live trees, the felling of trees, the total destruction of tree cover, the loss of organic matter to the soil, and eventually to the uprooting of stumps and removal of shrubs. Subsequent to this there is the diversion of agricultural residues and animal dung to fuel use, to the detriment of soil structure and soil fertility.



Beneficial Characteristics


Low cost in use

Producible locally at low cash cost

Substitutes for costly commercial fuels

Substitutes for agricultural residues

Prevents destruction of protective ground cover

Prevents diversion of household labour

Maintains availability of cooked food

Building materials

Low cost in use

Producible locally at low cash cost

Substitutes costly commercial materials

Maintains/improves housing standards

Food, fodder, grazing

Protection of cropland against wind and water erosion

Complementary sources of food, fodder and forage (e.g., in dry periods)

Environment for supplementary food production (e.g., honey)

Increased productivity of marginal crop land

Saleable products


Raising farmer/community incomes

Diversifying the community economy

Additional employment

Raw materials

Inputs to local handicraft, cottage and small-scale industries (Plus benefits as from saleable products)

At the same time the steady disappearance of wood in the vicinity of the community means increased social hardship. Progressively, more of the time of household members must be devoted to gathering fuel. It has been estimated that fuelwood gathering now requires 360 man days annually per household in the Gambia and 250-300 man day in central Tanzania. As the situation deteriorates further, and the household is forced to purchase its wood fuel, a heavy burden is placed on the household budget. It is reported that up to 15 percent of household income is spent on fuel in the highlands of the Republic of Korea, and up to 25 percent in the poorer parts of the Andean Sierra and the Sahelian zone.

Eventually, this shortage of wood fuel can affect the nutritional well-being of the people. In parts of West Africa, people have been reduced to one cooked meal a day. In the uplands of Nepal only vegetables which can be eaten raw are grown. In Haiti, a principal impediment to the introduction of new food crops with better nutritive value into the wood-poor hills is that they would require more cooking.

Food and the Environment

There are now perhaps 200 million people living in the tropical forest areas and practising ‘slash and burn’ farming (shifting agriculture) on perhaps 300 million hectares (ha) of forest lands in order to provide their daily food. In parts of south and southeast Asia this form of land use occupies some 30 percent of the officially designated forest area. Traditional systems of shirting agriculture, which employed a lengthy fallow period under forests to restore the fertility of soils which were capable of supporting agricultural crops for only a limited number of years, have largely broken down. Growing population pressures, and migration into the forest areas by landless people from elsewhere, have forced a progressive shortening of the fallow period to the point where it suffices neither to restore soil fertility nor to recreate a useable forest crop. Similar trends are discernible in the more open savannah woodlands of more arid areas. The problems of the gum arabic system of Sudan described in Appendix 2 are largely a result of pressures to cultivate more land, at the expense of the fallow period under Acacia. The future of such areas on which productivity cannot be maintained indefinitely under crop production calls for systems of joint production of trees and other crops.

In addition to crop production there are many other ways in which rural communities can draw upon the forests for food in one part of the world or another. Bush meat and honey provide supplementary food sources, as do a wide variety of tubers, fruits and leaves. Fish production in swamps or mangrove forests can also be an important protein source, for mangroves and swamp forests offer a most valuable protective and productive habitat for fish.

In many areas trees are a source of fodder. In Nepal, leaves make up about 40 percent of the annual feed of a buffalo and about 25 percent for a cow. In dry forest areas, livestock often cannot survive without forest grazing. In the Sahel, leaf fodder is the principal source of feed in the dry season, and the excessive grazing of trees during the recent lengthy drought contributed significantly to the large-scale destruction of the vital tree cover.

Concurrent with the pressures on the forest from within from shifting cultivation are the pressures for alienation of forest land which arise from the need of expanding rural populations for more land on which to grow food. In most areas, forests are the largest remaining land-bank - the one land cover which can absorb large-scale further extension of the area under crop production. It has been estimated that the existing area of forest in developing countries is being reduced annually by 5-10 million ha in Latin America, 2 million ha in Africa and 4 million ha in Asia. To the extent that this process releases to food production land which can sustain the growth of crops, this is logical and to be planned for. But over large areas, the pressures of growing populations force landless farmers onto soils which cannot sustain crop production and onto slopes which cannot be safely cultivated - at least with the techniques and resources available to these farmers. The consequences of these practices in terms of wind and soil erosion, silting, flooding and drought, are well known. Some 10 percent of the world’s population live in mountainous areas, but another 40 percent live in adjacent lowlands, so that fully half of mankind is directly affected by ravages of the watershed environments.

It is reported that in India, 50 percent of the total land area is seriously affected by water and wind erosion. Indeed, displacement of fertile top soil is estimated to be around 6 000 million tons a year. In Pakistan, erosion affects 76 percent of the total land area. Nepal is perhaps one of the most dramatic cases of its kind in Asia. In many parts of Nepal the forests have been cleared up to 2 000 metres (m). Slopes of 100 percent are under cultivation. Huge landslides occur during periods of continuous rain. These landslides, which destroy lives and crops and remove the necessary humus, occur more and more frequently throughout the Nepalese hills, in part because ground-holding trees are disappearing fast. At present, the washing away of top soil is a threat to agricultural productivity in the remaining fields. Similar landscapes, perhaps to some extent less pronounced, can be found everywhere in the hilly areas in other parts of the world.

The erosion of agricultural soils often results in the siltation of rivers and water reservoirs. Thus, the river bed of the Nepalese Terai is rising between 15-30 cm a year. This rising of river beds, which occurs because of accelerated soil erosion and siltation, is a major cause of the more frequent and dangerous floods in all regions. But sedimentation also causes loss of reservoir water storage capacity. In the Indian subcontinent the Mangla reservoir is estimated to receive every year 100 million tons of sediment, of which the Jhelum river, due to indiscriminate felling and burning of the forest in the catchment area, contributes about 80 percent. The Mangla reservoir was built to last 100 years or more. Sediment measurement after a few years of operation indicates that most of the reservoir’s capacity will have gone in 50 to 75 years. These are illustrative of many similar examples.

The process of environmental degradation following destruction of the tree cover is often accelerated by the pressures of fuelwood harvesting. These tend to be most pronounced in the neighbourhood of large towns and cities. Wood is the preferred fuel not only of the rural poor but also of many of the urban poor as well, who use it principally in the form of charcoal. The large concentrated demands that ensue have led to treeless wastes in peri-urban areas in many parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, with the areas affected often growing at frightening speed.

Income and Employment

Forests and trees can give rise to cash crops such as mushrooms, chestnuts, walnuts and pine kernels. Bamboo can be cultivated for shoot production, as is done in Japan. In many countries trees are grown at the smallholder level, to provide fuelwood for sale to the urban and semi-urban areas. In India the income from gathering and selling fuelwood is an important part of the economy of forest villagers, especially for the poor in these villages. Tree fanning can also provide profitable industrial wood crops, such as the pulpwood grown by farmers in the Philippines. Among non-wood products, the gum arabic produced as a farmer crop in Sudan is one of the more important export commodities of that country.

In addition to the income and employment generated by their industrial exploitation, forests also provide timber and other raw material for local craftsmen and small-scale artisan and processing activities. Throughout the developing world, doors and other builders’ woodwork, furniture, tools and other agricultural inputs such as fence posts are made locally within the community. These products, together with wooden handicrafts, and other products of non-wood raw materials such as ‘tasar’ silk, can also be marketed outside the community.

Forestry can also contribute to rural incomes in less direct ways. If other alternatives for raising the incomes of the rural poor are not promising, the establishment of fuelwood lots may provide a means to raise their incomes by releasing dung and agricultural residues for reworking into the soil, so increasing crop yields. In this way forests may also contribute to a more equitable distribution of income. It might be easier to help the poor by providing them with fuel in the form of wood than with similar benefits provided through taxation and redistribution.

Constraints and Conditions

Competition for Land
The Timescale of Forestry
The Spatial Distribution of Benefits
Institutional and Technical Constraints

Where exploitable forest exists but does not fully benefit local communities, the necessary adjustments in management practices are likely to be relatively easy to conceive and execute. Where forests have been destroyed, either to make way for farming or grazing or out of disregard for the principles of resource renewal, the reintroduction of forestry is likely to pose many problems. The discussion in the sections that follow consequently focuses on the latter. This should not, however, be interpreted as implying that most community forestry will be concerned with afforestation and reforestation. Much of it should be concerned with better management of the natural forests for the benefit of local people.

Some of the factors to be taken into account in analysing the place of forestry in a rural economy are summarized in Table 2; these factors and some possible responses are discussed more fully in later sections.

Competition for Land

Traditional community forestry system tend to be appropriate to areas of low population intensity, in which an abundance of land permits the integration of forestry on some parts of the area with crop growing on others, or an extensive use of the area for both trees and grazing. Typical of the first of these are shifting cultivation systems with their fallow periods under tree cover, and modifications of this system such as is exemplified by the gum arabic system of Sudan. Typical of the latter are, the pastoral/forestry systems of the Sahel. However, as has been described earlier, such systems have in many cases been unable to withstand increasing population pressure. The first signs of breakdown tend to be the expansion of the intensive crop component at the expense of the extensive forestry component.



Possible Responses

Competition for land
(trees are a less intensive use of land than crops)

- Competition for forest land


- Intercrop trees and crops

- Allocate forest land rationally between trees and crops

- Improve non-food benefits to forest communities: forest/forest industries employment; secondary forest product income; social infrastructure, etc.

- Competition for crop/grazing land to afforest

- Plant trees on: roadsides, river banks, field boundaries and other unused areas; areas marginal for crop production; erodable areas unsuitable for crop production or grazing

- Improve productivity on the more arable areas in order to release land for tree growing

- Plant multiple-use species or mixtures of species to increase productivity

- Intercrop trees with other crops or combine with grazing

- Introduce additional sources of income (e.g., beekeeping)

The timescale for forestry
(delayed returns from tree growing)

- Output from trees will not meet immediate needs

- Plant multiple-use species, or mixtures of species, which give some early return

- Provide financial support during the establishment periods: low-interest loans, grants, subsidies, wage employment, etc.

- Introduce or expand complementary non-forestry sources of income

- The risk that the producer will not benefit

- Ensure security of tenure of land used for tree crops

Dispersed distribution of benefits from forestry

- Benefits from protection forests or from timber production may accrue in part outside the community

- Provide compensation for those benefits foregone, or inputs provided, by the community, which generate benefits elsewhere

Seasonal shortage of labour

- Adopt forestry systems which do not compete with peak demands for labour

Lack of a tradition of forestry (unfamiliarity with the necessary techniques, lack of understanding of cause and effect, behavioural patterns inimical to forestry, inappropriate institutional framework)


- Provision of guidance and support through extension services: education of the people, technical advice and technical inputs, grass-roots training

- Demonstration projects

- Encourage producer groupings (cooperatives, etc.)

- Legislation mid regulation

Such competition naturally is much more intense where population pressure is heavy and the land amenable to cultivation even on a temporary basis. Even where the need to maintain land under tree cover is evident, such as on poor steep slopes in the hills of Java, Nepal and Colombia, forestry gives way to the more urgent imperative of land for food production. A clear condition for inserting forestry into such situations is that it be accompanied by measures to provide the farmer or the community with alternative ways of generating the crop or livestock production, or the income, foregone by placing part of the land under trees.

Wherever the local economy is based on subsistence farming, diet is the primary factor determing land use, in combination with population size and techniques of production, and its demands take precedence over those for wood. Diets based on a single cereal produced by alternating crop and fallow need a large area per household and are particularly likely to exclude forestry. Diets which require a higher content of animal products from free-range grazing make forest regeneration almost impossible even at low levels of human population, especially if surplus stock is readily sold.

Dietary habits are among the deepest rooted and stablest elements in a way of life. They are learned very young and are often reinforced by beliefs about health, fertility or even moral qualities, and in some cases they are consecrated by religion. The introduction of new foods is therefore often fraught with difficulties and must be pursued slowly. However, such introduction is often important, for if greater variety is achieved, it will be possible to rotate crops, and to integrate agriculture and animal husbandry, enabling more food to be produced on a smaller area. Moreover, the introduction of cash crops may allow some of the customary foods to be bought in exchange for the produce of a still smaller area. In such ways land may be released for forestry.

The known techniques of food production, though less fundamental than diet as a part of culture, are by no means incidental. Fanning and grazing methods fix the hours and seasons of work and are bound up with the division of labour between the sexes and between age groups, which in turn is an integral part of social structure. A people that enjoys the leisure afforded by free-range grazing or by reliance on a single main crop plant will have difficulty in adapting to more intensive methods. Where crop growing is allocated to women or herd-minding to children, there is likely to be strong male resistance to more efficient systems that require some of the work to be transferred to men. Such features also hinder the release of land for forestry.

Techniques of food preparation seem to be less central to a way of life than techniques of production. The changeover from fuelwood to dung or fossil fuels has been accomplished by countless societies. Scarcity of fuelwood is thus less acutely felt than many of the changes needed to release land for its production. In order to encourage more appropriate use of wood, and the tree growing or tree tending necessary to produce that wood, it may therefore be necessary to bring about changes in attitudes and habits. This is likely to be achieved only if it takes local mores and traditions into account.

Direct competition with food production for land may be avoided by taking up unused areas. However, even in these areas care must be taken to select tree species which are as productive as possible, and competitive with alternative non-food crops (including other tree crops, such as rubber and oil palm). In parts of India, notably in West Bengal, widespread use has been made of roadsides and the ridge boundaries of fields, using trees such as Shisham (Dalbergia latifolia) and sissoo (D. sissoo) which minimize the shade and root competition to adjacent crops. In China, too, trees are planted in such a way as to minimize competition between them and food crops. Intercropping between tree rows in plantations is done during the first two years. Trees are planted on barren lands, around dwellings, along road and riversides, and around villages. Quick growing species are preferred as well as those providing leaves, nuts, fruits or bark for domestic use and for crafts. In this ‘four-side planting’ (road, river, dwelling and village) the people are actively participating to help solve fuelwood problems.

Inserting trees into intensive land-use patterns may also be achieved through various forms of intercropping, to bring about multiple use of the land. In Java, where pressure on the land is particularly intensive, the area put under trees is intercropped with grass, to provide fodder for stall-feeding animals. Fodder, this time in the form of leaves from suitable trees, is an important component of the solution being tried in the hill areas of Nepal. Equally important in the latter are the measures to improve crop productivity in the flatter and more arable areas and to improve other parts of the communities’ economy and their physical and social infrastructure, to enable them to divert land to tree cover.

The whole question of land use is usually confused by the lack of information about land capabilities and about the factors needed for land-use planning. The boundaries between land which can support sustained cropping and land which needs to be devoted periodically or permanently to forest cover are seldom known. Much of forest land unsuitable for permanent agriculture is cleared, in preference to adjacent land which is suitable, through ignorance.

The Timescale of Forestry

In many cases, attachment to a particular diet and technique of production is reinforced by considerations derived from the timescale of forestry. Historically, rural populations have developed a dependence upon outputs of the forest because the latter existed as an abundant available local natural resource to be drawn upon at will. As long as it remained abundant, this process of exploiting existing forest capital could take place without any regard to the relatively long time involved in producing wood of usable sizes. However, once the point is reached where wood can continue to be supplied only by growing it, the time frame involved can become an important limiting factor.

The timescale of forestry is bound to conflict with the priorities of the rural poor, which are logically focussed on meeting basic present needs. Present needs arc likely to be imperative, particularly in subsistence situations. Land, labour and other resources which could be devoted to providing the food, fuel and income needed today cannot easily be diverted to the production of wood which will be available only several or many years into the future. A major effort to induce forest-dependent communities in India to forego rights of usage in the forest and to adopt managed forestry practices foundered on just this issue. The pilfering of wood from the forest and its sale as fuel to nearby urban and semi-urban markets formed a major source of income for the village poor. There was no countervailing incentive at the community level of sufficient force to offset these vested interests effectively in favour of the status quo.

Forestry can continue to exist or be introduced at the community level only if it allows for these real present needs. If local tree cover still exists, it may be possible to provide the same production in a less destructive way. In an area in central India, for example, destructive local cutting of the forest was halted and reversed by concentrating the cut on annual coupes, and protecting the rest of the area so that it could regenerate naturally. Recent experience in areas as diverse as the hills of Nepal and the southern edge of the Sahel has also demonstrated the capability of forests to regenerate with no more input than protection.

With the introduction of plantation forestry, the gap between establishment and production can become a more severe restraint. In the Philippines credit was provided to farmers growing trees. In Thailand and the Solo River Basin in Indonesia it was necessary to provide cash payments for this initial period. In the Republic of Korea a mixture of species was employed in village fuelwood lots with species such as Lespedeza which yield income as early as the first year, interspersed with species to produce both fuelwood and industrial wood in volume over a longer period. In many systems forestry was introduced together with other activities which secured sufficient income to tide the farmer over the period until his trees were yielding.

The Spatial Distribution of Benefits

In the case of forest communities considerations of time are less important than those derived from the spatial distribution of forest benefits. To the shifting cultivator, the forest is land upon which to cultivate his food and cash crops, a source of fuel and building materials, and possibly of fodder, shade, etc. The fact that the trees he destroys or uses in this way could provide the raw material for an industry, and in this way income and employment and processed products to be enjoyed elsewhere, is clearly of no relevance to him. To expect him to adapt his way of life in order to accommodate these interests of others is unrealistic. The buildup of more stable forest crop/tree systems is therefore likely to occur only if the community in some way benefits in appropriate measure from the change. Thus, the forest village system in Thailand, which is described in Appendix 2, began to prove attractive to forest dwellers only when it was accompanied by the provision of land upon which to practise settled agriculture, financial and other support to do so, and social and physical infrastructural amenities.

The core of the problem for forest communities is thus usually that they derive in sufficient benefit from the forest. That this is so is often attributable to conventional forest management objectives and administrative practices, an orientation towards conservation, wood production, revenue collection, and regulation through punitive legislation and regulation. The task of forestry for the development of such communities is consequently to engage them more fully, positively and beneficially in its utilization, management and protection. This may take the form of greater participation in forest work, for example through logging or sawmilling cooperatives, development of the income potential of secondary products that can be produced in the forest, such as assistance in establishing production, distribution and marketing systems for such products as honey, or through the allocation of forest land for the concurrent production of forestry and agricultural crops, or for grazing of animals. As is discussed later, this can require quite radical reorientation of traditional forestry concepts and practices.

The issue of distribution of benefits can also arise with systems to establish industrial tree crops through farming systems which intercrop trees with food and cash crops. The trees in themselves will bring no direct benefit to the farmer. They are rather an impediment, considerably complicating his task. These systems are, therefore, likely to succeed only if the farmer perceives an adequate recompense to himself. In the many parts of the tropics in which such systems have been introduced, the principal such incentive is seen to be sheer land hunger, the unavailability of land elsewhere which the population could cultivate. But it has been observed that, over time, such systems tend to evolve either into settled agriculture, with the rejection of the associated growing of trees, or into full-time forestry employment, as has happened recently in Kenya and Bangladesh. This suggests that land in itself is not a sufficient inducement, other than in the short term.

Similar considerations apply to other types of forestry. Tree cover on the upper slopes of hills in Java, Nepal, Colombia and elsewhere may well provide tangible direct benefits to the immediate community in the form of protection against landslides and excessive water runoff. But a large part of the benefit will be felt in the regions downstream, in the form of reduced flooding, silting, erosion, etc. Again, it is unrealistic, and unreasonable, to expect people to commit land, labour and other resources to such endeavours en behalf of others, unless they are suitably recompensed.

Institutional and Technical Constraints

There remain situations in which there is no lack of interest in forestry nor any conflict with other aspects of the way of life, but only a lack of organization or of means. The very successful programme of village woodlots being established in the Republic of Korea utilizes land, too steep to be cropped, which is set aside by law to be used solely for forestry. The programme thus mobilises for this purpose idle land which individual poor farmers are unable to afforest with their own resources. In parts of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria, communities suffering from shortages of fuelwood have earmarked areas marginal to crop production, such as hill tops and hill slopes for afforestation.

However areas which are marginal for agriculture may well also be marginal for forestry. This is particularly so in arid and semiarid areas, which tend to impose severe climatic constraints on the growing of trees, in particular fast-growing species which are needed if results are to be achieved within an acceptable period. Arid conditions also impose other constraints, including that of availability of labour. Labour is not a problem in most community forestry systems. In some, such as the gun arabic system in Sudan, the bulk of the forestry work falls in the slack season. Where there is a tradition of women working the fields, this releases men in the family for concurrent work on forestry. In the humid tropics, planting can be spread over a sufficiently long period to avoid a concurrence of tree and crop planting. In arid areas, however, the planting season for both is very short and coincides. As a result, the availability of labour for tree planting could be very restricted, and planning must allow sufficient flexibility to overcome such a constraint.

Forestry in arid conditions faces yet another constraint. Successful afforestation of dry lands often involve elaborate techniques, such as deep ploughing, requiring sophisticated and costly equipment. It may, therefore, often be an activity which is beyond the capability and resources of the local community. While local involvement will be as necessary here as elsewhere, in order to ensure recognition of the beneficial role of forestry, and of the desirability of setting aside land and protecting the subsequent tree crop, forestry as an activity which the community can implement may often be confined to managed manipulation of the existing vegetation, for example, the control of use and regeneration by control of grazing in the Sahel. Plantation forestry may often have to fall to the responsible technical arms of government.

The technical problems of steep upland areas are also likely to be beyond the capacity of local communities. In such areas, where the problem is largely one of soil stabilization and control of water runoff, establishment of forest cover on parts of the watershed must usually be accompanied by measures such as the construction of terraces to permit stable crop production on other parts. In many instances farmers will not have the resources to do this. To establish terraces, for example, they would have to forego one crop. They will therefore need the sort of external support such as was provided in Central Java through food aid and in Tunisia through credit and food aid.

Technical problems in implementing forestry at the community level are not peculiar to the arid or upland regions. Though there are examples where a tradition of growing trees exists, such as in Sudan, or where it has emerged or spread spontaneously, as in parts of southern India, eastern Africa and the Andean Sierra, a lack of a tradition of managed forestry is the much more common situation throughout the developing world. Thus, farmers are unfamiliar with the growing of tree species, with the properties of different species and their suitability for different sites and purposes, with the techniques for planting and tending trees, and for harvesting them, etc.

Not surprisingly, therefore, a feature of most successful recent community forestry endeavours has been a strong, sustained technical support system, capable of providing advice and essential inputs such as planting stock, and of maintaining such support through the period necessary to generate forestry as a self-sustaining activity in a particular area.

Access to technology and inputs alone may not always suffice. To adopt and implement a forestry activity, the community may need a new or strengthened internal organization. In order to implement the village fuelwood system in the Republic of Korea, for example, forestry associations were set up in each village to execute the work, the extent of the assistance given to each varying with the level of self-reliance achieved by the village. In Thailand, the village forestry scheme required the establishment of entirely new communal institutions. In India, experience so far has been that forestry has required changes which are usually beyond the competence and authority of the elected village panchayat.

Another institutional issue is security of tenure of the land. The farmer, or community, must have adequate assurance that he will still control the land on which he plants the trees at the time when they are ready for harvesting. Thus, an important element in the Philippine smallholder pulpwood project was that each farmer was first given title to his land. However, in this case this provided few problems; the land was vacant forest land classified as alienable and disposable for agricultural purposes. In many parts of the developing world the situation is much more intractable. In large areas, notably in Latin America and south Asia, where the bulk of the farmers are tenant farmers, the consequent insecurity of tenure militates strongly against relatively long-term activities such as forestry. Elsewhere, notably in parts of Africa, patterns and traditions of use of tribal or communal land make no provision for usages, such as forestry, which require the setting aside of land for a particular purpose for relatively lengthy periods of time. In many situations, therefore, it may be difficult to insert forestry prior to a more far-reaching reform of land tenure or change in land use.

The consequences of lack of a tradition of forestry tend to extend to more than just a lack of knowledge about tree growing, or of an appropriate institutional framework within which to carry it out. It contrasts with a usually deeply founded tradition of agriculture. This contrast is inevitably reflected in attitudes towards forestry which are sharply different to attitudes to arable crops and animals. With the exception of the benign relationship with the forest of aboriginal forest dwellers, the forest tends to be seen as a negative element of the environment by many poor rural farmers. To the settler it is an impediment to the clearing of his lands which must be removed as rapidly as possible, and a haven for his enemies. These views can persist in modified forms long after the forest has receded from the immediate vicinity of the community. For example, hostility to forests and trees can persist in areas which already experience shortages of fuelwood and building poles because of the damage done to crops by birds which are seen to roost in trees.

Other attitudes and behavioural patterns based on the past also tend to be inimical to forestry. There is the widely prevalent attitude mentioned earlier, of wood as a abundant free material to be collected at will. There is a lack of understanding of the role of forest trees in maintaining the fertility of the soil, and an inability or reluctance to recognize the consequences of soil loss, fuel shortages, etc., that will inevitably follow from continued destruction of the adjacent forest cover. Though this is clearly, in part at least, a measure of the priority of present over future needs, it must often be a measure of ignorance of the unknown. For the populations of most areas now encountering the consequences of the depletion or disappearance of the forests and the outputs of the forest, this is without historical precedent. There is nothing in their past that can give them guidance, or which can forewarn of what is likely to happen until it does happen. The same tends to be true of the impact of forestry; it may be difficult for people to perceive or accept the beneficial effects of forestry until they occur.

The introduction of forestry, or the conversion of destructive use of the forest to managed use of the forest, will therefore often require a profound change in attitudes and behaviour.

It is not intended here to revive the old doctrine of peasant resistance to change, for a thousand examples from all over the world have proved that many rural peoples are capable of great change. However, being strongly attached to a system of values, they have generally succeeded in changing those aspects of life that are least important to them in order to protect whatever is most important. Rather than alter their system of food production, many villages have adopted drastic strategies, such as the temporary emigration of the young men: they move to the towns for several years, often leaving their wives and children, in order to send back the money necessary to maintain their families. They are rewarded by the possibility of returning to the country to enjoy its familiar way of life, though many are too much changed by their experience to wish to go back permanently.

The problem is thus not one of bringing change to people who resist all change, but one of reconciling technically desirable change with the value systems that it seems to threaten. Any voluntary solution presupposes confidence on the part of the population and imaginative sympathy for the local way of life on the part of the instigators of development. The alternative is to force change on an unwilling people and this is generally not to be countenanced.

There remains a category of constraints which bear on this task of bringing change to the people: namely, constraints that arise from inadequacies in the bureaucratic structure charged with this task. Some are faults that afflict most bureaucracies: rigid procedures, emphasis on interpretation of the rules rather than on the rationale of rules, inadequate training at lower levels, arrogance of petty officials, especially to the poor, etc. There is also the tendency for the responsibility for the rural development effort to become fragmented, dispersed among a number of bodies which fail to harmonize adequately and coordinate their efforts. It is important that programmes to encourage forestry in rural development do not contribute to this fragmentation. Forestry is but one part of a complex of different activities that are required for rural development. Its contribution must be integrated with the rest to be effective.

Finally, there are certain particular features of forestry that are not always conducive to effective impact at the community level. As has been noted already, the traditional preoccupation of forestry with conserving the forest, combined with management objectives which focus on the production of wood for industry, are likely to be at variance with the needs of the rural people who live in and depend on the forest. This bias is usually reflected in the structure and staffing of forestry administrations, and in the budgetary priorities of forestry. It is also reflected in the traditional training of foresters, who therefore often find that they are not well equipped to deal with people rather than trees. The challenge to forestry of contributing to bettering the condition of the rural poor is consequently likely to entail a radical reorientation extending from policy all the way through to its technical foundations.

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