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close this bookSustainable Agriculture and the Environment in the Humid Tropics (BOSTID, 1993, 720 p.)
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Country Profiles

The seven country profiles that constitute Part Two of this book are an integral part of the committee's report. They represent a portion of the data, observations, and insights that the committee amassed during the course of its study. Authors were selected based on broad recognition, by their scientific peers, of their authority and scientific knowledge of the deforestation and sustainable agriculture issues in the selected countries. The profiles on Brazil, Cote d'Ivoire, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, and Zaire portray the pressures on natural resources that these countries face and ways they can be mitigated. They tell part of the story of what is happening in the humid tropics.

The profiles represent each of the three major humid tropic regions-Africa, Asia, and Latin America-and include discussions on land use and forest conversion, general causes and consequences of deforestation, sustainable land use alternatives, and policy implications. Discussions focusing on only 7 of the more than 60 countries lying within the humid tropics cannot and do not represent the status of science, agricultural and land use practices, and policy of all humid tropic countries. They do, however, illustrate the diversity of production systems, with their unique environmental, social, and market niches, that can be found in any given locale or region. These varied presentations reinforce the committee's three major findings concerning the potential to restore degraded lands, the range of appropriate land uses, and the capacity for general economic growth with real-world examples.

No single type of land use can simultaneously meet all the requirements for sustainability or fit the diverse socioeconomic and ecological conditions found throughout the humid tropics. The seven country profiles provide examples of many of the options within the land use continuum that the committee outlines in Part One. They also illustrate the committee's view that progress toward sustainability in the humid tropics depends not only on the availability of improved techniques of land use, but on the creation of a more favorable environment for their development, dissemination, and implementation.


Emanuel Adilson Souza Serrao and Alfredo Kingo Oyama Homma

Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon, the largest tropical forest reserve on the planet, has attracted worldwide attention in recent years. The environmental disturbances have been claimed to be a result of agricultural developments over the past 3 decades. Because of the increasing rural and urban population demands for food and fiber and the need for environmental conservation and preservation, however, land in the Brazilian Amazon must be used on a sustainable basis. The search for a compromise between ecologic and population demands is a major challenge to those in governmental, nongovernmental, and private institutions. This profile addresses the questions of agricultural sustainability in the Brazilian humid tropics by analyzing the important present and potential land uses and by considering their sustainabilities and potential for improvement and expansion.


Sustainability must be the basis for analysis and implementation of agricultural land use alternatives for the Brazilian Amazon, but few analyses have provided insight (Alvim, 1989; Fearnside, 1983, 1986; Homma and Serrao, In preparation). The possibility of developing sustainable agriculture in the Amazon depends on its permanence in an area and on increasing land and labor productivity standards, thereby reducing the pressure for more deforestation. This concept of sustainability implies an equilibrium in time among agronomic and/or zootechnical, economic, ecologic, and social feasibility. Equilibrium is frequently fragile in Amazonian agricultural systems, and no agricultural land use system in the Amazon meets all four of these prerequisites for sustainability at highly satisfactory levels.

The land use systems analyzed here were selected because of their present and potential importance characterized by their scale of utilization (for example, total area used and number of farmers involved), the types of farmers that use each system, its economic importance, possibilities for future markets, environmental implications, and possibilities for agroindustries. Characterization also includes technological patterns (for example, land and labor use intensity, input utilization, adoption of technology, product processing, and management practices) and productivity patterns (for example, maintenance of productivity, productivity increase potential, and relationship between productivity and the environment).

More than enough land has already been deforested for agricultural development in the Amazon. From a technical point of view, by using only about 50 percent of the already deforested land and other less fragile ecosystems, such as well- and poorly drained savannahs and alluvial floodplains, it is possible to produce sufficient amounts of food and fiber to meet the demands of the region's population for the next decade at least. Future agricultural production in the Amazon will depend on higher levels of land use intensification with decreasing rates of deforestation (the decreasing deforestation brought about as a result of increasing national and international pressures for environmental conservation, increasing local environmental ethics, and increasing population density and, consequently, higher land prices). Productivity and sustainability must be the foundation for future agricultural development. In this scenario, agricultural technology will play the major role.


The Brazilian humid tropics encompasses the geographic area that has been named, for development purposes, the legal Amazon, an area of about 510 million ha, corresponding to 60 percent of Brazil's national territory.

Although there has been a significant increase in population density in the Amazon during the past 3 decades, only about 10 percent (16 million) of Brazil's population inhabits this immense region (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, 1991). This population is unevenly distributed throughout the region in densely populated nuclei separated by extensive, virtually uninhabited land.

The average population density in the Amazon is about 2.7 inhabitants per 100 ha. Presently, 61 percent of Brazil's population in the northern region lives in urban areas, and a significant portion of that population lives on the outskirts of Belem, Manaus, and other major cities. The region's population is expected to grow moderately in the next 2 decades, increasing from the present 16 million people (in 1990) to 26 million by 2010 (a 62 percent increase). This means that the Amazon population at the end of the first decade of the next century will be 13 percent of the country's population compared with the present 11.4 percent (Medic) et al., 1990; Superintendency for the Development of the Amazon, 1991).

In general, per capita income in the Amazon region is very low, equivalent to US$1,271 (1991), which represents 51.5 percent of Brazil's per capita income (Superintendency for the Development of the Amazon, 1991).

The Environment

The Amazon hydrographic basin covers about 6 million km² and is considered the largest river network in the world. It is navigable along 20,000 km of waterways and has a total watershed area of about 7.3 million km². This network includes muddy-water rivers that originate in alluvial soil regions. The rivers deposit organic and inorganic sediments along their paths, forming floodplains locally called varzeas. These floodplains are rich in nutrients and organic matter and have a high potential for agricultural development.

The Amazonian climate is predominantly hot and humid and often presents conditions for high levels of biomass production. Relatively large amounts of solar radiation reach the earth's surface throughout the year. Average temperatures vary between 22° and 28°C, the daily variations being considerably higher than seasonal variations. Relative humidity tends to be high in most of the region, varying from about 65 to 90 percent. Total annual rainfall varies between 1,000 and over 3,000 mm. The rainy season is from December and January through May and June in most of the region, and a dry season occurs during the rest of the year.

The vegetation that covers the Amazon is related to climatic conditions, but rain forests are the predominant ecosystem. The main types of vegetation are dense upland forests, open upland forests, savannah-type vegetation that includes well- and poorly drained savannahs, and alluvial floodplain (varzea) vegetation (Nascimento and Homma, 1984). Dense upland forests, which have high levels of biomass and include the tallest tree species, occupy about 50 percent of the legal Amazon. Open forests, which have a considerably smaller biomass volume, shorter trees, and more palm species and lianas, occupy about 27 percent of the region. Well-drained savannah vegetation (cerrado) with different arboreal and herbaceous gradients occurs in extensive areas in the states of Amapa and Roraima and occurs less extensively in areas in other parts of the region, where the forest is interrupted.

About 80 percent of the legal Amazon (430 million ha) is upland, nonflooding area. The remaining 20 percent (70 million ha) is floodable area (Nascimento and Homma, 1984). Nascimento and Homma (1984) estimate that approximately 88 percent (450 million ha) of Amazonian soils are dystrophic (acidic and low in fertility) and that the remaining 12 percent (50 million ha) is eutrophic (less acidic and relatively high in fertility). Of the latter, 25 million ha is upland soils, and 25 million ha is floodable soils.

Macroecologic Units

At least one attempt (Nascimento and Homma, 1984) has been made to combine natural resources information by superimposing climate, soil, and vegetation maps to locate macroecologic units suitable for agricultural development, conservation, and preservation in the Amazon (Table 1). These macroecologic units and their distributions could be useful for making the first approximations of agroecological zoning in the Amazon.


To evaluate agricultural sustainability in the Brazilian Amazon, it is important to examine agricultural development chronologically and from the physical and economic viewpoints.

Chronological Agricultural Development

The history of the development of the Amazon is pinpointed with ill-fated booms, badly oriented development projects, some partial successes, and ecologic and social mishaps (Norgaard, 1981).

Table 1 Macroecological Units of the Legal Amazon

Even though mining and energy-producing projects have emerged as the main development thrusts in the Amazon, associated development activities, including agricultural activities, usually follow in their wake (Smith et al., In press-a,b). For this reason, some important historical aspects of agricultural development in the Amazon that will pave the way to a better understanding of the analysis of agricultural sustainability given later in this profile are presented here.

From the early seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries, agricultural development in the Amazon depended on extraction activities in existent forests. Even today, extrativismo (extractive land use) plays a very significant role in the regional economy, mainly because of the commercialization of timber, heart of palm, rubber, and Brazil nuts, among other forest products, in addition to hunting and fishing.

More modern agricultural and livestock development began to take place toward the end of the first quarter of the twentieth century along the relatively fertile varzea floodplains, not only because of the favorable conditions they offered for agricultural production but also because of favorable river transportation along the Amazon River network.

By the mid-1950s, the varzea development gave way to the upland terra firme development when road construction started crisscrossing the region. This phase was characterized by extensive agricultural development where forest slash-and-burn activity was the main feature. Road construction was then considered synonymous with progress and made the region attractive to immigrants. Cattle raising, shifting (slash-and-burn) subsistence agriculture, and timber exploration are now the dominant features of upland development (Homma and Serrao, In preparation).

Physical and Economic Agricultural Development

To analyze agricultural sustainability in the Brazilian humid tropics, it is important to have an idea of how and where agricultural development has taken place. More detailed descriptions are given in the literature (Homma, 1989; Homma and Serrao, In preparation; Nascimento and Homma, 1984; Serrao and Homma, In press).

From 1900 to 1953, extraction activities in the Amazon were greater than crop farming and cattle raising, contributing 50 percent of the agricultural gross national product (AGNP) in the region mainly because of the major influence of rubber extraction in the Amazon economy (Homma, 1989). After the mid-1940s, the decline of extraction began with the dissemination of jute cultivation along the Amazon varzea floodplains and with the expansion of black pepper agriculture in eastern Para. From 1965 to 1971, for the first time, crop farming and cattle raising surpassed extraction activities.

The predominance of crop farming and cattle raising over extraction activities was observed in the 1970s and continues to the present. Most of those involved with extraction activities turned to crop farming and cattle raising, which was also the case with those who came with the migratory flux in that same period.

Shifting agriculture has become the major activity of a large number of small farmers. It is characterized by low levels of technology and low productivity, even though it is a reasonably good alternative for the partial recovery of soil fertility and for the recovery of weed-, pest-, and disease-infested areas, because of the accumulation of nutrients in the biomass during the various fallow periods imposed of cultivated tracts of land. However, this land use system has impose substantial losses of forest resources and is subject to increasing socioeconomic instability when the population density increases.

Extensive cattle raising systems have been predominant in certain areas of the Amazon where natural grassland ecosystems (sue as well- and poorly drained savannah grasslands and floodplain grass lands) are available and on the pasturelands that have replaced forest over the past 3 decades. Supported by tax incentive program. this sector has been responsible for most of the deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon region (Browder, 1988).

The majority of the region's most important transformations the primary (agricultural production) sector started in the 1960s wit the expansion of the agricultural frontier, mostly as a result of ta incentive policies and the construction of important highways, which favored the development of colonization programs and the installation of large agricultural projects, the bulk involving cattle raising, Cattle raising expansion began in the mid-1960s because of the low utilization levels of labor, which was scarce at the time, and the abundance of land.

This most recent regional agricultural development phase is characterized by accelerated, large-scale, and aggressive exploration of natural resources. This replaces the humid tropical forests with lent use systems with generally low ecologic and socioeconomic efficiencies (cattle raising projects and shifting agriculture) or large-scale predatory "industrial" extraction activities such as those for timber and heart of palm (Euterpe oleracea). Because of the environmental degradation that they cause, these land use systems have been se verely criticized (Mahar, 1989).

During the past 3 decades, despite their still modest acreage i' relation to shifting agriculture and cattle raising, perennial crop plants such as African oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), rubber (Hevea spp.), cacao (Theobroma cacao), Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa), guarana (Paullinis cupana), and semiperennials such as black pepper (Piper nigrum) and more recently, urucu (Bixa orellana) have become increasingly important. Special government financing programs such as the Cacao Development Program, PROBOR (the Natural Rubber Production Incentives Program), as well as a number of credit lines during the 1970s give farmers incentives to expand these crops.

Figure 1

Today, there are different forms of agricultural production in the Amazon because of different environmental and basic infrastructure] peculiarities. These range from extraction activities in remote areas with low population densities to extensive cattle raising, or from agricultural activities in recently opened frontier lands to those in long-occupied areas.

Land use intensification for forest product exploitation, traditional crop production, and cattle production has been influenced by population density and land prices (Figure 1). In areas with low population densities, where land prices are normally low, extraction activities, such as those for rubber, timber, and Brazil nuts, coexist with shifting agricultural systems with long fallow periods and extensive livestock activities (Serrao and Toledo, In press). In areas with medium population densities, land prices are higher, which brings about less extraction activity, shifting agricultural systems with shorter fallow periods, more intensive cattle production, and perennial cropping activities. In areas with high population densities, intensive annual and perennial cropping is expanded, subtracting from activities in areas previously devoted to extraction, shifting agriculture, and extensive cattle raising. Land prices become even higher and intensive agricultural practices are predominant. At this stage, more intensive integrated agricultural production (the agrisilvopastoral approach) begins to take place.

These contrasting situations of population and land use intensity form mosaics where areas have a virtual absence of development, intense spatial expansion, intense agricultural modernization, very intensive spatial expansion, and very high levels of modernization.

There are at least five distinct situations that characterize the present! state of agricultural development in the Amazon (Figure 2).

Agricultural Development in the Brazilian Amazon


Agricultural activities were primarily the extraction of exotic herbs and medicinal plants as well as spices, especially cacao


Extraction activities and some small-scale expansion of shifting subsistence agriculture and cattle raising activities


Rubber extraction mostly displaced the then prevalent agricultural activities to meet international demand


Henry Ford launched the first and largest private domesticated rubber plantation in Brazil, but the lack of agronomic sustainability led to the enterprise's failure; it was transferred to the Brazilian government in 1945


Japanese immigrants introduced and expanded jute crop agriculture in the floodplains along the upper and mid Amazon River


Japanese immigrants introduced black pepper, an important source of revenue for the state of Para


Rubber regained its importance as a strategic product as a result of the Washington Agreement signed in 1942, which guaranteed the supply of natural rubber to the Allied Forces (rubber tree plantations in southeastern Asia were controlled by the Japanese)


Rubber production was greatly stimulated through several government development programs to meet the national rubber demand, but without success


Operation Amazon gave ranchers incentives to raise cattle on pastureland that replaced forestland


The Jari Agroforestry Project on the banks of the Jari River on the Amapa- Para border was initiated; after a series of technical and political ups and downs, the project was sold to a consortium of Brazilian entrepreneurs in 1982


The federal government launched aggressive development through- colonization programs along recently built roads


An important diversification process took place with the expansion and/or introduction of economically important crop production systems of black pepper, coffee, African oil palm, papaya, passion fruit, and melon, among others; this process continued into the 1980s with the expansion of citrus, coconut, Barbados cherry, cupuacu, and other, less important crops

Early 1970s

Subsistence agriculture, which was initially carried out in the varzea floodplain areas, turned to the upland areas along the recently built roads and through the shifting agricultural systems


Intensive cacao production began to be stimulated by the federal government through the Cacao Development Program


The federal government set up the Grande Carajas Program in which the agricultural development component followed in the wake of the mineral exploration component


Pressed by national and international ecologic movements and the

autonomous rubber tappers movement, the federal government created the

Extractive Allocation Project


The magnitude and intensity of deforestation and burning in the Amazon

generated a great concem in national and international scientific communities and governments; this movement was stirred up in 1988 when rubber tapper leader Chico Mendes was assassinated because of land tenure conflicts


The federal government conceived and created Our Nature Program; along with it, the Brazilian Environmental and Renewable Natural Resources Institute (IBAMA)was created in an attempt to, among other things, control deforestation and help to promote ecologically sustainable development in Brazil, particularly in the Amazon

The northeastern part of the state of Para was one of the first areas to be brought into upland agricultural production in the Amazon. After supporting rubber extraction activities by producing and supplying agricultural products to rubber-producing areas in the Amazon, this region went through a series of transformations and now produces about 90 percent of Brazil's black pepper; 50 percent of the national malva (Urena lobata) fiber; and most of the Hawaiian papaya, palm oil, passion fruit, oranges, and native fruits produced in the Brazilian Amazon region. This region also produces a significant amount of animal protein, from cattle and poultry.

With approximately 10 million ha (about 8.7 percent of the state's total area) and a population of about 2.5 million inhabitants (or 15 percent of the Amazon region's population), this region is the most densely populated area of the Amazon. About 0.5 million people live in rural areas, where small-scale shifting-agriculture farmers work the land alongside farming operations that use higher levels of technology (mechanization, fertilizers, improved crop management) and where social and physical infrastructures (roads, electricity, communication, health, and education) are satisfactory compared with those of other regional development poles. This region's development has been greatly influenced by the construction and operation of the Beldm-Brasilia Highway in the 1960s.

The northeastern part of the state of Para has the most developed agroindustry in the Amazon region, mainly in relation to timber, African oil palm, jute (Corchorus capsularis), and malva fiber and meat processing. In Belem, extraction and agriculture of several products such as wood, Brazil nut, rubber, guarana, native and exotic fruits, and other crops are industrialized.

In relative terms, and considering the Amazon as a whole, the northeastern part of the state of Para is where agricultural development has the highest levels of sustainability because of its adaptation over time.

Figure 2

This type of agriculture has developed mainly along the margins of the Amazon and Solimoes rivers on fertile varzea floodplain soils subjected to an annual flooding and receding water regimen. It was the first major agricultural development in the region, facilitated by river navigation, before the beginning of the road-building era in the 1960s. It has lost some if its importance over time, however, because of the decline in extraction activities (McGrath, 1991) and the increasing attraction of more dynamic areas in the region. There has been a strong tendency to migrate from the rural riverbank areas to main urban nuclei, resulting in almost stagnant agricultural development after 30 years of agricultural predominance by jute.

In addition to jute and malva fiber and subsistence food and fruit crops, beef and cow's milk (although limited somewhat by periodic flooding of the native floodplain grasslands) are also produced. There is also some timber, jute and malva fiber, rubber, and Brazil nut processing as well as good aquatic food sources, mainly fish. There is water buffalo raising potential in the floodplains and estuaries of the Amazon.

At the outset of the 1970s, a dynamic period of agricultural development occurred primarily in the south of Para, in the north of Mato Grosso, within Tocantins, and in the south of Maranhao. Road construction, tax incentives (where the Superintendency for the Development of the Amazon [SUDAM] has had a major role), and credit availability were the main driving forces for this development. In this development process, cattle ranches have been established. These are surrounded by small shifting agricultural plots cultivated by squatters, who also serve as labor for the cattle ranches.

Development in this area has been characterized by frequent land ownership conflicts in which religious groups and the government have played conflicting roles. In some areas, land conflicts are due to (1) invasion by squatters in areas already occupied by people who depend on the extraction of Brazil nuts and (2) large influxes of gold prospectors who, when they are unsuccessful in their search for ore, look for alternative livelihoods. The interconnection of the Belem-Brasilia and Trans-Amazon highways, the construction of the Carajas-Sao Luis Railroad, and state roads such as the PA-150 made this region the point of entry of migratory fluxes from the northeastern part of Brazil. The implementation of the Carajas iron-processing plants and the discovery of gold in the Serra Pelada area, among other factors, induced the development of small farms and, consequently, the migratory flux to this particular region.

Large-scale cattle raising, which involves slash-and-bum destruction of the forest, has been severely criticized for its role in the region's deforestation. One of the reasons for land conflicts is the dichotomy of cattle raising, which demands large tracts of land for pasture establishment (to cover up for rapid pasture degradation) with low labor use, which then limits employment and becomes incompatible with the needs of small-scale farmers, who need to work outside their own plots to supplement their income.

Even though there has been development along important frontier highways, the infrastructures of frontier expansion areas are still deficient, particularly for small-scale farmers. Even so, many frontier areas in this region became municipalities in the 1980s. Large private colonization projects were also developed. The agricultural segments of these projects contemplate improved land use systems for coffee, cacao, black pepper, rubber, guarana, and beef cattle.

Another agricultural development front is developing in western Maranhao. This region has Brazil's northeastern economic, social, and cultural characteristics and abundant labor force and roadways. The main agricultural activities are food crop production (mainly rice), cattle raising, and babassu palm (Orbiguya martiana) extraction.

Official colonization areas have been occupied mainly by farmers whose origins are in Brazil's northeastern and south-central regions and who were stimulated by the official colonization programs started in the early 1970s. While SUDAM played a major role in the agricultural development in frontier expansion areas, the Land Reform and Colonization Institute took the leading role in official colonization areas.

Two distinct regions were important in the context of official colonization. One was the region along the Trans-Amazon Highway, colonized mainly by landless northeastern Brazilians who left their region of origin because of socioeconomic constraints and prevailing severe droughts. Cacao, sugarcane, and food crop production were predominant agricultural activities. However, during the last 20 years of development, cattle raising also became important, causing the fusion of many agricultural lots owned by small-scale farmers.

Another colonization settlement was developed in different points in the former territory that is now the state of Rondonia. In this case, there was an intensive spontaneous and programed migratory flux of farmers from the northeast and south-central regions of Brazil who dedicated themselves to growing cacao, coffee, rubber, and food crops.

Agricultural lots have gone through significant amounts of fusion induced by a shortage of labor (displaced by gold mining activities), low cacao and coffee prices, and credit and tax incentives for cattle raising activities. Several milk-processing plants also operate in this region.

Areas where extraction of forest products is predominant are widespread in the Amazon and include different combinations of forest extraction and agricultural activities of various intensities. Some are very old, going back to the initial occupation of the region, and are now in a state of almost economic stagnation and population increase.

The most important area of extraction activity is in the state of Acre, where rubber tapping is the main activity for 55,000 gatherers who, in some measure, are also involved in complementary shifting agriculture and Brazil nut gathering.

Because of the expansion of the agricultural frontier, rubber tappers are able to maintain their activities with intensive support from national and international movements. This expansion pressured the Brazilian government to create, in 1987, the Settlement of Extractive Areas Project. This project established guidelines for the settlement of extractive reserve regions as a specific mode of agrarian reform in the Amazon region. That model was recently (1990) transformed into the Extractive Reserve. This initiative was an important factor in reducing the accelerated expansion of the agricultural frontier.

The rubber tapper's main drawback is their artificially maintained economic sustainability, which, because of the current weakness of their economic base, has been exogenously supported by the taxation of imported rubber. Their main strength is their successful organization.

After the assassination of rubber tapper Chico Mendes in December 1988, ample discussion has taken place in Brazil and elsewhere, bringing about an "extraction syndrome" that portrays the idea of extraction as the model for feasible development of the Amazon as a sustainable system. The emotional environment generally involved in the subject of extraction has been a limiting factor in discussing the matter technically and objectively.


Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon region is closely connected to agricultural development, mainly with shifting agriculture, cattle raising, and logging activities. Because of this and because the extent, rate, causes, and consequences of deforestation have been a major concern worldwide, some highlights are stressed here.

Extent of Deforestation

A number of estimates of the extent of deforestation in the Amazon have been published previously (Brazilian Institute of Space Research, 1990; Fearnside, 1982,1984; Mahar, 1989; Senado Federal, 1990). Some of those estimates and others publicized in leading national and international newspapers and magazines have overestimated the extent of deforestation and, in most cases, are associated with somewhat exaggerated and alarming trends in environmental degradation and its consequences.

The estimates of the Brazilian Institute of Space Research (Instituto de Pesquisas Espacias; INPE) are probably the most trustworthy. A Brazilian Senate committee's final report (Senado Federal, 1990), published in 1990 and reflecting INPE's estimates (Brazilian Institute of Space Research, 1990), indicated that until 1989, some 34 million ha of Amazon forest of various biomass gradients was deforested. This represents about 7 percent of the legal Amazon region and an area corresponding to seven Costa Ricas or to about the amount of cultivated land in Italy, England, and France. Table 2 gives the extent and rate of deforestation in the so-called Legal Amazon through 1990.

Rate of Deforestation

Even though the figures given above may not be considered alarming if the total Amazon forest area is taken into account, the speed with which deforestation has been taking place in the past 2 decades is disturbing.

The Brazilian Senate committee (Senado Federal, 1990) report shows that in only 11 years (from 1978 to 1989, when total deforestation reached 7 percent of the area of the legal Amazon), there was a rapid increase in deforestation (417 percent). This time frame coincides with the most active period of migration to the region. According to the report, the state of Rondonia suffered the most intensive deforestation (about 12 percent in 1989).

Since the creation of Our Nature Program (Programa Nossa Natureza) and the consequent advent of the Brazilian Institute of Environment (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renovaveis, IBAMA) in 1989, the trend has been in the direction of decelerating deforestation.

According to Alcantara (1991), deforestation was 2.1 million ha in 1989 and 1.4 million ha in 1990. Deforestation in 1991 was 1.11 million ha, according to the Brazilian Institute of Space Research. Besides ecologic conscientiousness and control of forest burning by government agencies-especially IBAMA-the economic crisis in Brazil explains the trend in deforestation. The exaggerated estimates for 1987, which indicated that 8 million ha was deforested, were probably due to the lack of experience during the first year of the INPE/IBDF (Brazilian Institute of Forest Development) (now IBAMA) agreement. In reality, 60 percent of the fires detected were the result of burning for pasture management in already existing pasturelands.

Table 2 Deforestation in the Legal Amazon Through 1990

In general, the importance of shifting subsistence agricultural activities in relation to deforestation in the Amazon region has been purposely overlooked for political and socioeconomic reasons. In 1985, the area in the northern region actually cultivated with short-cycle crops was estimated at about 1.35 million ha (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, 1991). However, despite the reduced individual lot sizes for shifting agriculture (between 10 and 50 ha), if one considers that there are more than 500,000 small-scale farmers who practice it in the Amazon, that each farmer cultivates an average of 2 ha for 2 consecutive years, and that these 2 ha are left to fallow for about 10 years, this activity is responsible for altering at least 10 million ha in a process of "silent deforestation" (Homma, 1989).

One implication for estimating the contribution to deforestation by different land use systems is the fact that farm plots devoted to annual crop farming are frequently sold or abandoned after only a few years of use, mainly because of rapidly declining yields. In general, they are then converted to pasturelands, increasing the area devoted to cattle raising. Therefore, some of the deforestation attributed to livestock development may have been caused by the spread of small-scale agriculture (Mahar, 1989).

Logging has been practiced in the Amazon for over 300 years (Rankin, 1985). For most of that time it was done manually and was restricted to relatively accessible, seasonally inundated forests. With the advent of road construction in the 1960s, interfluvial forests became more accessible to loggers. When this is combined with the depletion of native forests in southern Brazil and SUDAM's incentives for timber extraction operations, the result has been very large-scale logging activities in the region during the past decade (Uhf and Vieira, 1989). In 1978, 7.7 million m³ of wood was harvested from the Amazon forest. In 1987, the harvest rose to 24.6 million m³.

In 1987, the Amazon region contributed 55 percent of domestic timber production, in comparison with 24 percent in 1978 (IBGE, 1989). The advent of chainsaws in the 1970s resulted in technologically more efficient logging operations. This has resulted in a more than 30-fold increase in logging productivity over that from manual logging and has been a major factor contributing to logging intensity in the region. It is not clear how much deforestation can be attributed to logging because much of the timber extracted is a by-product of land clearing for other agricultural purposes (Mahar, 1989), mainly cattle raising and shifting agriculture.

Even though selective logging by itself results in the removal of only a few trees from the forest, the process causes considerable damage to the forest structure. In a selectively logged dense forest in the eastern part of the state of Para, Uhl and Vieira (1989) found the' although only 16 percent of the existing trees were harvested, 26 percent of the remaining trees were killed or damaged. On the basis of recent satellite imagery of disturbed forestlands, checking on the ground, and the number of sawmills (and their capacity to process timber), it is estimated that logging has accounted for about 10 per cent of total deforestation in the state of Para (Watrin and Rocha, In press).

These proximate causes (Mahar, 1989) of deforestation for agricultural development are consequences of government policies de signed to open up the Amazon for human settlement and to encourage other types of economic activities.

Government policies and the consequent proximate causes of deforestation in the region do not reflect merely the regional needs for agricultural development, however. Most of the driving forces pushing deforestation in the Amazon result from a series of largely unseen causes nationwide, such as high population growth rates (more than 3 million people per year), high inflation, a socioeconomic environment in which land is a valuable reserve, unequal income distribution, lack of technological improvement in extra-Amazon areas, insufficient scientific knowledge of the region's natural resources, low levels of regional agricultural technology, external market growth for wood products, low education levels, high agricultural input costs, conflicting development and environmental policies, legislation inconsistent with the environmental conservation, weak law enforcement, and a large foreign debt.

The great problem, however, is the fact that the slash-and-burn practice is the cheapest alternative land preparation method for farmers. To use already deforested lands, mechanization and application of lime, fertilizers, and other modern inputs are required at an estimated cost of US$400/ha, in comparison with US$70lha for the traditional slash-and-burn process.

Environmental Impacts of Deforestation

Deforestation for agricultural development in the Brazilian Amazon region has been closely connected with environmental disturbances, mainly climate change, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, flooding, and the impact of smoke. Typical deforestation contributes to the increase in the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and, therefore, to the possible warming of the earth that may result from this increase.

To a large extent, agricultural development in forested areas of the Amazon has been based, for traditional and socioeconomic reasons, on slash-and-burn practices and pasture formation and management. Because of its intensity in the region-as many as 8 million ha were burned for agricultural purposes in the Brazilian Amazon in 1987, the highest annual incidence ever observed (Brazilian Institute of Space Research, 1990)-present and potential fire hazards have been a major concern. When the susceptibility to fire of four different dominant vegetation cover types in the eastern Amazon was studied, it was found that cattle pastures were the most fire-prone ecosystem; this was followed by selectively logged forests and second-growth (capoeira) vegetation. The primary forest is practically immune to fire (Uhf and Kauffman, 1990; Uhl et al., 1990a).

Despite its socioeconomic importance to agricultural development in the region (Falesi 1976; Serrao, et al., 1979), fire has probably caused more damage than benefits in the process of agricultural development. In addition to destroying biomass, it contributes to losses in biodiversity (Uhf and Kauffman, 1990; Uhl et al., 1990a) and atmospheric pollution through the release of gases (principally carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) that contribute to the greenhouse effect (Goldemberg, 1989; Salati, 1989, In press).

In general, estimates of the quantity of greenhouse gases released when forests are cleared are imprecise because of uncertainties regarding the extent of cleared areas, the amount of biomass per hectare, the amount of carbon in the biomass, and the conversion rates of carbon in biomass burning. Despite these uncertainties, Serrao (1990) estimates that during the past 20 years, conversion of forest to pasture consumed about 5.2 billion metric tons of forest biomass and caused a net increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide of about 2.4 billion metric tons. If carbon dioxide emissions from pasture management burning are added, it is possible that deforestation for pasture in the Amazon alone has contributed to up to 6 percent of carbon dioxide worldwide emissions.

Even though specific data are not available to quantify the local adverse effects of deforestation and burning for agricultural development in the Amazon, the local probable adverse effects are increases in temperature (20° to 50°C) and albedo (up to 100 percent) and decreases in evapotranspiration (30 to 50 percent), rainfall (20 to 30 percent), relative humidity (20 to 30 percent), and water infiltration (10 to 100 percent) (L. C. B. Molion, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisa da Amazonia, personal communication, 1990). The most relevant consequence of deforestation and burning at the local level is soil degradation, with soil loss rates of up to 300 metric tons/ha/year caused primarily by runoff (as a result of a 15 to 20 percent reduction in the interception of rainwater) carrying between 4,000 and 5,000 m³ of water (with soil) to streams and rivers (L. C. B. Molion, unpublished data).

The inability to predict the environmental impacts of deforestation by burning is partly because of a lack of understanding of the natural functions of the Amazon forest. Nepstad et al. (1991), for example, found that some Amazon forest trees have roots that extend to 12 m in depth and are therefore able to draw water from the soil throughout prolonged dry periods. The climatic aspect of the loss of these dry season functions is unknown.


Environmental and socioeconomic characteristics of the Brazilian Amazon region place important limitations on the existence, maintenance, or implementation of sustainable agricultural development. The present level of scientific knowledge and socioeconomic development precludes mid- and long-term generalizations. Therefore, the following are some exogenous and endogenous variables that influence agriculture sustainability in the Amazon but are not controlled by farmers.


Climatic factors are difficult to influence and almost impossible to control, despite their decisive influence on the types of crops that are planted and their dominant effect on almost all agricultural operations and biologic processes (Croxall and Smith, 1984).

The hot and humid climate reduces the efficiency of humans, animals, and land. Humans work less efficiently in hot climates (Kamarck, 1976). The hot and humid climate of the Amazon is frequently associated with high biotic pressures and acidic and infertile soils, conditions that are serious limiting factors for the sustainability of most crops in the region. In the humid tropics, unusually long dry spells determine agricultural sustainability. They have been occurring in the Amazon more frequently now than they did in the past.

Because of the Amazon's climatic characteristics, the most favorable environmental conditions for primary productivity are through photosynthesis by plants (Alvim, 1990). It is through photosynthesis that plants incorporate approximately 95 percent of their biomass components, namely, carbon (44 percent), oxygen (45 percent), and hydrogen (6 percent), from water and air, not from the soil. Chemical components from the soil make up only about 5 percent of the solid matter in the plant biomass. The total annual solar radiation reaching the Amazon is, for that reason, the greatest environmental factor that determines the primary productivity potential of the region.

Biotic Pressure

According to Goodland and Irwin (1977), the conversion of the humid tropical forest for agricultural production maximizes the return on a short-term basis, but this causes an invariable discontinuity of future production. This is because of high levels of soil leaching, organic matter decomposition, and biotic pressures.

Weeds, pests, and diseases are the most important limiting factors for increased production and productivity in the Brazilian humid tropics. Production losses because of biotic pressure have been estimated to be between 20 and 30 percent without including losses from storage (Croxall and Smith, 1984).

Despite the high economic importance of weeds as a limiting factor for sustainability in crop- and pasturelands, little is known about the extent to which they contribute to economic losses in the Amazon. However, a few million dollars is probably spent annually for weed control in crop- and pasturelands. Hundreds of weed species have been identified in croplands (Stolberg and de Souza, 1985) and cultivated pastures (Camarao et al., 1991; Dias Filho, 1990; Hecht, 1979) in the Amazon. This large number of weeds and their varied morphological features are limiting factors for their efficient control (Dies Filho, 1990). There is much yet to be reamed about weed management and control in crop- and pasturelands in the Brazilian humid tropics.

Pests and diseases have been serious limiting factors for crop and pasture production in the Amazon. Some diseases are worth mentioning, such as rubber tree leaf blight caused by the fungus Microcyclus ulei, cacao witchbroom caused by the fungus Crinipellis perniciosa, black pepper fusarium caused by the fungus Fusarium solani f. sp. piperis, African oil palm fatal yellowing caused by a still-unknown agent, tomato bacterial wilt, and the Phaseolus bean mela caused by the fungus Rhyzoctonia solani. Insect pests such as pasture spittle bugs (mainly Deois species) and caterpillars and other short-cycle crop insects can cause severe damage and economic losses to cropand pasturelands (Silva and Magalhaes, 1980).

Soil-Related Limitations

About 70 percent of the existing land in the Brazilian humid tropics is appropriate for crop production, about 15 percent is appropriate for cultivated and native grasslands and forestry, and the remaining area has strong limitations for agricultural development and should be left as ecologic reserves (Silva et al., 1986).

Infrastructural deficiencies, price and market fluctuations, and the adoption of the same agricultural production practices that colonizers used on their original land explain why various agriculture-based products have failed on these relatively fertile lands. However, regions with low fertility and acidic soils have not been transformed into deserts, as some have foreseen (Goodland and Irwin, 1975). On the contrary, such regions have been very dynamic in terms of agricultural development.

Sociocultural Limitations

Agricultural sustainability in the Amazon is strongly influenced by sociocultural constraints (Homma and Serrao, In preparation). The low educational levels of most of the rural populations affects the dissemination of improved agricultural technologies because an inability to read and write increases the time and costs necessary for disseminating information.

Land, work, and capital have traditionally been considered the basic factors of productive agricultural systems. Land includes all natural resources, but soil and climate are the basic factors. Work includes labor and management. Capital is represented by funds for agricultural operations and infrastructure (Goedert, 1989). The failures of many agricultural development programs in the Amazon have been, among other factors, a result of inefficiency or neglect in the management of these programs, where misuse of government funds- for example, fiscal incentives or rural credit-has been a major limiting factor (E. B. Andrade, personal communication, 1991).

The solutions for small-scale farming in the Amazon are frequently complex. Basing his evaluation on scientific data, the technician tends to design a technology that saves land, inputs, or labor. However, the small-scale farmers's criteria for evaluating their own technologies are more complex and include factors such as the quantity and quality of certain agricultural products for consumption and sale, income, benefit per unit of work, and security offered by production systems in terms of reduced risk. These criteria are applied intuitively. For example, in a survey carried out in one colonization nucleus in the county of Altamira in the state of Para (International Center for Tropical Agriculture, 1975), the farmers listed their limiting factors in the following order: health deficiency; lack of seeds, fertilizers, and transportation; low prices for their products; and the presence of pests and diseases. The project technicians, however, listed limiting factors in the following order: lack of transportation, low prices for products, pests and diseases, lack of seeds and fertilizers, and health problems.

Health factors undoubtedly affect agriculture-based colonization projects in the Amazon (Dies and de Castro, 1986). In an agricultural system whose efficiency depends on labor productivity, minimum health standards are needed. In frontier areas, high incidences of endemic diseases require that the health question be treated with proficiency.

In summary, farmers synthesize the human factor, but they are not the only humans involved. Even though they make the decisions for the agricultural operation, they are influenced by the willingness, intelligence, ability, and honesty of politicians, decision makers, consumers, and others. The capacities of farmers are limited not only because of their own limited abilities but also because of limited facilities and a limited work force.

Political Limitations

In general, development policies for the Brazilian Amazon region have shown low levels of efficacy in the internalization of income and labor, reinforcing the tendency to concentrate development activities within a few states, mainly Para and Amazonas, and in the urban areas of state capitals. The penetration of capital into the field has determined the disarticulation of traditional activities in rural areas, stimulating large-scale rural-to-urban migration, which, in association with migratory fluxes, results in increasing social tensions regarding land ownership, swelling of populations in cities, and growing urban unemployment and underemployment. It has resulted in the deterioration of the population's quality of life (Homma and Serrao, In preparation).

This situation makes it clear that there is an "Amazonian cost of development"-that is, a set of difficulties for those who want to invest in developing the Amazon. It includes infrastructure deficiency, long distances, reduced stocks of technology, low labor and land productivities, limited access to capital, and other factors that aggregate more to regional than to national financial costs (Superintendency for the Development of the Amazon, 1986).

Agricultural development in the Amazon must be related to other sectors of the economy. The rural-to-urban migration that is under way does not correspond to significant changes in agricultural technology because of the deficient agrarian infrastructure and the search for a better life in the cities.

It seems that some rural activities begin to be implemented because of urban needs, for example, vegetable, fruit, and poultry production. Exportation of agricultural products, however, has been the driving force for improved agricultural production, with jute, malva, black pepper, papaya, oil palm, melon, and some extraction products (such as Brazil nuts and timber) being the main examples.

To date, technological evolution with a significant increase in agricultural productivity has been very limited. In general, an increase in production has been due to the expansion of the agricultural frontiers through land use systems with low levels of sustainability.


Agricultural development in the Amazon has been faced with a number of environmental bottlenecks that have limited its bioeconomic sustainability. Along with the continental dimensions of the Brazilian Amazon, the complexity of the humid tropical ecosystems stands out, requiring that most of the technology be generated locally. This aspect and the region's socioeconomic environment limit the availability and the capacity of technology generation and transfer.

More specifically, environmental peculiarities, such as low fertility and high acidity of soils, favorable climatic conditions for the prevalence of pests and diseases, and aggressiveness of weed plants, are limitations for maintaining agricultural development with satisfactory levels of sustainability.

Even with the limited available knowledge and technology for agricultural development, the high costs of agricultural inputs as a result of a regional infrastructure have limited their utilization and, consequently, have impaired growth in production and productivity. As a result, traditional low-efficiency land use systems, despite their low productivity and high levels of environmental degradation, continue to be used because of their low costs and protectionist policies (Paiva, 1977).

The following are some general constraints under which agricultural development has taken place in the region and that limit sustainability.

· Insufficient knowledge of natural resources (climate, soil, fauna, flora, water resources);
· High biotic pressures (weeds, pests, and diseases);
· Low levels of sustainable production of annual food and fiber crops because of the reduced number of improved varieties and reduced knowledge of cultural practices;
· Low levels of sustainable production of perennial food and industrial crops because of a lack of improved varieties and reduced crop management knowledge;
· Low levels of sustainable production of pasturelands because of insufficient knowledge of forage species, pest and weed control, and pasture reclamation and management;
· Insufficient domestication of native plants with present and potential economic value for more intensive production;
· Reduced development of agroindustry of regional products, deficient transportation and storage, and distances to market;
· Difficulties in systematizing available research results and making them compatible with the agroecologic zoning of the region; and
· Reduced knowledge regarding reclamation of degraded lands and soil conservation.

There is a tendency to promote agroecologic and economic zoning of the Amazon as the panacea for preservation and conservation compatible with the needs for economic development. Conservationists tend to promote agroecologic and economic zoning in an attempt to limit economic activities as much as possible, while developmentalists see it as a guarantee for maintaining production activities. What must be realized is that 16 million people live in the Amazon and need to be fed and sheltered. They also have rights to health care, education, and a decent quality of life. Therefore, agroecologic and economic zoning makes sense only if it includes the participation of local communities. It should primarily consider the competitiveness of production costs and the ecologic implications involved, not just unilateral ecologic considerations. Agroecologic and economic zoning must be accompanied by strong technical assistance programs and a strong social infrastructure (Hirano et al., 1988).


Knowledge about agriculture in the Amazon comes from research and experience gained regionally and from similar, extra-Amazon regions. Research has played a major role in the process of knowledge accumulation. Even though knowledge accumulation through research started as early as the 1930s, the greatest efforts began in the 1970s after which, among other events, the Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research (EMBRAPA) and the Cooperative System of Agriculture Research (headed by EMBRAPA) were created. If agriculturerelated publications can serve as an index of knowledge accumulation, from a total of about 1,400 publications produced up to 1985, about 1,200 were generated between 1970 and 1985 (Homma, 1989), a period that is strongly related to the beginning of economic development in the Amazon and the institution of EMBRAPA.

Recognizing the insufficiency of knowledge for sustainable agricultural development, the following sections summarize the present knowledge base for different areas.

Domestication of Nontimber Forest Extraction Products

Some significant advances have been accomplished in this area. Various native plant species that have been extracted from the forest have gone through a slow and difficult process of domestication (Homma, 1989). The available knowledge supports more intensive planting of rubber trees, Brazil nut, guarana, cupuaqu (Theobroma grandiflorum), pupunha (Guilielma gasipaes), acai (Euterpe oleracea), urucu (Bixa orellana), and malva (Urena lobata). As the region's population density increases and markets become available, presently and potentially valuable native forest plants will have to be domesticated.

Natural Resources-Climate, Soil, and Vegetation

A reasonable amount of knowledge about the natural resources of the Brazilian humid tropics, such as soil classification and potentialities, is available. Most of this information is still at a very reduced scale (1:2,500,000), however (Silva et al., 1986). A reasonable-approximation climatic classification supported by a network of small stations spread over the region is also available (Bassos et al., 1986). Also available are satisfactory vegetation classification and maps of the Amazon, which, along with edaphic and climatic information, allows for a reasonable approximation of agroecologic and economic zoning for more sustainable agricultural development (Nascimento and Homma, 1984; Silva et al., 1986).

Forest Exploration

Knowledge of forest exploration has gone in two directions. There is a search for valuable timber products by developing inventories of specific areas and extraction and sustainable management strategies (Superintendency for the Development of the Amazon, 1986; Yared, 1991). This is true also for medicinal forest products (Van den Berg, 1982). In the other direction, efforts have been made to domesticate tree species of high economic value, introduce exotic species, establish integrated systems involving agriculture and cattle raising, and select and test cellulose-producing plants.

Annual Food and Fiber Crops

Some knowledge has been gained for obtaining improved varieties of rice, beans, cassava, and maize, as well as for the development of cultural practices and of integrated systems with perennial crop plants. Rice growing in the varzea floodplains may be implemented because of a reasonable amount of field research and testing. Despite their decline in socioeconomic importance, jute and malva have been the most researched fiber-producing plants in the region (Da Silva, 1989a,b), with emphasis on the selection of more productive varieties, cropping systems, seed production, and decortication.

Perennial Crops

Some progress has been achieved in the selection and introduction of cultivars; cultural practices; pest and disease control; and processing of perennial crop plants such as rubber, black pepper, cacao, oil palm, coffee, guarana, and native fruit trees (Alvim, 1989). For oil palm, one important achievement was the product resulting from crossing African oil palm with the native caiaue oil palm and the introduction of pollinating insects in the region.

Pastures and Animal Production

Significant progress has recently been achieved in the knowledge base of the environmental, technological, and socioeconomic interrelations involved in the process of pasture degradation, obtaining better-adapted forage plants, and reclamation of pastures formed after cutting and burning of forests (Dies Filho and Serrao, 1982; Serrao, 1986a; Serrao and Toledo, 1990; Serrao et al., 1979). Also, more recently, the knowledge base on the ecologic implications of pasture degradation and the ecologic and economic recuperation of degraded pasture ecosystems has increased (Buschbacher et al., 1988; Nepstad et al., 1990; Uhl and Kauffman, 1990; Uhl et al., 1988, 1990a,b).

A fair amount of knowledge on the potential and limitations of natural grassland ecosystems has also become available. If these grasslands are more efficiently utilized for cattle pasture (Serrao, 1986b) and other agricultural purposes, they can help to reduce the pressure on more forestlands.

Management techniques, genetic improvements in cattle herds, and sanitary measures have been developed for both cattle and water buffaloes. These allow for the design of production systems that are more efficient than traditional ones. The available stock of knowledge of water buffaloes is significant (da Costa et al., 1987; Lau, 1991; Moura Carvalho and Nascimento, 1986; Nascimento and Carvalho, In press).


Although still rudimentary, the available knowledge on the fauna of Amazonian rivers has made it possible to develop simple, potentially sustainable fish production systems with native fishes such as tambaqui (Colossoma spp.), pirarucu (Arapaima gigas), and tucunare (Cichla ocellaris), as well as exotic fishes such as tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), in integrated systems with swine and water buffalo (Imbiriba, In press).

Agroindustrial Technology

Processing and industrialization of regional products have been given relatively high research priorities in the past 2 decades. Technology is becoming available, for example, for the processing of water buffalo milk (mainly for cheese making), tropical fruit nectar preservation, industrialization of black pepper by-products, powdered guarana and acai, cupuacu chocolate, and cellulose from Amazonian wood species.

Basic Knowledge

Applied research and technology generation has been accompanied by some progress in basic research. Despite serious limitations in personnel, equipment, and infrastructure, knowledge has been obtained in the fields of botany, ecology, soil physics and chemistry, plant genetics and physiology (primarily rubber and cacao plants), plant pathology (mainly black pepper, cacao, and rubber plants), entomology, and climatology.


Diffusion of technology plays an important role in the utilization of knowledge and technology for agricultural development in the Brazilian humid tropics. Formal technical assistance and rural extension in the Brazilian humid tropics have been low in efficiency for supporting agricultural development. The reduced efficiency in the diffusion and adoption of technological improvements is still a major bottleneck in developing more sustainable agriculture in the Amazon.

Technology diffusion is apparent in the region in three main forms: (1) forms used by the Amazon Indians (for example, slash-and-burn planting of cassava and utilization of native plants); (2) imported forms, brought into the region by migrants, that tend to improve local technological standards (for example, Japanese immigrants introduced the jute fiber plant, black pepper, Hawaiian papayas, melon, and Barbados cherry and improved crop and soil management practices for those and other crops); and (3) forms developed by regional research institutions, which is still the weakest form. This low efficiency rating is associated with the still reduced stock of available technology, its feasibility level, and the fragile support provided by basic research. Nevertheless, the contribution of basic knowledge is important not only because it increases the frontier of knowledge that can be used in the future but also because it helps to form scientific judgments about the Amazon.

Because of the still relatively reduced dimension of agriculture in the Amazon, which functions by using the extremes of primitive and imported technologies, the market for technological improvements is small. Small-scale marketing of agricultural products in the region also limits the adoption of improved technologies. The adoption of developed technological practices may not result in success in terms of profitability, however, because of market deficiencies. For example, planting irrigated rice in some floodplain areas does not always result in improved standards of living for the farmers who adopt that technology.

The socioeconomic constraints, mainly in education and health, typically prevalent in the rural areas of the Brazilian Amazon region make agricultural technology a secondary priority. Owners of typical small- and medium-sized farms frequently have more important objectives than increasing land and labor productivity. In those cases, the social aspects of rural extension are more important than the technological aspects. This situation became more prevalent during the period of the New Republic (1984-1989), when technical assistance and extension focused almost exclusively on small farmers.

In a trend toward growing democratization, rural communities may be induced to take more responsibilities and play a more important role in the technology diffusion process.


Agricultural development in the Amazon has taken place through the implementation of a number of agricultural production land use systems: The labor and technology utilization varies from very extensive to fairly intensive. This section evaluates the present states of sustainability of the most important agricultural land use systems, namely, extraction of forest products, upland shifting cultivation, varzea floodplain cropping, cattle raising, perennial crop plantation, and agrisilvopastoral systems (systems that combine crops, pastures, animals, and trees). An overview of these systems is given in Tables 3A, B, and C. The technological, socioeconomic, and ecologic sustainability parameters used in this analysis are listed in the sidebar entitled, "Parameters for Analyzing Sustainability of Land Use Systems."

Extraction of Nontimber Forest Products

Even though extraction activities are the oldest land use systems in the Amazon, only in the past decade have they become a subject of major interest for agronomists, ecologists, anthropologists, socioeconomists (Allegretti, 1987,1990; Anderson, 1989,1990; Fearnside, 1983, 1990; Homma, 1989; Peters et al., 1990) and even politicians, because of the national and international concern over the aggressive deforestation that has occurred over the past 25 years.

Economically important nontimber products that are extracted from forests include natural rubber (mainly from Hevea brasiliensis), nonelastic glues (waxes), fibers, oils, and food products (for example, fruits, heart of palm, and Brazil nuts).

In the Brazilian humid tropics, there are two types of extraction, namely, gathering extraction, in which the resource is extracted without any major damage to the plant, and destructive extraction, in which the extraction activity results in the destruction of the plant (Homma, 1989). Both forms of extraction can be sustainable if the extraction does not go beyond the species's regeneration capacity (Peters, 1990).

Unmanaged extraction has the tendency to be destructive in the long run. Because forests offer a fixed amount of products, the capacity to meet increasing demands for a particular product becomes limited, resulting in higher prices and replacement of the resource by domesticated or synthetic substitutes (Homma, 1989). Because of the fixed amount of a resource, expansion possibilities are limited and there is low land and labor productivity. Theoretically, extraction activities typically have a three-phase economic cycle: expansion, stagnation, and decline. Maintenance of extraction activities requires low population pressure, no synthetic substitutes or domestic products, special market conditions, and available stocks of forest products.

Plant domestication can make extraction activities unstable. When there is an adequate amount of extracted stock and domestication technology is not efficient, the extraction activity can compete; but when the extracted product is scarce, prices increase, stimulating domestication of the resource (Homma, 1989).

Synthetic resources also make extraction unstable, even though substitution is usually not perfect, such as for rubber, waxes, and lynalol. Forest food products are less vulnerable to competition from synthetic substitutes but are more vulnerable to domestication.

Frontier expansion and population growth also make extraction activities unstable. The survival of extraction depends on the maintenance of the primary forest. As forest areas become reduced, the cost for extraction in those areas increases. As a consequence, even with strict controls to avoid incorporation of these lands, the increase in the prices of agricultural lands tends to reduce even more the competitiveness of extraction.

Table 3A Land Systems in the Brazilian Humid Tropics: Producers, Products, and Technological

In recent years, extraction of forest products has been suggested to be the model for sustainable development of the Amazon (Allegretti, 1987, 1990; Fearnside, 1990; Peters et al., 1990). A recent report (Peters et al., 1990) attempts to show the feasibility of extraction from the economic point of view. The authors concluded that 1 ha of standing primary forest near Iquitos, Peru, can yield US$6,820 annually, at present values. However, such an analysis is of a static nature and does not take into account the above-mentioned factors that affect the stability of extraction.


Extraction activities are agronomically and ecologically sustainable. However, their economic and social sustainabilities are restricted to the short term. In most cases extraction activities are associated with the acquisition of food products from agricultural activities. For example, the autonomous rubber tappers of Acre integrate shifting agriculture with cattle raising activities.


Extractive reserves have the advantage of being entirely open to management options. They also cause minimal micro- and macroenvironmental damage (Fearnside, 1983,1990).

Parameters for Analyzing Sustainability of Land Use Systems

Technological Parameters

Demand for technical assistance

Demand for mechanization

Demand for fertilizers, lime, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides

Demand for quality seed

Demand for equipment

Incidence of pests and diseases

Management intensity

Weed control

Possibility of combination with other systems

Production fluctuation

Resilience to attacks of pests and diseases

Need for organic fertilization

Labor need

Need for a high level of specialization

Soil conservation practices

Harvesting ease

Establishment ease



Ecological Parameters

Level of environmental degradation

Receptiveness from ecological community (national, intemational)

Degradation of fauna and flora

Loss of biodiversity

Cause of water pollution (streams, rivers)

Extent of deforestation needed

Extent of burning needed

Long-term implication in relation to the ecology

Current judgment of producer in relation to ecology

Present extent of environmental degradation because of use

Support from environmental institutions

Possibility of being used in degraded lands

Effect on climate change

Effect on greenhouse gases

Potential for improving environmental conditions

Economic Parameters

Subject to price fluctuations

Need for intermediaries for commercialization

Trustworthy policies for the sector

Need for credit

Problems of overproduction

Competitiveness with other activities (production systems)

Cost of labor needed

Cost of modern inputs (for example, mechanization, seeds, fertilizer,

and pest control)

Ease of acquiring modern inputs

Extension services (easy, difficult)

Research support need

Physical infrastructure (for example, roads and transport)

State or national price policies

Ease of product commercialization

Local, regional, national, and international markets

Environmental protection pressures

Future scenarios for the Amazon (for example, price liberation)

Level of technology

Dysfunction between producing what, how, and for whom

Social Parameters

Labor offer (for example, planting, weeding, harvesting, and


Labor intensive by nature (for example, extractivism)

Level of education required for farmer or labor

Length of tradition required

Immigrants from other regions

Mutirdo practices

Level of income required

Allowable social infrastructure (for example, school, health centers,

and social clubs)

Interaction among producers (for example, Japanese and rubber tappers)

Strong political participation (lobbying capabilities)

Also serving as labor for other agricultural activities (for example,

small farmers also serving as labor for weeding pastures in large

neighboring cattle ranches)



Cultural Parameters

Dependence on cultural tradition (for example, farmers from Bahia for cacao and from Sao Paulo for coffee)

Cultural background versus adoption of technology

Fear of being a pioneer (wait for others)

Extension service's familiarity with local ecological and socioeconomic environment Parochialism

Mixture of farmers' origins

Strength of political leadership

Access to local, regional, and national news

Access to newspapers and magazines

Length of time dedicated to agricultural activity

Knowledge of day-to-day life in the Amazon


Within the scenario of nontimber extraction activities, what can be done to promote a more realistic and sustainable use of extractive reserves? Many of the inherent problems of extraction systems in the Amazon may be solved, as long as extraction is not seen as a panacea. These systems have marginal economic viabilities, and because they lack strong economic and social structures, they can be, and frequently are, replaced by other agricultural land use systems, such as shifting agriculture and cattle raising (Anderson, 1989).

Therefore, if extractive reserves are to function, they must evolve. To be successful, in addition to simple extraction practices, they must incorporate other land use systems that would ideally intensify production per unit area with a minimal reduction in their ecologic sustainabilities.

According to Anderson (1989), in the Amazon humid tropics, agroforestry systems represent the best alternative to conciliate these demands (see below). Maintenance of a forestlike canopy that is typical of those systems maintains ecologic sustainability, while other activities under the canopy increase production in economic terms. The rate of this increase is related to the management intensity of natural resources.

Anderson (1989) analyzed three real-world commercial land use systems with increasing management intensities, namely, extraction of forest products, extensive agroforestry, and intensive agroforestry. Each system has weak and strong points. Extraction requires minimum input but produces minimum returns. Intensive agroforestry gives high levels of return, but costs of labor, input, and capital are also very high. Even though extensive agroforestry seems to be able to combine the best features of the two extremes of land use intensity, it is only feasible under highly specific ecologic conditions (Table 4). Perhaps the best strategy for extractive reserves is a combination of the three systems.

Table 4 Comparison of Tree Land Use Strategies in the Brazilian Amazon Region

According to Anderson (1989), one scheme to accomplish integration might involve the utilization of swidden plots (plots where the vegetative cover has been burned) as sites for agroforestry systems since, in most areas where extraction activities occur, swidden plots are abandoned after a few years of cultivation. Instead of being abandoned, such plots could be used to establish plantations of perennial tree crops.

As in other swidden-fallow agroforestry systems in the Amazon (Denevan and Padoch, 1987; Posey, 1983), the degree of intervention could increase from the center of the plot, with intensively maintained plantations giving way to manipulated forest fallow. Along this management gradient, depending on the stage of land use intensiveness in the extractive reserve, a wide range of plant products and game resources could be exploited. The local market must be able to absorb the resulting products, however. In this way, higher levels of overall sustainability of the integrated system would be secured (Anderson, 1989).


To increase the sustainability of extraction activities, there must be a search for the alternative land use models. It seems most logical to follow the agroforestry approach, since extraction per se is a land use system with low levels of socioeconomic sustainability. Research efforts and policies should consequently be aimed at transforming extractive reserves into viable enterprises. The selection of high-value, low-input, easy-to-establish annual and perennial crops and trees for extractive reserve enrichment should be the most important goal of research.

Extraction of Timber Products

Timber extraction-a subsystem of extraction of forest products-has had accelerated growth during the past 2 decades because of wood scarcity in the extra-Amazon regions of Brazil and in southeastern Asia and because of the increased value of some regional wood species such as mahogany and cerejeira (Amburana acreana) (Yared, 1991).

About 50 percent of Brazil's native forest timber is extracted from the northern region; 85 percent of that is extracted from the state of Para.

Even though timber extraction may be seen as a threat to the region's forest resources, timber is second in economic value only to mineral products in the export market. In 1988, for example, the states of Para and Amapa exported about 500 m³ of wood worth US$150 million (Associacao das Industrias de Madeiras dos Estados do Para e Amapa, 1989). It also contributes significantly to regional employment. Each sawmill employs an average of 34 workers and each veneer and plywood plant employs about 300 workers, contributing to the employment of about 125,000 people in the Brazilian Amazon region in 1989 (this does not include indirect employment) (Yared, 1991).

The only source of timber for the wood industry in the Amazon is native forest. Timber comes from selective logging operations or from deforestation for other purposes (for example, for cattle pasture establishment and shifting agriculture). In areas with high timber extraction pressures, selective logging is characterized by destructive management practices that include incursions into logged forests at intervals too short to allow sufficient time for the biologic regeneration of the forest, resulting in genetic erosion of important species (Yared, 1991). In addition, selective logging is frequently the first step toward the occupation of the logged forest by other land use systems, mainly cattle pastures.

A more recent development is the link between logging and ranching (Uhf et al., In preparation). This link arose because of the high costs involved in reclaiming first-cycle degraded pastures in the Amazon. (First-cycle pastures are those formed after slashing and burning of the primary forest vegetation.) The present cost of pasture reformation is about US$250/ha (Mattos et al., In press), which is too costly because of the high interest on credit and the lack of tax incentives. Therefore, ranchers selectively log their remaining forest segments to finance the formation of second-cycle pastures. (Second-cycle pastures are reformed degraded first-cycle pastures.) The forest now plays a critical role in sustaining cattle-raising activities, which creates pressures for additional deforestation.

Because of logging's important role in the regional ranching economy and in the accumulation of wealth by a new entrepreneurial class, Uhl et al. (1991) evaluated its social and environmental impacts. They concluded that the impacts have been substantial. Even though employment is considerable, those employed in the logging sector spend most of their wages satisfying their basic needs, with little prospect for improving their lives or those of their children.

Logging results in substantial damage to the forest (Uhf et al., 1991). Canopies are opened by 30 percent or more, and 25 trees are damaged for each tree that is harvested. These open conditions favor the growth of vine species, which frequently dominate logged sites for many years.

Economically, technologically, and environmentally, natural forest management for timber extraction has been deficient (Uhf et al., 1991; Yared, 1991). However, there are possibilities for improvement. Technologies developed by the research and development institutions in the region, such as EMBRAPA and SUDAM, are gradually becoming available. For example, in the polycyclic system (Yared, 1991), timber extraction is planned in such a way as to minimize irreversible damage to the forest. Experiences with large-scale operations of this system show that it is possible to log about 40 m³ of wood per ha at a cost of about US$10/m3, including transportation to distances of up to 100 km. Since the price of logged timber varies between US$9.50/ m³ (light wood) and US$17.5/m3 (heavy, dark wood, the type that contributes to 90 percent of total extracted volume), extraction by this system is profitable (Yared, 1991).

Even though the actual and potential environmental effects of logging are considerable (Uhf et al., 1991), research results show that logged forests in the Amazon have satisfactory resilience (Yared, 1991). Although the opening of the forest canopy after selective logging favors the growth of a larger number of trees with low economic value, the regeneration of presently and potentially valuable trees is adequate, allowing for new harvests in the future. On the basis of the polycyclic method of sustained timber production systems (de Graaf and Poels, 1990), simulation studies show that an adequate volume of wood is expected 30 years after logging (Silva, 1989) and that the expected volume can be doubled or even tripled if appropriate silvicultural treatments are carried out during and after logging. In this system, for a continuous annual supply of wood (as logs) of about 30 million m³ (demand in 1987 was 24.6 million m³) and considering harvest cycles of 30 years and average extraction of 40 m³/ ha, it would be necessary to immobilize an area of about 22 million ha, which represents almost 10 percent of the total dense forest area of the Amazon. With this system, timber production presumably would not require additional deforestation.

Use of a sustainable management system for timber extraction is far from being realistic. There are serious restrictions to the proposed sustainable native timber extraction management system for adoption on a commercial scale (Pearce, 1990). There are biologic restrictions because of low humid tropical forest growth rates, resulting in unfeasible time spans between harvests, and there are economic restrictions because of high-interest bank loans, management is costly, returns on capital investments are long term, and minimum-sized forests are too large to rotate. This ties up capital in an inflationary economy with high rates of interest. Therefore, sawmills prefer to buy wood from occasional independent suppliers.

Forest timber resources are abundant and cheap in the Brazilian humid tropics. Therefore, there is little incentive on the part of the industry to engage in constructive management (Uhf et al., 1991). Management will only begin to make sense if or when forest timber resources become scarce. Then, timber industries will be able to manage timber forest resources for sustainable yields and still possibly make profits. Although this is not occurring at present, sustainable timber exploration in the Amazon may be possible in the future.

According to Uhl et al. (1991), government policies that encourage sustainable management for timber exploration should be designed to make timber resources artificially scarce. This could be done by allowing logging only in designated areas of state forests and prohibiting sawmill owners from relocating their operations. In turn, each sawmill could be given a license to log a specified area of forest adequate for supplying the mill indefinitely, if it were properly managed. In the meantime, enforceable guidelines should be developed. These guidelines should specify how logging and management operations should be conducted.

Research should concentrate on the search for feasible sustainable extraction (methods that will result in the minimum wastage of timber and other nontimber forest resources) of native forest timber products and on the domestication of presently and potentially important high-value timber-producing trees.

Shifting Agriculture in Upland Areas

Shifting (slash-and-burn) agriculture is still probably the most important land use system in the region; it still accounts for at least 80 percent of the region's total food production. It is also important because of the number of people who depend on it directly and indirectly. Yet, despite its importance to the regional macroeconomy, its feasibility has declined with the declining process of agricultural frontier expansion because of deforestation restrictions, increasing consolidation of already existing poles of development, and increasing demographic density and the consequent increasing food demand and land prices (see Figure 1). Under these conditions, long fallow periods- the prime condition necessary for maintaining the agronomic sustainability of the system-are not as feasible as before, and in the long run, shifting agriculture will be replaced naturally by more intensive land use systems.

From the socioeconomic point of view in Brazil, and particularly in the Amazon, annual subsistence crops (mainly cassava, beans, malva, rice, and maize) are connected with those small-scale farmers who have lower standards of living (Kitamura, 1982). Higher standards of living are necessary for increasing the sustainability of shifting agriculture. Nakajima's (1970) classification of the agricultural properties of small farms can be used to illustrate this point (Figure 3): on the basis of the rate of production by the family and the rate of participation of family labor, Nakajima classified properties as those dedicated exclusively to subsistence production and those dedicated exclusively to commercial production. In the Brazilian humid tropics, the first situation is rarely found, except in indigenous communities. On the other hand, very few shifting-agriculture farmers are dedicated exclusively to production commercialization.

Figure 3

Improvement in socioeconomic sustainability is possible for commercial family or nonfamily properties. However, limiting factors such as the prevailing inadequate infrastructural and technological conditions impose severe constraints on improvement efforts. Therefore, although favoring equity in income distribution among those who practice it, shifting agriculture offers few possibilities for socio-economic improvements (Alves, 1988; Alvim, 1989; Homma and Serrao, In preparation).

An evaluation of small farms in the eastern Amazon (Burger and Kitamura, 1987) suggests that external factors such as population pressure, integration of a market economy, and cultural and technological influences are disrupting small-farm production systems, causing their degradation in three dimensions-namely, ecologic degradation as a consequence of shorter fallow periods, resulting in low, unstable, and undiversified production; economic degradation caused by unfavorable price relations for basic food products that are controlled by the government and that prevent agricultural modernization (Alvim, 1989); and human resource degradation as a result of insufficient work force replacement because of low levels of nutrition and formal and informal education as well as the loss of skilled labor to urban areas.

From the biologic point of view, annual crops such as rice, maize, cassava, beans, and sugarcane demand substantial quantities of soil nutrients for satisfactory yields (Goodland and Irwin, 1975), but Amazon upland soils are generally dystrophic, and the environment is favorable for pests and diseases that affect cultivated plants. Improved adapted varieties and cultural practices that include minimum amounts of agricultural inputs (mainly fertilizers and pesticides) are needed to improve agronomic sustainability.

Although some technological improvements may be achieved, however, incorporation of technology by small-scale food crop farmers has been practically nil. According to Pastore (1977), ignorance, impotence, and lack of interest are the main factors limiting the use of new technological developments by Brazilian small-scale farmers. First, farmers are unaware of the available new technologies. Second, even though they have a reasonable knowledge of new technologies, they cannot adopt them because of cultural and socioeconomic restrictions. Third, although they are aware of and are able to adopt new agricultural techniques, small-scale farmers prefer to take other courses of action.

Despite its low sustainability levels and the tendency that it will disappear in the remote future because of population pressures and other factors (see Figure 1), shifting agriculture will continue to be an important agricultural land use system in the Amazon. Therefore, it is necessary to raise the socioeconomic standards of farmers who practice it. An increase in the level of their income from agricultural activities may be accomplished by encouraging them to use improved technologies with as few inputs as possible and by making appropriate credit available.

Reductions in the cycle of shifting agriculture would also considerably reduce ecologic disturbances. For example, by cropping 2 ha for 3 years instead of 2 years, silent deforestation (as discussed above) would be reduced by about 30 percent. Annual food crop production models, such as the Yurimagua model (Nicholaides et al., 1985; Sanchez et al., 1982), which involves intensive land use, including fertilizers, need to be implemented in the Brazilian humid tropics, as long as they are adjusted to the socioeconomic environment of the region (Fearnside, 1987).

Research support should be directed toward a gradual transformation of shifting agriculture into more sustainable agroforestry and even agropastoral systems, thus preventing farmers who practice shifting agriculture from being displaced from their lands. Research should focus on the development of annual and perennial crop varieties and their integrated utilization in agroforestry systems to improve the sustainability of upland agriculture by small farmers in the Brazilian humid tropics.

Varzea Floodplain Agriculture

Varzea floodplain agricultural systems, which have mainly been developed along the floodable margins of the Amazon River and its tributaries with their muddy, sediment-rich waters, can also be considered systems of shifting agriculture because they have some common features such as slash-and-burn practices, growth of predominantly annual food crops, and small-scale farmers with similar socioeconomic situations.

There are differences, however. Floodplain vegetation is less heterogeneous and includes large tracts of herbaceous, mostly grassy vegetation. Floodplain soils are more fertile than upland soils. Shifting cycles are considerably shorter in floodplains than they are in uplands because of higher soil fertility. Floodplains are subject to an annual flooding and receding cycle, with its consequent flooding risks. Agricultural activities complement subsistence fishing activities in the floodplain system; jute and malva as fiber are important products of floodplain agriculture.

Typically, agricultural practices consist first of selectig areas of the floodplain with the least probability of being totally flooded during the high-water season. Then, the arboreal and herbaceous vegetation is cleared and burned during the dry season, and crops are planted in the beginning of the rainy season and harvested before the onset of the following dry season. Soil fertility conditions allow these same operations to be carried out for years on the same patch of land.

On average, if atypical floodings are not a limiting factor and minimal cultural management is practiced, yields can be considerably higher than those in the standard upland shifting agricultural system.

The possibility of agronomic sustainability of floodplain food crop agriculture is certainly higher than that in uplands, mainly because of more favorable soil conditions. However, weed invasion, pests, and diseases and the risks of flooding are serious constraints to agronomic sustainability.

Socioeconomic sustainability, though, is lower than that in the upland shifting agricultural system because of deficient basic infrastructural conditions (education, health, transportation) in the floodplain areas. In particular, commercialization of agricultural products is deficient because river transportation from the interior to the commercial centers is slow and generally precarious. To counterbalance this situation, however, floodplain farmers can get most of their dietary animal protein needs from fish.

At the present levels of demographic density and low technological intensity, the ecologic sustainability of the floodplain agricultural system is satisfactory because the extent and intensity of clearing and burning are relatively low.

It has been emphasized that the Amazon's varzea floodplains should be used as an alternative to intensive agricultural production (mainly annual food crops) in forested areas, thus reducing the pressure of silent deforestation brought about by the shifting agricultural system in upland regions (Lima, 1956; Nascimento and Homma, 1984). To date, this possibility has been explored mostly on paper and in conferences and debates within political and scientific communities. This certainly can and must be achieved with technological improvements involving better crop cultivars for appropriate production systems under either controlled or uncontrolled water conditions and an appropriate socioeconomic environment for development of this system.

Intensive agricultural production in the floodplains would involve intensive pest and disease control. Therefore, precautions should be taken to avoid agrotoxic water pollution in streams and lakes. This type of water pollution could cause serious, unpredictable environmental consequences (Goulding, 1980).

If the development described above is to take place, research must concentrate on the development of production systems with minimum inputs and with the least possible damage to the aquatic ecosystem of the floodplains.

Cattle Raising on Pastures that Have Replaced Forests

A major agricultural development in the Brazilian humid tropics has been the turning of rain forests into pastures to raise cattle. This was a result of the road construction developments that began in the mid-1960s. This type of land use system has been seriously questioned in view of its agronomical-zootechnical, socioeconomic, and, principally, ecologic implications (Browder, 1988). It has been blamed for being the main cause of environmental degradation and for being infeasible biologically and socioeconomically (Fearnside, 1983, 1990; Hecht, 1983; Hecht et al., 1988). It is defended, however, as being an adequate activity for opening frontiers for development and making good use of the available land and labor force (Falesi, 1976; Montoro Filho et al., 1989).

Analyses that contemplate more recent, improved pasture-based cattle raising developments point toward the possibility of increasing levels of sustainability (Serrao, 1991; Serrao and Toledo, 1990, In press). The economic and ecologic sustainability of the cattle raising activities that have replaced forests in the Amazon depends to a large extent on the sustainability of the pastures. In general, it is agreed that zootechnical (animal component) sustainability is much less limiting than agronomic (pasture) sustainability is. Beef cattle (mainly zebu) breeds are well adapted to the Brazilian humid tropics, where parasites and diseases are less limiting to beef cattle than are other environmental conditions in the country (Serrao, 1991).

In general, during the first 3 to 4 years after the first-cycle pasture formation by cutting and burning forest biomass and then sowing grass seeds, primary pasture production is relatively high, supporting stocking rates of up to two 300-kg (live weight) head of cattle per ha. After that period, a gradual but fairly rapid decline in productivity takes place. This is accompanied by weed encroachment and results in an advanced stage of degradation that occurs between 7 and 10 years after pasture establishment. It is estimated that, to date, at least 50 percent (about 10 million ha) of the total first-cycle pastures formed in the past 25 years have reached advanced stages of degradation (Serrao, 1990, 1991). At this stage, the carrying capacity cannot exceed 0.3 head of cattle (100 kg [live weight]) per ha. The average carrying capacity of first-cycle pastures during their life cycle is about 0.7 head per ha (Mattos et al., In press), which is considered too low for improved pasture standards.

In their average 6- to 7-year productive life, first-cycle pastures have produced as much as 250 to 300 kg of beef. This level of productivity is very low, especially when it is compared with those of other agricultural products, such as cassava, rice, maize, beans, cacao, and Brazil nuts, in terms of protein and energy production as well as monetary value per unit area (Mattos et al., In press).

These problems, which have resulted in low levels of sustainability, were typical of cattle raising activities in the 1960s and 1970s. The 1980s was the beginning of a new and more sustainable cattle raising trend in forested areas. The knowledge obtained from research in the late 1970s and early 1980s made it evident that first-cycle pasture degradation is caused by an interrelation of environmental, technological, and socioeconomic constraints. Environmental constraints included low soil fertility, with phosphorus being the main limiting factor; high biotic pressures, principally of insects (spittle bugs, for the most part) and weed aggressiveness; and water stress. Technological constraints included low adaptability of pioneer forage grasses (mainly guinea grass, Brachiaria decumbens, and Hyparrhenia rufa), poor pasture establishment and management, nonutilization of forage legumes, and fertilization. Socioeconomic constraints included unfavorable input/product ratios, inadequate development policies, land speculation, and deficient governmental and nongovernmental technical support. Beginning in the early 1980s, however, progressive ranchers began to adopt technological innovations in the search for higher levels of sustainability in their operations. Thus, a significant proportion of first-cycle pastures that were formed from the use of better-adapted forages such as B. humidicola, B. brizantha cultivar Marandu, and Andropogon gayanus cultivar Planaltina had considerably higher levels of agronomic sustainability than those formed in the 1960s and 1970s.

Higher land use intensification in cattle development areas in the Amazon was induced by considerable reductions in tax incentives and subsidies for cattle in the past decade, the increased area of degradation of first-cycle pastures, increasing pressures for environmental preservation, the increased availability of scientific knowledge and technologies for pasture production, the decreased availability of for est areas in already established ranching projects, increasing population density in already established development poles, and consequent increases in land prices (see Figure 1).

With land use intensification, much degraded first-cycle pastureland has been converted to second-cycle pastures. In this second-cycle pasture generation, more modern agricultural technologies are being used. These technologies include mechanization for preparation and seeding of degraded pasturelands, soil fertilization, better forage grasses higher-quality forage seeds, and improved pasture management. Official data are not available, but Serrao (1991) estimated that at leas] 10 percent of the total degraded first-cycle pastures formed to date have been reclaimed and converted to second-cycle pastures. De spite the recent improvements in pasture sustainability, socioeconomic environmental, and agronomic constraints are still pending for the expansion of second-cycle pastures. One aspect is the high cost involved with transforming degraded pastures to second-cycle pastures. High-interest governmental and private bank credit has induced the logging and ranching link (Mattos et al., In press). This link is one more driving force toward deforestation. This constraint may be minimized by the utilization of cash crops (such as maize, rice, and beans) in association with forage grasses and legumes in the process of second-cycle pasture establishment. Returns from growing cash crops can considerably reduce the cost of pasture establishment (Veiga, 1986), minimize the need for the logging and ranching link, and add more to the subsistence food supply in the region.

Second-cycle pastures will continue to be monoculture open pastures with low levels of biomass accumulation; however, is it correct to keep searching for higher levels of sustainability for cattle raising in the humid tropics on the basis of the traditional pasture systems (open monoculture pastures) used in the region? It is known that the monoculture-whether domesticated, naturalized, or exotic-that has replaced the humid tropical forest without taking into account its environmental (climatic, edaphic, and biotic) adversities and its great biodiversity has had serious agronomic sustainability limitations. This is the case, for example, for rubber, cacao, black pepper, and more recently, African oil palm. In the case of pastures, it is probable that the dissemination of spittle bugs (the most economically significant pasture insect pest) has been the result of extensive deforestation to form monoculture pastures of Brachiaria decumbens in the early 1970s, B. humidicola, and other, less important Brachiaria species.

In view of this environmental and socioeconomic scenario, there should be a search for alternative models of pasture-based cattle raising systems that can be agronomically, ecologically, and socioeconomically more sustainable than those in use. Within that context are the agrisilvopastoral systems. These systems are defined by King and Chandler (1978) as agricultural production systems in which arboreal and nonarboreal crops are grown simultaneously or sequentially in planned association with annual food crops and/or pastures. They have recently claimed the attention of research and commercial agricultural operations.

By this integrated approach, high levels of sustainability are expected as follows:

· Agronomically-reduction of risks caused by pests and diseases and improved cycling and, consequently, better utilization of nutrients;
· Economically-different sources of income;
· Socially-production of different products, more direct and indirect employment opportunities, higher levels of labor specialization; and
· Ecologically-higher levels of biomass accumulation, improvement in the hydrological balance, improvement in soil conservation, and improved environmental conditions for micro- and macroflora and -fauna (Serrao and Toledo, In press).

It is expected that the pasture-based integrated approach will be significantly implemented during the 1990s in the process of reclamation of already degraded pasturelands and that this approach will be a common practice in the first decade of the next century (Serrao, 1991).

With technological intensification and the consequent improvement in the sustainability of forest-replacing pastures, complemented by more efficient utilization of the native grassland ecosystem (see below), productivity from cattle raising operations in the Amazon can be doubled or tripled. Therefore, from the technical point of view, no more than 50 percent of the area already used for cattle raising is actually necessary to meet the regional demand for beef, milk, and other agricultural products at least through the 1990s. If this is correct, and given the relatively favorable resilience of degraded pasture ecosystems (Buschbacher et al., 1988; Uhl el al., 1988, 1990b), a considerable amount of already degraded pastureland can be reclaimed or regenerated toward forest formation and biomass accumulation (Nepstad et al., 1990,1991).

Although there has been some progress in increasing the sustainability of cattle raising operations on forest-replacing pastures in the Brazilian humid tropics, from a technological point of view, insufficient adapted forage germplasm is probably the most important constraint to continued progress. The main priority of applied research should be to correct this problem by developing adapted cultivars of grasses and legumes. This should be combined with additional applied research efforts for designing and implementing integrated agrisilvopastoral systems (Serrao and Toledo, 1990, In press; Veiga and Serrao, 1990). Applied research is also necessary to develop a means of restoring forest biomass in degraded pasturelands, especially through the strategic introduction of high-value timber and fruit trees to provide some economic return from the regeneration process.

More sustainable future development of cattle raising on forest-replacing pasture systems should be based on high-knowledge and low-input land use systems. Basic research is essential for this and studies should be concentrated on the ecology of the weed community in regional pastures, the biotic and abiotic mechanisms of forest regeneration in degraded pasture, the phosphorus cycling mechanism in pasture ecosystems, and the microbiology of soil organisms in pastures, especially in relation to Rhizobium species and mycorrhizae.

Cattle Raising on Native Grassland Ecosystems

Before the advent of pasture development in forested areas in the 1960s, cattle raising in the Brazilian Amazon was carried out almost exclusively on native grassland ecosystems with varied botanical, hydrological, edaphic, and productivity characteristics (Serrao, 1986b). After the more-negative-than-positive results of cattle raising on forest-replacing pastures and the need to minimize the pressure of cattle raising on new segments of forested areas, the emphasis is on the importance of native grasslands. Native grasslands can complement more sustainable and more intensive pasture development in already explored forested areas.

Nascimento and Homma (1984) and Serrao (1986b) estimate that there are between 50 and 75 million ha of land in the Brazilian humid tropics with varying gradients of herbaceous and arboreal vegetation and with varying grazing potentials. Serrao (1991) estimates that these lands carry about 6 million head of cattle but could potentially carry 30 million head. Economically, the most important ecosystems are well-drained cerrado-type savannah grasslands with varying herbaceous and arboreal gradients, poorly drained cerrado-type savannah grasslands with varying flooding gradients, and varzea floodplain grasslands (Serrao, 1986b).

WDSG correspond to the typical cerrado grassland. WDSG have little edaphic and floristic variation, are found in smaller patches where the forest's vegetation is interrupted, and have varying gradients of herbaceous and arboreal strata.

The herbaceous stratum is of major interest for animal production. It is mainly made up of grasses of the genera Andropogon, Eragrostis, Trachypogon, Paspalum, and Mesosetum and, on a much smaller scale, of legumes of the genera Stylosanthes, Desmodium, Zornia, and Centrosema (Coradin, 1978; Eden, 1964; Serrao and Simao Neto, 1975).

One of the main limitations of WDSG for cattle production is its low forage productivity. Available data (Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Development, 1980, 1990) indicate that primary production of WDSG herbaceous extracts rarely exceeds 5 metric tons of dry matter per ha. Consequently, the carrying capacity varies from 4 to 10 ha per animal unit (AU) (1 AU equals 450 kg live weight), which is very low. The low nutritive value of the available forage is the main limitation of WDSG. Even under the most favorable conditions, during the rainy season, available forage, protein, phosphorus, and dry matter digestibility of the grasses in WDSG are below standard critical levels for beef production (Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research, 1990; National Research Council, 1976; Serrao and Falesi, 1977).

Serrao and Falesi (1977) suggest that the low productivity and quality of WDSG are related to the low levels of soil fertility in the ecosystem and the high rate and speed of lignification of the available grasses in the herbaceous stratum. These constraints are accentuated during the dry season, when the contributions of native legumes are probably insignificant because of their sparse presence in the ecosystem. The use of fire to burn WDSG toward the end of the dry season helps to alleviate the low-quality constraint for at least the first 2 or 3 months of the following growing season (Serrao, 1986b). Despite its economic and ecologic importance, research on the burning of WDSG has been neglected.

Cattle raising productivity in the WDSG of the Brazilian humid tropics can be increased by more intensive utilization of the natural ecosystem per se and by supplemental feeding of cattle on nearby improved cultivated pastures. These types of pastures provide higher production and quality potentials, have a positive effect on increasing the carrying capacity of the land, and reduce the problem of low quality in the system as a whole (Serrao, 1986b; Serrao and Falesi, 1977). Selection of adapted improved grasses such as Brachiaria humidicola, B. decumbens, B. brizantha cultivar Marandu, and Andropogon gayanus cultivar Planaltina as well as research on pasture fertilization have contributed to increased WDSG productivity (Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research, 1980; Serrao, 1986b).

Despite their inherent low productivity, WDSG have relatively high levels of ecologic and agronomic sustainability because of their resilience after burning disturbances, the very low soil fertility conditions, and the relatively harsh climatic conditions that prevail in the ecosystem. To date, however, socioeconomic sustainability has been marginal.

Applied research must be prioritized for the selection of adapted and more productive forage germplasm, pasture establishment and management, mineral supplementation, and fire management in the native savannah. Basic research should concentrate on physical and biologic characterization and on water stress pressures in WDSG.

FPG ecosystems are found mainly in association with "white" muddy-water rivers. The Amazon River is the main contributor to their formation, as are other tributaries whose waters are rich in the organic and mineral sediments deposited annually on the floodplains when river waters recede (Sioli, 1951a,b).

Prototype FPG (Figure 4) have mainly been developed along the lower and mid-Amazon River regions. They are also found, on a smaller scale, on Marajo Island and in the state of Amapa. The predominant soils are fertile alluvial inceptisols, which generally support a herbaceous vegetation with high productivity and quality potential. "Amphibian" grasses, that float when the water is high and thrive on the restingas (the highest part of the varzea ecosystem) in the dry season after the water recedes, are dominant (Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research, 1990). The amphibian grasses Echinochloa polystachya, Hymenachne amplexicaulis, Leersia hexandra, Luziola spruceana, Paspalum fasciculatum, Oryza species, and Paspalum repens are the most important from the standpoint of animal production (Brazilian Enter prise for Agricultural Research, 1990; Serrao, 1986b; Serrao and Falesi, 1977; Serrao and Simao Neto, 1975).

Figure 4

In addition to being the main source of feed for cattle, the importance of FPG has increased as interest has increased in raising water buffaloes because of their proved higher efficiency in utilizing floodplain grasslands (da Costa et al., 1987; Nascimento and Moura Carvalho, In press).

FPG produce relatively high levels of forage, up to 20 metric tons or more of forage dry matter per ha, depending on the flooding gradient (Camarao et al., 1991; Serrao, 1986b). The forage quality of FPG is considerably higher than that of WDSG and is similar or superior to that of upland sown pastures. Daily live weight gains of between 400 and 600 g for cattle and water buffaloes are fairly common, mainly during the dry season (September through February), when grazing conditions are adequate (Camarao et al., 1991; da Costa et al., 1987; Serrao, 1986b).

The agronomic sustainability of FPG is high because of the favorable edaphic and hydrologic conditions of varzea and varzea-like ecosystems. Forage production potential is higher in the dry season, when adjacent upland native (savannah-type) and cultivated pastures have less available forage and are lower in quality. Utilization of FPG during the flooding season (March through August) is difficult, resulting in poor animal performance and the frequent loss of animals, mainly cattle, since water buffaloes are better able to thrive under partial flooding conditions.

The high-productivity (dry season)/low-productivity (flood season) fluctuations of FPG affect their economic sustainability because animals are ready for market only when they are 48 to 54 months old. Results of recent research (da Costa et al., 1987; Serrao et al., In preparation) and from commercial operations indicate that the integration of improved upland pastures of Brachiaria species, mainly B. humidicola (for grazing in the wet season), with adjacent FPG (which are grazed in the dry season) can considerably increase production and the economic sustainability of cattle raising activities in FPG. These integrated systems reduce the age at which cattle are ready for market by as much as 40 percent (da Costa et al., 1987; Serrao et al., In preparation).

Cattle raising on FPG has the potential for more intensive production with a more favorable socioeconomic environment. Owners of small- and medium-sized farms are the main practitioners of this activity, but the main constraint on sustainability in agricultural development in the floodplains of Brazil's humid tropics is the lack of a better socioeconomic environment for the farmers.

Research is needed to obtain higher levels of technical sustainability for cattle raising in FPG. Research should concentrate on more efficient means of managing FPG per se and on the selection of better-adapted and more-productive forages for pasture establishment and utilization in upland areas adjacent to FPGs.

PDSG are drainage-deficient native grasslands typical of the eastern part of Marajo Island in the state of Para (Figure 5). A typical PDSG ecosystem is frequently associated with FPG when the PDSG is in its more humid gradient. (In Figure 5, gradients G1 and G2 correspond to the WDSG ecosystem, and gradient G3 is similar to the FPG ecosystem [Serrao, 1986b].) Inceptisols (mainly groundwater laterites), entisols (mostly groundwater podzolic soils and quartz sands), and oxisols (latosols) are the predominant soils. Herbaceous, grassy vegetation is predominant in the ecosystem. Grasses of the genera Axonopus, Andropogon, Trachypogon, Eragrostis, Eleusine, Paspalum, and Panicum are the main components in gradients G1 and G2, while those of the genera Eriochloa, Echinochloa, Hymenachne, Leersia, Luziola, and Oryza tend to dominate in gradient G3.

Figure 5

Various gradients of PDSG occupy about 2 million ha (Organization of American States and Instituto do Desenvolvimento Economico e Social do Para, 1974) of the eastern portion of Marajo Island, where cattle raising has been the main activity for the past 300 years (Teixeira, 1953). More than 1 million head of cattle and water buffalo are grazed on PDSG, mostly in cow-calf operations. PDSG are intermediate between WDSG and FPG for cattle production. Productivity is generally low. The annual primary productivities of gradients G1 and G2 (Figure 5) are rarely higher than 6 metric tons of dry matter per ha, and their carrying capacities vary from 3 to 5 ha/AU (Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research, 1980; Organization of American States and Instituto do Desenvolvimento Economico e Social do Para, 1974; Teixeira Neto and Serrao, 1984). Although the forage quality of PDSG is slightly higher than that of WDSG, it is intrinsically low, ;resulting in relatively low animal performance (Serrao, 1986b).

As in WDSG, low levels of productivity and quality of PDSG are associated with low levels of soil fertility, although, because of higher soil moisture levels during most of the year in gradients G1 and G2, pasture productivity and quality in PDSG tend to be somewhat higher than in WDSG (Serrao, 1986b).

PDSG on Marajo Island are subjected to strong seasonal climatic fluctuations. This results in corresponding seasonal forage and animal production fluctuations that, in turn, considerably extend the age at which cattle are ready for market. Therefore, cattle are finished on improved upland forest-replacing pastures on lands other than on the Island.

Despite the above-mentioned floristic, edaphic, hydrological, and management limitations, PDSG have good potential for extensive cattle raising activities. The resilience of PDSG in light of edaphic, climatic, and management constraints is high, resulting in relatively high agronomic and ecologic sustainabilities.

Typically, cattle raising on PDSG is carried out by a few employees and their families on large ranches owned by individual proprietors. The employees generally have low socioeconomic standards of living, which renders low levels of socioeconomic sustainability to the system.

Because of ecologic limitations on Marajo Island, cattle raising on PDSG has reached its limit for expansion. However, research results (Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Development, 1980; Marques et al., 1980; Teixeira Neto and Serrao, 1984) indicate that there is room for sustainable increased production by intensifying the utilization of PDSG or, as with WDSG, by replacing patches of native savannahs in gradients G1 and G2 with more productive improved pastures to qualitatively and quantitatively supplement the native pasture.

Additional research is necessary to promote more sustainable use of PDSG. Basic research is needed to generate knowledge on the ecology and ecophysiology of the native grassland for its sustainable use. Applied research efforts should concentrate on the selection of adapted and more productive pasture grasses and legumes, mainly for gradients G1 and G2 (see Figure 5), mineral supplementation, and native savannah grassland management.

Perennial Crop Agriculture

Perennial crop farming has been considered an ideal model for agriculture in the Brazilian humid tropics as a means of minimizing local environmental disturbances and maintaining the ecologic equilibrium in the region (Alvim, 1978).

Ecologically, perennial crops-as well as forest and agroforestry plantations-are the closest to natural forests in their efficiency in protecting the soil from erosion, leaching, and compaction (Alvim, 1989). In addition, in comparison with short-cycle crops, perennial crops have lower demand for soil nutrients, because of their efficient soil nutrient recycling mechanisms, and higher tolerance to high acidity and aluminum toxicity, which are common limitations of about 80 percent of Amazonian soils (Nicholaides et al., 1985).

The potential of perennial crops in the agricultural development of the humid tropics has been underestimated or neglected. Although there are ecologic and agronomic reasons for being optimistic, there are important considerations limiting economic sustainability, since for most of the important perennial crop products, there is limited market potential, which is a constraint for large-scale plantations.

Although perennial crops are recognized as having fairly high levels of agronomic sustainability, high biotic pressure caused by the variety of pests and diseases these crops are plagued by is probably the most limiting factor in the Brazilian humid tropics (Morals, 1988). Leaf blight disease (caused by the fungus Microcyclus ulei, which attacked rubber tree plantations in the 1930s) continues to be a major limiting factor of rubber tree plantations today. Fusariose, or dry rot (caused by the fungus Fusarium solani f. sp. piperis), has caused serious agronomic and economic problems to the black pepper industry for many years. Witchbroom disease (caused by the fungus Crinipellis perniciosa), which affects cacao; and, more recently, the fatal yellowing disease of African oil palm (caused by an unknown pathogen) have been serious threats to the agronomic and economic sustainabilities of important perennial crops.

The social sustainability of perennial crop agriculture may be high (Alvim, 1989; Fearnside, 1983). These crops are appropriate to both small and large operations and are labor intensive, generating high levels of employment in small areas. However, profits are marginal (Flohrschutz, 1983) and cannot finance the infrastructural adaptation and economic and ecologic changes necessary for prolonged sustainability of the land use system.

A major limitation to expanding perennial crop plantations in the Amazon is the market dimension. Regional experiences have shown rapid market saturation for products such as black pepper and urucu (Bixa orellana). This market saturation creates serious economic sustainability problems for those land use systems. Use of only a small fraction of the Amazon for perennial crop production may saturate national and international markets. For example, 200,000 ha of rubber tree plantations would be enough to make Brazil self-sufficient in natural rubber, 160,000 ha of cacao plantations would be enough for the Amazon region to contribute 50 percent of the Brazilian cacao production, and 10,000 ha of guarana is sufficient to saturate national and international markets. Growth of the black pepper market is subject to the rate of population growth. These considerations also apply to Brazil nuts, coffee, and African oil palm.

Present and potential national and international timber markets seem to be unlimited. Therefore, timber production in reforestation projects should be emphasized and stimulated, whether directly in homogeneous plantations or indirectly in integrated agroforestry and silvopastoral (pasture, animal, and tree) systems.

In addition to the presently economically important perennial plants, there are many others in the forest that also are or may be important as fruit, medicinal, timber, fiber, and oil products. These products need to be domesticated for future plantation or agroforestry land use systems. Association of perennial crops with other plants with shorter cycles, and even pastures, should reduce the biologic risks and make the system more accommodating to market fluctuations.

Research will be the basis for more sustainable perennial crop systems. Economically important diseases of the present high-value perennial crops must be the priority of applied and basic research. Emphasis should also be given to research of the domestication of potential high-value perennial crops and to the definition of production systems.


Agroforestry systems (AFSs) have recently been examined as land use systems that will use land resources in the Brazilian humid tropics more sustainably. They should gradually replace or be associated with present extensive low-sustainability land use systems such as open monoculture pasture-based cattle raising systems, upland shifting agricultural systems, and extractive forest reserves. Possible combinations of AFSs are presented in Figure 6. The reasons for this emphasis of AFSs are as follows.

· AFSs may increase the productive capacity of certain agricultural lands that have had reduced productive capacity because of mismanagement that resulted in compaction and loss of fertility.

Figure 6 Possible combinations involving annual and perennial crops with trees and cattle raising. Source: Homma, A.K.O., and E.A.S. Serrao. In preparation. Sera Possivel a Agricultura Autosustentada na Amazonia?

· AFSs allow the growth of combinations of species with different demands for energy, resulting in the more efficient use of solar energy because of the vertical stratification of associated plants. If the association includes leguminous plants, soil fertility can also be increased.

· In AFSs, crop diversification reduces biologic risks and is more adaptable to market fluctuations. The introduction of a tree component in annual or perennial cropping systems or in cattle-raising systems may favor the replacement of unsustainable slash-and-burn agricultural systems.

AFSs present peculiarities in relation to market, technological practices, farm administration, and management. For example, the rubber tree-cacao systems recommended by research institutions result in yield reductions, in relation to the single-crop system, of about 75 percent for rubber and 50 percent for cacao. From the market point of view, between 100,000 to 120,000 ha of rubber plantation in production is needed today to neutralize rubber imports, while the market for cacao is fairly restricted.

Anderson et al. (1985) described and analyzed a commercial AFS with relatively high levels of sustainability that is being developed by riverbank dwellers. This system is based on the extraction of forest products with and without management and is being developed in a periodically inundated varzea floodplain of the Amazon River estuary, in the vicinity of Belem, where it is difficult to use conventional agricultural practices. The main activities in the system include hunting, fishing, raising of small domestic animals, and harvesting of fruits, heart of palm, wood, organic fertilizer, ornamental plants, latex, fibers, oil-bearing seeds, and medicinals. These products are sold in the Belem farmer's open market. This is an example of a semiextractive agroforestry system in which a proportion of the economically valuable trees in the system are domesticated or semidomesticated.

An important example of sustainable agroforestry agriculture is one developed by Japanese immigrants and their offspring (Nippo-Brazilian farmers) who have farmed remote forest regions of the Amazon Basin since the late 1920s (Subler and Uhl, 1990). In the mid-1950s black pepper fusariose became the most serious constraint to sustainability of black pepper production, the main activity of those farmers at the time. In the early 1970s these farmers had to diversify their agricultural systems.

Nippo-Brazilian farmers have replaced most of their black pepper agriculture with diverse agroforestry arrangements. Farmers rely on intensive cultivation, producing a diversity of high-value cash crops through mixed cropping of perennial plants. These plants include a wide variety of perennial trees (such as cacao, rubber, cupuacu [Theobroma grandiflorum], graviola [Annorta muricata], papaya, avocado, mango, and Brazil nut) and palms (such as acai [Euterpe oleracea], coconut, oil palm, peach palm), shrubs and vines (pineapple, Barbados cherry [Malpighia glabral, banana, coffee, passion fruit, black pepper, and urucu), and annuals (such as cotton, cowpea beans, pumpkin, cassava, melon, pepper, cucumber, cabbage) (Subler and Uhl, 1990).

Most farms are operated by single families, and the average size is between 100 and 150 ha. On average, however, each farm cultivates only about 20 ha (Flohrschutz et al., 1983). The rest of the area is generally in secondary forest regeneration, following pepper field abandonment or previous slash-and-burn activity, or is undisturbed forest. Figure 7 shows a typical Nippo-Brazilian agroforestry farm in Tome-Acu.

Figure 7

Nippo-Brazilian AFSs (NBAFSs) rely on fairly heavy inputs of chemical and organic fertilizers, although the amounts tend to decrease as the trees in the systems reach maturity. There is also a high labor requirement. A typical farm with about 20 ha in cultivation uses approximately six to eight full-time laborers, which, together with inputs, also make capital investments high (Subler and Uhl, 1990).

The basis for the success of those systems is largely constant experimentation with innovative techniques and the use of cooperative marketing systems. From an overall analysis of these systems, Subler and Uhl (1990) came to the following conclusions about NBAFSs:

· NBAFSs are conservative of forest and soil resources, requiring relatively small-scale forest clearing and maintaining soil fertility for a long time.

· The long-term sustainability of NBAFSs may be questionable since there is a trend toward increasing fertilizer and energy prices.

· Even though transportation is a limiting factor to the development of NBAFSs in remote frontier areas, they may be largely used with the increasing road network in the region.

· Rather than displacing rural inhabitants, NBAFSs use local human resources, but their high labor requirements make them vulnerable to labor shortages and increasing labor costs.

· Even though the high prices received for crops such as cacao, black pepper, passion fruit, and rubber make up for the heavy capital investments required by NBAFSs, market saturation may be a limiting factor for large-scale adoption of the system.

· Some form of institutional support through training, credit, and community services seems to be necessary to encourage the adoption of NBAFSs by Brazilian small-scale farmers.

In the case of silvopastoral systems, as trees grow taller, integrated management difficulties become more evident. For example, fire outbreaks cannot be overlooked, since fire may be a major limitation for arboreal vegetation. According to Veiga and Serrao (1990), the success of integration depends mainly on the equilibrium of the interaction among the animal, tree, and pasture components. The competition for light, water, and nutrients between tree and pasture must be well understood.

Silvopastoral systems are in their initial stages of development in the Amazon. Most of those land use systems are concentrated in the eastern state of Para on small- and medium-sized properties, where Veiga and Serrao (1990) found associations of rubber, coconut, African oil palm, cashew, urucu, pine, mango, and Brazil nut trees with strata of grasses and legumes for cattle grazing. They observed that the main management and sustainability limitations of the varied integrated system are related to pasture production and persistence- the pasture is overgrazed in most cases and maintenance management is deficient (for example, insufficient weed control). Under those conditions, since the available forage in the system tends to be overestimated, extra buffer pasture areas should complement the integrated system for more flexible grazing management.

Promising silvopastoral system combinations are being tested and evaluated by EMBRAPA researchers in Paragominas in the eastern state of Para (Veiga and Serrao, 1990). Two native timber-producing trees, namely, parica (Schizolobium amazonicum) and tatajuba (Bagassa guianensis), and one exotic tree species (Eucalyptus teriticornis) are each associated individually with three forage grasses (Brachiaria brizantha cv. Marandu, B. humidicola, and B. dictyoneura). Five years after establishment and 3 years under grazing management, the combination of parica x B. brizantha, for example, is showing satisfactory levels of agronomic and ecologic sustainability.

Undoubtedly, AFSs rank high in terms of sustainability among the agricultural land use systems used in the Brazilian humid tropics, and there is a probability of expansion in the near future. The probability is so high that EMBRAPA's agricultural research centers in the Amazon have recently been changed into agroforestry research centers.

Although they rank high in sustainability, AFSs cannot be considered a panacea for the Amazon. Their expansion will depend on the market for the products involved, labor use intensity, and most important, their economic profitability. Monocultures of cupuacu, Barbados cherry, and black pepper have higher profitabilities than do some arboreal associations because of the present market demand characteristics of the region. Therefore, appropriate market conditions need to be developed to ensure the expansion of AFSs.

Research priorities for developing more sustainable AFSs should include the domestication and introduction of high-value, multipurpose native and exotic trees and food and forage crops for the development and management of integrated systems of crops, pastures, animals, and trees.


The low sustainability of agricultural development in the frontier expansion process has been an important cause of high rates of deforestation and the consequent negative environmental and socioeconomic implications. A major reason for this is the fact that, in the past 30 years, the most important political decisions regarding regional agricultural development have largely bypassed scientific and technological considerations.

Figure 8 Exchange relations between agricultural production resource disturbances affected by technological development. Ed, environmental disturbances; T1, inappropiate technology; T2, more appropriate technology; P1, agricultural production with technology T1; P2, agricultural production with technology T2. Source: E.B. Andrade, personal communication, 1990.

Because of society's demand for food and fiber and deforestation restrictions in the Brazilian Amazon, more production must be realized mostly from already deforested lands. This implies increasing land and labor productivities, which can only be achieved with land use intensification. This, in turn, can only be achieved with the strong support of science and technology, but the levels of technology used for the most important agricultural land use systems that replace forests have typically been low.

Figure 8 illustrates the importance of technology for agricultural production in relation to the conservation of natural resources. Logically, for each degree of agricultural development there is a corresponding degree of environmental degradation. In the Amazon, use of inappropriate technologies has resulted in low levels of agricultural products with high levels of environmental degradation. However, scientific and technological developments can propitiate increases in agricultural production with more appropriate technologies at the same (or even lower) level of environmental degradation. The low technological level of agricultural production in the Amazon indicates a high potential for improvement.

From these considerations and considering the insufficiency of the available knowledge basis, the search for sustainability will depend to a large extent on research development. Research should be directed mainly toward increasing the productivities of already deforested areas to guarantee a local supply of food and fiber and the export of products that are exclusive to the Brazilian Amazon region and toward reducing the pressure on new forest frontiers. Research should also be directed toward supporting the conservation and preservation of natural resources.

To accomplish those more general goals that integrate the needs of society with the conservation of natural resources, future agricultural development should be built fundamentally on the diversity that characterizes the humid tropical ecosystem and should mirror as much as possible its complexity (National Research Council, 1991). Therefore, research should focus on the following:

· Increasing basic knowledge of Amazonian natural ecosystems;
· Surveying, classifying, and analyzing presently and potentially successful agricultural land use and land resource management systems;
· Developing and promoting principles and components of land management that sustain land resources under the constraints of humid tropical ecosystems;
· Reclaiming degraded ecosystems for intensive agricultural production and regeneration of the ecosystem; and
· Promoting the agroecologic zoning of the Brazilian humid tropics.

Basic research on the following topics is immediately relevant for increasing the sustainability of Amazonian agricultural systems:

· Nutrient, water, and biomass cycling in forest ecosystems that have been disturbed by agriculture as well as those that are undisturbed;
· Climatic, edaphic, and biologic disturbances caused by deforestation and fire utilization for agricultural development purposes;
· Evaluation of biotic and abiotic factors that influence degradation and regeneration of forest ecosystems disturbed by agriculture; and
· Survey, classification, and analysis of presently and potentially important agricultural land use systems.

Applied research should focus on the continuous search for alternative sustainable agricultural production systems and on improving the sustainability of important systems already in use. Applied research priorities for the most important agricultural land use systems in the Brazilian Amazon are given in Table 3. In addition, applied research for fish production systems should focus on domestication of economically important freshwater fish; controlled native fish reproduction and management; and development of integrated systems that include fish, crop, and cattle production.

Institutional Capacity

More than ever, research is fundamental for agricultural development in the Amazon. The present agricultural production limitations and the need for natural resource conservation demand a research agenda that requires an enormous institutional effort.

Figure 9 lists the research institutions that are directly and indirectly involved with agricultural research and natural resources conservation in the Amazon. Paradoxically, those institutions have been practically stagnant during the past decade from the standpoint of infrastructure, personnel (quantitatively and qualitatively), and financial situation. In addition, intense politicization and lack of stimuli (for example, low salaries) within research institutions have reduced the research impetus. It is difficult to foresee any short-term improvement in institutionalized agricultural research in Brazil as a whole and in the Amazon in particular.


Throughout the history of the Amazon, economic features have reflected its dependence on more developed nations. During the "drogas do sertao" phase (extraction of cacao, medicinal and aromatic plants, and plant and animal oils), it depended on Portugal, and during the rubber cycle it depended on rubber-importing countries. Starting in the 1970s, national and international capitals directed the occupancy of the Amazon, extrapolating the dimension of occupied area to include future economic possibilities.

Figure 9

The greater concern with the environment that started in the 1980s as a result of the alarming rates of deforestation will direct the future economic development of the region. The future scenario of development in the Amazon is therefore discussed at the national and international levels, with the environmental question being the backdrop. Other variables, such as the Acre-Pacific Highway through Peru, minimization or cancellation of support to agricultural activities, and road construction restrictions, will also direct the level of human occupation of the Amazon.

Environmental aggression should be reduced considerably in the future. However, the growth of pockets of poverty cannot be eliminated if environmental policy is directed exclusively toward zero deforestation. Small-scale farmers will probably be the main victims, rural to urban migration will be enforced, and unemployment and underemployment will be stimulated if more ample development policies are not implemented.

One probable consequence of environment-oriented policies will be increasing land value, which will likely induce utilization of more capital-intensive technologies in already deforested lands. Agricultural activities will be restricted to meet the regional demands for products that are not exclusively Amazonian and the external demand for Amazon-exclusive products that are competitive with products from other regions.

Despite criticism, native timber extraction will probably grow in intensity to meet growing national and international market demands. Contradictions about its sustainability will probably induce silvicultural development in already deforested areas of the Amazon. In that direction, the FLORAM (Forest Environment) megasilviculture project (Universidade de Sao Paulo, 1990) is being proposed. Besides economics, the project is also intended to study atmospheric carbon fixation. The Forest Poles Project for the Eastern Amazon is another example; it aims to forest 1 million ha of land along the Carajas-Itaqul Highway at a cost of US$1.2 billion.

Extraction activities, and specifically extractive rubber tapping (in this case, even with external support that is now under way), should gradually decline in importance. Some extractors will move toward agroforestry.

Other activities with low levels of sustainability such as traditional shifting agriculture will not be able to be maintained in the long run because of increasing population density in addition to deforestation restrictions.

What will happen to the regional development of science and technology? Research activities in the Amazon are stagnant, and the future is cloudy. The conservation, preservation, and rational utilization of many natural resources will largely depend on the future generation of knowledge and technology.

The tendency to reduce environmental disturbances is due more to economic and/or legal impediments that are created rather than to environmental ethics or consciousness. Day-to-day regional life includes high demographic densities, urbanization, the need for more employment, low income, and low quality of life. If poverty, unemployment, underemployment, and the lack of a basic infrastructure persist, conservation and preservation intentions will gradually lose the support of the population.


Extraregional forces will likely direct the pace of production activities in the Amazon. With the label of environmental cause, a set of measures to discourage production activities, except for agroforestry and extraction activities, are being launched. Some have proposed that extraction activities should be the land use system for about 25 percent of the Brazilian Amazon region.

On the other hand, a set of intraregional forces reacts to the impropriety of agricultural systems from the point of view of macroeconomics in relation to the region's inhabitants. This presupposes that agricultural activities must supply the local population's needs for food, generate employment, guarantee better living standards, and promote the region's development.

Within the not-so-remote future, it is probable that the extractive reserve syndrome will be weakened when realistic and impartial evaluations are made. The conclusion will likely be that it is not easy to propose simple solutions for the Amazon.

Environmentally oriented proposals have not been accompanied by reasonable development alternatives. Consequently, they may induce rural as well as urban socioeconomic adversities such as unemployment, which is already high in the region. This stagnation scenario might favor extraction activities and even become their justification. In that scenario, production activities considered to be harmful to the environment will continue in the search for new adaptations to the prevalent biosocioeconomic environment.

The closing of the agricultural frontier will make land more expensive, which will induce the use of more capital-intensive technologies. Small farmers will find it difficult to maintain their activities because of restrictions on deforestation and burning, the basic ingredient of shifting agriculture. Unless other alternatives are offered, deforestation reduction of 500,000 ha/year may cause serious adversities to small-scale farmers in the Amazon.

Varzea floodplain agriculture will probably remain stagnant. If political measures are taken to increase the food supply to the main urban nuclei, food production along the floodplain may be stimulated. Because of the favorable conditions for raising water buffalo in the varzeas, it may be even more strongly stimulated than it was previously.

Although environmental restrictions tend to be reinforced, the survival strategy of farmers will prevail. The emergence of new, alternative products exclusive to the Brazilian Amazon region are always possible, whether they supply regional needs or are exported. With strict environmental controls, the prices of these products will increase. This will, in turn, stimulate more intensive production, resulting in the displacement of small farmers. As long as they do not have external market competition, export products, because they are exclusive, will have a good chance for sustainable production.

The possibility for developing an "Amazonian agriculture" cannot be discarded. This may be the positive side of the exaggerated interest in extraction activities. Agricultural development based on domesticated natural resources, such as medicinal plants, toxic plant products, native fruits, oils, and heart of palm, may have ample markets in the future. The beginning of that trend seems to be under way. The success of these new alternatives will depend on the research capacity for plant domestication and market dimension.

The local society will likely react to environmental policies that come from outside the region. In that sense, a more progressive vision for the Amazon cannot be overlooked. It may be that the production sector will demand regional access to the Pacific and more investments in rural areas in terms of social infrastructure, besides tax incentives, subsidies, and export taxes, with all of these demands being under environmentally oriented premises. The maintenance of uneconomic extraction systems by the state-with a social crisis dilemma-may be the result of society's acceptance of more progressive measures.

These facts may create a new equilibrium in the sustainability of the production system as a whole. The international capitalistic system itself will favor these actions because of its implicit interest in the timber and mineral markets. The growth of timber extraction is inevitable because of the increasing internal and external demand for wood products. Under the assumption of a not-yet-proved sustainability, timber extraction will probably continue for the next few decades and will probably be the last extraction activity in the Amazon. The need for maintaining biodiversity and the slow vegetative growth cycles of forest timber resources will restrict timber extraction to some selected areas.

Increasing prices of timber products will induce production on timber plantations, the only alternative to meet future demands because of population increases. Future plantations will also be needed to meet the future demands of the paper and cellulose industries. Ecologically, these plantations will be justified as a means of absorbing atmospheric carbon.

Integrated systems to increase agronomic and ecologic sustainabilities will be stimulated even if economic sustainability is marginal. Within this context, agrisilvopastoral systems are included. Intelligent, appropriate combinations will be proposed. Their implementation will largely be limited by market dimension, management, and the availability of technology.

Other activities will probably be implemented. Fish production- whether through cultivation of native and exotic fish under controlled conditions or through the replenishing of rivers and lakes-and domestication of high-value native wildlife will be developed.

With the present technological standards of agriculture in the Amazon, the possibilities for high levels of agronomic and ecologic sustainability are reduced. Socioeconomic limitations for sustainable agriculture are also important barriers, since agronomic and ecologic sustainability is generally economically infeasible.

To maintain productivity gains, maintenance of sustainability requires continuous investments in research. Environmental constraints will always be a challenge to research in the search for agricultural sustainability in the humid tropics.

In the long run, the comparative advantages of abundance of natural resources and unqualified labor will be abandoned. It is probable that increasing technological advances and labor qualification will be the main supports of future agricultural activities.

Despite these limitations, there are ample possibilities for increasing agricultural sustainability in the Brazilian humid tropics without having to incorporate new segments of forest and within global perspectives of sustainability. Continuous technological development within the farmer's capacity to accompany technical progress is indispensable to implementing production systems that are more compatible with agronomic and ecologic sustainability. Economic viability must be within short- and long-term horizons, preferably without any protectionist measures.

Economic profitability is a key factor for agricultural sustainability in the Amazon. Rural poverty will not allow high ecologic sustainability. Even in the case of cattle raising activities, the adoption of fewer ecosystem-degrading processes will depend on higher values of cattle-related products. However, an awakening of society's awareness and the formation of a new ethic in relation to profitability, which includes environmental costs, are necessary.

From this analysis of traditional and presently developing land use systems in the Brazilian humid tropics, it is clear that some land use systems are more appropriate for implementation. Because these have demonstrated moderate to high levels of sustainability and high expansion potential for mid- and long-term agricultural development, and on the basis of their favorable present and potential sustainability features, priority for expansion and research support should be given to the following land use systems:

· Nippo-Brazilian-type agroforestry,
· Integrated pasture-based (agrisilvopastoral) systems,
· Native forest timber extraction with sustainable management,
· Reforestation for timber and cellulose production, and
· Varzea floodplain agriculture.

Technological and educational deficiencies are the main factors limiting farmers in their attempts to practice agriculture that allows higher levels of sustainability in the Amazon. Research is not the panacea for meeting high levels of agricultural sustainability as defined here. The reduced success of most agricultural enterprises in the Amazon is not so much due to the productive potential of the land as it is due to deficient social, economic, and infrastructural conditions; lack of stable and coherent agricultural policies; and fluctuations in the prices of agricultural products. More investments are needed in the rural environment to improve quality of life, thus avoiding (or minimizing) a rural exodus and continuous migration to new areas.


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Cote d'lvoire

Simeon K. Ehui

Cote d'Ivoire is located in western Africa on the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) between Liberia and Ghana. It covers an area of 322,463 km². With the exception of a relief zone in the western region, where the altitude reaches above 1,300 m, the land rises gradually from the coast to the north and does not exceed 800 m (Persson, 1977). The country has three main types of vegetation. The southern part of the country consists of closed, humid forests (humid evergreen and semideciduous forests), and then, toward the north, there is a transition zone (forest-savannah mosaic). The transition zone turns into open country in the north, with vast woodlands or savannah (Figure 1).

The most important timber species in the humid evergreen forests are Tieghemella heckelii (makore), Tarrietia utilis (niangon), and Mansonia altissima (bete), which require annual rainfall of 1,600 mm. Celtis species are an important part of the dominant layer in the humid semideciduous forests, which require annual rainfall of 1,350 to 1,600 mm. The most important timber species exclusive to this zone is Triplochiton scleroxylon (samba). In the dry season the trees of the upper layer shed their leaves. The forest-savannah mosaic is found north of the moist semideciduous forest and is a transition between moist semideciduous forests and the savannah woodlands in the north, which are deciduous and require annual rainfall of 1,000 mm. They are characterized by Isoberlinia doka, Uapaca togoensis , and Anogeissus leiocarpa. Gallery forests are also found along rivers. Other vegetation types in the country include the humid highland mountain forests, found in the mountains in the western part of the country, and mangroves, found along the Atlantic coast. There are areas of littoral savannah in the humid evergreen forest zone (Persson, 1977).

Figure 1 Cd’Ivoire and its forests. Source: Adapted from Persson, R. 1977. Forest resources of Africa. Part II. Regional Analysis Research Notes No. 22. Stockholm, Sweden: Royal College of Forestry.

In the coastal region, the climate is tropical, with two dry and two rainy seasons each year. Dry seasons are from December to April and from August to September; rainy seasons are from May to July and from October to November. Temperatures generally remain fairly constant throughout the year, ranging from about 22°C at night to 33°C during the day, and humidity is permanently high. Average annual rainfall is more than 1,800 mm. Toward the north, however, it gradually diminishes, and seasonal variations change to one rainy season (May to October) and one dry season (November to April). In the upper north, the climate exhibits more extreme variations than in the south, but it is less humid.


The average annual population growth rate in Cote d'Ivoire is one of the highest in the world (3.6 percent). In 1960, the population was about 3.8 million, and the 1975 census recorded a population of 6.67 million. By the end of 1985, the population was estimated to have risen to more than 10 million. The population was estimated to be 13.02 million as of mid-1991, more than tripling in 3 decades (Economic Intelligence Unit, 1991). Projections indicate that the population will reach 18 million by the end of the century and 39.3 million by 2025 (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 1989), which is equivalent to an average annual increase of 3.6 percent.

The high population growth rate is partly attributable to immigration from poorer neighboring countries (mainly Mali and Burkina Faso). Immigrants make up more than 20 percent of the total population of Cote d'Ivoire. Other contributing factors are the high fertility rate (7.4 births per woman) and improvements in the health of Ivoirians. Life expectancy at birth rose from 44 years in 1965 to 52 years in 1987. Although the crude birth rate changed little over this period (52 per 1,000 population in 1986), the crude death rate fell from 22 to 15 per 1,000 population (Economic Intelligence Unit, 1991; International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 1989). An increasing proportion of the population lives in urban areas. For example, in 1960 the urban population as a proportion of the total population was estimated to be 19.3 percent; it had increased to 32.2 percent by 1975, and by 1990, it was estimated to be about 46.6 percent. Between 1960 and 1990, the urban population grew at an annual average rate of 7.2 percent, whereas the rural population grew at only 2.7 percent (World Resources Institute, 1990).

Despite the rapid population growth, Cote d'Ivoire still appears to have a relatively low population density (39 inhabitants per km² in 1990). However, when taking into account only the usable land (that is, total land area less nonarable land, including inland water bodies, wasteland, built-up areas, parks and reserves, and 50 percent of the reserved forestlands), the population density increases to 50 inhabitants per km².

Table 1 Agricultural Population Densities in Forest and Savannah Zones in Cd’Ivoire, 1965-1989a

A good indicator of the rate at which forestlands are being used is the agricultural population density, which is defined as the ratio of agricultural population divided by the total area of usable land. Table 1 presents the agricultural population densities over a 24-year period (1965-1989) for the forest and savannah zones. The data indicate that agricultural population densities have increased over time nationwide and that they are higher in the forest zone than they are in the savannah zone (Figure 2). By 1989, the forest and savannah zones had densities of 38.9 and 13.5 inhabitants per km², respectively.


The status of forest resources in Cote d'Ivoire is difficult to describe because data on the extent and condition of tropical forest areas are widely scattered and frequently inaccurate (U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, 1984). Accuracy is further impaired by the lack of standard definitions and classifications of forest types. Table 2 presents the status of tropical forests in Cote d'Ivoire in the 1980s and their evolution since 1900. The Food and Agriculture Organization and United Nations Environment Program (1981) indicate that total forest cover at the beginning of the colonial period (1900) was on the order of 15 million ha. In 1990, forest cover was estimated to be 1.55 million ha.

Figure 2 Agricultural population density in Cd’Ivoire in 1985. The numbers next to the symbols are in agricultural population per square kilometer of usable land. Source: Adapted from Durufles, G., P. Bourgerol, B. Lesluyers, J.C. Martin, and M. Pascay. 1986. Desequilibres Structures et Programmes d’Ajustement en Cd’Ivoire. Paris, France: mission d’Evaluation, Minist de la Cooperation.

To appreciate the rapid rate of forest clearing in Cate d'Ivoire, it is useful to compare the country's rate of deforestation with that of Indonesia, the world's leading producer of tropical logs from 1973 to 1983. Table 3 shows that the annual level of deforestation has been about half that of Indonesia, a poorer country with 6 times the area of Cote d'Ivoire and a population that is 16 times greater than that of Cate d'Ivoire. However, the estimated annual rate of deforestation in Cote d'Ivoire (7.26 percent) after 1980 was more than 12 times that of Indonesia (0.5 percent).

Table 2 Evoulution of Tropical Forest Endowments in Cd’Ivoire and Rates of Deforestation from 1900 to 1990

Given the current trend in deforestation rates, it is estimated that in 10 to 20 years, natural forests will not satisfy the local demand for logs in Cote d'Ivoire. Furthermore, it is estimated that Cote d'Ivoire, which until 1983 was the most prolific exporter of logs in Africa, will become a net importer by the end of the century (Bertrand, 1983). This is not surprising since, solely on the basis of the commercial benefits of tropical forests, Ehui and Hertel (1989) showed that the optimal steady-state forest stock in Cote d'Ivoire exceeds what is considered to be needed to meet current levels for social discount rates less than 8 percent. (A social discount rate, measured in percent, expresses the preference of a society as a whole for present rather than future returns.) Only when the social discount rate reaches the relatively high value of 9 percent does some further deforestation appear to be socially optimal. The optimal steady-state forest stock decreases in direct proportion to higher social discount rates because future forest stocks are valued less than present well-being, thus there is the motivation to clear the forest faster. The critical value of forests increases when one takes into account the noncommercial benefits of tropical forests, for example, the preservation of genetic diversity and climatic benefits. Thus, it is likely, even on strictly commercial grounds, that Cote d'Ivoire has already excessively depleted its forest resources.

Table 3 Deforestation in Indonesia Versus that in Cd’Ivoire.

Today, the main forestry policy question facing the government of Cote d'Ivoire is how to manage effectively what is left of the original 15 million ha of tropical rain forest, which has been reduced to less than 2 million ha (Ehui and Hertel, 1989; Spears, 1986). Current government policy objectives, as defined in the 1976-1980 and 19811985 5-year plans, include preservation and protection of the forest stock (Borreau, 1984). A first step toward those objectives was the creation in 1978 of a permanent forestry domain of 4.7 million ha and a rural forestry domain of 731,750 ha that is reserved for agriculture. However, because of continual encroachment of uncontrolled shifting cultivation onto forestlands, it has become difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the forest protection objective (Bourreau, 1984). As a result, the officially preserved forest area has continuously been reduced to keep pace with the remaining forest stock.


Cote d'Ivoire is essentially an agricultural country, relying on its two principal cash crops-cacao and coffee-for almost 50 percent of its export revenues (Economic Intelligence Unit, 1991). In the first 2 decades following independence (in 1960), Cote d'Ivoire's gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 7.5 percent annually, which ranked among the highest in Africa and among the top 15 in the world (Michel and Noel, 1984). In 1965, Cote d'Ivoire had a per capita GDP of about US$169. By 1980, it had risen to about US$1,150, ranking second among developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Apart from a brief respite in 1985-1986 because of excellent harvests and improved agricultural exports, a severe slowdown has occurred since 1980, and in 1987 the per capita GDP was estimated to be only US$690, a decline of 40 percent from its 1980 level. From a peak level of US$1,170 in 1980, the per capita gross national product (GNP) declined to US$740 in 1987. During the period from 1980 to 1987, Cote d'Ivoire experienced net negative growth of -3.0 percent/year (Table 4).

Table 4 Average Annual Change in Growth and Structure of Production in Cd’Ivoire, 1965-1987

There are several reasons for the slowdown in Cote d'Ivoire's economy: (1) a dramatic adverse shift in the country's terms of trade in the early 1980s mainly because of the continuing slump in commodity prices and (except in 1985-1986) the depreciation of the dollar against the CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc (in 1991, US$1 = CFA franc 275); (2) a serious drought during 1982-1984 that affected both agricultural production and hydroelectricity generation, thereby reducing power supplies to industry; and (3) the high cost of servicing the debt incurred to finance ambitious investment projects launched during the boom years of the late 1970s.

The total external public debt at the end of 1989 totaled US$15.4 billion, representing about 182 percent of the country's total GNP. In 1970 total public debt was only US$255 million, 19 percent of GNP. By 1980 it had risen to US$4.3 billion, equivalent to 44 percent of the country's GNP. Interest payment on the public debt in 1989 was estimated at US$517 million. The total debt service ratio (measured as a proportion of exports of goods and services) during the same period (1989) was estimated to be about 41 percent. In 1980 it was estimated to be 24 percent of the exports of goods and services. It was swollen in 1980 by the increase in the value of the U.S. dollar, in which more than 40 percent of the country's debt is denominated. In 1970 the debt service ratio was only 7.1 percent (Economic Intelligence Unit, 1991; International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 1989).


The overall performance of Cote d'Ivoire's economy springs Prom its agriculture. With a consistent annual growth rate of 5 percent, Cote d'Ivoire achieved the highest agricultural growth rate in sub-Saharan Africa during the first 2 decades after its independence in 1960 (Lee, 1983). Despite an apparent decline of its share in the GDP (Table 4), agriculture still remains the pillar of the country's economy. It contributes about 33 percent of the GDP, provides between 50 and 75 percent of the nation's total export earnings, and employs an estimated 79 percent of the labor force, of which 13 percent are immigrants (Economic Intelligence Unit, 1991). Table 5 presents details of the structure of merchandise import and export trade in Cote d'Ivoire during 1965, 1980, and 1987.

Export Crops

Export of agricultural products was the primary source for agricultural growth. Agricultural products account for more than 75 per cent of export earnings. The major agricultural exports are coffee, of which Cote d'Ivoire is the world's fifth largest producer; cacao, of which it became the world's largest producer in 1977-1978, surpassing Brazil and Ghana; and cotton. Together, these three commodities account for more than 60 percent of the area under cultivation, 50 percent of export earnings, and 75 percent of total cash earnings from agricultural activities. Cacao production has expanded rapidly, rising from 140,000 metric tons in 1965 to 388,000 and 543,000 metric tons in 1980 and 1987, respectively. The average annual rate of growth is estimated to be about 6 percent (Table 6).

Table 5 Structure of Merchandise Iports and Exports in Cd’Ivoire, 1965, 1980, and 1987 (Percent Share)

Coffee production followed a different pattern. As a result of the producer price parity (by which farmers receive the same price for a product regardless of whether it is good or substandard) for cacao and coffee, which has been in place since the mid-1970s, production of coffee has been falling steadily. Coffee is more difficult to produce than cacao, and it is also taxed more heavily. Output fell from 210,000 metric tons in 1980 to an estimated 163,000 metric tons in 1987. Production of cotton rose from 2,000 metric tons in 1965 to 39,000 metric tons in 1980 and 68,000 metric tons in 1987. As a result, Cote d'Ivoire is now Africa's third largest cotton producer, after Egypt and Sudan (Economic Intelligence Unit, 1991).

Another important export commodity is timber, which accounted for almost 7 percent of export earnings in 1988, but forest resources have been greatly depleted and timber exports have been falling. The forestry industry was traditionally the country's third main export earner. The total area of timber harvested for export was estimated to have fallen from 15.6 million ha at the beginning of the century to only 1 million ha in 1987.

Table 6 Volume, Percentage of Total Merchandise Export Value, and Growth in Volume of Major Agricultural Exports in Cd’Ivoire, 1965-1987

Food Crops

Table 7 Composition of Inoirian Diets, 1980

The principal food crops in Cote d'Ivoire are cassava, yams, cocoyam (taro), maize, rice millet, sorghum, and plantains. The country is self-sufficient in manioc (cassava), yams, bananas (plantains), and maize. Table 7 presents estimates of the compositions of Ivoirian diets. Yams are the most consumed commodity, followed by bananas (plantain) and manioc (cassava). The principal grain that is produced and consumed is rice; it has become a staple for much of the urban population and is also popular in rural areas because of its ease of preparation and storage. Although rice production has risen steadily, it has not increased rapidly enough to keep pace with per capita consumption. The result is that Cote d'Ivoire meets more than half of its current rice needs through imports (Figure 3) (Trueblood and Horenstein, 1986). Overall, Cote d'Ivoire's agricultural sector has performed well relative to those sectors throughout the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. Figures 4 and 5 present per capita food and agricultural production, respectively, in Cote d'Ivoire and sub-Saharan Africa. Although sub-Saharan Africa has received much publicity for its recent famines (for example, the famine caused by drought in Ethopia from 1984 to 1986) and declining per capita food production, per capita food production in Cote d'Ivoire has actually increased considerably over time; agricultural production (which includes non-food crops) has generally increased as well, albeit with more fluctuation (Trueblood and Horenstein, 1986).

Figure 3 Milled rice production (---), imports (----), and consumption (-·-·-) in Cd’Ivoire. Source: Adapted from Trueblood, M.A., and N.R. Horenstein. 1986. The Ivory Coast: An Export Market Profile. Foreign Agricultural Economic Report No. 223. Washington, D.C.: Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Sources of Agricultural Growth

The factors responsible for Cote d'Ivoire's general economic performance can be credited to a carefully implemented agricultural policy. Since independence in 1960, agriculture in Cote d'Ivoire has been promoted by planning, research, and investment aided by significant inflows of foreign labor and capital and (on average) by relatively high world prices for Ivoirian exports such as coffee and cacao. The government has lent strong support to the agricultural sector and, in particular, to the numerous smallholders through its programs of guaranteed producer price, input subsidies, and agricultural extension services (Trueblood and Horenstein, 1986).

Most cacao and coffee production is in the hands of smallholders who employ foreign labor. They sell their crops to the state marketing agency at prices that are fixed by the government. By means of a stabilization fund, the government has been able to sustain the development of agricultural exports by providing producers with minimum guaranteed prices, despite the sharp fluctuations in world market prices. At times, however, these producer prices were far below world market prices (most notably during the boom years of 1975 to 1977), thus enabling the government to exact surpluses from the producers and use the proceeds to invest in other sectors of the economy, as well as subsidize inputs to farmers. The stabilization fund has been able to make transfers to public enterprise budgets and to pay for food production development projects, as in the case of rice in northern Cote d'Ivoire (Gbetibouo and Delgado, 1984).

Figure 4 Per capita food production in Cd’Ivoire (---) and sub-Saharan Africa ( - - - ), 1970-1986. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 1988. World Indices of Agricultural and Food Production 1977-86. Statistical Bulletin No. 759. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office.

Although government revenues have been generated mainly through predatory price policies that exact surpluses from farm exports (coffee and cacao in particular), farmers in Cote d'Ivoire have received prices that, on average, have assured them incomes higher than those of farmers in the sub-Saharan region (den Tuinder, 1978; Gbetibouo and Delgado, 1984). World prices were depressed during most of the 1980s, and the government was unable either to exact surpluses from the export crop sector or to maintain the real purchasing power of the planters (Economic Intelligence Unit, 1991). The surpluses generated by the stabilization fund during the boom years were not enough to support producer prices, which were halved in 1989.

Figure 5 Per capita agricultural production in Cd’Ivoire (---) and sub-Saharan Africa (- · - · -), 1970-1986. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 1988. World Indices of Agricultural and Food Production 1977-86. Statistical Bulletin No. 759. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Another factor that has contributed to agricultural growth is the expansion in the agricultural land frontier (which arises solely from deforestation). Table 8 presents estimates of agricultural land utilization for cash and food crops and their growth rates between 1960 and 1984.

Table 8 Agricultural Land Utilization for Cash and Food Crops in Cd’Ivoire, 1960-1984 (in Thousands of Hectares)


The causes of deforestation in Cote d'Ivoire are varied but can be categorized as principal (direct) and underlying (indirect).

Principal Causes

The conversion and use of forestlands for agriculture and logging activities are the principal causes of deforestation in Cote d'Ivoire. Use of forest for fuelwood and clearing forests for cattle grazing are also causative factors, but to a lesser extent.

Increased agricultural production has been a result of expansion of the land area devoted to agricultural uses. With huge untapped reserves of arable land, economic growth was fueled by the rapid extension of the land frontier (Lee, 1983). The expansion, however, has often been onto marginal soils and sloping uplands that cannot support permanent cropping as do the temperate areas, where agricultural production has increased in recent decades mainly through the more intensive use of already cleared land (Ehui and Hertel, 1992a). Table 9 summarizes changes in cropland area in the forest regions of Cote d'Ivoire in 1965 and 1985. During this 20-year period, untouched primary forests were reduced by about 66 percent, whereas the area under cultivation more than doubled (Spears, 1986).

It is unclear the extent to which selective logging has contributed to deforestation; however, it is known that the use of heavy equipment for the extraction of timber causes substantial secondary tree losses. Deforestation and land degradation occur with the removal of best-tree species, and harvested trees fall against and destroy other trees. Figure 6 depicts the level of timber production and exports from 1965 to 1983.

The building of roads and passages to reach logging sites is another direct cause of deforestation. Not only are forests destroyed to make room for the roads, the roads and passages then provide access to previously undisturbed areas. For example, a road program funded by the African Development Bank has led to the construction of a major highway along the Atlantic coast (Economic Intelligence Unit, 1991). This road provided access to formerly undisturbed coastal forests and mangroves, and since 1988 an inrush of immigrants has lead to massive destruction of the coastal forests.

Fuelwood, which constitutes the most important source of energy in Cote d'Ivoire, accounts for nearly 53 percent of all wood extracted in the country. However, deforestation caused by fuelwood extraction from the humid forest zone is limited compared with that from the savannah zone, where vegetation is characterized by open woodlands.

Figure 6

Grazing is rare in the forest zone of Cote d'Ivoire, as it is in most of the humid tropical areas of Africa. This is primarily because of the occurrence of tsetse flies, which carry trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), and because of the topographic limitations of the forest cover, that is, the high tree density and a highly developed root network that prevents the use of animals. Unlike the Amazon region, where one of the main causes of deforestation has been conversion of forests to pastures by livestock ranchers, livestock plays a limited role in deforestation in Cote d'Ivoire.

Underlying Causes of Deforestation

Some of the underlying causes of deforestation are the result of the combined effects of the spread of shifting cultivation, which, in turn, is caused by population pressures, unclearly defined land tenure regimes (property arrangements), and government agricultural and forestry policies.

The major impetus for the increases in agricultural lands in Cote d'Ivoire is shifting (slash-and-burn) cultivation. It is an extensive system of food crop production in which natural forests, secondary forests, or open woodlands are felled and burned. Theoretically, the cleared area is cultivated for a few years (usually 1 to 3 years), after which the land is abandoned and allowed to return to forest or bush fallow. The process is repeated after a period of time that ranges between 4 and 20 years. It is necessary to practice shifting cultivation in the tropics because of the low nutrient content of many tropical soils. Most of the nutrients are in living plants, and the nutrients are made available when an area is cleared and burned; the resultant nutrient-rich ash fertilizes the soil (Persson, 1975). The system, however, operates effectively only when there is sufficient land to allow a long fallow period so that soil productivity, which is exhausted during the short cropping cycle, can be restored.

Today, because of increasing populations, fallow periods are being reduced and smallholders are compelled to clear more forests or to exploit the more fragile, marginal lands that cannot support an increasingly large population. Considerable deforestation occurs because of the movement of shifting cultivators into areas opened up by logging. It is estimated that for each 5 m³ of logs harvested in Cote d'Ivoire, 1 ha of forest is converted into cropland by subsequent cultivators (Myers, 1980).

Excessive clearing of forestlands also occurs because of the open-access nature of forest resources in Cote d'Ivoire. The open-access nature of management can best be expressed by popular sayings of Ivoirians: "[L]and belongs to whoever cultivates it" or to ". . . whoever uses it and values it" (Bertrand, 1983). What is happening is, in effect, the result of government policies that attempt to supplant local tenure regimes. By ignoring the distinction between common property and open access, the government has failed to offer legal mechanisms for protecting communal land rights. Instead, attempts are often made to convert common properties into government lands and private properties, even though the public sector's capacity to manage the forest resources and the legal infrastructure needed to enforce private tenure are poorly developed. As a result, people gather what they need from the forest and freely exploit forest resources, in spite of the fact that current legislation forbids unauthorized clearing of state-owned forests (Southgate et al., 1990).

Close examination of the Ivoirian land tenure regime structure indicates that there is a juxtaposition of informal, customary laws and formal government legislation. Customary laws regulate the traditional land use patterns, which are based on group or communal ownership. The government legislation (which was initially inherited from the colonial power, France, and has slowly been reformed) distinguishes among three forms of land tenure.

State Ownership The first and most important is forestland under state ownership. Commonly called reserved forests, these are vast areas of forestlands surveyed to be protected from illegal encroachment. The people who settle in reserved forests clear them and illegally take valuable forest products, apparently because the laws are not well enforced or because the forests are not well policed. As a result, 100,000 people per year have spontaneously migrated into and settled in the forest zone for the past 20 years. In reality, enforcement of laws is particularly difficult, if not impossible, because peasants obey customary laws, which sometimes run counter to the spirit and provision of state forestland ownership laws. In a society like Cote d'Ivoire's, in which the institutions that govern the use of resources overlap, enforcement must deal with several institutional structures. The weakening of traditional property arrangements without the provision of a viable institutional alternative diminishes the incentives for forest dwellers to conserve natural resources (Bromley and Cernea, 1989).

Collective Ownership The second form of forestland tenure is communal, or collective, ownership. Under this category, local communities (villages) are recognized as the owners of the forestlands, but the government and others may manage them. Group ownership constitutes the most common form of land ownership in Cote d'Ivoire. Land is viewed as belonging to a common ancestor, and any member of the extended family can use it when it becomes vacant, but it cannot strictly be sold or transferred to someone outside the family. Although individual cultivators have control over the crops they produce, the group (or the extended family) has the power to decide on the use of a particular area of land.

The problem is that the communal landholdings are poorly delineated. They cannot be distinguished unambiguously, nor can communal landholdings be distinguished from state holdings. Because of this lack of clearly defined property rights, the economies of the people who live in the forests of Cote d'Ivoire are largely geared to the extensive use of land. Peasants sometimes view the forests as an obstacle to the development of their plantations and fields. As a result, open-access types of exploitative behavior arise. Under the open-access system, no individual or group of individuals wants to incur the costs required to protect and maintain forest resources. On the contrary, individual forest users have every incentive to clear forestlands as soon as possible because they have no guarantee that whatever they leave untouched will be available in the near future.

Private Individual Ownership The third and last form of land tenure is private individual ownership. This form of ownership is the least developed, however, because few individuals own forestland outright (Bertrand, 1983; Food and Agriculture Organization and United Nations Environment Program, 1981).

The final underlying cause of deforestation in Cote d'Ivoire discussed here is government agricultural and forestry policies. One example is the marketing policy for the major export crops in Cote d'Ivoire (notably, coffee, cacao, cotton, and palm oil). The prices of these commodities are regulated by a marketing board, the Caisse de Stabilization et de Soutien des Prix des Produits Agricoles (CSSPA; Agricultural Product Price Support and Stabilization Fund). The board guarantees a fixed price to planters throughout the crop year and, at times, for several consecutive seasons. Prices are set on a cost-plus basis and are lower than international prices, thus enabling the government to generate surpluses. As long as producer prices are low, farmers will not be able to afford to use intensive means of production. It is therefore more profitable to cultivate extensively at the expense of forests. It appears, however, that cash crop farmers have found it more profitable to cultivate extensively than to intensify their cultivation practices. Also, despite the creation of the Agricultural Development Bank in 1968, farmers still face severe capital constraints. Many smallholders are unable to gather sufficient funds for investment because the cost of credit is very high. Also, the titling problems exacerbated by unclearly defined property rights place small-scale farmers at a distinct disadvantage in negotiating with banks and government entities for credit.

Some forestry-based policy instruments have also contributed to the rapid rate of deforestation in Cote d'Ivoire. The fiscal policy in the forestry sector distinguishes among four types of royalties and license fees (Gillis, 1988): (1) a timber royalty, (2) a concession license, (3) a public work fee, and (4) an annual area charge.

Timber royalty rates (imposed on harvested volumes rather than on a per tree basis) were set in 1966 and have remained unchanged. Despite some differentiation in the royalty schedule according to tree species, timber royalties are judged to be too low relative to free onboard (FOB) log export values to have serious implications for lower rates of deforestation. The cost of the concession license is only US$0.25/ ha, and public work fees amount to US$0.79 and US$0.40/ha on the richer and poorer stands, respectively. Both are one-time levies. The annual area charge is levied at the rate of US$0.05/ha/year. These charges are estimated to be too low to have notable effects on forest-clearing decisions. The very low fees that are charged for the right to clear forests encourage the exploitation of marginal stands by providing a large profit margin while offering little incentive for more intensive exploitation of more valuable stands because expanding the area of harvest is less costly than intensifying cultivation. If these fees had been increased substantially by 1970, the nation might have experienced a somewhat lower rate of deforestation than actually occurred in the 1970s and 1980s (Gillis, 1988).


The conversion of forestlands to other uses produces a broad rang of effects, including (1) changes in climate and microclimate, (2) erosion of biodiversity, (3) long-term decline of agricultural productivity and income, and (4) forest damage associated with the loss of timber production potential. Together, these effects constitute a serious three to agricultural sustainability in Cote d'Ivoire.

Climate and Microclimate

Scientists are concerned that tropical deforestation might affect climate on a global scale by increasing the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere (Sedjo, 1983). This is because a significant portion of the world's carbon is locked in the wood of the tropical forests. Some of the carbon that is stored in forest soils is also released as the land is converted from forestland to cropland. Climatologists are engaged in a continuing debate, however, regarding the. global effects of deforestation in this regard. One analysis suggest that the amount of CO2 released by the clearing and burning of wood from dense tropical forests may be roughly equivalent to the amount of CO2 released by fossil fuel combustion (Woodwell, 1978). Concerns about the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere arise from the hypothesis that rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations will cause a greenhouse effect, with disruptions of the world's agricultural productivity in the twenty-first century (U.S. Department of State, 1980)

There is little science-based information on the effect of deforestation on the microclimate in Cote d'Ivoire. Spears (1986) measured the bioclimatic impact of different vegetative covers and showed that different vegetative covers result in distinctly different transpiration and energy exchange characteristics. In the past 2 decades, rainfall levels have generally decreased and the soils of forest regions have become progressively drier, particularly in the south-central part of Cote d'Ivoire. However, it is necessary to interpret carefully the climatic and ecologic data obtained over long time periods. The lower rainfall of the past 2 decades could represent downswings in rainfall that are part of the 30-year rainfall cycles of the region. Such trends are apparent from the rainfall records of Cote d'Ivoire and other countries in the region.

Ghuman and Lal (1988) reported experimental results of a study done in a region of Nigeria in which the climate is similar to that in Cote d'Ivoire. The study quantified the magnitude and trends in alterations of the soil, hydrology, microclimate, and biotic environments resulting from the conversion of a tropical rain forest to different land use systems and agricultural practices. The rainfall results showed that the amount of rainfall under the forest canopy was about 12 percent less than that in cleared areas. The amount of solar radiation received in the cleared area was 25 times greater than that received under forests. On average, soil and air temperatures and evaporation rates were lower in areas under forest cover than they were in cleared areas. Relative humidities (which inversely correspond to variations in air temperature) were higher in forest areas than in cleared ones.


There are no empirical data on the extent of erosion of biodiversity because of deforestation in Cote d'Ivoire. However, forests are known to contain a wide variety of plant and animal species, many of which have not been examined by scientists. For example, they contain the gene pools of parent species from which many agricultural crops were originally bred and, therefore, may be needed for future breeding efforts if crops are devastated by new diseases or other catastrophes. Some of these species may be critically important for pest and disease resistance in agricultural crops. For example, because of a smaller gene pool, it will be harder to counteract a weakness such as reduced disease resistance in varieties of plants and animals used for economic production. Other species have important potential as pharmaceutical agents, some of which are known only to people indigenous to the forests. The erosion of the genetic base as a result of deforestation will make it increasingly difficult to maintain economic production from biologic resources.

Agricultural Productivity

After forests are cleared from the land, the soil's physical and chemical properties undergo significant changes, leading to nutrient losses, accelerated rates of soil erosion, and declining yields (Lal, 1981; Seubert et al., 1977). Forests protect the soil by regulating stream flows (thereby minimizing soil erosion), modulating seasonal flooding, and preventing the silting of dams and canals. Forests help to accelerate the formation of topsoil, create favorable soil structures, and store nutrients. Using data from Cote d'Ivoire, Ehui and Hertel (1989, 1992a) showed that part of the agricultural growth in Cote d'Ivoire has been accomplished at the expense of the natural resource base and is therefore unsustainable. In particular, they showed that deforestation contributes positively to crop yields, but that increases in the cumulative amount of deforested lands cause yields to fall. This study thus confirms soil scientists's hypotheses that crop yields increase immediately after deforestation because of the nutrient content of the ash that is present after burning. However, yields decline over time because of the loss of the soil productivity as a result of movement of cropping activity onto marginal lands, removal of organic matter, and erosion. This affects the overall productivity and sustainability of the agricultural sector. Ehui and Hertel (1989, 1992a) also showed that aggregate yields are somewhat insensitive to deforestation in the same year, but are sensitive to the cumulative amount of deforestation over several years. A 10 percent increase in cumulative deforested land results in a 26.9 percent decline in aggregate yields.

In a follow-up study, Ehui and Hertel (1992b) conducted simulation studies that measured the value of conserving marginal forestlands in Cote d'Ivoire by taking into account the short- and long-term impacts of deforestation on agricultural productivity. Examination of the impacts of deforestation and cumulative deforested lands on food crop revenues indicated that forest conservation results in net benefit to agriculture. For example, with a one-time 20 percent decrease in the rate of deforestation, the net value of food crop revenues rose by US$21.3 million. This translated into approximately US$507/ha of forest saved. Ehui and Hertel (1992b) concluded that at current rates of deforestation, Cote d'Ivoire has been forgoing long-term agricultural revenues in pursuit of short-term gains.

Forest Damage and Timber Production Potential

The lack of proper forest management, which leads to excessive logging and agroconversion, also leads to losses in earnings from the timber industry. Using the average timber export tax rate as the opportunity costs of unmanaged forestlands and annual deforestation of 300,000 ha, Bertrand (1983) estimated that the annual cost of deforestation is between US$69 million and US$295 million. Bertrand also estimated that lost FOB earnings range between US$80 million and US$200 million. These are important losses because the forestry-based sector plays a larger role in Cote d'Ivoire's economy than it does in any other African country (Gillis, 1988). The contribution of the forestry-based sector in the decade prior to 1981 was consistently about 6 percent of GDP, the highest in Africa. The value of wood extracted from forests rose from nearly US$600 million in 1977 to US$900 million in 1980, by which time the value of log and wood product exports reached US$562 million, or about 11 percent of total export earnings, down from the peak of 35 percent in 1973 (Gillis, 1988). In the decade prior to 1981, the Ivoirian forestry-based sector was a fairly strong source of tax revenues, providing, in all years except 1973, an annual average of 6 percent of government revenues, which was greater than the average for all other African countries except Liberia. The decline in the nation's forest export taxes and fees in relation to total government revenues has primarily been due to a reduction in total exports of higher value logs (for example, sappelli, sipo [Entandrophragma utile] and samba [Triplochiton scleroxylon], which are used to make furniture and to build houses). By 1978, lower value species constituted more than 50 percent of Ivoirian timber exports, the richer stands of sappelli and sipo trees having been largely depleted.


About 60 percent of Cote d'Ivoire's population lives in the forests. Spontaneous settlement and migration into the forest zone has averaged 100,000 people a year for the past 20 years. Instead of forcing people out of the forests, the best hope for slowing deforestation is to provide the people already there with the means of intensifying agricultural productivity and to combine sound agricultural and forestry policies to slow future migration into forest zones (Spears, 1986). Interventions to increase agricultural productivity can be divided into two categories: technological interventions and policy interventions.

Technological Interventions

Shifting (slash-and-burn) cultivation is still the dominant land use system in vast areas of Cote d'Ivoire. This traditional food crop production system, which is based solely on the restorative properties of woody species, has sustained agricultural production on uplands in many parts of the tropics for many generations. The system involves partial clearing of the forest or bush fallow. The cropping period is marked by a random spatial arrangement of crops and "regrowth" of woody perennials. Long fallow periods (10 to 20 years) are necessary to allow regeneration of soil productivity and weed suppression. However, the annual population growth rate of 4 percent increases the need for food, which, in turn, increases the need for land, causing increased deforestation and shorter fallow periods (2 or 3 years), which reduces the productive capacity of the land, decreases crop yields, and increases the opportunity for weed and pest infestation.

In the forests of Cote d'Ivoire, as in many other parts of the humid tropics, the maintenance of soil fertility constitutes the major constraint to increased agricultural sustainability. One of the basic characteristics of soils in the humid tropical lowlands of Africa is the susceptibility of the soils to degradation and the tendency for soil productivity to decline rapidly with repeated cultivation (Carr, 1989; Lal, 1986). The greatest challenge to research and extension staff is to maintain soil fertility in a sustainable manner. Farmers need sustainable land use systems that allow them to achieve the necessary levels of production while conserving the resources on which that production depends, thereby permitting the maintenance of productivity. According to Lal (1986), sustainable land use management technologies should include the following:

· Preservation of the delicate ecologic balance, namely, that among vegetation, climate, and soil;
· Maintenance of a regular, adequate supply of organic matter on the soil surface;
· Enhancement of soil fauna activity and soil turnover by natural process)
· Maintenance of the physical condition of the soil so that it is suitable for the land use;
· Replenishment of the nutrients removed by plants and animals;
· Creation of a desirable nutrient balance and soil reaction;
· Prevention of the buildup of pests and undesirable plants;
· Adaptation of a natural nutrient recycling mechanism to avoid nutrient losses from leaching; and
· Preservation of ecologic diversity.

All of these requirements are met in the traditional shifting cultivation systems that allow short cropping periods followed by long fallow periods. The scarcity of arable land because of increasing population pressures, however, has drastically shortened fallow periods, making a change or an adaptation of technology inevitable. Recent studies of farming systems have been done at national agricultural research centers, such as country-based research centers and universities in sub-Saharan Africa, and at international agricultural research centers, such as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria; the International Livestock Center for Africa (ILCA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and the International Center for Research on Agroforestry (ICRAF), Nairobi, Kenya. Based on the developments of this research, a survey of the literature indicates that five basic technologies are used to restore soil fertility in annual mixed (livestock and crops) cropping systems (Carr, 1989).

This technology is based on the importation of organic matter from outside the system. It usually relies on wood ash as a soil enhancer. Because of the high levels of mineralization of organic matter in the humid tropics, the system requires heavy and frequent application of organic matter and does not provide a viable technology for field-scale crop production when only human labor is used.

Mulch cover is an essential ingredient of conservation farming. Without an adequate amount of mulch, the soil structure deteriorates rapidly and crop yields decline. Mulch can be procured from crop residues, a cover crop, or a combination of both of these. In a crop residue system, substantial crop residue mulch is regularly added to the soil surface. It has proved to be beneficial for a wide range of soils and agroecologic environments in the tropics. The main benefits include better soil and water conservation, improved soil moisture and temperature regimes, amelioration of soil structure, favorable soil turnover through enhanced biotic activity of soil fauna, and protection of the soil from intense rains and desiccation. Because of amelioration of the soil structure and the effect of mulch on weed suppression, mulching is generally beneficial to crop growth (Lal, 1986).

When crop residue is inadequate, a practical means of procuring mulch is by the incorporation of an appropriate cover crop or the use of a planted fallow in the rotation. Research results have shown that in addition to providing mulch residues, planted fallows are more effective in restoring soil physical and nutritional properties than long bush fallow (Lal, 1986:77-81). Organic matter can be built up and soil structure can be improved, even on eroded and degraded lands, by growing appropriate planted fallow for 2 to 3 years (Wilson et al., 1982, 1986).

Despite the potential benefits that can be derived from the use of crop residues or herbaceous cover crops, their use has never gained popular acceptance in the humid tropics (Wilson et al., 1986), perhaps because farmers may be averse to using green manure crops that occupy the land during the rainy season without providing a direct return or because the herbaceous crops do not survive the dry period before the cropping season in areas with low total annual rainfall.

Appropriate fertilizer regimes have been developed. These regimes enhance crop growth but do not cause soil acidification or toxicity problems. For example, experiments conducted at the IITA (Ibadan, Nigeria) have shown that low-level application of lime and inorganic fertilizer results in lower rates of degradation of acidic soils (which are predominant in the tropical humid forests) and reduced acidity and toxicity, permitting significantly improved yields for crops such as maize. Other work shows, however, that if fertilizer is the only input, yields decline over time. In addition, lime and other, related fertilizers are not always available. Another problem related to the use of lime is that many soil nutrients can be lost through leaching because they are released as a result of changes in soil acidity (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, 1990). In addition, fertilizers cannot readily be found because of high prices and difficulties in transporting them to the areas where they are needed.

For many generations, farmers have exploited the potential of trees and shrubs for soil fertility regeneration and weed suppression in traditional slash-and-burn agricultural systems. The effectiveness of the role of trees and shrubs depends not only on the compositions of the woody species and soil characteristics but also on the length of the fallow periods (Nye and Greenland, 1960). Work at international research centers, such as the IITA, ILCA, and ICRAF, over the past 2 decades has demonstrated that replacing traditional species with trees that are both leguminous and tolerant of frequent pollarding can help slow down soil degradation. This led to the development of and research on alley cropping systems (Kang et al., 1981).

Alley Cropping Alley cropping is an agroforestry system in which crops are grown in alleys formed by hedgerows of trees and shrubs, preferably legumes (Figure 7). The hedgerows are cut back at the time of planting of food crops and are periodically pruned during cropping to prevent shading and to reduce competition with the associated food crops. The hedgerows are allowed to grow freely to cover the land when there are no crops (Kang et al., 1981). The major advantage of alley cropping over the traditional shifting and bush fallow system is that the cropping and fallow phases can take place concurrently on the same land, thus allowing farmers to crop the land for an extended period of time without returning to a fallow period.

Figure 7

The ILCA has extended the concept of alley cropping to include livestock by using a portion of the hedgerow's foliage for animal feed (the alley farming method) (Kang et al., 1990). Use of woody legumes provides rich mulch and green manure to maintain soil fertility, enhance crop production, and provide protein-rich fodder for livestock. On sloping lands, planting of hedgerows along the contours greatly reduces soil erosion. Alley cropping or farming is a potentially beneficial technology, but despite the improved basic knowledge about this technology, it is still in the development phase in the humid tropics. Additional technical and economic analysis is required.

Recently, Ehui et al. (1990) conducted an economic analysis of the effect of soil erosion on alley cropping and on no-till and bush fallow systems. They concluded that, in general, when access to new forestlands is costless in terms of foregone production because the land is fallow, slight decreases in yields from erosion will not detract significantly from the profit obtained by using traditional bush fallow systems with long fallow periods. However, in those cases in which land values increase because of population pressures, farmers who use bush fallow systems have incurred costs by keeping land out of production (that is, in fallow). Alley cropping was shown to be more profitable during the growing season, despite its higher labor requirement.

Studies at the IITA and elsewhere have shown the advantage of conservation tillage, an approach to soil surface management that emphasizes use and improvement of natural resources rather than exploitation and mining for quick economic return. Conservation tillage is defined as any system that leaves at least 30 percent of the previous crop residue on the surface after planting (Lal et al., 1990:207). When it is successfully applied, conservation tillage may maintain soil fertility and control erosion. The various types of conservation tillage include minimum tillage, chisel plowing, prow-plant, ridge tillage, and no-tillage.

In the humid tropics, no-till farming, which involves seeding through a crop residue mulch or on unplowed soil, has several advantages. One is the conservation of soil and water. Other advantages are the lowering of the maximum soil temperature and the maintenance of higher levels of organic matter in the soil. Experimental data from Ibadan, Nigeria (a subhumid zone), indicate that conservation tillage can be extremely effective in controlling soil erosion. For example, mean soil erosion rates for areas with slopes of up to 15 percent were estimated to be 0.1 and 9.4 metric tons/ha for no-till and plowed systems, respectively. Ehui et al. (1990) showed that, in areas with increasing population pressures, the no-till system is more profitable than the traditional bush fallow systems. The alley cropping system with 4 m of space between hedgerows is more profitable than the no-till system.

Policy Interventions

Government intervention is required when there are market failures. Some causes of market failure are the lack of clearly defined or secure property rights, variable external market pressures, inappropriate timber taxation, and a short-sighted plan that pursues quick profits at the expense of long-term, sustainable benefits (Panayotou, 1983). These causative factors characterize the economy of Cote d'Ivoire and emphasize the fact that policy reforms that address fundamental issues are needed.

The pressure for shorter fallow periods, spurred by population growth, requires investments in land improvements to retain soil fertility and investments of capital to expedite the preparation of land for farming and to increase productivity. The incentive to undertake such investments is based in part on secure future access to that land. Inappropriate land tenure regimes or the lack of a secure means of land ownership forces farmers to take actions-encroachment onto marginal lands, deforestation, and cultivation of steep slopes-that help them only in the short term. The main effect of insecure land tenure is the land operators's uncertainty about their ability to benefit from any investments they might make to improve and sustain the productive capacities of their farms (Feder and Noronha, 1987). Francis (1987) noted that community-controlled rotations of land parcels discouraged the adoption of alley farming in southeastern Nigeria. Survey results by Lawry and Stienbarger (1991) showed that most farmers who practice alley cropping obtained their land through divided inheritances, which allows them full control over their land.

Ownership security reinforces both investment incentives and the availability of investment capital. Availability of credit from institutional sources in particular frequently depends on the borrower's ownership security because unsecured loans are more risky for institutional lenders and less likely to be granted. In Cote d'Ivoire, proper titling of rural land areas is necessary to provide sufficient land tenure security for the people because the rights to most forest areas belong to the government. There are only a few individuals with property rights in Ivoirian forest areas. A unified, state-controlled system of rural land registration is one way of enhancing ownership security.

Goodland (1991) proposed that, in addition to being secure, land holdings should be of a size that can sustainably support families and provide them with a reasonable standard of living. Adequate parcel size promotes agricultural intensification and conservation of soils and forestland.

Promotion of sustainable use of forest lands can be achieved by granting long-term forest concessions to timber exploiters. Long-term concessions increase the forest exploiters' land tenure security and promote the efficiency of resource use. Such concessions should be revoked, however, and the concessionaires fined if the land is used in an unsustainable manner. Implementation of this policy would require that the government properly monitor logging activities of the concessionaires.

Earlier in this profile it was noted that one of the causes of deforestation is that timber license fees and royalties are, collectively, too low to encourage sustainable management of forest resources. Ehui and Hertel (1989,1992a) showed that, although deforestation in Cote d'Ivoire increases aggregate yields in the short term, it has long-term deleterious effects on productivity. Depletion of forest resources is associated with external factors, which have not been properly accounted for. (An "external factor" being the resultant effect when the action of one individual or farm has a positive or negative effect on other individuals or farms that are not parties to the activity but, as a consequence, incur the costs or enjoy the benefits.) For example, loggers and shifting cultivators receive the full benefits from extraction of timber and slash-and-burn land preparation, respectively, but they incur only some of the costs; the rest of the costs are incurred by downstream farmers-and by the society at large-in the forms of flooding, siltation, and erosion.

Theoretically, the preferred policy for controlling excessive deforestation would be taxation. A proper level of taxation on forest exploiters would reduce the level of deforestation to a point at which the marginal social costs of deforestation would be equal to the marginal benefits. (Marginal social costs are defined as the direct costs of clearing the forest plus the associated opportunity or user costs.) Because the forest stock is fixed, any unit cleared or consumed is unavailable for use in the future. Consequently, current deforestation comes at the expense of future benefits from forest endowment, resulting in opportunity or user costs.

Other reasons for the excessive rate of deforestation in Cote d'Ivoire include capital constraints faced by the farmers combined with the often highly imperfect and distorted capital markets and relatively low producer prices. Often, it is cash funds for consumption and investment-not land-that is the scarcest resource for farmers. Capital constraints prevent the optimal use of resources. It is at this point that affordable credit is needed. In many rural areas, institutional credit either is not available or is too costly. The result is that many farmers are unable to put their land to its best use, even if they have the knowledge and motivation to do so. The lack of credit is also exacerbated by the low prices, relative to world market prices, that farmers receive for their products. One solution to excessive deforestation is to intensify agricultural productivity, thus negating the need to deforest more land. Intensification occurs through the use of improved inputs and extension services and when farmers are encouraged to mechanize their farming operations and apply pesticides. Without adequate prices and credit farmers will not be able to acquire these inputs.

The proper role of markets in sustainable soil management needs to be outlined as well. In studying agricultural mechanization and the evolution of farming systems in sub-Saharan African, Pingali et al. (1987) showed that for a given population density, an improvement in access to markets causes further intensification of the farming system (in this case, use of the prow). Their survey results support the hypothesis that, with poor access to markets, extensive forms of farming such as forest fallow and bush fallow are usually practiced.


Cote d'Ivoire achieved the highest agricultural growth rate (5 percent) in sub-Saharan Africa during the first 2 decades after independence in 1960 (den Tuinder, 1978; Lee, 1983). This growth rate was driven primarily by increases in the area under cultivation (Lee, 1983; Spears, 1986), which arose solely from deforestation (see Table 2). As a result, agricultural expansion has often involved movement onto poorer soils and sloping uplands that cannot support permanent cropping (Bourreau, 1984) and is therefore unsustainable; this has mitigated rural poverty.

Planners must implement an agricultural system that can feed an increasing population without irreparably damaging the natural resource base on which agricultural production depends. Today, with an annual population growth rate of close to 4 percent, the main forestry policy question facing the government of Cote d'Ivoire is how to effectively manage what is left of the tropical rain forest.

Table 10 Forest Loss Scenarios in Cd’Ivoire, 1990-2029

Three Deforestation Scenarios

Table 10 presents the expected patterns of deforestation over the next 30 years using three scenarios: a base-case scenario (scenario A), a worst-case scenario (scenario B), and a best-case scenario (scenario C).

In the base-case scenario, it is assumed that there will be some reformation of government policy toward forest resource management but no real high-level political commitment. Because forest resources have decreased to such a large extent, the rate of deforestation in this scenario will, in the 1990s, decline to about 80,000 ha/ year. The rate will decline to 60,000 ha/year from 2000 to 2009 and to 50,000 ha/year from 2010 to 2029 before the forests are depleted of their resources.

The worst-case scenario is based on a laissez faire policy, in which the government will, as in the past, have no overall land use policy. Price and fiscal policies will be unchanged, and there will be no effort to intensify agriculture. In this scenario, the rate of deforestation is hypothesized to be at least the same as that during the previous decade (that is, almost 200,000 ha/year). At this rate, there will be no remaining highland forest by the end of 2000. This hypothesis is based on the assumption that there will be no population growth control, that the population will continue to grow at an average rate of 3.6 percent per year, and that the major source of food and agricultural growth for the country will be through the expansion of the agricultural land frontier into presently forested areas rather than through land-saving technologies. Also, projecting the current slump in prices for Cote d'Ivoire's major export crops (cacao and coffee) and the increasing debt burden and unemployment rate in the cities, farmers and loggers will be encouraged, in an effort to increase foreign exchange earnings, to cut the remaining tracts of natural forests.

In the best-case scenario, the rate of deforestation is expected to average 50,000 ha/year between 1990 and 1999, 20,000 ha/year between 2000 and 2009, and 10,000 ha/year between 2010 and 2029. With these levels of deforestation there will be 1.05 million ha of forest remaining by 2009 and 0.85 million ha of forest remaining by 2029. This scenario is based on the assumption that policy and technology options listed below (see also, Spears [1986]) will be supported by the government, with high-level political commitment.

Technology options lie in the direction of sustainable and economically efficient agricultural practices-that is, practices that can maintain protective organic mulches on the soil surface by maximizing biomass production (organic residue production) while minimizing the negative competitive effects on the crops or animals produced. Policy options lie in the direction of reformation of land tenure rights and taxation and fees for timber extraction.

Technology options include the following:

· Use of organic manure and inorganic fertilizers;
· Use of mulches and cover crop systems;
· Intensification of agricultural production in humid forest zones through the use of tree-based technologies-such as alley cropping- that can reduce dependence on bush fallowing;
· Development of intensive food crop production in lowland areas;
· Conservation tillage; and
· Creation of a buffer zone of intensive agricultural perennials (coffee, cacao, oil palm, and rubber) around or adjacent to the most imminently threatened forest areas.

Policy options include the following:

· Continue public awareness, mass education about and moral persuasion against deforestation;
· Incorporate environmental conservation curricula in schools, including intensive forestry and agroforestry education, training, and research, with special emphasis on topics such as tree breeding and genetic improvement in order to increase productivity and shorten plantation rotations;
· Establish a mechanism for defining proper land tenure regimes (for example, a unified, state-controlled system of land titling);
· Improve timber pricing and fiscal policies (for example, sales of permits for the extraction of forest products and strict monitoring of current extraction and transportation procedures);
· Raise timber extraction taxes to reflect the true price of forest resources and to help fund reforestation;
· Institute subsidies, investment tax credits, and other incentives for reforestation by private and government agencies;
· Support large-scale government and private investments in reforestation;
· Improve agricultural pricing and credit policies; and
· Prepare a land use plan for forest zones, demarcating areas suited to perennial agricultural tree crops, food crops, and forestry and setting up a more effective government mechanism for land use allocation in forest zones.

In Cote d'Ivoire, most forestlands are owned by the government, and prices for extraction of forest resources are fixed far below what is necessary to make sustainable practices cost-effective and to stimulate capital formation for replanting operations. With the costs of deforestation externalized (for example, the impact of deforestation on the future productivity of the land), forestland pricing policy needs a thorough revamping if forest regeneration is to be boosted and excessive deforestation reduced.

Illegal encroachments of forests because of unclearly defined property rights have become increasingly common, and the multiple activities that follow encroachment (for example, cattle grazing and shifting cultivation) intensify the deleterious effects of deforestation. Policies regarding land titling must, therefore, also be revamped.

Among the agricultural technology options, alley cropping appears to be the most promising. Even though alley cropping has proved to be agronomically and economically more viable than alternative land use systems, its successful adoption depends on the prevailing policy environment. Without sound economic policies that support agriculture-such as investment in infrastructure, proper incentives to farmers, adequate supplies of production inputs, effective marketing, and credit facilities-it will be difficult to achieve increased agricultural productivity through new land use technologies.


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Junus Kartasubrata

Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago, consisting of some 13,700 islands. It is physiologically, biologically, and culturally one of the most diverse countries in the world. Some 70 percent of Indonesia is sea, while its land area is greater than 195 million ha. Massive mountain ranges containing a large number of volcanic formations run through the islands of Sumatra, Java, and the Lesser Sunda and also extend throughout the islands of Sulawesi and Irian Jaya. The highlands consist of broad alluvial plains.


Indonesia is part of the Malesian botanical region, which is characterized by a large number of endemic species, a rich flora, and a complex vegetation structure. The Malesian rain forests are the richest in the world in terms of number of species (Whitmore, 1984). One of their most important features is the abundance of trees in the family Dipterocarpaceae.


Indonesia is a country of villages, with 67,949 villages spread over 3,542 subdistricts within 246 regencies in 27 provinces. Indonesia is the fifth most populous country in the world, with over 184 million people (World Resources Institute, 1992). The population is unevenly distributed. Approximately 100 million people, 61 percent of the population, are concentrated on the island of Java, which accounts for only 6.7 percent of the total land area of Indonesia.

The island of Java, which has rich volcanic soils and high agricultural productivity, is one of the most populous regions in the world (population density, 768 people/km²). The islands of Kalimantan and Irian Jaya, on the other hand, which together account for 50 percent of the country's land area, have population densities of 14 and 3 people/km², respectively. Urban populations are also higher in Java and Bali. Thirty percent of the population of Java is concentrated in cities, compared with 20 percent in the Outer Islands.

Indonesia's population increased at an average annual rate of 2.3 percent from 1965 to 1986. The growth rate decreased to about 2.15 percent in the 1980s. The annual growth rate varies markedly among the provinces, for example, 3.1 percent for Sumatra and 1.8 percent for Java in 1985, with the other regions having growth rates between those for Sumatra and Java (Asian Development Bank, 1989).

Urban populations have also been increasing considerably faster than rural populations, reflecting the country's industrialization. In 1971, for example, of the total population, the urban population was 17 percent in 1983 it had increased to 26 percent, and in 1993 it is expected to reach 32 percent, that is, 61 million of 193 million people (Asian Development Bank, 1989).

Demographic policies have focused on controlling population growth through family planning and regional population distribution. The government's target of annual population growth for REPELITA V (Rencana Pembangunan Lima Tahun), Indonesia's Fifth Five Year Development Plan (1989-1990 to 1993-1994), is 1.9 percent (Government of Indonesia/National Development Planning Agency, 1989). Even so, Indonesia's population is expected to increase substantially, to about 193 million people by 1993 (Government of Indonesia/National Development Planning Agency, 1989) and to 307 million people by 2030 (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990).

The uneven population distribution between the islands of Java and Bali and the Outer Islands is perceived as a major problem. Therefore, transmigration programs that resettle people from one region to another have been a priority of the Indonesian government. Migrants from Java and Bali are resettled in the provinces of Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, and Irian Jaya. According to government records, during the first 4 years of the REPELITA IV plan (1984-1985 to 19881989), 504,941 families were relocated; the target for the REPELITA V plan is 750,000 families (Government of Indonesia/Department of Information, 1989).

Indonesia's work force amounts to 74.5 million people, or 42 percent of the total population, with 61 percent in Java and 39 percent in the Outer Islands (Government of Indonesia/Department of Information, 1989). In 1985, the proportion of the work force employed in various sectors was as follows: 54.7 percent in the agricultural sector (compared with 64.2 percent in 1971); 15.0 percent in the commercial sector; 13.3 percent in public services; 9.3 percent in industry; 3.3 percent in construction; 3.1 percent in transportation and communication; 0.7 percent in mining; 0.4 percent in finance and insurance; 0.1 percent in electricity, gas, and water; and 0.1 percent in other sectors.

In 1985 the work force increased at an annual rate of 4 percent. During the REPELITA V plan, the work force is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 3.0 percent, with 2.2 percent in Java and 4.2 percent in the Outer Islands (Government of Indonesia/Department of Information, 1989).


Indonesian statistics on food crop production distinguish between production of wet paddy rice, dryland rice, and secondary crops, such as maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, peanuts, and soybeans. The agricultural survey of 1985 provided annual statistics for food crop production (Table 1).

Milled rice is a staple food in Indonesia. Milled rice production more than tripled in 40 years (1950 to 1987); consequently, rice imports have decreased, whereas the per capita supply of Ace has almost doubled. Production and imports of milled rice from 1950 to 1987 are given in Table 2. A detailed account of milled rice production and imports from 1981 to 1987 has been compiled by Sadikin (1990) and is presented in Table 3. In 1985, Indonesia became self-sufficient in rice production. This balanced situation has mostly been maintained.

Agricultural (including forestry) product exports include rubber, tea, coffee, oil palm, tobacco, white and black pepper, and timber mainly as plywood. Exports totaled about 4 million metric tons in 1988 (Biro Pusat Statistik [Central Bureau of Statistics], 1988).

Tables 1 to 3

Forest Resources

The forests of Indonesia can be classified into the following 10 aggregations on the basis of the characteristics of their vegetation (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990):

· Coastal forests on beaches and dunes;
· Tidal forests, including mangrove, nipa, and other coastal palms;
· Heath forests associated with sandy, infertile soils;
· Peat forests associated with organic soils with peat layers at least 50 cm deep;
· Swamp forests seasonally inundated by fresh water;
· Evergreen forests, including moist primary lowland, riparian, and dry deciduous forests;
· Forests on rocks that contain basic (pH more than 7) minerals (for example, hornblend, augite, biotite, and plagiolass);
· Mountain forests (at elevations above 2,000 m);
· Bamboo forests; and
· Savannah forests.

Records from the Tata Guna Hutan Kesepakatan (TGHK; Forest Land Use by Consensus) inventory indicate that areas designated as forestlands cover 144.0 million ha, about 74 percent of the total land area of Indonesia. They are subdivided into the following four forest classes: conservation forests (18.8 million ha), protection forests (30.3 million ha), production forests (64.4 million ha), and conversion forests, including some unclassified forestlands (30.5 million ha) (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990). These functional classes are not demarcated on the ground, and forestlands have been used for other purposes, for example, human settlements as a result of transmigration, mining, and agricultural perennial crops.

Forestland on Java (about 3 million ha) is legally declared as such and is referred to as "gazetted" (set-aside) forestland and is demarcated in the field. Most of the TGHK forestland outside Java is in the process of becoming legal forestland (pregazetted-that is, presetaside-forestland). Of the 144.0 million ha comprising the four forest classes, only 109 million ha has forest cover at present. This constitutes 9 to 10 percent of the world's total area of closed tropical forests (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990). The distributions of TGHK forests among various islands of Indonesia are given in Table 4.

Table 4 Distribution of Forest Classes among Various Indonesian Islands (in Thousands of Hectares)

Major timber products from forests used for tree production (production forests) outside Java are mainly members of the family Dipterocarpaceae and include the genera Shorea, Hopea, Dipterocarpus, Dryobalanops, Anisoptera, Parashorea, and Vatica.

Satellite imagery, aerial photographs, and terrestrial inventories indicate that of the area designated as production forests, only 39,200 million ha (60.90 percent) is productive. The remaining 25,200 million ha (39.10 percent) is no longer productive (Prastowo, 1991). The TGHK area of permanent-production forests is 33.9 million ha, of which 21.0 million ha (52.0 percent) is productive. The TGHK area of limited-production forests is 30.5 million ha, of which 18.2 million ha (48.0 percent) is productive (Prastowo, 1991).

According to various surveys, potential production in limited-and permanent-production forests is as follows. In Java and Madura, the production forest extends to 1.9 million ha, consisting of tree plantations of, for example, the genera Pinus, Agathis, Swietenia, Dalbergia, and Altingia, with an average production potential of 908.773 m³/ year from a harvested area of 50,549 ha/year. Of the 66.6 million-ha concession area (forestlands leased to private companies for 20 years for logging and replanting) in the Outer Islands, 56.3 million ha is productive forest and is located in production and conversion forests (a conversion forest is forest on land that can be used for other purposes, for example, agriculture, settlements, or industry). The average production potential of a stand of a commercial species with diameters of 250 cm is more than 90 m³/ha for species consisting mostly of the dipterocarp family but including members of the genera Agathis and Gonystylus, among others. The largest standing volumes are in the provinces of Kalimantan Timur (1,751 million m³), Kalimantan Tengah (764 million m³), Irian Jaya (661 million m³), Kalimantan Barat (476 million m³), and Riau (365 million m³).

Ecologic Characteristics and Issues

Indonesia is outstandingly rich in plants and animals. Only 1.3 percent of the earth's land surface is occupied by Indonesia; yet 10 percent of the world's plant species, 12 percent of the world's mammal species, 16 percent of the world's reptile and amphibian species, and 17 percent of the world's bird species can be found in Indonesia (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990). Therefore, Indonesia has a great responsibility to maintain the biodiversity found in that country. For that purpose Indonesia has promulgated laws and regulations pertaining to the protection of nature (these are discussed in greater detail later in this profile) and has earmarked 341 locations (a total of 13 million ha) as conservation forests or protected areas. Nevertheless, many species in Indonesia are already threatened with extinction: 126 birds, 63 mammals, and 21 reptiles.

Indonesia also has a famed diversity of ecosystems-from the ice fields of Irian Jaya to a wide variety of humid lowland forests, from deep lakes to shallow swamps, from coral reefs to mangrove forests. Indonesia also has valuable genetic resources.

Indonesia is not a uniform country, as demonstrated by the 416 land systems identified in the Regional Physical Program for Transmigration report (1990). This biogeographical diversity is reflected in its biologic resources. For example, the Sulawesi-Maluku-Lesser Sunda area, known as the "wallacea area" (named for the nineteenth century British biologist Alfred Wallace), is biologically complex. It is characterized by animals that are neither particularly Asian nor particularly Australian but, rather, commonly unique to a single island. There is much concern about the degraded ecologic conditions resulting from shifting (slash-and-burn) cultivation and forest clearing in mountainous areas for use as agricultural land-conditions such as the formation of large areas of alang-alang (Imperata cylindrica) fields in the Outer Islands and accelerated soil erosion in the upland areas of Java. These concerns are described in detail below.

The Alang-Alang Problem Alang-alang is a notorious weed found in the humid tropics. It is known as lalang in Malaysia and as blady grass in Australia. Alang-alang is a climax plant community that spreads rapidly after burning of the land, maintaining its dominance in the ecosystem. About 15 million ha (8 percent of Indonesia's land area) is classified as alang-alang fields. Although Irian Jaya contains more alang-alang than the other provinces do, the Sulawesi, Sumatra Utara, Kalimantan Selatan, and Timor Timur regions are most critically affected by alang-alang vegetation.

Soil Erosion The problem of soil erosion has attracted public attention since the middle of the nineteenth century, when there was heavy flooding of some rivers in Java and the emergence of critically degraded lands (Utomo, 1989). It was assumed that the floods were caused by excessive clearing of forested areas for the estabilishment of large agricultural estates in upland areas, thus critically degrading the land. Sukartiko (1988) reported on the alarming erosion rates of soils in the watershed areas of some rivers in Java and Sumatra. They varied from 1.28 mm/year in the Asahan watershed in Sumatra to 8.0 rum/year in the Cisanggarung watershed in Java. Erosion has also caused sedimentation in reservoirs and irrigation systems and a subsequent loss of their water-holding capacities.

Economic Activity

The following data were derived from a joint report of the Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (1990) relating to the situation and outlook for forestry in Indonesia.

Indonesia's gross domestic product (GDP) in 1987 amounted to 114.5 trillion rupiah (Rp) (US$69.4 billion). From 1965 to 1980, Indonesia's GDP grew at an average annual rate of 7.9 percent (in U.S. dollars). From 1980 to 1986, annual GDP growth averaged 3.4 percent (World Bank, 1989). Indonesia's economy was actually in recession in 1982, with the GDP declining 2.2 percent (Government of Indonesia/Department of Information, 1989). Further declines because of declines in oil prices were observed in 1985 and 1986.

Indonesia is still an agricultural country, despite the sharp decline in the contribution of the agricultural sector to the country's GDP. In 1961, the agricultural sector contributed 47 percent of the GDP, but its contribution declined to 26 percent in 1986. As an oil-exporting country, oil has been one of Indonesia's main sources of foreign exchange. The mining and the oil and gas sectors increased their contributions to GDP from 12.3 percent in 1973 to 19 percent in 1983; this declined to 13.5 percent in 1986.

The various regions of Indonesia have developed at different rates. The fastest-growing area has been the island of Bali, with a GDP annual growth rate of 13.3 percent from 1980 to 1986, while the Riau archipelago has a recessionary economy, with a negative annual growth rate of -7.4 percent.

Further industrialization is a national goal for the REPELITA V plan. The annual growth target for the manufacturing sector is 8.5 percent, while that for the agricultural sector is 3.6 percent. Another goal is to further diversify the manufacturing sector away from oil. Although the target for the oil and gas sectors is an annual increase of 4.2 percent, the target for the non-oil and gas sectors is 10 percent annually.

Indonesia's average per capita income in 1988 was US$440. Indonesia ranked close to last in the lower-middle income country groupings, behind the Philippines and Papua New Guinea (World Bank, 1989). Among 120 reporting countries, however, Indonesia had the eighth fastest rate of growth in income per capita from 1965 to 1986. The target for per capita GDP growth for the REPELITA V plan is approximately 3.1 percent per annum.

Total domestic investment amounted to 20 trillion rupiah in 1986, which was 20.7 percent of GDP. Private investment contributed 48 percent of total investment in 1985-1986 and 57 percent in 1988-1989. Annual fixed investment grew considerably (11.7 percent) from 1971 through 1981, but registered negative growth (-0.5 percent) from 1981 to 1988 because of the contraction of public investment. Investment growth recovered considerably in 1988 (Government of Indonesia/ Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990).

Economic Importance of Forestry

During the last 25 to 30 years there has been rapid change in the forestry sector in Indonesia. During the early 1960s timber production was confined mostly to teakwood in Java and a limited number of valuable wood species in the more accessible natural forests in the Outer Islands. Since then, most forestry activities have moved from Java to the Outer Islands.

During the past 30 years annual log production increased from about 2 million to 36 million m³, originating mostly (96 percent) from the natural forests. This has resulted in an increase in the number of processing units, mostly sawmills and plywood mills, and in the volume of manufactured wood-based products (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990).

Prastowo (1991) reported on the development of log and lumber production from 1969-1970 to 1988-1989 (Table 5). The development of wood processing industries, in particular sawmills and plywood mills, is described in Table 6. In 1973 there were 14 sawmill units with a rated capacity of 200,000 m³/year. This total grew to 364 units in 1988 with a capacity of 11,400,000 m³, a growth of 26 times in the total number of units and 57 times in capacity. Plywood mills increased from 2 units in 1973 to 114 units in 1988 (57-fold growth), and the capacity went from 28 m³ in 1973 to 9,013,000 m³ in 1988 (321-fold growth).

The development of primary industries (sawmills and plywood mills) was considered satisfactory up to the end of the REPELITA IV plan. Secondary wood-based industries, such as pulp and paper, furniture, and other woodworking industries, are now on the agenda for development. The objective is to obtain more added value and to expand employment opportunities.

The production level for furniture and other woodworking industries in 1986-1987 was 1,494,178 m³. This increased to 1,904,231 m³ in 1988-1989 (Prastowo, 1991). Faster development of secondary wood-based industries is anticipated in the years to come, as was experienced with the plywood industry.

Table 5 Development of Log and Lumber Production (in Thousands of Cubic Meters)

The growth of the pulp and paper industry is also promising. In 1979-1980 the production level was 220,000 metric tons, which increased to 600,000 metric tons in 1986-1987. At the beginning of 1990 there were 43 pulp and paper mills, with an annual capacity of 1 million metric tons of pulp and 1.7 million metric tons of paper (Prastowo, 1991). Indonesia is ambitiously trying to become one of the world's largest pulp and paper producers. To achieve this goal, the government has embarked on the large-scale development of forest industrial plantations, which are expected to become the main source of raw materials for the pulp and paper industry.

Contribution of Forestry to the National Economy

Forestry, together with downstream forest-based industries, has become an important sector in the Indonesian economy, even without considering the various nonmarket benefits arising from forests and forest activities. In 1987 forestry contributed 1.2 percent to the Indonesian GDP, and the forest-based industries contributed another 1.5 percent, bringing the total to 2.7 percent. That same year, agriculture and fishing contributed 25.5 percent, oil contributed 14 percent, and non-oil manufacturing contributed another 13.9 percent to the GDP.

Table 6 Development of Sawmills and Playwood Mills in Indonesia, 1973-1988

Forestry has been particularly important for foreign exchange earnings. In 1987 forestry and the forest industries led to export revenues of US$2.7 billion, or 16 percent of the value of Indonesia's total exports. In the same year, agriculture and fisheries contributed 19 percent of the value of Indonesia's total exports, non-oil manufacturing contributed 15 percent, and petroleum and gas contributed 41 percent.

Among the various forestry-based industries, the plywood industry is the most important one, making up 52 percent of the total contribution of the forest industry to Indonesia's GDP. Sawn wood and other wood products contributed 37 percent, and pulp and paper contributed 11 percent.

As a result of limitations on log exports and a later total ban on log exports, Indonesia's sawmill and plywood industries grew dramatically from 1980 to 1987. Exporters were able to penetrate world markets, and Indonesia is now a dominant exporter, accounting for 48 percent of the world's plywood market and 17 percent of the nonconiferous sawn wood market.

Other products, such as rattan, are also important sources of foreign exchange. Furthermore, large numbers of forest dwellers and rural people eke out livelihoods and earn cash incomes by extracting products from the forests.

The benefits arising from the environmental functions of forests are also important. These functions include regulation of river water flow, which prevents floods in the wet season and water shortages in the dry season; control of soil erosion; curtailing extreme temperatures and reducing wind velocities in and around forests (producing a more favorable microclimate); and oxygen production and carbon dioxide utilization, which mitigate the effects of the greenhouse effect. However, there is no adequate mechanism to quantify these functions (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990).


In this profile, the term deforestation means the removal or destruction of all or most of the trees of a forest such that reproduction is impossible except by artificial means. Deforestation is also used to refer to the loss of natural forest cover. In Indonesia, deforestation includes conversion of forestlands into estate crops (large tracts of land [200 to 300 ha] on which crops such as tea, rubber, coconut, oil palm, and cacao are cultivated), as well as clearing of forestlands for settled agriculture (farming of the same piece of land without fallow periods); shifting cultivation; and such things as human settlements, infrastructure, and mining. Indiscriminate and excessive logging may also cause deforestation.

Reforestation in Indonesia means the planting of trees on bare forestlands, that is, land designated by law as permanent forest. Regreening means the planting of trees on private land.

Rates of Deforestation

Average rates of deforestation in Indonesia (by island) were computed by using observations of forest cover from various assessments carried out between 1950 and 1984. The rates of deforestation (Table 7) measure the average percent decline in area under forest cover. For Indonesia the average was an annual decline of 0.71 percent.

Table 7 Average Deforestation Rates in Indonesia, by Island

The total annual rate of deforestation was estimated to be about 300,000 ha in the early 1970s and about 600,000 ha in the early 1980s. Using the estimates of smallholder conversion, shifting cultivation, development projects, poor logging practices, and losses caused by fire, the World Bank (1989) estimated a deforestation rate of between 700,000 and 1,200,000 ha in 1989, or an average of 1.2 percent per year (Table 8) (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990). The estimated area of closed forests (forests in which the tree canopies completely cover the land) was 109 million ha in 1990 (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990).

Population Pressure and Demand for Agricultural Land

In principle, deforestation can be seen to be a result of demand for agricultural land, depending on a variety of factors. In a developing country such as Indonesia, population pressure is one of those factors. Other factors may be also important. In communities where there is industrial development and a nonsubsistence economy (an economy in which not only basic needs but also nonbasic needs such as a higher standard of living, education, and recreation are fulfilled), demand for agricultural land is lower because there are sources of income other than those from farming activities. In a market economy, food can readily be imported and exchanged for other goods produced in the country.

Furthermore, economic development brings about changes in the structure of demand, away from food commodities and toward industrial goods. When the manufacturing sector grows faster than the agricultural sector, there is increasing urbanization. Thus, higher per capita income is likely another explanation for the decline in deforestation trends. In developed countries, for example, deforestation has stopped, and in many cases the forestland base is increasing.

Income disparities also play an important role in deforestation. Thus, if increases in per capita income are not evenly distributed, the pressure on forestland from the rural poor and land-hungry farming communities may continue (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990). Gains in agricultural productivity, if coupled with economic development, may reduce the demand for agricultural land by releasing farm labor to move to other sectors of the economy and contribute further to urbanization. In this case, a smaller amount of land is required to produce the same amount of food, and deforestation pressures are reduced. If sectors of the population do not have means of economic survival other than working the land, pressures on forestlands continue independent of gains in food production.

A classic example of deforestation brought about by population pressures and demand for agricultural land is that of the islands of Java and Bali. Deforestation in Java and Bali started some 300 to 400 years ago. At the end of the nineteenth century, forestland was pushed back to the summits and higher slopes of the mountains to provide land for agriculture. The lower hill areas of the northern parts of central and east Java were unaffected, however. Since the seventeenth century, the United Dutch India Company maintained teak forests to provide timber for their merchant fleet and for use as merchandise in their Asian-European trade. Using the domain principle, which was part of the Dutch Agrarian Law of 1870, the Dutch Indian government declared that the remaining forested area was classified as forestland, demarcating it with boundary poles in the field. Today, Java has about 3 million ha of forestland, which is about 22 percent of the island's land area.

Table 8 Sources of Deforestation (in Thousands of Hectares per Year)

In the meantime, pressure on forestlands continues to increase with increases in population density (on average, 768 inhabitants per km² at present). As a consequence, large areas of forestland are used for agriculture. According to Perum Perhutani (State Forest Corporation), the total area of critically degraded forestland in Java is estimated to be 230,000 ha. In addition to other efforts through social forestry programs, serious efforts are being made to reforest the critical forestlands and to regreen degraded agricultural lands.

In the lower parts of the island of Java, in particular, which have sufficient water supplies, wet paddy rice fields, a productive and sustainable form of agriculture, have been constructed. Rice production has increased manyfold in the past 20 years because of improved rice cultivation technology, including the use of high-yield varieties, fertilizers, and insecticides; support by soft loan credits (money lent on favorable terms from government banks) for operational costs as well as for seeds, fertilizers, and insecticides; and a well-organized extension network. However, this increase in the productivity of wet paddy rice fields cannot prevent landless farmers from looking for more land to farm, even on steep slopes. To prevent further degradation of the natural resources in Java, two strategies are used by the Indonesian government: soil conservation in the uplands and transmigration of needy farmers to the Outer Islands.

Logging in Natural Forests

Increased exploitation of natural forests in the islands outside Java was stimulated by the enactment of laws on foreign capital (Law No. 1,1.967) and domestic capital investment (Law No. 6,1968). Through these laws, the government of Indonesia opened the possibility of forest exploitation to foreign as well as domestic private companies by providing incentives such as tax exemptions. Forest concessions are granted under a right for forest exploitation (Hak Pengusahaan Hutan [HPH]) after the application for concession is approved in a Forestry Agreement contract, in which the rights and obligations of the HPH holders are stipulated. For example, companies are required to pay license fees and royalties and are obliged to adhere to proper and sustainable forest operations.

Within the HPH system, based on the actual conditions and needs of the forests, the forests are managed under a combination of the following three systems:

· Tebang Pilih Indonesia (TPI), Indonesian selective cutting system;
· Tebang Habis dengan Permudaan Alam (THPA), clear-cutting with natural regeneration; and
· Tebang Habis dengan Permudaan Buatan (THPB), clear-cutting with artificial regeneration.

In practice, however, the TPI system is mostly practiced in the management of natural forests by HPH holders. The TPI system assumes a 70-year rotation, and harvesting is carried out on 35-year cutting cycles. Trees must have a minimum diameter of 50 cm, measured over the bark, before they can be cut. In the cutting area, at least 25 trees with diameters of more than 20 cm must be kept for regeneration purposes. If there are fewer than 25 remaining mother trees (trees for seed production), enrichment planting (planting of additional seedlings) must then be carried out.

Other provisions that must be observed for sustainable forest management include determination of the annual allowable cut by the Ministry of Forestry-in consideration of the existing standing stock-and prescription in a forest management plan of pre- and postfelling inventories as well as postlogging silvicultural treatments and tending of regeneration and advance growth.

There were serious lapses, however, in the implementation of the TPI system. Several evaluations carried out over the past 4 to 5 years indicated that in general the production forests are managed inadequately and improperly (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990). Logged-over stands are frequently damaged, sometimes by up to 60 percent. Moreover, many license holders select only the most valuable trees ("creaming"), and exceed the allowable annual cutting area, so that the whole concession area is logged over after 20 years instead of the prescribed 35 years.

As a consequence, degradation of the growing stock in many concession areas has taken place. In addition, ill-designed skid and logging roads have contributed to the acceleration of erosion rates. The same logging roads are also frequently used by migrants to gain access to land for shifting cultivation. Therefore, logging operations in natural forests can directly or indirectly cause environmental degradation and, in some cases, outright deforestation.

In 1991, the TPI system was replaced with the Indonesian selective cutting and planting system (the TPTI system), which places greater emphasis on forest regeneration. The effectiveness of the TPTI system has not yet been evaluated because of its recent implementation.

Shifting Cultivation

Shifting or slash-and-burn cultivation, in general, is regarded by some as a menace to the environment, a harmful practice that causes widespread deforestation and erosion. Others view shifting cultivation as the benign and productive use of poor soils by those who live under poor socioeconomic conditions.

Because of the increasing numbers of the rural population who have no secure access to land, many people have become shifting cultivators. These landless people do not practice a form of shifting cultivation based on cultural heritage, nor do they have any local community or legal system that provides them with the ability to use sustainable (perpetually productive and ecologically sound) agricultural practices. As a result, their shifting cultivation activities are detrimental to forestlands. The problem is further exacerbated when these "transitional" shifting cultivators work for an urban-based entrepreneurial system that employs them to carry out shifting cultivation. These transitional shifting cultivators have access to chain saws and outboard motors, which they use to cut primary forests to produce surplus products for nearby markets. After 2 to 6 years of shifting cultivation, these areas are often degraded into alang-alang grasslands. A cropping phase that is too long and a fallow period that is too short result in rapidly declining crop yields, loss of soil nutrients, and soil erosion. Greater population pressure has also stimulated spontaneous migrant cultivators who convert (primary) forestland to land on which destructive forms of shifting cultivation is practiced.

According to estimates of the Ministry of Forestry of the government of Indonesia, 10 percent of the total forestland in Kalimantan is degraded because of shifting cultivation. The areas of the forest under shifting cultivation and the total number of households that practice shifting cultivation on islands outside Java (except Irian Jaya) are given in Table 9. Forest losses resulting from shifting cultivation are estimated to be between 300,000 and 500,000 ha annually (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990; World Bank, 1989).

Table 9 Forest Area Under Shifting Cultivation and Shifting Cultivation Households

Transmigration Program

Since 1969, some 613,700 families have transmigrated to islands other than Java (Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Irian Jaya). Each family receives 2 ha of dryland (or 2.5 to 3.0 ha of land in wetland reclamation areas in Kalimantan and Sumatra, where conditions are less favorable) under the sponsorship of the Indonesian government. Most of this land originated from forestland. By the year 2000, an estimated 10 million families are expected to be transmigrated and settled on these islands. This means that 20 million ha of predominantly forested land will likely be transformed into agricultural land by the end of the century. Parts of the 30.5 million-ha conversion forest could be used for this purpose.

Table 10 shows the average annual amount of forestland that was released to the transmigration program during REPELITA III and REPELITA IV (1979-1980 to 1988-1989).

In theory, the transmigration program should result in systematic sustained and productive development of the land in the underpopulated Outer Islands. In the first 2 to 4 years, the most common use of the opened land areas has been for continuous cultivation of traditional food crops, predominantly upland rice. Most of the soils of the newly opened upland are not fit for that purpose. The soils in the area consist of Latosols (Oxisols) and red-yellow podzols (Alfisols, Ultisols), which are moderately to highly acidic (pH 4 to 5). Drainage is unusually poor, the mineral and organic content is low, the erosion rate is high, phosphorus-fixing capacity is high, and the aluminum concentration and levels of aluminum saturation are high (Kaul, 1990).

Tabele 10 Annual Average of Forestlands Released to transmigration Program During REPELITAS III and IV (in Hecatares)

As a consequence, sustainable production of food crops, including rice, is not attainable without heavy inputs and proper soil and crop management. Maize, cassava, various legumes, amaranthus, chiles, eggplant, coffee, and some minor spice plants are grown in these continuous-cultivation cropping systems. Yields are generally very low because of weather conditions and the high incidence of pests. The lack of resources for mechanization or draft power and the high incidence of weeds (mainly alang-alang) have made the cropping systems nonsustainable in many transmigration areas (Kaul, 1990). Those constraints may lead to encroachment onto forested lands, which are generally preferred for use in these cropping systems.

Kaul (1990) also asserts that serious problems have arisen in wetland reclamation areas cleared for transmigration schemes in Sumatra and Kalimantan. Settlers are allocated about 2.75 ha of land, of which 0.25 ha is for home gardens, 0.75 ha is for dryland crops, and 1.75 ha is for tidally irrigated rice. They lay artificial drainage channels and remove commercially valuable tree species in an attempt to force the existing ecosystems to convert to irrigated rice fields, in some cases in association with coconut plantations.

The originally planned double rice cropping (two rice crops in one year) has been achieved in few locations because of the paucity of water during the dry season. The rapid deterioration of these ecosystems is traceable to the heavily eutrophic peat soils. In comparison, economic and sustainable yields of sago palm (Metroxylon sp.) have been obtained in permanently inundated swamp forests. According to Kaul (1990), coupling of irrigated rice to the transmigration program, particularly in swamplands, has been a mistake of the transmigration policy.

Tree Crop Development

Tree crop development has been carried out mainly through the Nucleus Agriculture Estates Program (NES/PIR). These programs are organized by the Directorate General of Estate Crops of the Ministry of Agriculture and through private and government agricultural estates.

The area of estate crops (rubber, oil palm, coconut, cacao, and other tree crops) in Sumatra, Java, Lower Sunda, Kalimantan, Maluku, and Irian Jaya established up to fiscal year 1987 was 11,572,337 ha. The area needed for rubber, oil palm, and coconut alone was 7,140,040 ha up to 1988.

Table 11 Production of Tree Crops in Indonesia, 1988 (in Metric Tons)

Based on the development of all tree crops from 1984 to 1989, it is estimated that increases of 300,000 to 400,000 ha/year could be expected in future. (For tree crop production in 1988, see Table 11.)

Although only a small area of forest has so far been used for estate crop development, it is becoming increasingly difficult to earmark new lands, except forestlands, for estate crop development. Priority should be given to the development or upgrading of idle degraded land instead of the conversion of more forestland.


Fire is a great destroyer of forests. It leads to increased soil erosion, lowering of water quality, an erratic water supply, loss of species, less biodiversity, and the loss of genetic resources. Forest fires are more common in Java than they are in the Outer Islands, but fire control is better in Java. In most years, fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan are set by farmers to clear land that is neither marked as forestland nor actively protected. The enormous fire in Kalimantan in 19821983 was the result of a combination of climatic and biotic factors. These fires are unnatural in humid tropical forests and are stimulated by the drying that occurs because of shifting cultivation, cattle grazing activities, and forest plantations. They are also aggravated by smoldering fires in the arid peat soils and the coal layers in the subsoil. Webster (1984) reported that the great fire in Kalimantan in 1982-1983 destroyed plant and animal life over an area of 2,925,000 ha.

In October 1991, a fire also raged in parts of Kalimantan and Sumatra ignited by the same forces that ignited the one in 1982-1983-in particular, the long dry season of 1991. Tentative data indicate that 5,400 ha of industrial forests in Lampung, 7,600 ha of forestland in central Kalimantan, 7,000 ha in southern Sumatra, and 90,000 ha in eastern Kalimantan were damaged by fire (Kusumah et al., 1991).


In its broad and specific sense, sustainability has been discussed intensively in Indonesia over the past 5 years. At the broad conceptual level, it has been said that a sustainable society is one that satisfies its needs without jeopardizing the prospects of future generations. Sustainable land use development is geared to the attainment of these societal needs on a perpetual basis, that is, with due consideration of environmental conservation. Within the past 40 years, society has been warned of potential environmental collapse if economic development proceeds without considering the impacts of that development on the environment.

Deforestation, in the sense that it removes natural forest cover for other development purposes such as agriculture, human settlements, and infrastructure, is a logical process of development and can be justified if it is implemented in an orderly manner until forest areas considered sufficient to maintain an ecologic balance in watershed areas are obtained. This could be realized through a policy of designating permanent forestlands, which should then be managed on a sustainable basis.

Legislation and Policies on the Management of Forest Resources

The constitution of the Republic of Indonesia of 1945 (Article 33) states that land and water resources should be administered by the state and used for the greatest possible prosperity of the Indonesian people. The provisions in that article express the need for sustainable management of forest resources.

The basic principles for forest administration and forest management are laid down in a law (No. 5, 1967) concerning the basic provisions on forestry. The essence of the policy in that law (Article 9) states that, "The administration of forests has the objective to get maximum multipurpose and sustainable benefits, directly or indirectly, in the context of developing a just and prosperous Indonesian society based on Pancasila." The law also prescribes ways to make forestry plans and implement activities in forest utilization and protection. These activities are prescribed in more detail by the following government regulations: No. 22 (1967), concerning royalties and license fees for forest utilization; No. 21 (1970), concerning forest utilization and forest product harvesting rights; No. 33 (1970), concerning forest planning; and No. 28 (1985), concerning forest protection.

In the field of land tenure, a law (No. 1, 1960) concerning the basic principles of agrarian affairs was enacted. The law regulates the tenure rights of individuals as well as legal bodies. Because the land tenure and forestry laws overlap, compromises must be achieved on a local level. The law on land tenure as well as the forestry law recognize, in principle, the right to (forest) land tenure by local communities, provided that it is actually being practiced in the field and is not deemed to be contrary to the interests of the state.

In the field of nature conservation, the following laws have been enacted: the Law on Wild Animals, 1931; the Law on Natural Reserve and Wildlife Refuge, 1939; the Law on Hunting in Java and Madura of 1940. Other laws and regulations that cover broader areas have been issued: Law No. 4 (1982), concerning basic provisions of environmental management; Government Regulation No. 9 (1986), concerning environmental impact analyses; Law No. 5 (1990), concerning the conservation of biologic natural resources.

Government policies regarding the management of natural resources and environmental conservation for REPELITA V are stipulated in directives from the National Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat) of 1988. Some of the points closely related to deforestation and ecologic sustainability are maintained in the following statements.

1. The natural resources of the country-whether they are on land, in the sea, or in the air; whether they are minerals, flora, or fauna; and including genetic resources-should be managed and used for the greatest possible benefit of the community. At the same time, the environment should always be preserved to produce the greatest possible advantage for development and public welfare for both present and future generations.

2. The exploitation of natural resources should be continued, by appropriate means, so that damage to the environment is minimal and the quality and conservation of resources and the environment can be assured. In this way, development can proceed unhampered.

3. Rehabilitation of degraded natural resources calls for a concerted approach to the problems of river basins. In this context, rehabilitation of forests and critical land areas; soil conservation; and rehabilitation of rivers, lakes, swamps, marshlands, and coral reefs should be intensified, while the function of river basins needs to be reinstated. To control the emergence of poor-quality forests and critical lands, measures should be taken to halt damage to forests and to improve the control of forests, dryland cultivation, and shifting cultivation. Reforestation activities should be increased to improve the productivity of forestlands and to save forest areas. Public participation in these activities should be encouraged.

These policies are translated into various development programs aimed at achieving environmental stability and sustainability and pertain to the ecologic, economic, as well as social aspects of development programs. These programs are carried out by the Indonesian government as well as by nongovernment organizations, including private companies, cooperatives, and self-help organizations. The programs can be placed into the following four broad categories: (1) conservation of forest ecosystems, (2) stricter control on logging operations in natural forests, (3) reforestation and regreening programs, and (4) rationalization of shifting cultivation in which the respective activities that are part of the shifting cultivation system are related to or mutually supportive of each other. For example, rationalization of shifting cultivation includes planting of industrial type crops to replace natural fallow vegetation, which supports the reforestation program, enhancing ecologic stability and sustainability and at the same time providing raw materials for wood-based industries. It also increases the incomes of the indigenous people involved in the program.

In addition to these programs, which are geared to the better use of forest resources and increases in agricultural productivity by extension of dryland agricultural areas, much has also been done in intensification of wet paddy rice agriculture to step up rice production, in Java in particular.

Designation of Permanent Forests

Principles for the designation of permanent forests were stipulated in an FAO paper in 1952 (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1952) in Basjarudan (1978), as follows:

· Each country must designate certain areas as forest area.
· The designation of forest areas must be done prudently, in accordance with the social economic policy of the country, with due consideration to other forms of land use.
· Forest areas must be protected against damage by humans or other agents, such as fire, pests, and diseases.
· Priority must be given to the protective function of forests; other functions can be defined.
· In the harvesting of forests, the best method of exploitation should be applied so that maximum yields can be obtained from the forest; harvesting should be carried out in an economic and efficient manner under a sustained yield principle.
· To facilitate the application of proper forest management principles, the status of the forest area must be classified as such; this must be followed by a demarcation of boundaries on a map and in the field.

Government Regulation No. 33,1970, concerning forest planning described the steps required to prepare areas as permanent forestlands. After being given a legal designation as permanent forestland, the forests are classified according to their respective functions, that is, protection, production, and conservation (including wildlife refuges and national parks) forests. For forestlands in Java, this procecure has been followed since the 1890s. Approximately 3 million ha is currently classified as permanent forestland and work is continuing, in particular in a program that establishes settlements on disputed forestlands.

The designation and classification of permanent forestlands outside Java started in the 1980s through the forest use planning by consensus (TGHK) procedure after large-scale forest operations in concessions areas had begun 2 to 3 years earlier. The TGHK procedure is solely a desk exercise in which the boundaries of forestlands to be designated are drawn on maps after a consensus has been reached among the concerned government agencies. This procedure must be followed by work in the field, including negotiations with local communities, and placement of clear boundary markers, as has been done in Java. The work must be done consistently and intensively, and the work will take several decades to complete because of the large area involved (140 million ha).

Conservation of Forest Ecosystems

The government's policy for conserving forest ecosystems is based on the desire to promote the cultural and economic development of the Indonesian people in harmony with their natural environment. The policy states that all forms of natural life and examples of all ecosystems within Indonesia-in particular, air, water, soil, plants, and animals-must be protected for the benefit of future generations.

The main conservation policies can be summarized as follows:

· Nature reserves must be used rationally and wisely without jeopardizing their functions.
· Natural resources and the living environment should be managed wisely to provide maximum benefit for the people.
· Appropriate technology should be used to sustain the high quality of natural resources and the natural environment.
· Rehabilitation of damaged forests, degraded soils, and the water supply should be improved through integrated watershed and regional management approaches.
· Important marine and coastal habitats should be conserved.

The policy objectives of REPELITA V emphasize the proper utilization of natural resources as well as the need to:

· Further develop the ecotourism industry to increase foreign exchange earnings and initiate employment opportunities;
· Improve management of terrestrial and marine conservation areas;
· Increase the people's participation in conservation efforts;
· Increase the preservation of animal and plant species; and
· Control threats to forestry and forest security.

To conserve genetic resources, viable examples of all distinct ecosystems and species must be protected within a system of reserves. The types of protected natural reserves are as follows:

· Wildlife sanctuaries-medium-sized area, 200-1,600 km²; relatively undisturbed, stable habitats of moderate to high conservation importance;
· National parks-medium- to large-sized areas, 500-7,000 km²; relatively undisturbed areas of outstanding natural value with high conservation importance, high recreational potential because of easy access for visitors;
· Strict nature reserves- 50-1,300 km²; undisturbed fragile habitats of high conservation importance, unique natural sites, or homes of particular species;
· Hunting parks-medium- or large-sized area of natural or seminatural habitats with relatively easy access for hunters, with large populations of legal game species, for example, pigs, deer, and feral buffalos; of low conservation importance;
· Protection forests-medium- to large-sized areas of natural or planted forestlands on steep, high, extremely erodible lands that have high levels of rainfall thus making forest cover important to protect water catchment areas and prevent landslides and erosion;
· Natural recreation parks and grand forest parks-generally some disturbed areas designated for high-intensity use and limited ex situ genetic conservation; and
· Marine reserves-large-sized areas, 1,000-5,000 km².

Human settlements, food crop agriculture, and commercial logging are prohibited in all of the protected areas, but activities such as recreational camping and mineral exploration are permitted in wildlife reserves, and hunting is permitted in protection forests.

As of August 1990, there were 336 classified conservation areas with an area of 16.02 million ha (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationals, 1990).

Stricter Control on Logging Operations in Natural Forests

To induce more orderly forest operations, corrective measures are prescribed and stricter control on the implementation of the operations are exercised by the Provincial Forestry Service of the Ministry of Forestry. The TPI method is improved with the Tebang Pilih den Tanam Indonesia (TPTI; Indonesian Selection Felling and Planting) system. TPTI is a silvicultural system that regulates tree felling and regeneration in natural production forests. The objective of the TPTI system is to utilize the forest and, at the same time, to qualitatively and quantitatively increase the value of the forest in the logged-over area for the next rotation period to ensure sufficient and perpetual production of raw material for the wood-based industries and to improve the protective value of production forests, for example, control of the water regime, minimization of soil erosion, and induction of the beneficial effects on micro- and macroclimates.

The silvicultural treatment consists of the following activities:

· Regulating the compositions of tree species in forest stands, which will be more beneficial from an ecologic as well as economic point of view;
· Developing an optimum stand density to produce more logs than in the previous rotation period;
· Enhancing the beneficial functions of the forest in soil and water conservation; and
· Boosting the protective functions of the forest.

To ensure strict and complete implementation of the TPTI system and to impose efficient and just disciplinary measures, the concession holders are classified as companies that have (1) not yet implemented the TPTI system; (2) implemented the TPTI system, but not correctly and completely, according to the rules; (3) correctly and completely implemented the TPTI system.

Penalties for failing to implement the TPTI system completely and correctly consist of, for example, reducing the annual production target or determining the annual production target without approving the annual working plans. For concessionaires that have approved annual working plans but fail to implement the TPTI system, the forest operation will be stopped if necessary. For companies that have implemented the TPTI system actively and strictly but have no wood-based industries or no stock relationships with wood-based industries in which the stocks (that is, shares) are partly or entirely owned by the concession holder, the concession certificate may be withdrawn. Companies that implement the TPTI system correctly and completely are eligible for an award from the government and to be named as a model company; the concession period may also be extended.

To implement the TPTI system correctly and completely, a climate of law and order must be created in the field. This means that the companies must be equipped with a clear working plan, must have a proper organization for forest development, must be supported by qualified personnel sufficiently trained in forestry, and must have financial support sufficient for an effective operation. Extension and supervision on the proper implementation of the TPTI system by well-trained and experienced forestry personnel is necessary to provide information and the necessary correction of the activities carried out by the concessionaires. Penalties must be imposed for every deviation in the implementation of the TPTI system in the field. These steps to ensure the continuity of forest production have already produced some satisfactory results.

Reforestation and Regreening

Reforestation activities have a relatively long history and tradition in Indonesia. Teakwood (Tectona grandis) was first planted in Java in 1880, and by the end of 1988 teakwood plantations covered about 0.88 million ha. Pinus merkusii, a pine indigenous to Sumatra, has been planted in Sumatra and Java since 1916. Large-scale plantations began in 1935, and in 1975 these were extended to Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Bali. At the end of 1988, there were about 600,000 ha of pine plantations compared with about 134,000 ha of natural pine forests in Sumatra.

From the 1920s to the 1940s, other, mostly long-rotation, high-value timber species were planted in trial plots and pilot plantations on the islands of Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Lesser Sunda. These species included mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia), New Giomea Kauri (Agathis loranthifolia), rasamala (Altingia excelsa), and black wattle (Acacia decurrens).

Since the 1950s, increasing population pressure in Java and parts of the Outer Islands have led to increased clearing of forests for cultivation and fuelwood, resulting in land degradation and soil erosion problems. This led, in the 1970s, to a program to establish fuelwood plantations on nearly all islands. Fast-growing species were mostly planted, including Kaliandra (Calliandra species), akasia (Acacia auriculiformis), kayuputih (Melaleuca leucadendra), lamtoro gung (Leucaena leucocephala), sengon (Paraserianthes [Albizia] falcataria), and turi (Sesbania species).

In 1980, the Indonesian government established Dana Jaminan Reboasasi (the Reforestation Guarantee Deposit Fund) to encourage establishment of forest plantations in timber concession areas. Concessionaires were required to contribute to the fund US$4/m3 of logs and US$0.50/m3 of harvested chipwood. Upon proper fulfillment of their regeneration and reforestation obligations, the concessionaires could claim reimbursement of their expenses from the fund. However, the fund did not generate interest among concessionaires to increase their reforestation efforts for two reasons: (1) the actual costs of reforestation were much higher than the level of reimbursement provided, and (2) the 20-year concession period did not provide sufficient tenure to justify investment in reforestation.

This situation, coupled with forecasts of a timber supply deficit in Indonesia from the year 2000 on, prompted the government to launch the Timber Estates Development Program in 1984. This program aimed to establish 4.4 million ha of new industrial plantation forests (Hutan Tanaman Industri [HTI]) for a total of about 6 million ha of such forests by the year 2000. The reforestation fund/fee for log harvests was increased to US$7/m3 beginning July 1, 1990. The fund/fee was redesignated Dana Reboasasi (Reforestation Fund) to clearly reflect its purposes.

The major roles of forest plantations in the continued development of Indonesia can be summarized as follows:

· To increasingly take the pressure off natural forests;
· To meet the timber supply deficit from natural forests that is anticipated to occur within the next 5 to 10 years;
· To rehabilitate watersheds that have been extensively degraded by increasing population pressure, particularly in Java, Sumatra, and Lesser Sunda (in terms of the land area and population involved, this is a much greater issue than the development of timber estates); and
· To provide socioeconomic benefits; plantations can provide, in addition to soil and water protection, a wide range of wood and nontimber products-fuelwood, wood poles, wood posts, food, fodder, medicinal plants, and essential oils-for local communities, either for their own consumption or to generate income, employment, or both.

The targets for the year 2000 are very ambitious: about 6 million ha of industrial timber estates, about 13 million ha of critical watersheds to be regreened (in principle, on private land), and about 7 million ha of critical watershed to be reforested (on government forestlands). Of these targets, about 1.44 million ha of timber plantations had been established by the end of 1988, of which 1.36 million ha was on Java island, and since 1984, only about 69,000 ha had been established under the HTI program (the target was 1.5 million ha). About 5.8 million and 1.2 million ha of critical watersheds were regreened and reforested, respectively, by the end of 1988. Only 57 percent of reforestation plantations are estimated to be successful, whereas the survival of regreening plantations is reported to vary between 6 and 71 percent (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990).

Rationalization of Shifting Cultivation

Programs and projects that addressed the problem of shifting cultivation were started in the early 1970s. Descriptions of the various programs implemented by different agencies are given below. In this profile of Indonesia, rationalization of shifting cultivation means minimization of the adverse effects of shifting cultivation by introducing perennial crops (timber and other products-for example, fruit and bark-that can be used or sold at market) to replace the fallow natural vegetation (which is only slashed and then burned in the next cropping period), and better soil conservation techniques (agroforestry technologies) supported by intensive extension and training.

The Ministry of Forestry has three programs that either directly or indirectly have an impact on shifting cultivation: (1) a program to control shifting cultivation, (2) a village development program, and (3) a social forestry program.

From its inception in 1971 until 1981 the development activities of the Forestry Department, which was then a part of the Ministry of Agriculture, in addressing issues affecting shifting cultivation were oriented toward resettlement (the ex situ approach). This resettlement program was generally considered to be unsuccessful. In some locations, resettled shifting cultivators moved back to their former places of residence. Beginning in 1981 the emphasis was changed to nonresettlement (the in situ approach). The program had three types of activities: provision of work for wage laborers in reforestation and industrial forest plantation programs, sedentary subsistence dry farming, and flooded rice farming. More people can be involved in in situ-type programs. By 1986, in situ-type programs included about 1,900 households involved in wet paddy rice agriculture, some 10,600 households involved in sedentary subsistence dry farming activities, and some 24,900 households involved in land rehabilitation activities (reforestation) or in the development of export crops.

The related training programs for cadres of people involved in sedentary agriculture also included cadres of people from the programs of other agencies, for example, the Nucleus Agricultural Estate (NES) of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Resettlement Program of the Ministry of Transmigration, and the Sedentary Agriculture Program of the Ministry of Forestry.

The Social Forestry Program in Java began in 1984. It was developed from similar programs that started in the 1970s. The primary objective of this program is to induce sustainable forest management through successful forest plantations and to induce forest protection with the participation of local communities by providing them better incentives in the use of forestlands (agroforestry technologies) and forest products. By 1987, some 10,000 farming households that used 10,000 ha of forestland were involved. The Social Forestry Program, which is partly financed by the Ford Foundation, intends to rehabilitate and develop 270,000 ha of degraded forestland.

The Social Forestry Program in the Outer Islands, which began in 1986, has five approaches for involving people in forestry activities:

· Participatory forestry-Members of local communities are recruited as forest exploitation workers by state forest corporations.
· Community forestry-Patches of forestland are cultivated and exploited by local communities.
· Village forestry-Existing farming methods are continued, but farmers receive assistance in the form of training and inputs.
· Farmers forestry-This is like village forestry, but the activities are undertaken by individual farmers or small enterprises.
· Tree farming-Farmers grow tree crops on their own lands for use as timber, firewood, or charcoal.

Village Development Programs have not yet developed. In 1988, it was decided to include HPH holders in these programs under the name Timber Concession Holders Village Development Program (HPH Bina Desa). Implementation is to be coordinated by the Masyarakat Perhutanan Indonesia (Indonesian Forestry Association). The Ministry of Forestry will train farmers and will develop demonstration plots.

In 1979, Perusahaan Inti Rakyat Perkebunan (the Nucleus Agriculture Estates Program, commonly known as NES/PIR projects) was established with the support of the World Bank. Outside Java, NES/ PIR projects are often developed on forestlands. This program is organized by the Directorate General of Estate Crops. Its aim is to integrate people living in villages near agricultural estates into the activities of those estates. NES/PIR projects distribute land to villagers, offer them technical assistance in establishing estate crops, and subsequently buy their produce. The people living on land designated for NES/PIR activities either are integrated into the project or are resettled. As participants of the program, they are given 2 ha of tree crop land and 0.5 to 1 ha for a house lot and home garden. This allotment is known as the smallholder component of the NES/ PIR program and is owned by the individual participants.

Smallholder allotments constitute about 80 percent of total land under the control of NES/PIR projects, with the remaining 20 percent being the estates of private or state companies. Companies are obliged to provide the overall infrastructure for the project. They must provide technical assistance to smallholders and buy their produce. Some 75,000 households are engaged in NES/PIR projects, of which some 15,000 households (20 percent) are supposedly former shifting cultivators.

Another program, the Rehabilitation and Expansion of Export Crops, began in 1979 under the Directorate General of Estate Crops. The program's main activity is to provide credit to farmers to improve the quality of their smallholder plantations. Special funds are set aside in the Bank Rakyat Indonesia. From its inception, this program has emphasized six specific cash crop commodities: rubber, coconut, coffee, tea, cacao, and pepper. (The World Bank supports rubber and coconut plantations in eight provinces.) The program supports farmers who are already engaged in planting these cash crops. Outside of Java farmers receive support to plant between 1 and 2 ha of land, while on Java, program support is limited to only 1 ha. It can be assumed that many of the people included under this program are shifting cultivators. The question is whether these people have given up shifting cultivation or whether the activities associated with this program are in addition to shifting cultivation activities.

Shifting cultivators and local participants of the resettlement program are integrated into the overall transmigration program through the Allocation Scheme for people living in transmigration areas. In conjunction with these activities, the Ministry of Transmigration and the Ministry of Forestry have begun cooperative actions to remove people from the forest and to resettle them in transmigration project sites. These people include shifting cultivators as well as other residents of the forests. According to official data from the Directorate General of Reforestation and Land Rehabilitation of the Ministry of Forestry, until 1986 there were an estimated 33,000 households of shifting cultivators integrated into the transmigration program. The figure was an estimated 34,540 households until 1988.

A related activity for resettling shifting cultivators was based on a cooperative decision between the Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry to control shifting cultivation by using the NES/PIR program. This later became the joint NES-Transmigration Program, known by the acronym PIRTRANS.

Another new concept is known as parallel transmigration. It is envisioned to be a long-term program to familiarize shifting cultivators with more sedentary methods of agricultural production. Under this program it is not necessary to move people from their original settlements. This concept is based on the idea of integrating the transmigration program into the overall regional development plan of a province or region.

In 1971, the Ministry of Social Affairs started the Social Welfare Development for Isolated Societies program. The target was people who live in "isolated societies," which the Ministry for Social Affairs defined on the basis of four criteria: (1) people who live in small bands, mostly without a sedentary settlement and in isolation from the modern world; (2) people who are only loosely governed by the central government administration and who are primarily governed by traditional political organizations (for example, tribal communities, which have very limited or no contact with the government or the mainstream population); (3) people who still hold animistic or traditional beliefs; and (4) people whose main source of living is hunting and gathering or shifting cultivation.

This program has three main objectives: (1) to raise the standard of living of the target groups through the development of sedentary and productive sources of living and to integrate these people into the regional and provincial market economies, (2) to introduce government administration at the village level, and (3) to develop stable communities that have ecologically sound production systems.

Until 1987 a total of 13,440 households were resettled and placed under the administrative responsibility of the respective local governments. As of 1987 there were 11,520 households still under the administration of the program.

Under the Directorate of Settlement and Village Infrastructure of the Directorate General of Village Development, known by its acronym BANGDES, the Ministry of Home Affairs has had its own resettlement program called the Village Resettlement Project (Proyek Pemukiman Kembali Penduduk Desa). The main objective was to resettle people from scattered and isolated villages to more easily accessible locations that conform to the standard criteria set by the Indonesian government. The standard criteria includes, for example, an administration unit of not more than 3,000 people in one village (desa), the existence of a village government (chief, secretary, security, and welfare), compulsory elementary school attendance by children, provision of health services, and an agricultural extension program.

Besides the largely administrative nature of this program, people and communities are chosen for resettlement for a variety of reasons, for example, people who are nonsedentary because they practice shifting cultivation, people who live in protected forests or degraded watersheds, and people who are affected by natural disasters or who are moved for their own or for national security. From 1972-1973 to 1984-1985, BANGDES reportedly resettled 11,570 households of shifting cultivator. Because of budgetary constraints since 1986, however, BANGDES no longer undertakes direct implementation and financing of any resettlement programs.

Program Results

The total number of households that practice shifting cultivation and were involved in the different programs can be summarized as follows: Ministry of Forestry Program, 37,000; NES/PIR projects, 15,000; Ministry of Transmigration, 34,540; Ministry of Social Affairs, 24,960; and Ministry of Home Affairs, 123,470 (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). Even though a substantial number of the approximately 123,500 participating households are no longer involved in the various programs, the total number of households involved indicates a magnitude that should be compared with the targets for the REPELITA IV and REPELITA V plans. The aim of the REPELITA IV plan was to include 500,000 families. The targets were roughly the same for the REPELITA V plan. Although the current emphasis is on in situ development rather than resettlement (ex situ programs), considerable and concerted efforts are required to achieve the targets of the REPELITA V plan. Significant changes in strategy and approach are also needed (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990).

Intensification of Wet Paddy Rice Agriculture

This section is derived in large part from a report by Sadikin (1990). During the 2 decades after Indonesia's independence in 1945, significant efforts were made to increase food and agricultural production. But the absence of ingredients for development rendered many projects ineffective. Ingredients for development include infrastructural improvements and development program support, for example, political support; use of high-yielding plant varieties, fertilizers, and insecticides (if necessary); well-maintained irrigation systems; improved communications among groups of farmers; improved transport facilities; provision of credit; and reasonable market prices.

In the late 1950s, the campaign to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production through the use of improved Indonesian varieties and the intensification of production met with only limited success because the security of the public and national security as a result of public unrest in the main rice-producing centers, such as West Java, South Sulawesi, and East Java, were poor, and irrigation systems and transportation infrastructures were dilapidated.

Plans for the expansion of agricultural land and rice production areas into the tidal swamps of Kalimantan and into the upland rain-fed environments in Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi depended on the use of heavy equipment. The poor infrastructure caused the transport, maintenance, and repair of the equipment to be difficult and costly.

Rice imports, which, on average, were less than 300,000 metric tons/year from 1950 to 1955, rose to an average of 810,000 metric tons/year from 1956 to 1960 and exceeded 1 million metric tons/year in the 1960s. In the late 1970s and 1980, Indonesia imported the most rice of any country in the world, with imports being as high as 2 million metric tons/year (Table 12).

An encouraging sign in rice production emerged in 1963-1964, when students at the Bogor Agricultural University, using a demonstration area of 50 ha, showed that rice production could be nearly tripled if the recommended packages of technologies for use with improved Indonesian varieties were properly used. An important lesson emerged: improved production depends on a secure supply of agricultural inputs and on face-to-face communications with farmers. The experiment led to the creation in 1965-1966 of a mass guidance program Bimbingan Masal (BIMAS; Mass Guidance program) to increase rice production by encouraging and enabling farmers to take full advantage of technological innovations. In 1966 and 1967, rice yields at adaptive trials and on farmer's plots that were planted with the modern varieties of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI; Los Banos, Philippines) were found to be impressive in comparison with the yields of the popular improved Indonesian varieties.

Tabel 12 Imports of Milled Rice, 1971-1987

After this first success, the government mobilized considerable resources to secure a sufficient supply of fertilizers and pesticides to support a national campaign of introducing the modern varieties and set an ambitious target of planting 150,000 ha of rice in 1968. Within 5 years, the areas planted with modern varieties increased to over 3 million ha. After 1972 farmers also planted modern Indonesian varieties, which have cooking and taste qualities favored by Indonesians and produce fewer green, chalky grains when they are planted in the rainy season. In 1989 the area planted with the Indonesian and the IRRI modern varieties was 7.78 million ha, or 85 percent of the total area of harvested rice in Indonesia.

Because the program expanded too rapidly, shortcomings could not be avoided, such as in the application of the recommended packages of technology as well as in the management of the supply of farm inputs and the recovery of production credits. Nevertheless, aggregate rice production increased faster than the population. As a result of general increases in incomes, however, per capita rice consumption also increased substantially, with the effect that rice imports continued to increase.

Another serious problem emerged in the form of an insect infestation involving the brown planthopper. An outbreak in 1974-1975 destroyed lands planted in the popular high-yielding Indonesian rice varieties PELITA I and II, affecting an area of 240,000 ha. Indonesians learned to live in peaceful coexistence with the brown planthopper, and the high-yielding PELITA I and II varieties yielded another stream of benefits. Rice production jumped in 1978 from 15.8 million to 17.5 million metric tons of milled rice. Although a modest drought intervened in 1979, production again increased in 1980 and 1981 to unprecedented levels of 20.1 million and 22.2 million metric tons, respectively.

As other environmental obstacles were removed, the diffusion of technological innovations to farmers gradually and substantially accelerated. The number of extension personnel and specialists with competence to help the 18 million farm households in Indonesia grew rapidly. Improved irrigation and drainage facilities provided a more secure base for ensuring yield and production stability. There was a growing awareness and understanding among policy makers, legislators, and development professionals at the national, provincial, and district levels about the way to solve problems in the agricultural sector. As a result, rice production rose sharply, reaching a production level of 25.9 million metric tons of milled rice in 1984 (see also Table 3). This progress in production capabilities, along with the presence of government-held reserves of 2 million metric tons at the end of 1984, allowed the government to halt rice imports and was an historic turning point in Indonesia's quest for self-sufficiency in its staple food commodity. Significant efforts are now being made to maintain this level of food security and to diversify food production and consumption.


The estimated annual rate of deforestation in Indonesia has increased from 300,000 to more than 1,000,000 ha in the past 20 years. The average rate of deforestation between the 1950s and the early 1980s was 0.7 percent. This increased to about 1.2 percent annually between 1982 and 1990 (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990).

Forest Potential and Causes of Deforestation

The main causes of deforestation have been identified as population pressure and demand for agricultural land, logging in natural forests, shifting cultivation, transmigration programs, smallholder tree crop development, and fires. Population pressure, shifting cultivation, and fires are social-economic (and natural) causes of deforestation, whereas the other causes-logging, transmigration, and smallholder tree crop development-constitute pressures resulting from development activities.

In 1980, 64 percent of Indonesia's population was concentrated in the islands of Java and Bali. This skewed population distribution has both a positive and a negative effect on Indonesia's development. It has centralized development and service activities in Java and Bali at the expense of these activities in the Outer Islands. On the other hand, because the population was concentrated in Java and Bali, this allowed conservation of the immense natural resources in the Outer Islands. And although many countries have nearly exhausted their forest resources, Indonesia has significant areas of natural forest remaining. Indonesia has 144 million ha of set-aside and pre-set-aside forestlands, providing a very high fores/land-to-total land ratio (74 percent). Considering the land use changes and deforestation during the past several years, the area of forested land in 1990 was estimated to be about 109 million ha (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990). More than about 60 million ha is leased out to private and state-owned logging concessions, which form the core of the forest industry sector of Indonesia. These industries are major contributors to Indonesia's economic growth.

The substantial achievements in the forest industry sector, however, have aroused concern about the sustainability of forest management. Because it is aware of the dangers of overexploitation of forestlands, Indonesia has embarked on an intensive plan of developing forest plantations and rehabilitating critical lands in watersheds through reforestation and greening programs and through the improvement of logging operations in natural forests. The government has also encouraged rural households to raise fuelwood and light construction wood in their home gardens and farms to supply household energy and timber needs, so that the natural forests will not be overburdened.

Because of the great population pressure, Indonesia has embarked on a family planning (birth control) program since the 1950s, with the set target that the growth rate of the population in Indonesia will decline. However, even with the targeted reduction in growth rates, from an annual rate of 2.34 percent in 1980 to 1.0 percent by 2011 and beyond, Indonesia's present population (184 million in 1991 [World Resources Institute, 1992]) will almost double by 2050.

Although the family planning and transmigration programs to relax population pressures in densely populated areas are considered to be relatively successful, they are not expected to be able to alleviate the increased demand for food and, hence, the demand for agricultural land if the soil productivity of the agricultural sector is not adequately increased in the near future and if other sectors such as industry and trade are not effectively developed to offer alternative employment opportunities.

One of the constraints in the transmigration program is that some of the new settlers eventually revert to shifting cultivation. This is usually caused by the inability to sustain food production on the 1 to 2 ha of land provided by the program. Low productivity rates are also a direct result of low soil fertility and insufficient water supplies. Options for promoting more sustainable agriculture within shifting cultivation communities include the various agroforestry systems and practices. From the conservation point of view, these alternative systems are far superior to traditional shifting cultivation. The growing of perennial crops to cover fallow areas will also discourage alang-alang formation.

In the Outer Islands, agricultural and other development programs organized by different government agencies, such as transmigration smallholder tree crop development programs, have been identified as affecting deforestation. The same programs, however, have been aimed at controlling shifting cultivation to offer more sustainable agricultural systems. Avoiding the use of the designated forestlands and training shifting cultivators to become sedentary agriculturalists are pivotal parts of the program. The challenge is to better integrate the activities to achieve better results.

Intensive agriculture has been practiced for more than a century in Java and Bali. Because of the intensified productivity of wetland rice paddies, population growth has been accompanied by a steady increase in rice production. These achievements in agricultural productivity have helped to reduce rates of deforestation. The problem now is how to maintain this situation, considering the high rate of population growth, and at same time gearing to diversify the types of food crops, which may bring about a diversification of food production systems.


The government of Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry, in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (1990), has developed a model for investigating the causes underlying deforestation and projecting forest cover. An increase of 100 kg per hectare per crop of wet paddy rice (treated as a proxy for average agricultural productivity) increases forest cover by 4.6 percent. An increase in income per capita of 1,000 rupiah increases forest cover by 0.015 percent. An increase in population density of one person per square kilometer decreases forest cover by 0.8 percent. In addition, unexplained factors (for example, the cumulative amount of logging and other roads opened) contribute to an average decline in forest cover of 3.7 percent per year.

To project deforestation rates, assumptions regarding, for example, population growth rates, economic development and investment policies, foreign assistance policies, and agricultural and forest industry policies are necessary. These three scenarios reflect the following assumptions:

· Baseline scenario, which assumes government programs use the same strategies from the 1980s and at about the same rate as they did in the 1980s.
· Worst-case scenario, which assumes a least-favorable yet still plausible combination of factors that could cause the rate of deforestation to increase more than baseline scenario estimates.
· Best-case scenario, which assumes a most-favorable yet still plausible combination of factors that could cause the rate of deforestation to increase less than baseline scenario estimates.

The estimated annual deforestation rates of the World Bank (1989) and Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (1990) presented in Table 8 are used to estimate future deforestation rates under the three scenarios. For the baseline scenario, the best estimate of the rate of deforestation is taken; for the worst-case scenario, the minimum estimate is taken; and for the best-case scenario, the maximum estimate is taken. Table 13 provides forest losses for different time periods under the three scenarios.


1. Annual deforestation rates in Indonesia were 0.7 percent in the 30 years between the 1950s and early 1980s, increasing to 1.2 percent within the past decade. It could increase to an estimated 1.5 percent by 2030 if efficient measures are not taken to control the causes of deforestation effectively.

2. Removal of forest cover for development purposes cannot be avoided. Forested lands in lower areas (0 to 250 m above sea level) that are fit for agriculture and other related activities could be earmarked for development purposes. The Ministry of Forestry has classified some forested lands (about 30 million ha) as conversion forests that are to be used for purposes other than forestry after the timber stands have been removed. Coordination between government and private development agencies is necessary so that forestland classified as permanent forest (or candidate permanent forest) will not be used for other development purposes.

Table 13 Analysis of Forest Loss Estimates in Indonesia, 1990-2029 (in Millions of Hectares)

3. After implementation of the Constitution of 1945, the primary authority for forestry administration was Law No. 5 (1967), Basic Provisions on Forestry. In the execution of the law, however, in particular, forestland use, there are provisions that are thought to be in conflict with those in the Basic Law on Agrarian Matters of 1960, for example, land tenure aspects of forested lands. Legislation on forestland and general land use should be adjusted to allow for better land use-including forestland use-and land tenure arrangements.

4. The first steps to designate permanent forestlands outside Java have been done through the forestland use by consensus (TGHK) approach. Because this method is limited to desk exercises, field operations are necessary-that is, surveys should be followed by demarcation of the designated forestlands with easily recognizable boundary markers. In this way, misunderstandings between the Indonesian government and local communities and governments or private development agencies could be reduced to a minimum. Special attention should be paid to the existing tenure rights of local communities. The many conflicts concerning the existing TGHK boundaries urgently need solutions. The stewardship certificate system could be studied in this respect. The stewardship certificate system of the Philippines, for example, states that occupants of forestlands can use the forest and the land for 25 years (usufruct rights) but they must use agroforestry practices prescribed by the Ministry of Forestry and must maintain the existing forests.

5. The designation and demarcation of forest ecosystems to con serve biodiversity and genetic resources should be given special at tension. Between 1979 and 1984 over 10 million ha of reserves was added to the existing conservation forests, but the rate of setting aside forestlands has fallen since then. As a target, about 18 million ha of conservation forests is envisaged by TGHK. Another disturbing aspect is the incompleteness of the conservation forest system across the seven major biogeographic zones in Indonesia.

6. Provisions regarding the implementation of logging and other forest operations in the concession areas, in particular, regarding forest regeneration as prescribed in the Indonesian selective cutting system (TPI) and, later, in the Indonesia selective cutting and planting system (TPTI), are not adequately observed in general, so that the reality of forest operations is far from an ideal sustainable forest management system. To overcome this problem, stricter controls in the implementation of forest operations by concession holders should be exercised, and stiff penalties should be imposed on those operations that deviate from the regulations, in particular, those that deviate from the annual allowable cut and the allowable harvesting area. On the other hand, a possible extension of the 20-year concession period (which does not stimulate sustainable forest operations), for example, to 35 years (the same as the silvicultural rotation period) or on a variable basis with periodic performance reviews of logging and other forest operations, could be considered as alternatives.

7. Shifting (slash-and-burn) cultivation is considered a severe land use problem, causing deforestation and the formation of extensive areas of alang-alang grasslands and other unproductive lands, in particular, as a result of shortened fallow periods and influxes of migrants. Rationalization of shifting cultivation should take into account, for example, land use, cultural, land tenure, and other socioeconomic factors related to the issue. Decisions should be made in consultation with the affected communities. For rationalized shifting cultivation, better sites should be allocated. Proper extension and provision of credits can act as positive incentives and can upgrade land use practices to a more sustainable level. An integrated approach to rationalizing shifting cultivation, which has a greater chance of success, should include education, health services, and the provision of other community services. Also important are common policies and strategies among the agencies whose programs partly or entirely involve shifting cultivation-that is, rationalization of shifting cultivation should be implemented as a concentrated effort of a general local community development program.

8. To alleviate the impacts of deforestation in terms of declining forested lands or a worsening of ecologic conditions, reforestation (on forestland) and regreening (on private land) programs have been initiated. Although the concepts of the programs are commendable, because of inadequate planning and execution the present rates of success of reforestation and regreening are low. A well-designed plan for reforestation and regreening must address seed availability, seedling production, proper site selection and preparation, and above all, continued care and management after the establishment of plantations. A national plan for reforestation and regreening should also involve the public, private, and community sectors. The program should be supported by well-coordinated research.

9. The role of industrial plantations is, in principle, to supplement natural forest resources and to improve ecologic conditions, in particular, in those areas where degraded forestlands have been selected. Industrial forest plantations, including agroforestry systems, can also provide valuable services to local communities by providing employment and, in some cases, better housing, education, and health care as well as agricultural extension services and loan credits.

10. Forest development programs were, in principle, designed to generate awareness of conservation issues by the public and private sectors as well as communities. The roles of nongovernment organization (NGOs) can be substantial in this respect. There are hundreds of NGOs that have shown interest in conservation issues; however, the lack of coordination and resources prevent them from being well-functioning organizations. NGOs and other community groups should be involved in training and education on a community level. NGOs with major extension plans should be given funding and personnel training priority.

11. To maintain self-sufficiency in food production diversification in agriculture, production and consumption of agricultural crops must be encouraged.

In addition to their economic importance, the forests of Indonesia are also considered a gigantic carbon sink. The perpetuation of Indonesia's forest cover is therefore necessary for long-term global survival (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990). The commitment of Indonesia to sustainable development of its tropical forests is amplified in a statement by President Suharto (Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1990):

Our tropical forests are the lungs of the world. Their degradation brings disaster not only to our nation, but also to other nations and inhabitants of the earth. We must manage our forests under sustainable development for our next generations in particular, and for all mankind in general.


Asian Development Bank. 1989. Operational Strategy 1989. Study for Indonesia. Manila, Philippines: Asian Development Bank.

Basjarudan, H. 1978. Forest policy and legislation. Lecture notes. Forestry Faculty, Bogor Agricultural University, Bogor, Indonesia.

Biro Pusat Statistik (Central Bureau of Statistics). 1988. Statistik Indonesia. Statistical Year Book of Indonesia 1988. Jakarta: Biro Pusat Statistik.

Biro Pusat Statistik (Central Bureau of Statistics). 1989. Input-Output Table 1985. Jakarta: Biro Pusat Statistik.

Food and Agriculture Organization. 1952. Principles of Forest Policy. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Government of Indonesia/Department of Information. 1989. Indonesia 1989. An Official Handbook. Jakarta: Government of Indonesia.

Government of Indonesia/International Institute of Environment and Development. 1985. A Review of Policies Affecting the Sustainable Development of Forest Lands in Indonesia. Jakarta: Government of Indonesia.

Government of Indonesia/Ministry of Forestry and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 1990. Situation and Outlook of the Forestry Sector in Indonesia. Jakarta: Government of Indonesia.

Government of Indonesia/National Development Planning Agency. 1989. REPELITA V: Indonesia's Fifth Five Year Development Plan. Basic Data and Main Targets. Jakarta: Government of Indonesia.

Kaul, A. 1990. Indonesian Farming Systems: Types and Issues. Unpublished manuscript.

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Prastowo, H. 1991. The System of Production Forest Management in the Future. Homecoming Day Alumni VIII/1991 Faculty of Forestry. Bogor Agricultural University, Bogor, Indonesia.

Regional Physical Program for Transmigration. 1990. The Land Resources of Indonesia: A National Review. Direktorat Bina Program, Direktorat Jendral Penyiapan Pemukiman, Departemen Transmigrasi, Jakarta.

Sadikin, S. W. 1990. The diffusion of agricultural research knowledge and advances in rice production in Indonesia. Pp. 106-123 in Sharing Innovation. Global Perspectives on Food, Agriculture, and Rural Development. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Sukartiko, B. 1988. Soil conservation program and watershed management in Indonesia. Paper presented at the Regional Workshop on Ecodevelopment Process for Degraded Land Resources in Southeast Asia, Bogor, Indonesia, August 23-25, 1988 (Man and Biosphere, Indonesia-
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, South-East Asia).

Utomo, W. H. 1989. Konservasi Tanah di Indonesia (Soil Conservation in Indonesia). Jakarta: C. V. Rajawali.

Webster, B. 1984. Devastated forest offers a rare view of rebirth. New York Times, April 24, 1984.

Whitmore, T. C. 1984. Tropical Rain Forests of the Far East. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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World Resources Institute. 1992. The 1992 Information Please Environmental Almanac. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


Jeffrey R. Vincent and Yusuf Hadi

The tandem of commercial logging and shifting cultivation has been blamed as the leading cause of deforestation in the humid tropics (Lanly, 1982; Myers, 1978). (The term deforestation is used here in the strict sense favored by Lanly [1982]: conversion of forests to a nonforest land use. Thus, logging of a primary-that is, virgin or old-growth-forest is not regarded as deforestation unless the logging is so intensive that tree cover is essentially eliminated.) In several countries, however, other agricultural activities are more responsible. Peninsular Malaysia provides a notable example. In the late 1800s, the peninsula was virtually completely forested. Today, natural forests cover less than half of their original extent. Forests have been converted primarily to agricultural use, but not by a process of shifting cultivation. Shifting cultivation affected less than 0.1 percent of the peninsula's land area in 1966 (Won", 1971) and the late 1980s (Rambo, 1988).

Instead, tree crops represent the principal agricultural land use in Peninsular Malaysia. Rubber, oil palm, coconut, and cacao accounted for 83 percent of the area devoted to agriculture in 1988 (Ministry of Agriculture [Malaysia], 1991). Unlike shifting cultivation, the opening of new areas for tree crops has not been driven by the need to replace abandoned, exhausted lands. New plantations represent net additions to an essentially permanently productive agricultural land base.

This profile analyzes the role played by tree crops in the conversion of forests in Peninsular Malaysia during the past century. It addresses four broad questions: (1) Are tree crop plantations a sustainable land use? (2) Are tree crop plantations economically feasible? (3) How have policies affected the expansion of tree crop plantations? (4) What are the environmental impacts of conversion of natural forests to tree crop plantations? In addition, deforestation projection rates up to the year 2030 are provided. It also highlights policy implications and identifies principal research needs.

Under Malaysia's federal constitution, individual states retain substantial autonomy over land development and forestry policies. Policies are coordinated more among the states of Peninsular Malaysia than between Peninsular Malaysia and either Sabah or Sarawak (Vincent, 1988). Because of this autonomy and because there are profound differences among the three regions in demography (Peninsular Malaysia had 82 percent of the nation's population in 1990), economic activity (Peninsular Malaysia is more industrialized and accounted for 84 percent of Malaysia's gross domestic product [GDP] in 1987), and agricultural activity (74 percent of Malaysian land in agricultural use was in Peninsular Malaysia in 1990), this profile focuses only on Peninsular Malaysia.


Malaysia is a federation of 13 states. Eleven of the states comprise Peninsular Malaysia, which was the British colony of Malaya until it became independent in 1957. The other two states, Sabah and Sarawak, share the island of Borneo with Brunei and Kalimantan (part of Indonesia).

Topography, Climate, and Soils

Peninsular Malaysia is located entirely within the equatorial zone. It covers 13.2 million ha (40 percent of Malaysia's land area). Aiken et al. (1982) and Tija (1988) have summarized the peninsula's physical and climatic characteristics. Figure 1 shows how climate and topography vary within the peninsula. No part of the peninsula is more than about 150 km from the sea. The interior of the northern two-thirds contains mountain ranges that run approximately north-south. The highest peak, Gunung Tahan, is 2,188 m in elevation. Mountains give way to low hills in the southern cone of the peninsula. Coastal plains extend along the Strait of Malacca on the west and the South China Sea on the east and are wider on the west. About two-thirds of the peninsula is less than 300 m above sea level.

Figure 1

The combination of an equatorial location, proximity to the sea, and low relief results in a climate that varies relatively little during the year or within the peninsula. Most of the peninsula receives more than 2,400 hours of bright sunshine per year. The mean annual temperature ranges from 26.1° to 27.2°C and is highest in the lowlands just inland from the west coast. The mean annual rainfall ranges from less than 1,800 to more than 3,600 mm. The wettest regions are the foothills near the east and northwest coasts. The peninsula has a weak monsoonal climate.

The peninsula's soils are heavily weathered (thus, they are often very deep), highly leached, and typically quite acidic (pH 4.2 to 4.8). They contain little organic matter and low levels of plant nutrients. Six of the 10 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) soil orders occur: Entisols, Histosols, Spodosols, Oxisols, Ultisols, and Inceptisols (Tija, 1988). The last three types have good to excellent physical properties for agriculture.

Lee and Panton (1971 [cited in Ariffin and Chan, 1978]), drawing on the work of Wong (1971) (according to Soong et al., 1980), proposed a soil suitability classification for Peninsular Malaysia that continues to be used for land use planning. The system divides the peninsula's soils into five suitability classes (classes I-V), which are differentiated by the number of limitations in using the soils for agriculture. Ariffin and Chan (1978) suggest that potential agricultural land should best be confined to soils with, at most, one serious limitation for agriculture (classes I-III, which total 5.9 million ha). Barlow (1978), Lee (1978), and Aiken et al. (1982) suggest that 6.3 million to 6.5 million ha is suitable for agriculture. The Economic Planning Unit (Malaysia) (1980) of the Prime Minister's Department favors an estimate of 6.3 million ha.


Peninsular Malaysia's population was estimated to be 14.7 million in 1990 (Department of Statistics [Malaysia], various issues). Approximately half of the population is Malay, one-third is Chinese, and one-tenth is Indian. The remainder includes the aboriginal people who preceded the Malays, the Orang Asli, whose population totaled only about 60,000 in 1980 (Rambo, 1988).

Table 1 Total and Urban Population Growth in Peninsular Malaysia, 1835-1990

Table 1 presents the growth trends for total and urban populations from 1883 to 1990. The rate of population growth in Peninsular Malaysia was 2.2 percent/year during 1989-1990. The World Bank (1990) projects the rate to remain at this level during 1988-2000 and to fall to 1.2 percent/year during 2000-2025. The urban population has been growing more rapidly than the rural population. Approximately 47 percent of the population lived in urban areas in 1990, up from 27 percent at the time of independence, 1957. Better economic opportunities (for example, manufacturing jobs) help to explain the trend toward urbanization. Only 8 percent of households in urban areas were classified as poor in 1984, whereas 25 percent of households in rural areas were classified as poor (Ministry of Agriculture [Malaysia], various issues). In 1987, the mean annual gross house-hold income was 72 percent higher in urban areas than it was in rural areas (Ministry of Agriculture [Malaysia], 1990).

Peninsular Malaysia's population density is low compared to that of most developing countries. In 1988, total land per capita was 0.95 ha, agricultural land in use was 0.28 ha per capita, and forest area was 0.45 ha per capita (Ibu Pejabat Perhutanan, Semenanjung Malaysia, 1990; Ministry of Agriculture [Malaysia}, 1990).

Domestic Economy

The Malaysian government does not report all economic statistics separately for Peninsular Malaysia. For this reason, much of the information in this section pertains to Malaysia as a whole.

In 1988, Malaysia's gross national product (GNP) was 85.8 billion Malaysian dollars (M$; M$2.62 = US$1.00 in 1988). In per capita terms this was US$1,940, which makes Malaysia a middle-income developing country (World Bank, 1990). In 1988, exports equaled 64 percent (M$55.3 billion) of the GNP, while imports equaled 50 percent (M$43.3 billion) (Ministry of Agriculture [Malaysia], 1990). GNP per capita grew at an average rate of 4.0 percent/year during 19651988, which was tied for the highest rate among middle-income countries (World Bank, 1990). Continued strong economic performance is needed to enable Malaysia to service its debt. The country's long-term debt service as a percentage of GNP was 16.5 percent in 1988 (World Bank, 1990).

Agriculture (including forestry and wood products) is a major sector of Peninsular Malaysia's economy and is important on a global basis as well. Malaysia is the world's largest producer and exporter of natural rubber (34 percent of global production and 40 percent of global exports in 1989), palm oil (59 percent of global production and 69 percent of global exports in 1989), and tropical logs and sawn wood (25 percent of global production and 78 percent of global exports in 1989) (Food and Agriculture Organization, 1991; Ministry of Primary Industries [Malaysia], 1990). With the exception of tropical logs, production and exports of these products are concentrated in Peninsular Malaysia. Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries accounted for 21 percent of Malaysia's GDP and employed 31 percent of Peninsular Malaysia's work force in 1988 (Ministry of Agriculture [Malaysia], 1990; World Bank, 1989).

Peninsular Malaysia's agriculture is based overwhelmingly on exotic crops: rubber, oil palm, rice, and cacao and, to a lesser extent, coffee, pineapple, tobacco, sugarcane, and maize (Hill, 1982). This is because the peninsula was among the last regions in Asia to be settled by agriculturalists. Production, exports, imports, and consumption of major agricultural products in Malaysia in 1989 are summarized in Table 2. Malaysia is unique among countries in southeast Asia in that rice is not its most significant crop in terms of either area cultivated or tonnage of output (Barlow and Condie, 1986). Cereal production-almost entirely rice-was only 0.10 metric tons per capita in Malaysia during 1986-1988 (World Resources Institute, 1990).

Table 2 Production, Consumption, and Trade of Major Agricultural Products in Malaysia, 1989

In 1988, Malaysia exported M$22.1 billion of food and agricultural products (including forestry and wood products) and imported M$7.8 billion of such products. This contributed to a net agricultural trade surplus of M$14.3 billion (Ministry of Agriculture [Malaysia], 1990), which was more than the country's total trade surplus in 1988. The export value of rubber and oil palm products alone totaled M$10.4 billion, more than the value of total imports of food and agricultural products. The export value of forestry and wood products totaled M$7.5 billion in 1988. Because of its diversified economy, food makes up a smaller share of Peninsular Malaysia's imports (8 percent in 1988) than in the case of the average middle-income country (11 percent) (Department of Statistics [Malaysia], various issues; World Bank, 1990).

Peninsular Malaysia's economy is increasingly dominated by the output of manufacturing sectors. Although Malaysia's agricultural GDP grew 3.7 percent/year during 1980-1988, its manufacturing GDP grew 7.3 percent/year (World Bank, 1990). In 1988, manufacturing and services accounted for 64 percent of Malaysia's GDP (World Bank, 1989). Nearly all of Malaysia's output of manufactured goods is produced in Peninsular Malaysia.

Land Use

Table 3 summarizes land use in Peninsular Malaysia in 1966, 19741975, and 1981 and provides information about land use for agriculture in 1988. The Ministry of Land and Cooperative Development (Malaysia) plans to carry out an updated land use survey under the Sixth Malaysia Development Plan (which covers the period 19911995).

The area in agricultural use increased from 21 percent of the peninsula's land area in 1966 to 31 percent in 1988. Most of the increase had occurred by 1981, and most was due to the expansion of tree crop plantations. The four major tree crops-rubber, oil palm, coconut, and cacao-covered 16 percent of the peninsula's land area in 1966 and 26 percent in 1988. The agricultural area in 1988-over 4 million ha-was about two-thirds of the area considered suitable for agriculture in the peninsula.

Most of the agricultural conversion by the early 1970s had taken place in the southern and western lowlands, where rubber was concentrated. Since then, extensive conversion to oil palm has occurred in the eastern lowlands, and oil palm has replaced much of the rubber in the western lowlands.


The lowland forests of Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and western Indonesia are dominated by tree species in the family Dipterocarpaceae. According to Whitmore (1988:21): "There are no other forests anywhere in the world which have so many genera and species of a single tree family growing together in the same place." This ecologic characteristic, coupled with wood properties that allow the many species to be aggregated into a relatively small number of commercial groups with broadly similar properties, helps to explain why the timber harvested from these forests has dominated world trade in tropical timber since the end of World War II (Laarman, 1988).

Whitmore (1988) classified Peninsular Malaysia's forests into 10 forest formations. The small area of northwestern Peninsular Malaysia, which has a seasonally dry climate-climatically atypical for Peninsular Malaysia-is where (1) semievergreen rain forests, more common in Thailand and Burma, are found.

Forests on permanently wet soils include (2) mangroves on the coasts and (3) freshwater swamp forests and (4) peat swamp forests in inland areas, depending on soil characteristics. (5) Woody beach vegetation is found in coastal areas.

Table 3 Land Use in Peninsular Malaysia, 1966-1988a

The other five formations are found in inland areas that are not permanently wet. Most restricted in area are the (6) heath and (7) limestone forests. The remaining three formations account for the majority of the peninsula's forest area. Their distribution is largely determined by elevation. (8) Lowland evergreen rainforests once covered most of the peninsula up to an elevation of 750 m. Two floristic zones can be distinguished within this formation: lowland dipterocarp forests, which are found at elevations up to 300 m, and hill dipterocarp forests, which are found above these elevations. The demarcation is based on the distribution of seraya (Shorea curtisii), which dominates ridges in the hill dipterocarp zone. (9) Lower montane rain forests are found between elevations of 750 and 1,500 m. They have a smoother, lower canopy than do lowland rain forests. They, too, can be divided into two floristic zones: the upper dipterocarp forests, which are found at elevations up to 1,200 m, and the oak-laurel forests, which are found above 1,200 m but below 1,500 m. The final formation, (10) upper montane rain forests, is found above 1,500 m.

In terms of biodiversity, Peninsular Malaysia's rain forests are among the richest ecosystems in the world. Ng (1988) estimated that 2,650 tree species occur naturally in Peninsular Malaysia. The lowland dipterocarp forests are the richest of the peninsula's forest formations. Butterflies and moths provide one exception to this pattern: most of the peninsula's 1,014 species are found at elevations of 6001,000 m, and only 23 species are endemic (Barlow, 1988). Many endemic plant species are found in limestone forests.

Wells (1988) reported that 282 of the 370 bird species that make heavy or exclusive use of forests or the forest fringe are associated with lowland dipterocarp forests. He cited studies, carried out at the Pasoh Forest Reserve in the state of Negeri Sembilan and at the Kerau Game Reserve in the state of Pahang, that recorded 196 and 202 bird species, respectively, in areas of 2 km² each. Yong (1988) reported that 33 families, 104 genera, and 203 species of mammals are native to Peninsular Malaysia. (In contrast, Denmark, which is also a peninsula and only slightly smaller in area, is home to only 13 families, 32 genera, and 45 species [Earl of Cranbrook, 1988].) Of the 203 mammal species, 194 have been sited in the forest, mainly the lowland dipterocarp forest (Earl of Cranbrook, 1988). According to Steven (1968 [cited in Earl of Cranbrook, 1988]), 78 percent of the mammal species other than bats are obligatory forest dwellers.

The land use surveys (Table 3) are one source of information on forest areas in Peninsular Malaysia. The information they provide, however, is substantially less detailed and probably less accurate than the information generated by forest inventories carried out specifically to estimate forest areas and timber stocks. The most recent forest inventory in Peninsular Malaysia, Forest Inventory II, was carried out during 1981-1982 (Ibu Pejabat Perhutanan, Semenanjung Malaysia, 1987). It updated the peninsula's first forest inventory, Forest Inventory I, which was carried out during 1970-1972 (Food and Agriculture Organization, 1973) and superseded interim estimates for 1980 made by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (1981) from projections based on Forest Inventory I and the 1974-1975 land use survey. Forest Inventory III is planned to begin in the early 1990s.

Table 4 presents the original estimates of forest areas from the two inventories, revised estimates from Brown et al. (1991b) based on a GIS analysis of the inventory maps, and the estimate for 1980 from FAO (1981). (The definitions of forest types used here are the ones used in the forest inventories.) Although they were calculated by a cruder method, the original estimates from Forest Inventories I and II are quite close to the revised estimates of Brown et al. (1991b). The original estimates slightly understated virgin forest areas and slightly overstated logged-over areas. The FAO (1981) estimate of total virgin forest area in 1980 is very close to the original and revised estimates for 1981-1982, but the FAO estimate of total logged-over area is 27 percent higher than the revised estimate from Forest Inventory II. Given the similarities between the original and revised estimates, but the more precise method used to generate the latter, the revised estimates are regarded as the best estimates.

Tbale 4 Forest Areas in Peninsular Malaysia, 1970-1982

According to the inventories, forests declined from 62 percent of Peninsular Malaysia's land area during 1970-1972 to 52 percent during 1981-1982. Areas of forest decreased for all types except dryland and inland swamp forests that have been logged over since 1966. The loss in virgin forest area, 1.179 million ha, was equivalent to more than four-fifths of the aggregate decrease in forest area, 1.411 million ha. Brown et al. (1991b) found, however, that most (59 percent) of the decrease in virgin forest area represented forests that were logged over but not converted to nonforest uses. Most conversion to nonforest uses occurred in forests that were already logged over at the time of Forest Inventory I. The maps in Figure 2 show areas of primary (virgin) and disturbed (logged over) forests in 1972 (Figure 2A) and 1982 (Figure 2B). The maps are based on an analysis by Brown et al. (1991b) and show that most logging in primary forests from 1972 to 1982 occurred in the northern and eastern parts of the peninsula and that most deforestation occurred in the southeast.

According to the land use surveys (Table 3), the changes in forest area were from 68 percent of land area in 1966 to 63 percent during 1974-1975 to 64 percent in 1981. Although the estimate for 1974-1975 is comparable to the estimate for 1970-1972 from Forest Inventory I, the estimate for 1981 is substantially larger than the estimate for 19811982 from Forest Inventory II. One reason for the discrepancy is that the estimate of forest area in the 1981 land use survey included grassland/scrub grassland and scrub forest. These areas totaled 589,000 ha in 1974-1975, but this is much less than the discrepancy between the 1981 land use and 1981-1982 inventory estimates, 1.638 million ha.

Is it possible that the areas of grassland/scrub grassland and scrub forest increased nearly threefold from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s? Traveling around the peninsula, one observes few large areas of grassland, but one does encounter large areas of scrub forest and unproductive or idle land in several states. These areas result from abandonment of agricultural land, failure to develop land after it has been logged in preparation for agricultural conversion, and degradation of forests to scrub forests following intensive logging. Logging became increasingly intensive in the 1970s and 1980s as timber markets developed for an increasing percentage of the tree species found in Peninsular Malaysia's forests. According to Forest Inventory II, only 7.5 percent of the total timber volume (for trees with a minimum diameter at breast height of 30 cm) in superior, good, and moderate virgin forests was in trees classified as noncommercial species (Ibu Pejabat Perhutanan, Semenanjung Malaysia, 1987). Moreover, the minimum commercial log diameter is as low as 27 cm in Peninsular Malaysia today. It is generally believed that commercial logging alone does not cause deforestation (see, for example, Lanly [1982]); however, when selective logging approaches clear-felling as a result of extraction of a high proportion of small-diameter trees, clearly commercial logging is a decisive factor.

Another explanation might be that the 1981 land use survey underestimated areas in agricultural use. Although statistics compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture (Malaysia) (1991) and presented in Table 3 indicate that the area in agricultural use in 1988 was little larger than the area indicated by the 1981 land use survey (4.1 million ha), Abu Bakar (1991) estimated the area in 1990 to be 4.8 million ha.

Figure 2 Areas of primary (virgin) and disturbed (logger over) forests in Peninsular Malaysia in (A) 1972 and (B) 1982. Source: Based on data from Brown, S., L. Iverson, and A.E. Lugo. 1991b. Land use and biomas changes of forests in Peninsular Malaysia, 1972-1982: Use of GIS analysis. Department of Forestry, University of Illinois, Urbana. Photocopy.

Figure 2 (B)

The 1966 land use survey and Forest Inventory I reported midyear estimates for 1966 and 1972, while Forest Inventory II reported end-of-the-year estimates for 1981. Treating the estimates of total forest area from the three sources as point estimates for mid-1966, -1972, and -1982, the average annual rate of deforestation increased slightly from 134,000 ha/year during 1966-1972 to 141,000 ha/year during 1972-1982. The FAO's (1981) estimate for 1976-1980 was much lower, 90,000 ha/year. In percentage terms, the rate of deforestation rose slightly, from 1.55 percent/year during 1966-1972 to 1.88 percent/year during 1972-1982. The latter rate is about three times the average for the tropics estimated by Lanly (1982).

Table 3 indicates that the major cause of deforestation was expansion of lands in agricultural uses other than shifting cultivation. The expansion of land in agricultural use from 1966 to 1974-1975, 829,000 ha, just about matched the decrease in forest, 782,000 ha. Most of the increase in agricultural area was due to expansion of area in perennial crops, 690,000 ha.

As implied above, the statistical correspondence between agricultural expansion and deforestation broke down after the early 1970s. The increase in the aggregate area in agricultural use between the 1974-1975 and 1981 land use surveys was 89,000 ha/year, which is less than two-thirds the rate of deforestation on the basis of the 19701972 and 1981-1982 forest inventories (141,000 ha/year). For every hectare recorded as being put into agricultural use, slightly more than one-half of an additional hectare was deforested.

Between inventories, the Forestry Department of Malaysia estimates total forest area by using annual records on areas logged and cleared for development. The most recent estimate is for 1988, 6.288 million ha (Ibu Pejabat Perhutanan, Semenanjung Malaysia, 1990). This implies a deforestation rate of 89,000 ha/year during 1982-1988, which is substantially lower than the rate during 1972-1982 but much higher than the annual average increase in agricultural area during 1981-1988, 8,000 ha/year (Table 3).

The high rates of deforestation in Peninsular Malaysia have raised concern about the area of land that will be permanently maintained under forest cover. If all the land that is suitable for agriculture is indeed ultimately developed for agriculture, then, at most, 6.7 million to 6.9 million ha of forest will remain. Some of this area will be converted to nonagricultural uses. Still, this constitutes 51 to 52 percent of the peninsula's land area, which is much larger than the 29 percent in Thailand or the probably overstated 37 percent in the Philippines (World Resources Institute, 1990).

The official government policy as of the mid-1980s was to maintain at least 4.75 million ha as permanent forest estate (PFE) (Than", 1986). Sixty percent of the PFE, or 2.85 million ha, would be productive forests, which would be managed for commercial timber production on a sustainable basis. The remainder would be protective and amenity forests, which would not be logged. Protective and amenity forests would protect watersheds, protect wildlife habitat, and provide recreational opportunities. Outside the PFE, an additional 0.59 million ha would be in national and state parks and wildlife reserves.

As of December 31, 1988, some 4.9 million ha were either classified or in the process of being classified as PFE (Ibu Pejabat Perhutanan, Semenanjung Malaysia, 1990). Although this figure makes it appear that the 4.75 million ha target has already been exceeded, little information is available on the actual forest cover on these lands. Illegal land clearing is known to have occurred within the PFE; moreover, land within the PFE is often legally declassified by state governments for development.

In 1988, the one national park in Peninsular Malaysia, Taman Negara, covered 0.43 million ha, while wildlife and bird sanctuaries covered 0.31 million ha (Kiew, 1991). About two-thirds (0.19 million ha) of the sanctuaries were within the PFE, so protected areas outside the PFE covered 0.55 million ha. This is slightly less than the target of 0.59 million ha. However, some 0.65 million ha has been proposed to be added to the park and sanctuary systems. The proposed area includes a second national park, at Endau-Rompin.

Commercial logging is a major source of degradation of virgin forests. Moreover, heavy, repeated logging of forests that results in conversion of the residual stand to scrub forest might explain why deforestation has evidently exceeded agricultural expansion since the early 1970s. Although logging as a source of forest degradation is an important issue, the more relevant issue here is whether logging and agricultural expansion are connected. Background information is provided in this section; most is taken from Vincent and Binkley (1991).

Assuming a timber growth rate of 1.0 to 1.5 m³/ha/year, the annual sustained yield from Peninsular Malaysia's productive PFE is in the range of 2.85 million to 4.28 million m³. In contrast, the harvest in 1990 was 10.6 million m³ (Ibu Pejabat Perhutanan, Semenanjung Malaysia, 1990). Why is the harvest so much larger than the sustained yield? Conversion of forests outside the PFE to tree crop plantations is one reason. Another is harvesting of virgin forests within the PFE, since virgin forests generally carry higher stocks of commercial timber than do second-growth forests. Even if only an area consistent with sustained yield were harvested each year, harvests would exceed sustained yields until all virgin forests within the PFE had been logged over.

For these reasons, a rate of harvest that exceeds sustained yield does not necessarily imply that forest sector development is on an unsustainable trajectory. As timber becomes more scarce, rising stump-age values (log prices minus logging costs) should cause investments in forest management to increase and demand for timber to decrease. If these supply-and-demand adjustments occur, then the rate of harvest should decline and eventually stabilize at the sustained yield level.

These adjustments have been hindered in Peninsular Malaysia by the combination of low timber fees and insecure concession tenure. The fees that states levy on timber concessionaires-which include a combination of royalties assessed on extracted logs and premiums assessed on concession areas-drastically understate stumpage values (Gillis, 1988; Sulaiman, 1977; Teo, 1966; Vincent, 1990). Vincent (1990) estimated that forest revenue systems in Peninsular Malaysia captured only about one-fifth of the stumpage value of forests harvested during 1966-1985. Timber fees in most states of Peninsular Malaysia remained virtually unchanged from the early 1970s until the mid-1980s, despite evidence of rising stumpage values. Hence, these fees failed to signal increasing timber scarcity to State Forestry Offices and the federal Forestry Department, and they failed to generate the revenue needed for public forest management efforts. They also made available to land developers huge profits when forests were clearfelled in preparation for conversion to agriculture and other uses.


Expansion of tree crop plantations has been the major cause of deforestation in Peninsular Malaysia (Table 5 and Figure 3). The expansion has occurred in three distinct phases: a rapid phase (49,000 ha/year) during 1904-1932, led by rubber; a slower phase (24,000 ha/year) during 1932-1966, also led by rubber; and the most rapid phase of all (57,000 ha/year) during 1966-1988, led by oil palm. Expansion by private estates dominated the first phase, while expansion by independent small landholdings was more important in the second. By 1961, the area of rubber in small landholdings exceeded the area in estates. Small landholdings in government-sponsored land development schemes, particularly those under the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), became a significant source of expansion during the latest phase. Expansion by private estates was also important during the latest phase. Vincent and Hadi (1991) provide a brief review of these historical developments; Barlow (1978) and Bauer (1948) provide more detailed accounts for rubber, while Barlow (1986) and Khera (1976) do the same for oil palm.

Table 5 Average Annual Changes in Rubber and Oil Palm Areas in Peninsular Malaysia, 1900-1988

From a policy standpoint, the bottom-line issue is whether Peninsular Malaysia has made itself better off, in the long run, by converting its natural forests to rubber and oil palm plantations. The following sections address four questions pertinent to this issue.

Are Tree Crop Plantations a Sustainable Land Use?

There is ample evidence that rubber and oil palm plantations can produce stable, in fact, increasing, yields on a long-term basis in Peninsular Malaysia. Rubber has been grown on some sites for nearly 100 years, and oil palm for more than 70 years. Yields of both crops continue to increase as a result of the research efforts of the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia (RRIM) and the Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia (PORIM).

Figure 3

Average yields of rubber rose from 492 kg/ha/year (estates and small landholdings combined) during 1929-1930 to 1,103 kg/ha/year for independent small landholdings and 1,428 kg/ha/year for estates in 1982 (Barlow, 1978; Barlow and Jayasuriya, 1987; see also Ministry of Primary Industries [Malaysia], 1990). Barlow (1978) reported rubber yields approaching 2,400 kg/ha/year for available varieties under good management in the 1970s, and he forecast potential yields of 3,500 kg/ha/year. Other investigators have predicted higher yields. Future increases in yields are probable because of the long time between the initiation of research to develop an improved variety and the commercial availability of improved planting stock.

Combined yields of palm oil and palm kernel oil on estates rose from 1,850 kg/ha/year in 1960 to 4,155 kg/ha/year in 1982 (Barlow and Jayasuriya, 1987). Average yields for oil palm would be even higher if many of the prime coastal plain sites were not already under rubber (Hill, 1982). Average yields will rise as these sites are converted to oil palm.

Development of higher yielding varieties is the major reason for these increases, but improved management-planting and harvesting techniques, fertilization, and pest control-and, for rubber, use of chemicals that stimulate higher flows of latex have also been important (Barlow, 1978; Ministry of Primary Industries [Malaysia], 1990; Ng, 1983).

As with any agricultural crop, plantations need inputs to retain their productivity. Fertilizer is a key input for rubber and is even more important for oil palm (J. K. Templeton, World Bank, personal communication, 1990). Both RRIM and PORIM have carried out numerous studies of the responses of these crops to fertilization. Results of these studies can be found in Ng and Law (1971) [cited in Ooi, 1976]. Foster et al. (1985a,b), and Ahmad Tarmizi et al. (1986).

Ng (1983) expressed concern that the mechanical clearing and burning used during replanting of oil palm and the associated erosion and runoff might degrade the long-term productivity of the Ultisol and Oxisol soils. Can the productivity of Peninsular Malaysia's soils for growing rubber and oil palm be maintained in perpetuity through the application of fertilizers and other management inputs? To date, no obvious basis for answering in the negative has become apparent.

Are Tree Crop Plantations Economically Feasible?

Natural forests in Peninsular Malaysia appear to have been replaced by agricultural systems that have a long-term usefulness to humans. Conversion of forests to tree crop plantations could still be undesirable, however, if the economic costs of conversion exceed the economic benefits.

The growth of rubber small landholdings before independence, when government policies discriminated in favor of estates, and the growth of oil palm estates since the mid-1960s offer market-based evidence of the financial feasibility of these two crops. More formal evidence is provided by benefit-cost analyses of estates, independent small landholdings, and land development schemes. Benefit-cost analyses typically distinguish between financial and economic returns. Financial (sometimes termed "private") returns are calculated with costs and benefits measured by market prices. Economic (sometimes termed "social") returns are calculated with costs and benefits measured by shadow prices. Shadow prices perform two functions: (1) they adjust market prices to remove distortions caused by policies or market imperfections, and (2) they quantify (value) the economic importance of goods and services that lack market prices altogether. In theory, shadow prices should reflect environmental impacts. Various aspects of the application of benefit-cost analysis techniques to land development schemes in Peninsular Malaysia have been discussed by Dixon (1977).

Table 6 Internal Rates of Return for Rubber Plantations

Estimates of financial and economic rates of return for investments in rubber and oil palm plantations are presented in Tables 6 and 7. The studies cited used shadow prices, primarily to adjust the costs of labor, capital, and other inputs. None of the studies included shadow prices for environmental impacts. The moderate to high financial rates of return for rubber and oil palm estates and independent rubber small landholdings explain why the private sector has historically been interested in investing in these crops. The tendency of both financial and economic rates of return to be higher for oil palm than for rubber indicates why, from the 1960s onward, many estates converted from rubber to oil palm and land development schemes increasingly emphasized oil palm. The positive and moderate to high economic rates (at least 10 percent in all but one instance) for land development schemes indicate that, on paper at least, the schemes earned an acceptable rate of return on public investment funds. However, the rates of return tended to be lower than those for other types of ownership, particularly in the case of rubber.

Table 7 Internal Rates of Return for Oil Palm Plantations

How Have Policies Affected Expansion of Tree Crop Plantations?

The inherent economic feasibility of tree crop plantations in Peninsular Malaysia indicates that fundamental economic forces, not misguided policies, were primarily responsible for conversion of forests to agriculture. Three policies not specific to rubber and oil palm had a crucial, positive impact on the responses of smallholders and estates to these economic forces. First, the government invested in infrastructure, which enabled farmers to transport their products to markets and gain access to goods they did not produce themselves. Hence, farmers were not restricted to subsistence agriculture. Second, the government made it possible to obtain secure land title, generally under permanent or long-term leases (Barlow, 1978). This gave farmers confidence that they would reap the returns of the labor and capital they invested in tree crop plantations. Third, the government organized one of the most productive agricultural research systems in the tropics. As noted earlier, research at RRIM and PORIM is largely responsible for the increasing yields of rubber and oil palm, which has maintained the economic viability of these crops.

Policies within the rubber and oil palm sectors in Peninsular Malaysia were designed, for the most part, to make estates and smallholders pay their own way. In some instances, policies might even have forced plantations to bear more than a fair share of development costs. Evidence on these points in the case of rubber has been provided by Barlow (1978, 1984), Barlow and Drabble (1983), Barlow and Jayasurija (1986), and Power (1971 [cited in Barlow, 1978]).

The government levied taxes on rubber exports and tacked on additional cesses to raise the funds for rubber research and replanting grants (Barlow, 1984). Hence, the research and replanting that rejuvenated the industry after World War II "did not represent a transfer of resources from other sectors but, in effect, financing provided by the industry itself" (Lee, 1978:222). Even land development schemes had aspects of self-financing, as settlers were expected to pay back, with interest, the greater portion of government investments made on their behalf (Barlow, 1978). Singh (1968) estimated that 64 to 67 percent of government expenditures in three FELDA rubber schemes would be recovered from settlers by loan repayments and taxes.

Independent smallholders received few benefits from the government. During the 1920s-1940s, first the Stevenson Scheme and then the International Rubber Regulation Agreement hindered their expansion. According to Barlow (1978), "Without the[se] schemes the area of small landholdings in the Malay Peninsula would certainly have expanded far more" (p. 72). All small landholdings up to the mid-1950s were established without subsidies (Barlow and Jayasurija, 1986). Although they became eligible for replanting grants at that time, they appear to have borne a disproportionate share of the financing burden relative to the grants they received (Barlow, 1978). In the 1960s, state and federal governments largely excluded small landholdings from developing new land because the government favored land development schemes (Barlow, 1984).

There were also restrictions placed on estates. After World War II, and particularly after independence in 1957, the government took steps to prohibit foreign-owned estates from acquiring new land, in an effort to create opportunities for local ownership, particularly by Malays (Barlow, 1984). This effort became more aggressive in the late 1970s when the National Equity Corporation began buying out foreign shares of estates (Barlow, 1984).

Thus, there is little doubt that policies hindered expansion of plantations by the private sector, especially smallholders. This contrasts with the active government promotion of land development schemes beginning in the late 1950s. These schemes might have earned double-digit economic rates of return, but were they necessary, and did they earn the maximum rates of return? Lee (1978) claimed that there was no indication that the private sector had an inability or unwillingness to undertake large land development schemes. Although Barlow (1986) and Barlow and Condie (1986) acknowledged that rural credit markets might have been unable or unwilling to provide the long-term credit needed by smallholders to establish sizable plantations, Barlow (1978) doubted that centralized development schemes were the only way to overcome this problem. He also disputed the argument that schemes were justified because of increasing returns to scale, particularly in the case of oil palm (Barlow, 1986). He argued that land development programs based on assisting independent smallholders would have been less costly for the government (the costs per hectare for rubber could have been reduced to two-thirds those of FELDA), would have enhanced efficiency and flexibility by placing more decisions in the hands of smallholders, and would have "increased household income and economic independence.

Schemes did not always achieve their projected high rates of return. Fringe rubber schemes suffered from widespread abandomnent and helped prompt the creation of the Federal Land Consolidation and Reclamation Authority (FELCRA) (Barlow, 1978). The poor performance of schemes has been linked to political motivations for land development (Guyot, 1971; Syed Hussain, 1972). Guyot (1971) concluded that a major reason why schemes were more successful in the state of Johor than in the state of Terengganu was because there was a greater tendency to develop land primarily to recruit and reward political supporters in Terengganu. Consequently, the sites were chosen poorly, and the state government provided little technical support to the settlers, who generally had little experience growing tree crops. Of 54 state and 43 fringe schemes for which land was alienated in Terengganu, only 22 and 1, respectively, were actually developed to the planting stage.

In addition to vote-seeking, schemes were sometimes motivated by rent-seeking. Land alienation for proposed schemes has been used as an excuse to grant timber concessions and thereby capture wind fall stumpage values. Lee (1978) claimed that "There had been obvious cases of abuse in that the recipients of alienated land were more interested in removing the timber on the land rather than in its subsequent development" (p. 406), and he backed up this claim with data showing that only 58 percent of the land designated for agriculture during 1961-1970 was actually developed. No other historical data have ever been compiled on the amount of land that was alienated and logged, but never developed, in Peninsular Malaysia.

Although land development schemes do not appear to have been the most economically efficient means of promoting smallholder rubber and oil palm, this does not necessarily imply that less forest would have been converted in the absence of land development schemes. For example, estates and independent smallholders might have picked up the slack if policies had been less discriminatory toward them.

What Are the Environmental Impacts of Conversion of Natural Forests to Tree Crop Plantations?

The most obvious omission from benefit-cost analyses of rubber and oil palm plantations is the environmental impact. Environmental impacts of converting natural forests to tree crop plantations include increased soil erosion, increased variability of stream flows, and loss of biodiversity. Efforts to quantify these environmental impacts in economic terms and, thereby, to incorporate them directly into benefit-cost analyses remain rudimentary not only in Malaysia but also in most other tropical countries. Although resource economists have developed an array of nonmarket valuation techniques during the past 3 decades, these methods have received little application in developing countries. There are exceptions, however (Dixon and Hufschmidt, 1986; Dixon and Sherman, 1990; Hufschmidt et al., 1983; Vincent et al., 1991).

If the net environmental impacts of conversion of natural forests to tree crop plantations are negative, then market forces might lead to excessive expansion of plantations by the private sector (estates and independent smallholders). Furthermore, if decisions about land development schemes are based on project appraisals that ignore these impacts, the decisions would be biased toward acceptance of the schemes. Hence, in the presence of negative environmental impacts and incomplete benefit-cost analysis, market and policy failures are created; these failures, in theory, might lead to the excessive conversion of natural forests to tree crop plantations.

The sections below review the physical information on the environmental impacts of conversion of natural forests to tree crop plantations. Although the information is not presented in economic terms, it does provide insights into the extent to which plantations provide environmental services comparable to those provided by natural forests. The review focuses on three services for which the most information is available: soil conservation, protection of water systems, and preservation of biodiversity. Most of the information pertains to rubber plantations, for which environmental impacts have been the most studied (Aiken et al., 1982). Brown et al. (1991a,b) provide information on a fourth service, the sequestration of carbon in woody biomass in natural forests (but not tree crop plantations).


For rubber and oil palm, the risk of soil erosion is greatest during plantation establishment and replanting. First, the natural forest (or the old plantation) is logged if commercial timber is present in sufficient quantities. Then, the remaining vegetation is allowed to dry; when it is sufficiently dry, it is pushed into piles and burned. Finally, heavy machinery is used to terrace the site (if it is a new plantation) and prepare it for the planting of ground covers and rubber trees or oil palms. Typically, several months elapse from the time the site is logged until ground cover is established, and several years pass before the tree canopy closes. The amount of erosion that occurs depends on the erosivity of the rainfall, the erodibility of the soil, and the speed at which ground cover is established and the tree crop canopy closes.

Mean annual erosivity exceeding 15,000 J/m² places the entire east coast, the portion of the rubber belt on the west coast from Kuala Lumpur to Pinang, and most of the land development schemes in the states of Terengganu, Pahang, and Johor at high risk for soil erosion (Morgan, 1974 [cited in Soong et al., 1980]; Morgan, 1979). Policies and practices in Peninsular Malaysia recognize that erodibility increases with increasing slope. The Conservation Enactment requires that lands alienated for agriculture have a slope of less than 18.3°. Since World War II, terracing has become a standard practice for plantations established on slopes (Aiken et al., 1982).

Erosion was a greater problem earlier in the twentieth century because of the rubber estates' policy of "clean weeding"-removing all surface growth at the time of planting and keeping the soil surface clear even after trees became established. The rationale was that clean weeding would make nutrients more available and would in hibit diseases. Instead, it created serious erosion problems. Fermer (1939 [cited in Aiken et al., 1982]) estimated that rubber estates that were clean weeded lost an average of 8 cm of topsoil during 19021939. As a consequence, the productivity of vast areas was serious!, reduced, and some plantations were abandoned (Barlow, 1978). Clear weeding began to be replaced after the mid-1920s by the planting of various types of leguminous ground covers soon after clearing (Barlow 1978). Ground covers can reduce soil loss by 35 to 87 percent compared with the amount of soil lost from bare soils (Ling, 1976 [cited in Aiken et al., 1982:Table 7.2]). Moreover, the nitrogen provided by legumes saves on fertilizer expenses (Ti et al., 1971 [cited in Soong et al., 1980]). Although planted ground covers die off as the shade from rubber trees increases, they are replaced by natural ground covers that also control erosion (Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia, 1973 [cited in Soong et al., 1980]).

Even with a well-established ground cover and even after rubber trees have become established, soil erosion is greater than that in a natural forest. This is despite evidence that canopy interception of rainfall by mature rubber plantations is similar to that by natural forests (Aiken et al., 1982:Table 7.3). Morgan (1979) found that suspended sediment transport (for a strip 1 cm wide and 10 m long) in a rubber plantation was nearly double that in a natural forest. Aiken et al. (1982:Table 7.5) found that suspended sediment transport ranged from 0.058 to 2.63 cm³/cm/year for a rain forest to 6.66 to 41.89 cm³/cm/year for a rubber plantation. Whether these rates are sufficiently high to undermine the long-term sustainability of rubber plantations is not clear.

Soil loss is probably less in oil palm plantations, even though the canopy remains more open for a longer period of time, because oil palm plantations tend to be established on slopes that are less steep (Aiken et al., 1982; Soong et al., 1980).


Conversion to tree crop plantations has three principal environmental impacts on water systems: increased sedimentation, increased flooding, and increased pollution. Sedimentation increases because of greater soil erosion. Clean weeding caused particularly acute sedimentation problems. Aiken et al. (1982) indicated that, "During the early 1930s, 2,835 ha (7,000 acres) of paddy land along the Malacca River had to be abandoned because of inundation by silt eroded from rubber estates upstream" (p. 122). They also indicated that the harbor at the mouth of the Malacca River was so badly affected by siltation that it had to be dredged on a regular basis. The off-site impacts of clean weeding led to the Silt Control Enactment of 1917, which "empowered the State Resident to take action against any person who allowed sediment eroded from his land to damage or interfere with the cultivation of neighbouring land" (Aiken et al., 1982).

Today, because of improved management practices, rates of soil erosion from agricultural land are generally much lower than those common in the early decades of the twentieth century, but because of the increased areas affected, river sediment loads may be no lower (Aiken et al., 1982). The sediment load in the Pahang River, which is the largest river in Peninsular Malaysia, more than tripled from the start of the twentieth century to 1975 because of increased logging and land conversion (Australian Engineering Consultants, 1974, cited in Aiken et al. [1982:Table 7.15]).

Rainfall runoff increases because of lower rates of canopy interception (at least in immature plantations), more compacted soil, and reduced humus. Increases in total annual runoff are relatively modest, about 10 percent (Tan, 1967; Hunting Technical Services et al., 1971 [both cited in Aiken et al., 1982]). Most of the increase comes during periods of peak rainfall, which increases the frequency and magnitude of floods (Aiken et al., 1982) and might diminish the recharging of aquifers. Daniel and Kulasingham (1964 [cited in Soong et al., 1980]) found that peak runoff per unit area was about twice as large in a catchment largely converted to rubber and oil palm as in one that was undisturbed natural forest. In a similar comparison of catchments, Hunting Technical Services et al. (1971 [cited in Aiken et al., 1982]) reported increases in peak runoff ranging from 34 to 140 percent during six periods of high rainfall in 1970.

Plantations contribute to water pollution as a result of fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide runoffs and processing wastes. Maene et al. (1979 [cited in Ng, 1983]) estimated that runoff and leaching from oil palm plantations resulted in the loss of 17 percent of the nitrogen, 10 percent of the phosphorus, and 9 percent of the potassium fertilizers applied. Pesticide and herbicide use has been regulated more strictly since the Pesticides Act of 1974.

The major source of pollution related to tree crops is effluent from processing mills. Processing of rubber and palm oil requires large amounts of water, and the effluent contains organic and inorganic compounds that lead to high chemical and biological oxyger demand (BOD) (Aiken et al., 1982). According to Gill (1978 [cited in Hill, 1982:205]), in the 1970s "oil palm factories contribute[d] 80 per cent of all pollutants to rivers in Peninsular Malaysia." The biological oxygen demand produced by palm oil processing mills in 1978 was estimated to be equivalent to the amount produced by domestic sewage from 15.9 million people-a population greater than that of Peninsular Malaysia today (Abdul Aziz bin Ahmad, 1974 [cited in Aiken et al., 1982:Table 7.11]). Discharge of effluents was reduced dramatically following the passage of the 1974 Environmental Quality Act, which incorporated an innovative combination of a regulatory standard and a market-oriented discharge fee (Panayotou, 1992). By 1984, the total biological oxygen-demand load released from palm oil mills was less than 1/40th the load in 1978 (Ong et al., 1987 [cited in Panayotou, 1992]).


The number of forest-dwelling species that can survive in tree crop plantations is small. Wells (1988) estimated that "fewer than 20 [species of] birds of inland forest have effectively established themselves beyond the limits of original habitat" (p. 193). He claimed that no monocultural agricultural system has yet been shown to support a breeding population of forest-dwelling birds. Yorke (1984) estimated that about 50 percent fewer bird species were recorded in rubber plantations than in neighboring primary forests and that most of the species were more typical of disturbed habitat than primary forests. The Earl of Cranbrook (1988) pointed out that small indigenous mammals that adapt to early successional stages of forest regeneration thrive as pests in tree crop plantations, but he concluded that most forest-dwelling mammal species cannot exist outside mature natural forests. Steven (1968 [cited in Earl of Cranbrook, 1988]) estimated that only 10 percent of the mammal species other than bats in Peninsular Malaysia can subsist in cultivated areas. Fifty-two percent of the mammal species in Peninsular Malaysia are native to forests below 300 m, which is where most plantations are found (Aiken and Leigh, 1985; Aiken et al., 1982).

Potential decreases in biodiversity because of agricultural expansion are not limited to terrestrial ecosystems. Pollution and sedimentation have reduced fish populations in streams and coastal areas (Aiken and Moss, 1976 [cited in Aiken et al., 1982]). Siltation and sedimentation might have contributed to the disappearance of the dugong in coastal waters, the decline of the river terrapin in the Perak River, and the decline of coral reefs (Aiken and Leigh, 1985; see also Langham, 1976; Lulofs, 1974 [both cited in Aiken et al., 1982]).

Rubber plantations appear to have greater value as wildlife habitat than do oil palm plantations (Duckett, 1976). Rubber plantations tend to contain more pockets of remnant natural forest, generally wet areas where rubber trees grow more poorly than oil palm trees do. Crowns of rubber trees provide better nesting conditions for birds and small mammals and are disturbed less by the collection of latex than are oil palm crowns by the collection of fruit bunches. On the other hand, oil palm fruits are more attractive to wildlife.

Plantations have better value as buffer zones around remaining natural forests than do annual agricultural fields, since they shade the edge of the forest. To a certain extent, plantations can also serve as corridors between patches of natural forest for certain species, but their effectiveness as corridors decreases sharply as the distance between the forest patches increases a. Wind, National Park Development Project, Bogor, Indonesia, personal communication, 1990). Moreover, the species-richness of many of Peninsular Malaysia's remnant patches of lowland forest has diminished as these patches have become increasingly isolated and reduced in size in a landscape dominated by rubber and oil palm.


How much further is agricultural expansion likely to proceed in Peninsular Malaysia? As noted earlier, land in agricultural use covered 4.2 million ha in 1988. Because 6.3 million to 6.5 million ha of soils is suitable for agriculture, agricultural expansion could theoretically result in a maximum of 2.1 million to 2.3 million ha of deforestation in the future. On the basis of soil suitability, both rubber and oil palm could expand well beyond their current areas. In 1988, 1.6 million ha was in rubber; 3.6 million to 5.7 million ha is suitable for the crop (Ariffin and Chan, 1978; Barlow, 1978). Some 1.5 million ha was in oil palm, and 3.3 million to 5.0 million ha is suitable (Ariffin and Chan, 1978; Barlow, 1978; Lee, 1978; Ng, 1968 [cited in Ooi, 1976]).

Recent Developments in the Tree Crop Sector

Recent developments suggest that neither crop is likely to expand to cover all the area for which it is technically suitable. The rate of expansion for the four major tree crops decreased from 83,000 ha/year during 1975-1981 to 34,000 ha/year during 1981-1988 (Table 3). A number of factors are responsible for dampening the rate. Rising scarcity of rural labor is perhaps the most important. Estates, particularly rubber estates (which are more labor intensive), have suffered increases in labor costs as rural people have migrated to urban areas (Barlow, 1984; Barlow and Condie, 1986; Barlow and Jayasurija, 1986; Ministry of Primary Industries [Malaysia], 1990). Immigrant workers from other Asian countries, Indonesia and the Philippines in particular, have provided an important source of replacement labor (Barlow and Jayasuriya, 1987; Tsuruoka, 1991). One source estimated that 300,000 Indonesians worked in the palm oil industry in Malaysia (mainly eastern Malaysia) in 1991 (Tsuruoka, 1991). FELDA and FELCRA schemes have also faced labor shortages (Barlow, 1986), as the migration of the population out of rural areas has reduced the number of potential new smallholders and reduced the work force in existing smallholder households. By the 1980s, rises in the opportunity cost of rural labor had cut the economic rates of return to rubber schemes to a borderline level (Barlow and Jayasuriya, 1987).

Two additional factors are government revenue and commodity prices. Expansion of land development schemes in the 1970s benefited from a windfall of government revenue created by oil production (Malaysia is a net petroleum exporter). This source of funds was reduced sharply in the 1980s when oil prices fell. Government expenditure is also constrained by Malaysia's debt burden, although this is lightening because of continued strong economic performance and financial measures by the government.

Although rubber and palm oil prices boomed after 1972, more recently they have dropped and appear to have resumed their long-term decline in real (inflation-adjusted), if not nominal, terms. Natural rubber faces competition from synthetic rubber, whose price is heavily dependent on the price of petroleum. Hence, low petroleum prices negatively affect the economics of rubber schemes in two ways. Malaysian palm oil faces competition not only from palm oil produced in Indonesia (where labor costs are much lower) but also from a host of other fats and oils.

To some degree these three negative factors are offset by research that improves the economic returns to tree crop cultivation (Ministry of Primary Industries [Malaysia], 1990). Both RRIM and PORIM are conducting research on mechanization and other means of reducing labor needs, including less frequent tapping systems for rubber. Efforts are under way to reduce the period of immaturity for both crops and to develop intercropping systems that provide additional economic returns. Wood from rubber trees has become an internationally valuable furniture wood, so much so that the Malaysian government recently imposed levies to restrict the export of logs and lumber from rubber trees. The development of commercial uses of oil palm trunks is more difficult because of their monocotyledonous wood anatomy, but pilot projects are under way. More promising is the development of new industrial products from palm oil. By-products of palm oil processing are increasingly used as an inexpensive fertilizer, which also helps to reduce pollution problems. An oleochemical industry is developing; detergents, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, and polyurethane are among the products that can be made from palm oil (Tsuruoka, 1991).

In spite of this, even the Malaysian government doubts that these research advances can fully offset the negative impacts of labor scarcity, limited public funds, and commodity price declines. The Ministry of Primary Industries (1990) projects that the area of rubber plantations will continue to decline marginally in both the estate and smallholder sectors. The Ministry expects growth in the area of oil palm plantations to slow as estates and smallholders emphasize upgrading existing plantations by replanting with improved varieties. The Ministry of Rural Development recently announced that the government will not open additional land for new agricultural schemes (New Straits Times [Kuala Lumpur], cat July 15,1991). In line with this new policy, the Ministry of Rural Development has proposed that FELDA, FELCRA, and the Rubber Industry Smallholder Development Authority (RISDA) be merged and reoriented toward land rehabilitation, market assistance, and enhancing the productivity of existing land development schemes.

Although significant additional expansion of rubber and oil palm plantations is not anticipated, it is conceivable that a new tree crop could follow oil palm and lead a new burst of agricultural expansion. Cacao is the crop that has expanded most rapidly recently, partly because its price trend has been more favorable. Soils suitable for cacao, however, overlap those where rubber, oil palm, and coconut plantations are already established. In 1988, cacao covered only 142,000 ha (Table 3), and it is the optimal crop on only 708,000 ha (Ariffin and Chan, 1978). Because of the peninsula's rural labor shortage, it seems unlikely that there is a tree crop that could generate sufficient economic returns to justify the establishment of plantations in newly cleared areas of forests.

Deforestation Projections

Deforestation for the period 1990-2030 was forecast by using a regression equation that compared the area under agricultural use from 1904 to 1988 to logged area and rural population growth rate (Vincent and Hadi, 1991). Three scenarios were considered: scenario 1, the base case, in which the rural population grows at 0.83 percent/ year and the area deforested equals the area of agricultural expansion; scenario 2, the worst case, in which the rural population grows at 0.83 percent/year and the area deforested equals 1.86 times the area of agricultural expansion; and scenario 3, the best case, in which the rural population grows at 0.53 percent/year from 1990 to 2000 and -0.45 percent/year from 2000 to 2030 and the area deforested equals the area of agricultural expansion.

Table 8 Deforestation Scenarios

The 0.83 percent/year rural population growth rate is the rate during the 1980s. The 0.53 and -0.45 percent/year rates are based on the World Bank's (1990) projections of the overall population growth rate. The factor 1.86 is based on the ratio of the area deforested to the area of agricultural expansion during 1972-1982.

The projections are presented in Table 8. The estimate of forest area in 1990, 6.11 million ha, is based on the Forestry Department's estimate for 1988,6.288 million ha (Ibu Pejabat Perhutanan, Semenanjung Malaysia, 1990), reduced by the annual rate of deforestation (89,000 ha) during 1982-1988 calculated from the 1988 estimate of area and the estimate of Brown et al. (1991b) for area in 1981-1982.

In the base-case scenario, annual deforestation during 1990-2030 is less than half that during 1982-1988. The level keeps rising, however, because of the steadily growing rural population. In 2030, the amount of remaining forest is comparable to the target area of the PFE (4.75 million ha). Because of continuing population growth, deforestation continues beyond 2030.

In the worst-case scenario forests remain in 2030, but the area is less than three-fourths of the target area of the PFE. As in the base-case scenario, the level of deforestation keeps rising beyond 2030.

The best-case scenario is similar to the base-case scenario until 2000. After 2000, the rate of deforestation slows and then goes to zero in 2016. Aggregate deforestation is negative during 2010-2030, indicating that forest area increases because of net abandonment of agricultural land. In 2030, Peninsular Malaysia would have only 6.5 percent less forest than it did in 1990.

The best-case scenario is the most likely. Stabilization of Peninsular Malaysia's forest area is under way because of the region's sustainable tree crop industries, which make land developed for agriculture permanently productive, and because of the growth in its economy's nonagricultural sectors, which leads to urbanization and declines in rural population growth. This conclusion is in contrast to that of another recent study of Peninsular Malaysia by Brookfield et al. (1990), which warns that "It seems not improbable that worse is to come before improvement" (p. 507).


Deforestation in Peninsular Malaysia during the twentieth century demonstrates that shifting cultivation is not a necessary ingredient for extensive conversion of forests in the humid tropics and that sustainable agriculture is possible even on nutrient-poor tropical soils. It also demonstrates that the creation and adoption of sustainable agricultural systems will not, on their own, forestall the expansion of agriculture into undisturbed forests. In fact, the sustainability of rubber and oil palm plantations is a fundamental reason why their area has expanded: their ability to produce ongoing yields increased the area where they earned minimum acceptable economic returns. Deforestation might have been even greater, however, if farmers in Peninsular Malaysia had not had the option of tree crop farming and had resorted to shifting cultivation instead. In recent years, rapid industrialization has created off-farm employment opportunities that have led to labor shortages in rural areas and thus decreased agricultural expansion. The phase of land development marked by deforestation appears to be coming to a rapid close in Peninsular Malaysia.

Expansion of plantations has not resulted from government policies that subsidized the expansion. Rather, it has been driven by the moderate to high financial returns (for estates and small landholdings) and economic returns (for land development schemes) earned by the plantations. The fundamental economic feasibility of plantations has been buttressed by government policies to develop infrastructure, promote secure land tenure, and support agricultural research. Although many policies probably discriminated against expansion by estates and small landholdings during most of the century, policies related to land development schemes have created economic inefficiencies.

Although rubber and oil palm plantations appear to provide sustainable uses of converted forestland, environmental costs have been incurred during the conversion process. The failure of markets (for estates and small landholdings) and project appraisals (for land development schemes) to account for environmental impacts suggests that the area of plantations might have expanded too far. The economic data needed to evaluate these impacts and to determine whether overexpansion affected a significant area do not exist. Nevertheless, sufficient information is available to cast doubt on the contention of some authors that conversion of forests to tree crops in Peninsular Malaysia has been an environmental disaster (Aiken et al., 1982; Aiken and Leigh, 1985; Brookfield et al., 1990). Soil erosion and water-related problems have lessened over time because of better conservation practices (ground cover management, terracing) and increasingly stringent water pollution policies. Although populations of many species are shrinking as the few remaining areas of lowland rain forests are converted to other uses) there is little evidence of large-scale extinctions. Moreover, environmental impacts surely would have been greater if farmers in Peninsular Malaysia had lacked the option of sustainable tree crop plantations and had practiced shifting cultivation instead.

Research Needs

Several research needs emerge from the study of Peninsular Malaysia. First, the discrepancy between estimates of agricultural expansion from land use surveys and estimates of deforestation from forest inventories needs to be explained. Perhaps the next forest inventory will help in this regard, but what is truly needed is an updated, comprehensive, detailed land use inventory. Second, areas that were alienated for agriculture and then logged but never developed need to be studied to understand better the political economy of agricultural expansion, particularly in the case of land development schemes. Third, benefit-cost analyses that incorporate values for environmental impacts need to be carried out for private and public plantation investments. Such analyses would provide better estimates of the net benefits of past agricultural expansion and would help to ensure that future expansion creates net benefits.

Replicating Peninsular Malaysia's Success

The possibility of replicating Peninsular Malaysia's twofold success-enhancing rural standards of living from the use of perennial crops and slowing deforestation by the combination of sustainable agriculture technologies and reductions in rural population growth- needs to be studied by careful comparison of Peninsular Malaysia's ecologic, social, and economic conditions with those of other regions in the humid tropics. The factors involved in Peninsular Malaysia's success included an active research program that raised yields and reduced the costs of growing tree crops (and thereby offset declines in product prices), public investments in infrastructure that enabled growers to get latex and palm oil to markets efficiently and to purchase food and other supplies they did not produce themselves, and land tenure policies that enabled estates and smallholders to obtain secure, long-term leases or outright ownership. Although some might argue that other tropical countries lack the financial resources to replicate the first two factors, the research effort was financed by taxes paid by the tree crops sector itself. Land titling in Peninsular Malaysia was facilitated by the peninsula's low population density, but forested areas in many other humid topical countries are also lightly populated.

Other countries might also face stiffer competition in entering rubber and palm oil markets than did Peninsular Malaysia because Peninsular Malaysia entered the markets early on in their development. This timing issue is a less important factor in Peninsular Malaysia's success, however, than was the effort it put into research, infrastructure, and land titling. Moreover, market opportunities for other countries might be created as Peninsular Malaysia's competitive position in rubber and palm oil continues to be eroded by rising labor costs.


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Arturo Gomez-Pompa, Andrea Kaus, Juan Jimenez-Osornio, David Bainbridge, and Veronique M. Rorive

In tropical Mexico and throughout the nation, deforestation is not only an ecologic concern but also an indicator of much wider social, political, and economic factors. It is the result of ecologic conditions combined with land use patterns as well as human decisions and the consequent actions on the tropical environment. These decisions are influenced by internal and external social and environmental factors, from local land tenure to national politics and from local soil conditions to widespread natural disasters. This profile briefly reviews the social and economic contexts in which deforestation occurs and discusses land use patterns, forest resources and rates of deforestation, and sustainable resource management.


Past Population and Land Use in the Mexican Tropics

Demographic change in Mexico from the time of contact with Europeans to the present has been a subject of study and debate by many scientists and scholars. Cook and Borah (1980) estimated that the native Indian population of Central Mexico in 1518 was 25.1 million people. Yet, by 1620 only 750,000 people remained. Diseases and war had reduced the population to a fraction of its former size.

The depopulation of Mexico after conquest by the Europeans was followed by the introduction of large-scale agricultural activities in the tropical forests. Cattle ranching, in particular, has become a major factor in the economy and ecology of present-day Mexico. The replacement of traditional tropical land use practices with techniques and agricultural models imported from temperate zones and Western European experience has led to cultural degradation along with the loss of biologic and genetic diversity.

The food production systems found in pre-Hispanic times were more efficient than the systems found there today. In pre-Hispanic times, intensification of agricultural production was well developed. According to Gliessman et al. (1983), Gomez-Pompa (1987a), Siemens (1983), and Turner (1974), the principal subsistence systems known to have existed were shifting agriculture (probably very intensive with short rotations and carefully managed fallows), tree orchards (including cacao with leguminous trees), different types of extensive and diverse forest gardens, terraces, and intensive hydraulic agriculture in lowlands and swamps.

The most notable examples of intensive hydraulic systems in the archaeological record are the raised fields of the Maya lowlands. These are thought to have provided a highly sophisticated agricultural system based on intensive human labor combined with the efficient use of water and renewable biological resources (Denevan, 1970; Gliessman et al., 1983; Gomez-Pompa and Jimenez-Osornio, 1989; Siemens and Puleston, 1972). The ancient Maya also hunted and gathered in the noncultivated areas and may have managed the mature vegetation to improve the level of production from forest resources.

Despite discrepancies and gaps in the available data, it is increasingly evident that present-day rural lands once contained urban centers and human populations larger than those supported today by modern land use practices. Furthermore, areas now considered to be "virgin" forest or "pristine" ecosystems were previously inhabited and, in many cases, still support indigenous populations and their traditional forms of agriculture (Gomez-Pompa and Kaus, 1992).

At present, Mexico has millions of farmers who belong to more than 50 ethnic groups, each with their own language, traditions and land use practices. Loss of the cultural diversity once found in the tropical forests means a loss of the opportunity to understand and learn from the experiences of others who live and work in tropical regions (Bennett, 1975). The value of traditional land use practices for agricultural development and conservation efforts under current socioeconomic conditions is often underestimated because of two principal myths: (1) the myth that the campesino (peasant) or Indian is ignorant of "modern" problems (Redford, 1990; Wilken, 1987); and (2) the myth that shifting cultivation is the sole cause of deforestation (Repetto, 1990).

Tropical deforestation occurs as a result of Western, indigenous, and mestizo land use practices. However, much can be learned from the failures as well as the successes. Traditional land use practices, that is, the techniques developed over generations in a given region, provide examples of time-tested experiments of human ingenuity in linking the natural and social environments. The added benefit is that these practices are not rigidly fixed and can adjust to and even alter environmental trends based on farmers' predictions and evaluations of future change.

Present Socioeconomic Trends in Mexico

In Mexico there are several nonecologically based trends that both contribute to tropical deforestation and indicate the need to create incentives that will alter the present predominance of unsustainable land use policies and practices. This situation is not only critical for reasons of environmental degradation but also for the well-being of Mexico's citizens.

At present there is a low density of inhabitants in the tropical regions of Mexico in comparison with estimations of the densities during the pre-Hispanic era. According to the latest census by the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica Geografia e Informatica (INEGI), the population of Mexico was 81,140,922 in 1990 (National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Information, 1990a). The World Bank (1990), however, estimated that Mexico had a population of 87,262,000 in 1990. The estimates of the World Bank were based on 1980 census figures; and the newest INEGI census produced figures that cannot be explained, for example, a decrease in the population of the Federal District from 8,831,079 to 8,236,960 inhabitants, which is highly unlikely.

Figure 1 The urban and rural populations of Mexico, from 1940 to 2000 as estimated

According to INEGI (1990a), the population of Mexico increased sixfold during the twentieth century, from 13,607,272 to 81,140,922 inhabitants, and continued increases are projected in the future (Figure 1). These population increases will likely add to the already increasing population density in tropical regions of Mexico.

According to Cabrera (1988), the debate on population growth dates back to the early 1960s. In 1963, the Bank of Mexico produced the first long-term projections of population growth and the potential impact on various economic areas, particularly the agricultural sector. In the early 1970s the Mexican government reacted by proposing the General Law on Population, which was approved in 1973. The law stated the need to regulate population growth to obtain a just and equitable distribution of the benefits of economic and social development. This was the beginning of the family planning programs of the Mexican government, whose goals in 1977 were to diminish population growth to 1 percent annually by the end of the century. The programs were well received. By 1988, annual population growth had been reduced to 2 percent. The goal of 1 percent annual population growth by the year 2000 appears to be feasible.

More than one-third of the present population of Mexico, however, is less than 15 years old, and the labor force (those 15 to 64 years of age) continues to grow at a rate of 3.5 percent per year (Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, 1991) requiring at least 800,000 new jobs each year. Since neither opportunities nor jobs are being provided by the agricultural sector in rural areas, many workers migrate to the major urban centers. The industrial sector has been unable to employ this growing work force. In 1988 unemployment reached a level of 24.5 percent (6.5 million people were unemployed and 20.1 million people were employed) (Calve, 1988).

Forty-five percent of the agricultural population of southeastern Mexico can be classified as infrasubsistence farmers, that is, those who do not produce enough food to sustain their own households. An inadequate food supply in Mexico is not a matter of inadequate food production. It is related to unequal income distributions and flawed food distribution policies. Mexico has initiated many efforts to address the constant problems of unequal food distribution and poor living conditions in rural areas. Yet, they have not solved the underlying discrepancies in income and wealth distribution.

One of the key components for a sustainable land use strategy in a peasant economy is food self-sufficiency, allowing, at the very least, for a family to sustain itself on the same plot of land over time (Calve, 1988; Comision Economica pare la America Latina, 1982, Cordera and Tello, 1981; Toledo et al., 1985). In the early 1980s, the Mexican government initiated SAM (Sistema Alimentario Mexicano [Mexican Nutrition System]), a program for food self-sufficiency. The main objective of SAM was to make Mexico self-sufficient in basic grain production within 2 years. This was possible, given that funds were available for credit, fertilizers were provided, no constraints were placed on the use of livestock pastures for growing crops, and the producers were able to make a good profit. The program was so successful in terms of production that the country was not prepared for the surplus. Thousands of metric tons of maize spoiled because of a lack of storage capacity in Veracruz or were used as fodder for cattle. In 1982, however, a combination of late rains and the devaluation of the Mexican peso reduced the grain yield and the ability of the government to invest heavily in the program. The program was terminated with the change in Mexican presidents in the same year (Riding, 1989).

Results of the SAM program show that distribution, storage, and access to land suitable for crop production are more important for low-income families than is increased production for improving the lives of people in Mexico. The experience of SAM also shows the potential capacity of agricultural lands and Mexican farmers to produce food surpluses if farmers are given sufficient means and incentives. The failure of the SAM program shows the dependence of adequate land use strategies on the social, economic, and political factors that exist external to the region of production.

Food production for external markets is different from production of basic commodities for use by farm households, and they must be examined from different perspectives. In much of Mexico, local peasant farmers do not concentrate on producing basic items like maize and beans, but produce specialty items like fruits and vegetables for a market that demands a wide range of products. The present infrastructure in Mexico cannot deal with the development of small-scale production of various specialty items because of transportation, storage, processing, marketing, and credit limitations, although small-scale production is an integral part of the peasant economy and a starting point for building equity into agricultural systems.

There was some concern in the past that Mexico's need to be self-sufficient in food production would take away from its ability to export agricultural products. However, these two forms of land use and priorities represent two types of production that commonly use different types of land. They need not be mutually exclusive. In Mexico's agricultural boom of the early 1960s, 1,549,577 ha (13.7 percent of the cultivated land at that time) was used to grow crops for export. By 1979, this amount had dropped to 1,224,697 ha, at the same time that Mexico lost its self-sufficiency in food production. In fact, over the past 2 decades, Mexico has increasingly relied on food imports rather than internal production. From 1966 to 1987, average maize imports increased 17-fold (from an average of 157,103 metric tons between 1966 and 1970 to 2,821,860 metric tons between 1983 and 1987). Wheat imports, on the other hand, increased nearly 300-fold (from an average of 1,157 metric tons between 1966 and 1970 to 345,501 metric tons between 1983 and 1987) (Calve, 1988).

A new trend in Mexico is to advocate food self-reliance. The objective is to produce 75 to 80 percent of the basic grains (maize, rice, and wheat) within Mexico (Calve, 1988). Mexico has the agricultural capacity for increased internal production without losing export potential (a considerable amount of land now used for livestock grazing could also be used to grow crops for export) (Table 1). However, little new agricultural land is available for extensive production. A 1987 evaluation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Hydraulic Resources of Mexico shows that Mexico has an agricultural reserve of 9.5 million ha and a total of 32.7 million ha with agricultural potential (Calve, 1988). Half of the 9.5 million ha is forested; the other half is used for cattle grazing. More than half (5.2 million ha) of this total is in the humid tropics and would require drainage and irrigation for agricultural use.

Table 1 Area Planted for Consumption and Export Crops, 1960-1979

The potential for improved production still exists for land that is already in agricultural use. Food self-reliance can be obtained by increasing the level of production per ha without using any more land. Maize production alone could be increased from 1.6 to 3.2 metric tons/ha by using already available technologies. These higher yields do not necessarily require increases in purchased or nonrenewable inputs, as the high production from some traditional farming systems shows (Wilken, 1987). Often, better knowledge is the only thing required to obtain better yields. A. Turrent and associates from the National Institute of Forestry, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Research (INIFAP) have shown increased productivity from local farmers' fields through the use of simple technologies and techniques such as alley cropping, terracing, intercropping, and in situ postharvest seed conservation.

Past efforts for improved production in Mexico have not considered the various production components of Mexican small farms. Labor-intensive practices such as terrace construction, intercropping, soil improvement by nonchemical means, pest management, or simple irrigation techniques that rely on hand-carried water are often overlooked (for a full discussion of these methods, see Wilken, 1987). The female sector of the work force is typically forgotten or undervalued, even though the household economy often depends on their contribution to child care, gardening, small livestock production, firewood collection, food processing and preparation, and carrying water. Also overlooked is the value of the work done by children and elderly members of the household, whose contributions through experience or basic labor can be important for the family. However, the lack of recognition of traditional farming techniques, the contributions of various household members, or even self-sufficiency is not the only gap in present and past efforts to alleviate problems of low levels of agricultural production and poverty in the Mexican tropics. None of the programs will improve without the participation of farmers in the decisions that affect their work and living conditions or without their direct control of production (Chambers et al., 1989)

The agricultural sector remains an important contributor to the Mexican economy, but it is underdeveloped (Table 2). Forestry has played a very minor role in the economy, but it could contribute more if it were developed to its full potential and properly managed for its long-term production capability. In 1989, forestry's contribution was only 1.9 percent of the gross national product (GNP). Wood production has been maintained at a level of 9 million m³/year, which is only 23 percent of the potential level of production by a recent estimate (Comision Nacional Forestal, 1988). At the same time, Mexico has imported an average of US$228 million of wood products per year over the past 10 years (Comision Nacional Forestal, 1988).

Land Use

The present socioeconomic trends in the agricultural sector of Mexico coupled with increasing environmental degradation indicate the urgent need for alternatives in resource management. These alternatives should provide for the basic needs of peasant households without depleting the natural resources on which both the households and the national economy rely. The resource management options available in the Mexican humid tropics are similar to those available in other tropical regions of the world and are dependent on the land area that is to be managed, the available capital and infrastructure, and knowledge of the available technologies and potential markets.

In tropical Mexico, as in other tropical countries, two types of agricultural producers can be found on either end of a gradient (Table 3): (1) a large group of infrasubsistence farmers who practice traditional agriculture on small parcels of land, mainly for their own subsistence, and (2) a much smaller group of farmers who run large businesses that produce goods for regional, national, and international markets. CEPAL (1982) refers to these producers as peasant agriculture and commercial agriculture, respectively. Farmers who practice agricultural methods between these two extremes are called transitional farmers.

Peasant agriculture is practiced by 88 percent of the farmers on 57 percent of the country's agricultural lands. It relies primarily on household labor. Within the peasant agricultural sector, infrasubsistence farmers make up 45 percent of the agricultural producers in tropical Mexico. On average, their parcels are less than 4 ha. In contrast, commercial producers represent only 2 percent of the agricultural sector in the southeastern states of Mexico and hold 21 percent of the agricultural lands in that region, with average parcel sizes of more than 12 ha (Table 4). They also have rights to 42 percent of the irrigated lands, whereas the peasant agricultural sector has rights to only 10.4 percent of the irrigated lands (Comision Economica de la America Latina, 1982; Volke Haller and Sepulveda Gonzalez, 1987). Although the irrigated districts have attracted agriculturalists, there has also been a general trend of migration out of the region. One contributing factor is that the mechanization of agriculture associated with large-scale irrigated agriculture has replaced hand labor (Cabrera, 1979).

Table 3 Types of Agricultural Produces (in Percent)

For the development of sustainable agricultural systems that integrate the concepts of agroecology with available information on alternative cropping systems, an agricultural model based on small-scale farmers who farm small parcels of land would have excellent potential. Small-scale producers already play an important role in export crop production in the Mexican humid tropics. For example, most coffee producers are not large-scale landholders, although coffee is a lucrative export crop (Nolasco, 1985). Sixty percent of the coffee plantations in Mexico are between 1 and 5 ha, and coffee plantations of this size account for 31 percent of the total area devoted to coffee plantations and 30 percent of total coffee production (Mexican Institute of Coffee, 1974).

Table 4 Types of Agricultural Producers, by State (in Percent)

Scherr (1985) noted that in the 1970s the average size of cacao farms in Tabasco was less than 3 ha. The parcel size is dependent on the availability of family labor and has likely averaged from 4 to 6 ha for centuries (Scherr, 1985). A frequent strategy of cacao and coffee growers is to have an interim phase of subsistence crop production while waiting for the cacao harvest. A sociodemographic survey of Tabasco showed that only 30 percent of the farmers planted cacao alone; the remainder planted maize, bananas, coconut or sugarcane, or included cattle production. Farmers with less than 2 ha of land were more likely to produce cacao alone or to grow only maize as a secondary crop (Scherr, 1985).

Improved production and self-sufficiency among small-scale landholders hold the potential for reducing destructive agricultural practices in tropical areas of Mexico. The agricultural practices of small-and large-scale landholders and long-term residents as well as recent immigrants contribute to the real and potential destruction of tropical forests. However, the greatest population concentration is found among small-scale landholders and recent colonists (immigrants who have claimed land they settled on). People in these two groups are often blamed for causing deforestation and for practicing unsustainable agricultural techniques. They also represent the people with the least means and support for improving their agricultural practices. Yet, they could be an underestimated ally in the use of sustainable agricultural systems and conservation practices in the humid tropics.

Small-scale farmers have much to gain from programs that enhance their self-sufficiency in food production and the security of their land tenure. In turn, long-term residents have much to contribute to current research on sustainable agriculture based on their intimate knowledge and experience with the land and on both their successes and failures with different techniques or crops. However, the means for sustainable agriculture are not attainable for the majority of these farmers. Credit, infrastructural support (for example, equipment, machinery, transportation), and adequate technology and information are usually not available; and those government credit, development, or agricultural programs that do exist often advocate unsustainable land use practices. Most small-scale farmers are more concerned about short-term production practices with the means available to them than about investing capital or labor in unpredictable and uncertain high-yield, technology-intensive practices. Sustainable agricultural systems need to be designed so that the small-scale farmers of Mexico can be included in the efforts to halt tropical deforestation. However, sustainability is not confined only to ecologic continuity; sustainable agricultural systems must also be economically viable and culturally acceptable if they are to be supported by the majority of the small-scale farmers. New initiatives must also take into consideration income and land distribution inequities along with insecure land tenures. Failure to take these factors into account led to the high social cost of the green revolution's technological package. Despite dramatic increases in food production, the green revolution provided greater benefits for the large-scale producers and landholders and provided few benefits for the small-scale farmers (Dahlberg, 1990; Perelman, 1976).

An emphasis on production, a belief in the neutrality of technology, and a poor accounting of the environmental and social costs have encouraged the replacement of ecologically complex farming systems with extensive monocultural systems. Plant breeding efforts that focus on grain have neglected a wide range of products that small-scale farmers need, such as thatch and fodder. Increases in crop yields generally require irrigation and high levels of fertilizer inputs (Stewart, 1988). The high-yielding crop varieties that respond well to high inputs of fertilizer and water are often less pest and drought resistant than traditional varieties, and their cultivation, combined with the overuse of chemical pesticides, leads to the emergence of new pests as a result of the elimination of natural predators (Perelman, 1976; Van den Bosch, 1980).

The development of these extensive monocultural systems has also had profound effects on small-scale landholders and farm laborers, many of whom have been displaced by land consolidation and mechanization. For small-scale farmers, the new seeds and technological inputs are expensive. Farmers often apply for rural credit from banks or aid from government programs, increasing the risk of the agricultural venture for the household while transferring control to the bank or the government.

Control over land use by small-scale farmers is further complicated by the nature of land tenure in Mexico. At present, the principal forms of land tenure are federally owned land, private properties, ejidos, and comunidades. Comunidades are the least common, referring to villages whose usufruct rights (the legal right to use and enjoy the fruits or products belonging to somebody else) have been restored for land used before the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). Ejidos are the most common form of land tenure and refer to lands where the usufruct rights have been given to a collective of Mexican citizens as part of the land reform established after the Mexican Revolution (Sanderson, 1984; Yates, 1981). The land itself, however, remains the property of the Mexican government. Private properties with land areas that exceed the amount established by the Mexican Constitution are also at risk of expropriation by the government, usually for redistribution to landless peasants as ejidos. Ejidos may be worked individually or collectively, but the responsibility for the ejido, in terms of management and administration, is collective. The stability of the entire ejido system has been thrown into doubt with the remarkable and unanticipated government regulatory changes of 1991 that allow the sale of ejido land and use of ejido land as collateral for loans. The full implications of these changes will not be apparent for some time but the goal has been to increase efficiency in agricultural production.

The ejidatarios (the beneficiaries of ejidal grants) must maintain the productive use of their land in order to retain their right to use it; however, they often do not have the capital or infrastructure to do so. No credit or income is gained from conservation practices, despite the fact that many ejidos are in marginal, nonarable environments where conservation practices are necessary for the sustainability of the ecosystems and agricultural production. Instead, the incentives, opportunities, and loans offered by government programs, private landowners, or entrepreneurs advocate unsustainable practices for their short-term gain at the ejidatarios's and land's expense.

A new type of agricultural revolution is needed to benefit the small-scale farmers of Mexico. Without changing the overall objective to produce food for all, the emphasis needs to be on equity and distribution, self-sufficiency, and sustainable land use practices rather than on higher levels of food production. In addition, these efforts need to take into consideration small-scale farmers' needs and aspirations and integrate their knowledge of the agricultural capacity of the local area with conventional scientific research and technological applications. Many traditional practices on rainfed parcels could enhance present research efforts to increase the agricultural capacity of nonirrigated land without degrading the environment. The emphasis must be on sustainable use and land tenure security for the land already under cultivation and the inhabitants already in residence. The pressure to clear the remaining tropical forests will not diminish as long as the surrounding land continues to lose its ability to provide for its poorest inhabitants and as long as those inhabitants are a risk of displacement by extensive land use systems such as cattle ranching. For these reasons, the agricultural capacities of cleared and degraded lands need to be increased or restored, as do the value of small-scale farmers' production and their role in caring for the land for the next generation.


The tropical forests of Mexico occur in the coastal lowlands along the Pacific coast between the states of Sinaloa and Chiapas and along the Caribbean Sea from Quintana Roo to the coastal states on the Gulf of Mexico (Tables 5 and 6). Ecologists have described the forests in the tropics of Mexico and have classified them as several different types (Table 7). The vegetation types in the lowlands range from low thorny tropical forests (less than 10 m high) to the tall evergreen rain forests (more than 30 m high). In the highlands, the vegetation ranges from the tropical cloud forests to the low evergreen tropical forests, also known as elfin forests.

The majority of tropical forests that remain in Mexico can be found on ejidal lands or federal property (Tables 8 and 9). The states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, and Tabasco were chosen for this analysis because they are not mountainous and contain only tropical forests. The extent of forests on private or government property can be deduced from the data in Table 10. The distinction between private and government property is important because strategies for conservation and sustainable development may be very different for these two main types of land ownership-private and ejidal.

Strategies for developing sustainable land use practices for the tropical forest area of Mexico should be focused on the ejidal lands. They include more of the forestland and represent the greater challenge for the sustainable development of forestlands in Mexico. Nonetheless, the private lands should not be ignored; improved management practices that include the conservation of ecosystems, flora, and fauna may increase the profitability of these lands while providing conservation benefits.

Table 5 Area Covered by High and Medium-Sized Tropical Forest Trees, by State (in Thousands of Hectares)

In this discussion two tropical forest types are relevant: the tall evergreen forests (evergreen forests taller than 30 m) and the tall or medium-height semideciduous forests (forests with some deciduous species taller than 15 m) (Pennington and Sarukhan, 1989). These are the most abundant forests and are the most threatened by agricultural activities. All other forest types cover less land area, although they may be more important from a conservation perspective (Rzedowski, 1978). However, conventional means of protecting areas (for example, parks, reserves, refuges) are more applicable for preservation of these areas than is the development of better systems of conservation and sustainable use.

The state of Chiapas is considered to be one of the greatest centers of biodiversity in northern tropical America because of the quantity (50 percent) of tall tropical forests that remained in 1988 (Toledo, 1988). In the southeastern states of Mexico (21 percent of the country), for example, there are some 7.7 million ha of tropical forests, from which 1.214 million m³ of forest products are produced each year and from which 7 million m³ of firewood is obtained for consumption each year (Comision Nacional Forestal [National Forestry Commission], 1988). Most of the forests in that region are not well preserved, however (Table 11). The most important remnants of high tropical evergreen forests are found in the Lacandon forest of Chiapas, including the region of Marquez de las Comillas on the border with Guatemala, where a battle to save the remaining forests is being fought. At present, the winners are cattle ranching and secondary vegetation (Table 11). On the other hand, Campeche contains 46 percent of the medium-size forests and Tabasco has been totally deforested in the last few decades.

Table 6 Forest Area by State and Vegetation Type (in Thousands of Hectares)

A Definition of Deforestation

The various definitions of deforestation have a lot to do with the different estimates and perceptions of the process (Grainger, 1984; Lugo and Brown, 1981; Melillo et al., 1985). One view refers to the conversion of mature (older) forest ecosystems to less diverse ecosystems, which may mean the loss of pristine forests or virtually undisturbed forests. These mature forest ecosystems contain the greatest biodiversity in the tropics.

A second definition of deforestation includes the conversion of any forest ecosystem to nonforest ecosystem. This includes the conversion of secondary forests, agroforestry lands, and forest plantations to nonforest ecosystems, such as grasslands or other treeless agricultural systems. The concern is more for the known and potential roles that forest ecosystems play-in soil conservation, provision of forest products, and the earth's carbon dioxide balance-than for the roles they play in conserving biodiversity. This second type of deforestation is usually less important in the humid tropics, since it can be reversed in many cases. Forested land cleared for shifting agriculture can again become forest in a few years.

Table 7 Ecosystems of Mexico for 1500 and 1985

Evaluation of deforestation is difficult, however, because most studies are done by using aerial photographs or satellite images, and the distinction between the two types of deforestation given above is difficult to make by using aerial photographs or satellite images. The only clear distinction that can be made is that between forested and unforested lands, that is, the degree of forest cover. The process is also complicated by the rapid succession rate that is possible in the humid tropics. Within 10 to 15 years, it is possible to develop a forest that is dominated by secondary-growth trees on cleared land (Gomez-Pompa and Vazquez-Yanes, 1981). The process is continuous in these areas, and the changes through time can be dramatic (Estrada and Estrada, 1983). For these reasons, deforestation and reforestation figures should be considered as approximations. Ground surveys are essential for more accurate assessments of the nature and type of deforestation and the changes in species composition that are occurring. In this profile, deforestation rates are mostly derived from the literature and include both types of deforestation described above.

Table 8 Ejidal Land in Mexico

The information available from these sources is sufficient to evaluate the degree of conversion and to estimate the rates of deforestation.

Table 9 Distribution of Tropical Forests by State, 1987 (in Thousands of Hectares)

Table 10 Ownership of Tropical Forests in Selected Tropical States (in Hectares)

Current Estimates of Deforestation

Although Mexico is always included in the list of countries with the most rapid rates of deforestation, precise data to support this claim do not exist. The best-known source to date has been a report of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) (1981), which places Mexico third in Latin America with a deforestation rate of approximately 500,000 ha/year from 1981 to 1985.

Toledo's estimates (1988), which are probably the best available, challenged the FAO and UNEP estimates, arguing that the growth rate of cattle grazing areas and the expansion of the agriculture frontier is much greater than the FAO and UNEP figures suggest. Using the information from the 1980 census (Toledo, 1988) and inventories of land use and cattle grazing, Toledo projects a deforestation rate of about 1.1 million ha/year. If the areas destroyed by forest fires and forestlands cleared for new agricultural activities are added, deforestation could reach 1.5 million ha/year, which is 3 percent of the total forestland in Mexico (Toledo, 1988).

Table 11 Changes in Land Use in the Lacandon Rainforest of Chiapas

The current total forest area in Mexico is unknown. In the 1970s, Mexico had 80 million ha of basically unperturbed forest (Toledo, 1988). If Toledo's estimates are correct, the total forest area of approximately 80 million ha in the 1970s was reduced to 65 million ha by 1990 and will drop to 35 million ha by the end of the century if the trend is not slowed, stopped, or reversed.

Of its total land area, Mexico has 30,870,555 ha of tropical forests (INEGI, 1990b). They include forests that range from low deciduous tropical forests to tall evergreen tropical forests. There are, however, different estimates of the forested area and the deforestation rate in Mexico, as follows:

· Rzedowski (1978) estimated that 90 percent of the forests in the lowland humid tropics of Mexico were eliminated by the 1970s.
· According to Toledo et al. (1985), these forests probably occupied 15 million ha-approximately 8 percent of the total land area of Mexico-in the past.
· The best-known figures are those published in 1990 by the World Resources Institute (WRI). The data is based on the and other reports (Food and Agriculture Organization and United Nations Environment Program, 1980, 1981, 1988; Lanly, 1982, 1989). According to these reports, in 1980 the forest resources of Mexico covered 48,350,000 ha, including 46,250,000 ha of closed-canopy forests and 2,100,000 ha of open-canopy forests. The annual deforestation rate was 615,000 ha, or 1.3 percent of the total forest. The average annual area reforested was only 28,000 ha/year in the 1980s (World Resources Institute, 1990).

Table 12 Land Use in Humid and Subhumid Tropics in Mexico, 1981 (in Hectares)

· According to the Tropical Forest Action Plan for Mexico (Comision Nacional Forestal, 1988), there was 37 million ha of forested areas in Mexico between 1986 and 1987, which was nearly 11 million ha less than in 1980. Of these, 9.3 million ha is tropical forest. Of this area, 6 million ha is considered productive, with potential for exploitation. The other 3.3 million ha has an ecologic rather than an economic value and includes parks, reserves, and other protected areas.

No reliable figures for the forests in the Mexican humid tropics can be found, but combining the values of humid and subhumid forests from Table 12, more than 26 million ha of tropical forests existed in 1981, nearly half of the forested land in Mexico at that time. This estimate may be misleading because the deforestation rate has been faster in the tropics than in the other climatic regions of Mexico. By using Toledo's (1988) indirect method, it can be estimated that the number of cattle in the tropical states of Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, and Tabasco increased markedly since the 1970s to the 1980s. The deforestation cycle of lumber or mineral extraction followed by colonization, land acquisition, and conversion to pasture for cattle is well known in Mexico (Gomez-Pompa, 1987b). For this reason, an increase in the number of cattle entering the tropics implies that the deforestation rate in tropical areas is greater than the deforestation rate in all of Mexico.

The area deforested in the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, and Quintana Roo between 1984 and 1989 was approximately 1 million ha of a total forested area of approximately 20 million ha, an average annual loss of 167,000 ha of forest. This is in contrast to Toledo's (1988) estimate of 1.5 million ha per year for the entire forested area of Mexico (200 million ha). The states considered here make up one-tenth of the country's total area (20 million ha), and the deforestation rate in the tropics (5 percent) is slightly higher, yet it is consistent with those for the country as a whole (4.5 percent). Although these calculations need to be checked against aerial photography or satellite images, they correspond well with more qualitative estimates and document the amount of deforestation in the Mexican humid tropics.

If these estimates are correct, the small remnants of tropical forests that existed in Tabasco, Veracruz, and Oaxaca in the late 1970s have vanished. This conclusion can only be confirmed if reliable forest inventories are undertaken. An indirect way to document environmental change would be to ask people, who live and routinely travel in these areas, about changes in the forest cover over time.

The loss of species in the humid tropics is also debatable, since no reliable inventories or national biological surveys exist. Toledo (1988) suggests that deforestation along with selective extraction c rare plant species for the international market has led to the extinction of at least 17 species and that 477 species are currently endangered. This represents 17 percent of the flora of Mexico.

Causes of Deforestation

Deforestation is the consequence of many processes and actions The predominant factors, which are described in detail below, include cattle ranching, colonization projects, forest fires, disputes over tree ownership and land tenure, national security, local farming and intensive commercial agriculture, timber exploitation, and road building and other engineering works.


Cattle ranching has been the most important cause of deforestation (Table 13) (Denevan, 1982; Myers, 1981; Shane, 1980). In Mexico, the following are some of the avenues and incentives by which forests are converted to pastures for cattle grazing (Denevan, 1982):

· Direct clearing,
· Contracted shifting cultivation,
· Contracted deforestation,
· Land consolidation,
· Small ranches,
· Large ranches,
· Land tenure (in Mexico, by law, there is a maximum number of hectares of agricultural or cattle land that can be allotted to any one person),
· Economic viability of the land,
· Poor understanding of environmental processes and actions,
· inadequate enforcement of regulations for environmental protection,
· National markets,
· U.S. and international markets,
· National financial incentives, and
· International financial incentives.

Cattle raising activities have been a key factor in deforestation for several reasons:

· There is an open market (national and international) for beef products, which creates increased incentives for conversion of forests to pasture land.

Table 13 Grazing Areas and Cattle in Chiapas.

· Cattle ranching is a relatively simple operation that can be managed by only a few people per hectare and administered from a distant location.
· Lines of credit for cattle ranching are available and offered as incentives.
· Cattle ranching enterprises are given preferential treatment in government regulations and protected by the government.
· A long cultural tradition with roots in Spain and Portugal- identifies cattle ranchers as persons of status and respect, regardless of their actual production and profit.


The perception of tropical forested areas as agricultural frontiers has strongly influenced development policies in Mexico (Department of Agriculture and Hydraulic Resources, 1987; Parsons, 1976; Partridge, 1984). At one time, many deforested lands were federal lands that the government used to alleviate the need for land by landless peasants (Gomez-Pompa, 1987b).

The new areas of colonization are "prepared" for the peasants by use of government funds (frequently backed by loans from international banks) that give concessions for valuable wood to selected contractors. These contractors construct or use the roads paid by the government, "mine" the wood, and sell it on the national market. In the past, the wood was also sold on the international market.

The areas granted to the campesinos are the ones where the valuable wood has already been extracted. Land that is not distributed to potential ejidatarios is signed over to a forest-clearing contractor through the National Commission of Deforestation of the federal government. By this process, many new lands also fall into private hands or are left unassigned. Squatters take temporary possession of unassigned lands for subsistence agricultural activities. The land is later converted to private land, primarily for cattle ranching. At times, the beneficiaries are the squatters, but more frequently they are influential people-state governors, military officials, local political strongmen, and "city cattlemen" (those who run cattle ranching operations from urban areas).


Natural and anthropogenic forest fires also contribute to deforestation in the Mexican humid tropics. A fire in Chiapas during 1982 burned 600,000 ha, and another in Quintana Roo in 1988 burned 1,200 ha (Lopez Portillo et al., 1990).

Fire is often the cheapest, most efficient tool available to small-scale farmers for clearing an area for agriculture. Farmers can be divided into two main categories: those who have legal rights to their property and those who do not (Gomez-Pompa, 1987b). The first group usually uses fire as part of their shifting cultivation activities. They have detailed knowledge of when and how to use the fire, how to burn the slash and the fallen trees, and the necessary techniques to guide and control the fire. It is rare for a forest fire set by shifting cultivators to extend outside the area of the forest that has been cut.

Agriculturalists without legal rights to the land realize that the area does not belong to them and that there is a high probability that they will lose it. Therefore, their burning is done with little care or foresight. These farmers are usually newcomers to the area and have limited knowledge of management that is appropriate for the area. Their primary goal is simply to produce enough food for their families to survive. The clearing of trees provides a "cleaned" area for the cattle ranchers when the colonizers abandon or are evicted from the land. Forest burning by shifting cultivators has received most of the publicity and blame for deforestation. The International Rice Research Institute (1992) claims that shifting cultivation accounts for an estimated 30 percent of deforestation in Latin America; but government policies and the interests of cattle ranchers are behind this process.


One of the most neglected issues with regard to deforestation is tree and forest ownership and land tenure. Tree ownership is a long tradition in many non-Western cultures, but it is not well recognized or accounted for in development programs. According to Fortmann and Bruce (1988:5),

Most forestry and agroforestry initiatives are based either on the premise that rural people will plant trees or that they will preserve and protect trees planted by someone else including the government. However, people do not preserve, protect or plant trees nor allow others to, if doing so is costly to them personally. Tree species planted by government offices are unlikely to have a high survival rate on private or community land.

Home gardens, consisting of tropical forest trees, are often the only forested areas left. These trees are planted, maintained, managed and protected by the people in whose household gardens the trees grow. The key component of the home gardens is that they belong to the household, and household members select and manage the trees they want.

Who, ultimately, has the tenure rights to the forests? Local inhabitants of the forest have always believed that the forest "belongs" to them because they have the same rights to use it as their parents and grandparents had before them. However, they are now learning that the land and its resources belong to the nation and that the government is empowered to give concessions for timber extraction or other uses to outsiders. In Mexico, this forest tenure conflict has been resolved by applying a fee per hectare or per volume of wood that is paid by concessionaires to individuals or communities as forest rights. This is usually only a token offering when compared with the value of the tropical woods on the national and international markets.


Mexico has cleared extensive areas of forest on its border with Guatemala to facilitate colonization of those areas. These colonies form a human shield to protect and buffer the country from political refugees fleeing the Guatemalan army.


Some large-scale agriculture projects and the consequent clearing of large tracts of land have been of importance in the Mexican tropics. The only extensive agricultural system involved in discussions of deforestation is shifting agriculture. However, it should not be assumed that shifting agriculture is a cause in deforestation; rather, i should be considered a silvicultural technique when it is practiced under the appropriate conditions (for details see Gomez-Pompa e al., 1991; Ramakrishnan, 1984). Shifting cultivators who have ample knowledge of local conditions and species, skilled labor, and a commitment to long-term maintenance of their families and communities may also play a key role in the implementation of sustainable resource management practices.


Intensive commercial agriculture plays a minor role in deforestation when one considers the total land area covered. It typically involves commercial farming-usually perennial bush and tree crops- on permanent fields (Denevan, 1982). The major crops grown on these fields include coffee, cacao, rubber, sugarcane, pineapple, cotton, coconut, and mango. During the late 1800s, considerable areas were cleared for henequen (a fiber used to make binder twine). The amount of land used to grow avocado, melon, pineapple, watermelon, coconut, lemon, mango, orange, and banana was 372 ha in 1970 and 503 ha in 1980. Total production of these crops was 3.98 and 6.32 million metric tons in 1970 and 1980, respectively.


The valuable tropical woods of Mexico have already been largely depleted. For example, only in the remote and inaccessible areas- which are rarely found-is it possible to find mahogany. The contribution of timber exploitation to deforestation is not so much from the select logging of valuable trees as from the roads timber exploitation creates and the secondary damage that results from harvesting the desired species. Therefore, the starting point of deforestation is timber extraction, which is followed by the clearing of the remaining trees for agricultural fields by incoming landless peasants. These fields eventually become grasslands or secondary forests.


Another cause of deforestation is the opening of new roads for oil exploration, lumber extraction, communication, or domination. Roads allow improved access to forested lands for colonizers.

Protected Areas

The protected areas of Mexico did not include tropical forest areas until the late 1970s. At present, the total area of protected closed forests has been estimated to be 360,000 ha (World Resources Institute, 1990). In 1989, Mexico had six biosphere reserves-Sian Ka'an, Montes Azules, El Cielo, Sierra de Manatlan, Mapimi, and Michilia-encompassing 1,288,454 ha, and 47 protected areas (excluding the Marine and Coastal protected areas) covering 5,582,625 ha (World Resources Institute, 1990). A recent survey (Ecosfera, 1990) showed a total of 308 protected areas in the Maya region. Seven percent of the total land area is under some form of protection as parks, reserves, or refuges. However, designation as a protected area does not necessarily ensure that it will be protected. The areas that are actually protected, in terms of the prevention of deforestation in core or buffer zones, is considerably below 7 percent.


Sustainable resource management activities range from gathering forest products at one extreme to a conventional agricultural system that is energy and petrochemical intensive at the other. Many of the changes and improvements that have or will be developed and tested will be of value to farmers across this full spectrum.

A Definition of Sustainability

There is no universally accepted definition of sustainable resource management. Some definitions are philosophically based, others address economic issues, whereas others specify management practices. Resource management can be said to be economically sustainable when supply matches demand and reasonable profits are made; ecologically sustainable when practices are environmentally sound and enhance rather than degrade the natural resource base; and culturally sustainable when farmers, families, communities, and the fabric of rural life remain viable. (For a more detailed discussion of the many different concepts and practices, see Bainbridge and Mitchell, 1988.)

Although economics and ecologic sustainability are often the only components discussed in sustainable resource management, a definition that also includes cultural sustainability is better because the maintenance of a viable culture, although perhaps the most challenging element, is in many ways the most important one. Farmer's know edge, effort, and investment of energy and time are critical to sustainable resource management, and in return for their efforts the should be able to anticipate a better future. The family, the community, transportation links, and suppliers are also essential for sustain able resource management.

The ecologic basis for sustainability is also critical. If the ecologic foundation deteriorates, there is little chance of maintaining a long term production capability. Although some restoration efforts have been successful, the rehabilitation costs can be many times higher than the immediate economic return. Therefore, it is much easier to avoid ecologic decline than to reverse it.

Environmentally sound production practices will help to brim real production costs down and improve profitability. This can pro vice farm families and communities with the incomes they need to. survive and provide the stability needed to improve rural services-education, health care, transportation, utilities, and water.

Sustainable resource management can be achieved with existing equipment and facilities, conventional crops, and traditional markets It requires more accurate knowledge and precise management of on farm and off-farm resources to minimize production costs, maximize production efficiency, improve quality and grade of products, and reduce adverse environmental impacts. improved planning and mar keting will more closely match production to demand and will enable farmers to retain a larger share of retail cost rather than lose much of the value of their products to middlemen-transporters, distributors storage, and retailers.

Small-scale subsistence farmers are concerned with sustaining their households, usually under severe economic constraints. Whereas large scale commercial farmers are concerned with maximizing profits, small scale farmers are often more concerned with minimizing risk. For each type of farmer, the importance and consequences of sustainability will be different. For subsistence farmers, a sustainable agriculture system must include self-sufficiency in the production of food and a variety of other products they and their household need (for example, firewood); sustainability for commercial farmers implies continued profitability through the extensive production of foods or commodities for sale to large markets. Each type of farmer usually allocates a wide range of resources-time, labor, and capital-very efficiently in, pursuit of these goals. Revising incentives and benefit structures to reward sustainable practices can lead to the rapid adoption of new technologies for both subsistence and commercial farmers.

The international food and commodity markets are highly competitive, and government interventions and regulations distort prices and production in most countries. Prices of commodities are often subsidized at levels above competitive world prices, and commodities purchased by the government under these programs may be dumped in the world market and sold at prices far below the actual cost of production. Improving the accounting practices to include environmental costs, for example, erosion and land degradation, would do much to improve resource production and move production to areas where it is most efficient economically and ecologically.

Agricultural sustainability must be addressed not only from the personal perspective of the farmer's needs and resources but also from the national perspective of the country's needs and resources. Many small-scale solutions will eventually combine to contribute to global agricultural sustainability.

Sustainable Resource Management Practices in the Mexican Humid Tropics

An evaluation of sustainability can be made for virtually any resource management practice in the humid tropics of Mexico, from extensive cattle ranching on cleared forestlands to cattle production in feedlots, or from the manual labor of shifting agriculture to equipment-intensive timber production (Table 14). Sustainability is not inherent in scale, labor input, or management intensity, but rather reflected in the combined effects of many aspects of a particular agricultural system. The application of biodegradable pesticides by peasants without suitable protection (respirators and protective clothing) and management of contaminated containers and waste material cannot be considered sustainable because of the high risk to human health. Yet this same material could be used in a sustained manner if the materials were carefully controlled and the users and community were properly protected. In terms of shifting agriculture, short fallow periods are likely to be unsustainable as soil fertility gradually declines; but shifting agriculture with a sufficient fallow period (often 10 to 15 years) can be maintained indefinitely as the leguminous trees and shrubs restore soil fertility. Raised field beds in swampy areas could be sustainable, but only with a corresponding master hydraulic plan to regulate water quality and water levels.

Table 14 Comparison of Four Primarly Production Systems

The sustainability of any agricultural system can be enhanced by using appropriate techniques In some cases this may require the use of organic fertilizers; in others, chemical fertilizers. It may also include biologic controls instead of chemical pesticides. In some systems intercropping and rotations might be appropriate, whereas in other systems several combinations of mixed cropping in time and space may be appropriate. It is often easier to balance energy and nutrient demands and flows in mixed cropping systems that include animals and poultry than it is to balance those with only plants.

Some agricultural systems are easier to make sustainable than others, but those systems may not meet the basic needs of the household or the nation. For example, the extractive uses often mentioned as an option for forest reserves may provide limited resources for a few people but not for a larger population. Each agricultural system has its idiosyncracies and should be treated differently. It is more challenging to develop sustainable systems for an area with 500 people per km² than it is for an area with only 5 people per km². An appropriate set of management strategies and practices (for example, crop selection, markets, inclusion of large or small livestock, and labor requirements) must be developed for each agricultural system, although there may be some overlap between related production systems in similar environmental settings.

This leads to the larger problem of developing and managing the biosphere in a sustainable manner. The pollution of air, land, and water; the depletion of biological diversity; and increased deforestation indicate that modern society has not mastered resource management (McNeeley et al., 1990). The loss of biodiversity will not be solved by recommendations for sustainable agricultural approaches or major reforestation programs because the loss of biodiversity and other problems in the biosphere are affected by the cumulative effect of individual actions and responses to the economic and political incentives for clearing and using forested land. The reports and programs are essential, but they must be linked and related more directly to market incentives and factors that influence individual decision making at the most basic level of the smallest farm and family plot.

Lessons from Traditional Resource Management

There are already many traditional resource management approaches that can help in the search for sustainable agricultural production in Mexico (Altieri, 1987; Wilken, 1987). The relationship between traditional cropping practices and the control of pests-both insects and weeds-has been discussed in numerous articles (Altieri and Merrick, 1987; Gliessman et al., 1981). Management of organic matter (mulches, compost, and manures) helps to conserve nutrients, as do traditional methods of soil and water conservation (Wilken, 1987).

Many of these practices can be improved with scientific knowledge and technology and should be considered in the development of viable alternatives. It is essential, however, to begin with a detailed understanding of the motivations, practices, and needs of the local people. Only then can appropriate technologies begin to be developed. This is in contrast to the typical approach, by which the technology is developed first, without considering the cultural aspects.

It is also important to acknowledge environmental constraints. Traditionally, enormous expenditures have been made to fit the environment to the crop. The growing recognition of a wide range of useful crops (local, traditional, and global), however, makes it increasingly easy to select a crop that fits the environment. In addition, more research is needed to explore the wide range of potential products that can be extracted from the tropical forests of Mexico.

One of the most striking features that has emerged from research in the humid tropics of Mexico is the importance of human intervention and management in the development of the forests in that region, which were previously considered untouched, pristine, and certainly unmanaged (Gomez-Pompa and Kaus, 1990). These traditional agroforestry systems are valuable resources that have been developed and refined over the centuries. They are invaluable knowledge banks for understanding and improving tropical forestry management and should be studied before they disappear. Some traditional systems have been studied (Alcorn, 1984, 1990; Flores Guido and Ucan Ek, 1983; Gomez-Pompa, 1987a; Nations and Komer, 1983), but much remains to be learned.


An alternative approach to tropical forest management, described in this profile, has been shaped by on-going work with Maya groups in Mexico (Gomez-Pompa, 1987a; Gomez-Pompa and Bainbridge, 1991), whose ecologically sophisticated forest management practices have provided many important lessons based on long-term experience with the surrounding ecologic and sociocultural systems. The ecologic complexity of the Maya forests is clear, both in the numbers of species and in their temporal and spatial arrangement (Gomez-Pompa, 1987b; Rico-Gray et al., 1988). Many Maya farmers have detailed knowledge of plants and soils and the regeneration process, which they use in their management of trees and forests.

Evidence from archeological and historical research suggests that in ancient times, agroforestry (combining trees that provide food, fodder, medicine, and building materials with annual and perennial crops, animals, and poultry) may have provided much of the basic needs of people in the densely populated regions of the Yucatan Peninsula. Forest management by the Maya included a variety of methods and techniques, many of which are still practiced. They do not, however, practice the integrated systems believed to have existed in pre-Hispanic times (Gomez-Pompa, 1987a). Past and present Maya agroforestry consists of the protection, cultivation, selection, and introduction of trees in the milpas, fallows, plantations, natural forests, forest gardens (a combination of trees, annual crops, and animals within a limited area around the house), as well as protected forest networks along trails, cenotes (sink holes in limestone with a pool at the bottom, found especially in Yucatan), and towns (Gomez-Pompa, 1987a; Gomez-Pompa and Kaus, 1987,1990; Lundell, 1938).

One of the most striking features of present day Maya towns is the abundance of useful trees in the forest gardens: approximately 60 to 80 species in a family plot and some 100 to 200 species in a village (Herrera Castro, 1990). The trees of the forest gardens provide building materials, firewood, food and beverages, medicine, and fodder. Many of the more common trees are the same species found in the surrounding natural forests, although new species-such as papaya, guava, banana, lemon, orange, and other citrus fruit trees-have also been incorporated. Both indigenous and exotic species of herbs, shrubs, vines, and epiphytes grow in the patches of sunshine on the ground or in the shade of the trees. Useful wild species that appear in managed areas are often not weeded out and become established in these gardens. The importance of forest gardens in Yucatan can be calculated as follows. Approximately 25 percent of the Yucatan population has a forest garden. The average plot size is 400 m². Thus, the combined forest area of these gardens may be more than 25,000 ha, adding almost 10 percent to the forested area of Yucatan.

The Maya also plant or protect trees along the edges of or scattered throughout their agricultural fields. Many of these trees are nitrogen-fixing species (for example, Acacia spp., Leucaena spp., Mimosa spp.), and the abundance of these species may reflect centuries of human selection and protection (Flores Guido, 1987). These nitrogen-fixing trees provide most of the nitrogen required to maintain soil fertility under intensive high-yield cultivation practices.

The use of leguminous trees as shade trees for cacao was a pre-Hispanic practice that is now used on coffee plantations (Cardos, 1959; Jimenez and Gomez-Pompa, 1981). Shaded coffee plants produce fewer coffee beans on an annual basis, yet the shade adds many years to the useful life of the coffee plants.

Other agroforestry techniques are also incorporated into the management of milpas, including the selection and protection of useful individual plants on the site selected for cultivation. The protected species are determined by the interest, knowledge, and needs of the farmer, a factor that helps to explain the high level of biodiversity found on fallow lands and older (20 to 50 years) secondary forests. Even the manner in which trees are cut affects the survival of the forest. If regrowth is allowed to begin from a high trunk (coppicing), the survival rate is improved and is a key factor in the succession process. Although only about 10 percent of the trees may be coppice starts, they may account for more than 50 percent of the biomass during the recovery phase (Illsley, 1984; Rico-Gray et al., 1988).

The conservation of strips of forest along trails and surrounding milpas is also important. This strip probably plays an important role in the regeneration of fallow lands (Remmers and de Koeyer, 1988), provides valuable shade on the trails, and interlinks fragments of the forest so that wildlife has access to all parts of a forest. Studies by Thomas Lovejoy in the Amazon have shown that links between patches of forest increase the effective size of the forest and help to maintain species diversity. They may also play a critical role in maintaining deer, birds, and other game, which are valuable food sources for Maya hunters.

Although some researchers (Abrams and Rue, 1988; Morley, 1946) contend that the collapse of the Maya was caused by misuse of the environment, recent research (Barrera-Vazquez, 1980; Bowers, 1989) supports Thompson's (1954) earlier suggestion that the collapse of the Maya resulted from increased hostilities and warfare. Trees would be vulnerable to intense warfare. Present-day practices that are similar to those used by the Maya during the pre-Hispanic era indicate that sustained use of the tropical forest would have been possible for a long period of time.

The regeneration of the ecosystems of the Maya area after successive abandonments, the last one occurring after the Spanish conquest, was possible only because seed banks existed in the managed and protected natural ecosystems of the area (Gomez-Pompa et al., 1972), and land use did not cause irreparable harm to the soils.


The forest management of the Lacandon Maya incorporates many of the same practices incorporated by the Yucatec Maya. In the midst of the forest can be found complex agroforestry systems that may include 75 crop species, including fruit trees, in multicanopied single hectare plots (Nations and Komer, 1983). The plot is repeatedly harvested until it is engulfed by the forest, and then a new milpa plot is started.


The Huastec Maya of northeast Mexico manage the humid forest in a manner that combines commercial and subsistence production (Alcorn, 1984). As many as 300 species may be found in a plot that provides food, construction materials, fuelwood, fodder, medicine, and chemicals. The forest plots are an important adjunct to the agricultural enterprise and buffer the farmer against market fluctuations and failures of single crops.

Lessons from Development and Conservation Programs

Several different programs for small-scale producers on mostly nonirrigated lands were implemented in the past.


The most important project of this type was Plan Puebla, which was initiated in 1967. The plan recommended the following components as part of a sustainable agricultural system: increased use of chemical fertilizers, timely application of fertilizers, and carefully determined densities of different races of maize. Plan Puebla provided credit and advice and was successful in improving maize productivity, which went from 1,330 kg/ha in 1967 to 3,000 kg/ha in 1981 (Volke Haller and Sepulveda-Gonzalez, 1987).

An evaluation of this plan after 15 years, however, showed that the complete system was adopted by only 0.8 percent of the producers, and in turn, 0.6 percent decided not to follow any of the suggested techniques (Gonzalez-Pacheco, 1983). Fifty-seven percent of the producers adopted only 30 to 70 percent of the techniques recommended by Plan Puebla.

It is important to examine the reasons producers had for not following the techniques recommended by Plan Puebla because they represent many of the points that need to be addressed in future recommendations for sustainable agricultural techniques. The principal ones mentioned by Volke Haller and Sepulveda-Gonzalez (1987) are as follows:

· Lack of knowledge of the new technology;
· Greater economic risk from using the recommended technology;
· Aversion to the credit needed to obtain the recommended technology and the paperwork needed to apply for credit;
· Deficiencies in the insurance included with the loan (insurance usually does not pay in case of natural disasters);
· Delays in fertilizer deliveries;
· Competing opportunities for income outside the field of agriculture;
· Small field sizes (the smaller the field, the lower the adoption of the technology); and
· Other causes, such as the age, education, and family size of the producer and the complexity of the technology.

Gladwin (1976) stressed that the critical factors that limited the adoption of one recommendation of the program were not necessarily the critical factors that limited the adoption of other recommendations. For instance, fertilizer use was limited by credit ineligibility, whereas different planting techniques to increase plant populations were not adopted because of the lack of knowledge of the specific recommendations.


Another case worth reviewing is the transfer of chinampa (agricultural production in raised fields surrounded by water) technology to the tropical lowlands of Tabasco and Veracruz during the 1970s. Although experience was gained from this project, the transfer was successful only in the pilot demonstration plots. The structure (raised fields) of the technology was transferred to the swamps of Tabasco (the Camellones Chontales project), but the agricultural component was not (Gomez-Pompa and Jimenez, 1989). This was mainly because the need to intensify agricultural activities was not identified by the farmers, the time required to maintain the system was much more than the time normally devoted to agricultural activities by local farmers, the lack of markets for the proposed products provided little incentive for its adoption, and no credit was available to the farmers.

One of the most important reasons that the majority of small-scale farmers gave for not adopting new technologies or new crops was frequently ignored: the uncertainty of the market. These farmers were aware of the experiences of other small-scale farmers who embarked on projects that left them in debt or with products they could not sell. Technologies that may improve the productivity of the fields without the risk of putting the farmer into debt would likely have more followers than would technologies that are capital intensive.


Because most of the tropical rain forest in Mexico has disappeared, it is important to use and manage secondary forests so they may provide a wide range of agricultural products-from vegetables to timber. In situ experimental research on secondary forest has been undertaken in Uxpanapa, Veracruz, where the secondary vegetation has been used as a substrate for newly introduced, valuable species (del Amo, 1991). A variety of agroforestry systems have been evaluated, including a diverse milpa and an enriched 11-year-old secondary forest (acahual). The project demonstrated that use of combinations of various types of crops and arrangements-in patches-of different systems like diversified milpa, orchard, and agroforestry are possible alternatives for the Veracruz region.

Tropical Forest Action Plan {PAFT)

Mexico has joined an international effort headed by FAO to develop a worldwide Tropical Forestry Action Plan. Several versions of an action plan for Mexico (Plan de Accion Forestal del Tropico [PAFT]) have been produced by the undersecretary of forestry of the Secretary of Agriculture and Hydraulic Resources of Mexico (Comision Nacional Forestal, 1988). PAFT follows the same unsuccessful lines that Mexico has been using for some time: calling for the management of forest resources without specifying what type of management or what will ensure the plan's continuation after the initial funding for development is gone.

The first draft of PAFT is discussed here because of the amount of effort and the resources that may be allocated to it. Several points of the first draft of the proposed action plan can be criticized:

· PAFT recommends the establishment of forest plantations without specifying the species, areas, or techniques that should be used and, most important, without the participation of the private sector or local communities.
· The conservation of genetic resources could be a significant contribution from PAFT, but the plan does not specify how this will be done or who will be responsible for protecting genetic resources.
· There are no specifications for collaboration with the research institutions or nongovernmental organizations that made PAFT a reality.
· The strengthening of education and research is a necessary and fundamental action, but the action plan provides no guidelines on how this will differ from the education and research elements of the present programs in agriculture, forestry, agroforestry, or resource management, which are inadequate.
· No opportunities for independent research organizations have been created, even though several such organizations and institutions have ongoing tropical forest research projects.
· PAFT proposes to undertake the inventories needed for planning, but there is no mention of the relationship of PAFT with other development plans in the agriculture, animal husbandry, or oil exploration sectors. The need for coordination and development of a land use system with enforced zoning is not discussed; yet, without this, the inventories are of little use except for monitoring deforestation.
· The development of roads as a result of the recommendations of the action plan will only contribute to more deforestation-a common consequence of development programs.
· The project includes the temperate pine-oak forests of the Sierra de Juarez (Oaxaca).
· In the past, the treatment of "sick" forest stands, known as "forest health" activities ("sanidad" forestal) has received large financial expenditures, although there is little scientific basis for the forest health program. Inclusion of forest health in PAFT seems dubious.
· The identification of rare and endangered plants and animals is of great importance, but PAFT does not indicate that this be will accomplished or what will be done with the information if identification is accomplished.
· The restoration of lands deforested by shifting agriculture seems the most appealing project, but PAFT provides no information on how this will be accomplished or what role the shifting cultivators would have in the plan. The same applies to the management of secondary forests proposed by PAFT.
· The establishment of pilot projects for the integral management of natural resources also has great potential and has been tried several times in the recent past. There is no information as to why these pilot projects should succeed while others have failed.

The Tropical Forest Action Program (PROAFT), a new tropical forest action plan, which will attempt to rectify these problems, is currently under way in Mexico.

Sustainable Food and Commodity Production

An ecologic approach to food and commodity production is important to the tropical environment in Mexico because it is essential to develop food production systems that depend less on inputs, particularly import inputs (for example, reliance on outside production). Many of the traditional cultural practices commonly used by local farmers may contain important ecologic attributes that contribute to sustainable agricultural yields. The problems that small-scale producers face, however, have made many traditional practices inappropriate for the sustained production to meet current market demands. Nevertheless, Gliessman et al. (1983) and Gomez-Pompa (1978) have provided good examples of how the strengths of traditional agricultural systems can be retained in a system that is modified to meet contemporary needs.

Sustainable food production can be tailored to fit each unique situation. A sustainable low input system with intensive hand labor may share a few characteristics with a high-input highly mechanized system in the same area with both having a limited impact on the environment. The hard labor-intensive system may rely on biological fertilizers (for example, organic matter and fallow) while the highly mechanized input system may rely on carefully placed chemical fertilizers with more limited use of organic fertilizer-yet, if each is done well, they may be equally sustainable, technically

Agroforestry for Mexico

Despite recent advances in tropical forest ecology and forest management, deforestation continues virtually unabated. Reforestation efforts are insignificant and the area of humid tropical forest under management that will maintain productivity and profitability is growing slowly, if at all. Improving forest management is perhaps the best and only hope for saving and restoring the tropical forests of the Mexican humid tropics, maintaining the productivity of these often fragile lands, and improving the quality of life for the residents of those areas.

The loss of tropical forests in the Mexican humid tropics is more than an ecologic tragedy. Tropical forests play an important role in regional and global scales in ecologic and economic terms. Ecologically, tropical forests are a primary factor in the carbon dioxide balance in the atmosphere. Economically, they contain many species of economic importance (timber, fruits, nuts, gums, medicines, under-story plants, birds, and animals). Thousands of yet undiscovered or unstudied species have potential economic value, including species with future value for genetic engineering.

For the humid tropics of Mexico and Central America, agroforestry is receiving attention as a method of resource management that efficiently uses resources and that is environmentally positive (Adelhelm and Kotshci, 1985; Alcorn, 1984, 1990; Gomez-Pornpa, 1987a; Lagemann, 1982; Nations and Komer, 1983; Vergara and Briones, 1987), but it will take time to develop skilled agroforesters. There are few people adequately trained in this field to teach new practitioners and even with adequate support, it may take 10 years to provide a sufficient number of practitioners and instructors to meet the demand. The rapid increase in interest and promotion of agroforestry has not yet been accompanied by well-funded interdisciplinary research to better understand how traditional agroforestry systems work, how to improve the methods of teaching agroforestry, and how to improve demonstration and development projects.

Agroforestry research is, by necessity, slow and complex (Cannel! and Jackson, 1985). This makes the study of traditional agroforestry systems extremely valuable. The lessons that have been learned from successful and failed agroforestry systems are equally important.

The advantages and the potential of the complex, traditional types of forest management are clear for the humid tropics (Bene et al., 1977), but forest management has not been improved. Although numerous factors account for the disparity between the promise and reality of agroforestry, ignorance is the greatest problem (Bainbridge, 1987a). The complex forest management practices that must be used do not fall under either conventional forestry or agricultural systems. As a result, they were ignored until recently (see, for example, Winterbottom and Hazelwood [1987] and Shepherd and Stewart [1988]).

Most of the research in traditional forestry management in the humid tropics of Mexico has been done by anthropologists and ethnobotanists. The International Center for Research on Agroforestry (ICRAF) was established in 1977, but a comprehensive work program for the center was not developed until 1982 (Lundgren and Raintree, 1982), and the location of ICRAF (Nairobi, Kenya) has led to an emphasis on Africa. Work in other areas of the world, such as the humid tropics of Mexico, has been very limited.

Although the Centro Agronomico de Investigacion y Ensenanza (CATIE) (Costa Rica) has been active and effective with limited resources, it has not been able to effectively contribute to the improvement of resource management in Mexico and other Latin American countries with tropical forests. It is most unfortunate that a comprehensive plan for preserving traditional knowledge and for developing education programs, demonstration plots, research programs, and data bases for the many ecosystems and cultures of the humid tropics of Mexico has not been developed.

In addition to the traditional methods of forest management in the Mexican humid tropics, there are many potentially valuable methods and crops from comparable humid tropical zones. One of the most promising of these combines strips of trees with agricultural crops (alley cropping). The most common trees for these alley cropping systems are fast-growing, multipurpose, nitrogen-fixing trees that, through root symbioses, make atmospheric nitrogen available to the tree and, subsequently, to other plants and crops) (Torres, 1983; Wilson et al., 1986; Yamoah and Burleigh, 1990). These systems provide fuelwood, building materials, and fodder while they increase and maintain the productivity of the agricultural crops and provide other ecologic and environmental benefits including slope stabilization, erosion control, and habitat for wildlife (Ehui et al., 1990).

Sustainable Livestock Production

Because cattle ranching has been the most important cause of deforestation (Denevan, 1982; Myers, 1981; Shane, 1980), cattle production must be improved on lands where the forest has been removed. Sufficient work has been done to suggest some of the possibilities for sustainable livestock production in the humid tropics (Murgueitio, 1988, 1990; Preston and Leng, 1987). The rapid growth of fodder trees, including nitrogen-fixing species, makes it possible to improve cattle production with trees (Preston and Murgueitio, 1987). Unpublished work from researchers at the Postgraduate College of Chapingo in Veracruz indicate that aquatic plants and other nonconventional plants can be used as fodder for cattle. The Australians have adapted ruminant microflora to better utilize Leucaena spp. (Reid and Wilson, 1985).

Sustainable Management of Biodiversity

A sustainable approach for the conservation of biodiversity in tropical forests is to protect forests from human actions that threaten diversity. One alternative would be to use protected areas where the ecosystems are managed and used rather than just preserved.


Protected areas are not islands but, rather, areas within larger ecologic and social systems. Management of these areas requires continual adjustment to external social, political, and economic pressures; otherwise, they run the risk of being engulfed by unsustainable practices. This type of management could include the selective and careful extraction of valuable woods, prescribed burning of land, hunting, ecotourism, even forest restoration, provided that it is done in a manner that will enhance the ecosystem's sustainability. If local people are to protect these areas, they should be provided with jobs and benefits, whether directly through employment in management work (protection and restoration) or more indirectly (through tourism or reserve support) and improved access to resources essential to survival (for example, fuelwood and food) (McNeely, 1988). Integrating the needs of these people into reserve management plans is not only challenging but also essential. Local people cannot, and should not, be expected to bear the cost of conservation.


Other approaches to protecting plant biodiversity might include identifying new markets for rare landraces or traditional crop varieties, subsidies to farmers who cultivate important landraces, or support for more traditional methods of species protection in botanical gardens and gene banks (Altieri and Merrick, 1987). These alternatives might provide jobs and resources for a limited number of local people.


Improvement of resource management systems to protect and restore the humid tropical forests will require a variety of strategies and programs involving policy, research, education, demonstration, and implementation. These strategies and policies offer the best hope for conserving the existing forests, improving management of the existing forests, promoting reforestation, and improving living conditions for the local people. If they are ignored, the forest area will decline, extraction of forest products from biologically and culturally rich areas will continue, invaluable species and traditional knowledge will be lost, and poverty levels among the local people will increase. As Janzen (1988:243) stated, "Restriction of conservation to the few remaining relatively intact habitat patches automatically excludes more than 90 percent of tropical humanity from its direct benefits; restoration is most needed where the people live."

It is a mistake to continue to underestimate the skills and knowledge of the local people. In many cases they have managed the forests in a sustainable manner for hundreds of years. If Mexico fails to adopt an ecologic and cultural approach to sustainable resource management, funding and energy will be expended to protect forest areas with little hope for success. Present conservation management approaches continue to ignore the fact that the forests were, are, and will continue to be inhabited. A wiser approach is needed to protect the needs of both the environment and the people and should involve the local inhabitants in the protection and management of the environment.


The following are some suggestions related to policy issues for improving sustainable resource management in the Mexican humid tropics.

· A Policy Prospectus Is Needed A policy statement that explicitly states the importance of sustainable management in resource planning for the humid tropics of Mexico is needed for the areas of agriculture, forestry, and associated land-use practices.
· Incentives for Sustainable Land Use Are Needed Sustainable land management will develop only if it is profitable in economic and social terms and only if people receive a benefit from doing what is appropriate for long-term use (Carpenter, 1989; Murray, 1989). Research should include an evaluation of tax policies and possible incentives to promote long-term planning for sustainable agricultural practices, which often provide large profits over the long-term but low immediate returns. As Repetto (1990) observed, institutional factors often drive the system toward ecologic and economic disaster.

The results can be striking when local people are involved in the planning process and receive immediate benefits. For example, Haitians voluntarily planted more than 5 million trees on their own land in the first 2.5 years of a project that incorporated local people into the planning process (Murray, 1989). Success was attributed to more than just profitability. Project planners consciously tried to introduce trees that could be integrated into the farmers' existing cropping systems, which is important for ensuring the acceptance of any innovation (Evans, 1988). The rapid expansion of intercropping in China, from 20,000 ha intercropped with Paulownia trees in 1973 to more than 1.5 million ha in 1988, was made possible by an equally well-designed program (Zhaohua, 1988).

This effort should also include the development of incentives for the sustainable management of tropical forests. This is the best way to ensure the survival of large areas of forest. Methods and techniques are available; long-term commitments by government and private industry are needed.

· Incentives to Conserve Biodiversity Are Needed Initiatives for conserving biodiversity and for small-scale farmers to use sustainable resource management practices should be developed and promoted. These incentives should include actions that improve the quality of life for people in the local communities.

Three-way alliances for conservation and sustainable agriculture could be established. In these alliances, the central party is the community or local people integrated with a second party consisting of a research organization (private or governmental). The third party would be a funding agency (governmental or nongovernmental) that would facilitate and support the activities. Through such an alliance, long-term agreements to protect small or large areas In small-scale farming communities could be established.

· New Policies for Conserving Biodiversity Are Needed A working network of reserves based on the biologic importance of different areas needs to be established. Although most reserves have been placed where a large piece of less disturbed forest exists or an important archeological site or place of beauty can be found, the importance of the biodiversity of various regions has rarely been taken into account. Areas of special biodiversity must be identified and protected.

A new network of protected areas and protected agricultural systems needs to be developed to conserve important landraces of cultivated plants, especially plant material related to the major food crops: such as maize, cassava, and beans. The sustainability of future production may depend on this.

Ex situ genetic banks of valuable, rare landraces and other important crop relatives should be established.

Management plans for all existing reserves should be prepared. These should be designed to conserve the biodiversity, to favor its enrichment, to follow and guide natural changes, and to allow for experimentation.

In the conservation of biodiversity, incentives should be developed for the participation of the private sector and those who own large areas of land. One option is to use tax breaks. This may encourage the creation of small to large reserves in Mexico as well as provide financing. In addition, those who own large areas of land need to take responsibility for the potential effects of their own agriculture and ranching activities on the land they own and on the ecosystems that surround their land.

More attention and research needs to be focused on buffer zones (areas surrounding or adjacent to important protected areas). Wellmanaged buffer zones could provide models for the integration of conservation and sustainable land use practices to other regions of Mexico.

· Institutional Barriers Need To Be Broken Studies of the humid tropical forests of Mexico should include a detailed review of institutional needs and limitations, so that projects can proceed with minimal interference and maximum support from government regulatory
and administrative programs (local to national scale). This review should include the needs and limitations of government departments, owners of large areas of land, and land managers. It should also take into account the market system for tropical forest products, from the producer to eventual retail outlet; the commercial sector, including alternatives to rain forest products; schools; religious groups; and the economic community (banks and lenders, etc.).

· Local Land and Tree Tenure Considerations Need To Be Reviewed One of most important and sensitive issues in resource management is the insecurity of land tenure. Even if resource management systems protect the soil, conserve nutrients, and provide food and income, farmers have little or no motivation to invest in agricultural activities with long-term benefits unless there is some certainty of reaping the benefits (Fortmann, 1985). In some areas, tenants risk eviction if they improve the land they farm; if the land becomes too productive, the landlords may claim it and farm it themselves (for further information on tenure, see Fortmann and Bruce, 1988; Fortmann and Riddell, 1985; Labelle, 1987; Raintree, 1987a). The separate problems of security for the ejido, ejidatarios' households, and ejidal lands need to be examined to develop policies that are not contradictory and that are specific to the needs of people in different regions.


Research is needed in many areas. The following are strategies for improving future research.

· Traditional Knowledge Should Be Documented by Working with Local People and Communities Because it may prove to be difficult to match the ecologic and cultural adjustments achieved by traditional farmers after centuries of trial and error, the development of detailed data on traditional agroforestry systems is of paramount importance, especially since detailed knowledge of the local environment is vanishing along with the forests (Gomez-Pompa, 1987b; Gomez-Pompa and Bainbridge, 1991; Raintree, 1982; Raymond, 1990). This research should involve multidisciplinary teams and must include the people from the local communities involved. Multidisciplinary, mixed-gender teams of local students, faculty, and international collaborators are preferred for the development of detailed information on the full ecologic and cultural complexities of these systems. The decision-making processes of farmers should be an important part of this research. Gladwin (1976, 1979, 1983) has laid the groundwork for an appraisal of why farmers and foresters plant and harvest specific crops and why they do or do not accept recommended changes.

The need to include indigenous peoples in research and development programs has been emphasized in numerous case studies and reports on the process of development (Richards, 1985). The lack of this kind of input places in question the sustainability of any introduced change, despite the best intentions of those involved in development (Chambers, 1987). Although it is often assumed that people will accept an innovation because "it is good for them," to succeed, a program must meet the real and perceived needs of the people involved and fit the social and cultural setting (Leeger, 1989). Research done in collaboration with local people provides the groundwork for successful development and demonstration projects.

The successes and the failures of traditional agricultural systems must be evaluated. The objective is to understand the ability of a given agroecosystem to meet environmental and sociocultural needs in a given region. The integration of experienced folk knowledge with conventional scientific knowledge of agricultural, silvicultural, and cattle production systems can serve as a powerful base for designing improved agroecosystems and assessing the potential for technology transfer.

· Research Incentives that Include Basic and Applied Management Considerations, Farmer-to-Farmer Exchanges, and Farmer-Managed Research Should Be Developed The case study approach is one of the best ways to teach agroforestry and to encourage agroforestry research (Bainbridge, 1990a,b; Huxley, 1987). In academic settings, the system for meritorious recognition should be restructured to ensure that research solutions for real-world problems are given at least as much consideration as peer-reviewed journal articles. The role of farmers in this work must be expanded because farmers are often excellent teachers and extension workers (Gomez-Pompa and Jimenez-Osornio, 1989; Springborg, 1986) and are often better able to discuss issues and give demonstrations than are extension agents and researchers.

· Support for Long-Term Research Should Be Increased The short-term nature of most research programs discourages and impedes agroforestry research. Typical funding cycles of 1, 3, or (more rarely) 5 years are incompatible with agroforestry research projects that may take 10, 20, 50, or more years. The importance of long-term funding has been recognized in only a few programs, most notably the Long-Term Ecological Research Program of the National Science Foundation (Callahan, 1984).

· Support for Long-Term Monitoring Should Be Provided It is difficult to plan a research program without accurate information of current and past land use and environmental trends. The monitoring of the social, economic, and ecologic variables that are thought to contribute to the deforestation process is needed. The human component in environmental monitoring is often forgotten, even though social and ecologic factors are obviously mutually driven and intertwined. This implies that not only inventories of flora, fauna, soils, and air quality be collected over time but also corresponding temporal data on human population and distribution, land use, and market patterns for economically valuable natural resources be collected as well. It requires accounting for environmental subsidies (for example, soil erosion and declining soil fertility). The information could be integrated and computerized in a geographic information system data base that could be used as a basis for future planning and recommendations.

· A Regional Data Base of Multipurpose Tree Species Should Be Developed Creation of a regional data base of tree species, particularly multipurpose trees, deserves special priority. Multipurpose trees are of particular value in sustainable resource management for both subsistence and market production activities (Bainbridge, 1987b; Von Carlowitz, 1984). For example, the bread nut tree (Brosimum alicastrum) is a widespread species with multiple uses (food, fodder, and fuel) in the humid tropics of Mexico. It is thought to have been a vital food resource of the ancient Maya (Puleston, 1982) and may again return to prominence as a vital part of sustainable agricultural systems for the humid tropics (Pardo-Tejeda and Sanchez-Munoz, 1980).

· A Regional Data Base of Nitrogen-Fixing Tree Species Should Be Developed A data base of nitrogen-fixing trees, which are effectively used in traditional agroforestry systems and of special value in maintaining fertility and restoring degraded lands needs to be developed (Flores Guido, 1987; Ngambeki, 1985; Virginia, 1986).

· A Regional Network of Resource Research Groups and Institutions Should Be Established A regional network of research groups and institutions modeled after the regional cooperative research and food production program known as Precodepa (Regional Cooperative Potato Program [see Niederhauser and Villarreal, 1986]) should be established. Precodepa's emphasis has been on building national research capabilities to provide a regional base of specialization and to transfer technology along with distributing shared information. This has enabled each participating country to take control of the program in their country and take pride in the achievements. Precopeda has been effective in maximizing the benefits gained from the limited funding for potato research. Funds are competitively allocated regionally, allowing specialization in various aspects of potato production and utilization in different countries along with excellent distribution of shared information.

Forest management and information also need to cross over sociopolitical boundaries. Regional networking increases the effectiveness of research and allows more information and progress to be obtained from the limited funding available (Pineiro et al., 1987). Inclusion of nongovernmental organizations is of special importance because their contributions to solutions to the problems of deforestation and sustainable resource management have proportionally been far greater than the funding they receive.


The following are strategies for improving education in sustainable resource management.

· Local Farmers Should Be Included as Teachers in Educational Efforts The knowledge and wisdom of local farmers need to be included in educational curricula and resource management studies (Gomez-Pompa and Kaus, 1992). This knowledge has been ignored by experts, and this has been a persistent problem in both agriculture and forestry research and extension (Bainbridge, 1987a).

· Educational Programs that Encompass the Full Range of Resource Management Issues and Address Integrated Resource Management Should Be Developed Schools of agriculture, veterinary medicine, human medicine, anthropology, biology, engineering, and economics should be involved in and include resource management issues.

Agroforestry systems, which are not part of conventional forestry or agricultural systems, are often considered primitive and have been ignored. Instead, intensive high-input systems have been emphasized despite their repeated failures. In many cases, these high-input systems perform poorly while local people continue to survive with long-established (but unstudied) agroforestry systems with native trees.

The educational systems of the United States and Mexico have emphasized a narrow vision of forestry that prepares students for intensive industrial production of monocultures (for example, pine and eucalyptus trees) but that ignores agroforestry applications (Bainbridge, 1987a). In the index of the major North American forestry journal, the Journal of Forestry, for example, there was not a single listing for agroforestry in 1990. Most agroforesters have remedied the failures of the United States and Mexican educational systems by working with farmers who use traditional agricultural systems-a necessary step but one that could be much more valuable with appropriate training in the classroom.

The educational systems in both the United States and Mexico must be revised to introduce the complexity and interaction of ecologic and cultural systems (Bainbridge, 1985, 1990b; Bawden et al., 1984; Chowdry, 1984). This has become much easier with the development of educational materials at ICRAF (for example, see Zulberti, 1987) and CATIE (Major et al., 1985), but there is still a shortage of material in Spanish. There is little or no information in the Maya language or in a pictorial format suitable for use by the people, many of whom are illiterate, who are expected to do the hands-on work or adopt the proposed forestry or agricultural programs. In addition, most of the education represents urban perceptions of the environment and neglects rural knowledge, experience, needs, and aspirations (Gomez-Pompa and Kaus, 1990).

· Information About Different Approaches for Sustainable Resource Management in the Tropics, from Shifting Agriculture to Grain-Fed Cattle Ranging, Needs to Be Disseminated The public needs to understand that virtually all food and natural resource production practices can be sustainable if the correct approach is used. Pollution is not necessarily a synonym for modern agriculture, and traditional agriculture is not a synonym for low productivity. The conventional myths of agriculture, forestry, and conservation need to be dispelled before public pressure will lead to policies and practices that are appropriate to the realities of working and caring for the land.

Demonstration Projects

The following are suggestions for demonstration projects of sustainable resource management in the Mexican humid tropics.

· Demonstration Project Need to Be Developed in Local Communities Demonstration projects should be one of the first priorities for future funding. There is no shortage of potential sites, but there is a lack of trained personnel. Demonstration projects can provide much needed training in project management. Janzen's effort to reforest the Guanacaste National Park in Costa Rica (Murphy, 1987) is a worthy model. Many projects with scopes and visions similar to those of Janzen's project are needed in the humid tropics of Mexico.

By necessity, the development and testing of agroforestry systems for the humid tropics of Mexico must begin before all the desired information on tree species and traditional agroforestry practices is available. Fortunately, as has been learned in ecologic studies, it is possible to make advances without a complete understanding of each component of the agroecosystem. Agroforestry development and implementation are rarely simple, and new tools may have to be developed to properly consider the complex ecologic and social factors involved (Raintree, 1982, 1987b).

· Natural Forest Management Projects Should Be Developed There are no large areas of managed tropical forests in Mexico. Although the management of natural forests is an important alternative that has been neglected in most tropical areas (Gomez-Pompa and Burley, 1991), there are methods for doing it (Schmidt, 1991). These methods could be demonstrated on small private and government-owned forests.

· Plantation Designs Should Be Improved and Tested The establishment of tree plantations by private groups is also suggested to meet the demand for wood products. Research in this area is also of great importance. Trees are as challenging to grow as other agricultural crops and merit long-term research efforts to improve tree production and marketing and protection of trees from pests and diseases.

· Restoration Reserves Should Be Established Exeprimental reserves for the restoration of biodiversity are needed (Bainbridge, 1990b) as are research and information on the restoration of degraded or impoverished tropical ecosystems. The degraded ecosystems are predominant, yet they hold great potential for the future. Restoration reserves should include sound agricultural, silvicultural, and animal husbandry activities that are compatible with sustained use of the area's resources. This research is challenging and the magnitude of the task should not be underemphasized. Although it is not possible to state that the full complex community of the humid tropical rain forest can be restored, many important species and functions of the forest can be reestablished in areas that are now degraded and very unproductive.

Implementation of Sustainable Resource Management

High priority should be given to the ejido (peasant) sector of the Mexican population. These rural populations may better understand new sustainable approaches of resource management because of their firsthand experience with similar, traditional agricultural practices. This should include education, extension activities, financing, marketing, and in particular, in-situ research. It is strongly suggested that any activity in this sector involve local people because without their participation the program is bound to fail. Use of the alliance approach outlined above for the conservation of biodiversity would also be a good strategy. This calls for a new green revolution of small-scale agricultural landholders. The rewards could be extraordinary.

The following are suggestions for implementing sustainable resource management.

· Development-Oriented Projects with Local People Should Be Developed In addition to demonstration projects done on a local level, larger development-oriented projects for the protection and restoration of humid tropics must also be established. Experience has demonstrated that expert recommendations for development are often of little value to local people because the recommendations commonly reflect the goals of the experts, not the local people whose needs are complex and who are adverse to risk (Edwards, 1989). It is essential to determine what people are doing and using, what they need and want, and why (Gomez-Pompa and Bainbridge, 1991; Gomez-Pompa and Jimenez-Osornio, 1989; Jecquire, 1976; Raintree, 1987b; Retiere, 1988). Improved tropical forestry management cannot be imposed from above or abroad. It must be developed by working with local communities and people.

· Participation of Women in Education, Research, Extension, and Development Should Be Increased The role of women is important and should not be ignored or neglected (Charlton, 1984; Fortmann and Rocheleau, 1985; Rocheleau, 1988). In some countries, more than half of the agricultural labor force is composed of women and from 40 to 80 percent of agricultural products are produced by women (Boulding, 1977; Howell, 1978). There are few data on the contributions of women to resource management in Mexico. It is known that women are very active in food production (commonly in the homegarden), in raising small livestock and poultry, and in gathering fuelwood. Their importance is greater than these data imply, however.

· Rural Appraisal or Evaluation Forms Should Be Developed and Survey Materials Should Be Made Available to Researchers, Educators, and Communities so that They Can Understand Existing Practices and Land Use Allocations and Develop More Sustainable Management Packages The AFRENA (Agroforestry Research Network for Africa) survey (Scherr, 1987) is a useful starting point for development projects, but it should be augmented with more detailed ethnobotanical, ecologic, and cultural surveys.

Farmers are "inventive, but development agencies rarely harness this inventiveness because they misunderstand the nature of both the agriculture and the politics of communities where food production is a major interest" (Richards, 1985:192). Intimate knowledge of a community and its culture is a prerequisite to any work that is intended to aid that community (de Wilde, 1967). To be successful the project must meet local needs, fit the local environment, and provide sufficient benefits so that action will be taken (Murray, 1989). If these requirements are met, the techniques will spread.

· A Program to Help Local Communities Plan and Implement Appropriate Development Programs Should Be Developed Working with local people, information on planning and implementing appropriate development programs could then be used to develop a set of management goals and objectives. These would include economic (cash crops), subsistence (food, fodder, medicine), and environmental objectives. Planning should include long-term (10-, 20-, 50-, 100-year) objectives and project future demands based on population growth (Gomez-Pompa and Bainbridge, 1991). To reduce the risk from such activities, emphasis should be given to native species and, preferably, local ecotypes in mixed stands rather than monocultures. Ecologic succession can be used to reduce the cost and uncertainty of establishing a program in harsh and difficult environments (Khoshoo, 1987).

· Innovative Investment Programs Should Be Developed Access to credit or capital is often the factor that limits improvements in resource utilization. Loans or small grants (less than US$200) may be catalysts for change, as the innovative small-loan program of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh has shown (Yunus, 1990). Targeting investments to remove infrastructural constraints (for example, transport and storage problems) may be more important than making investments at the farm level. One way to stimulate diversified activities is to connect campesinos with markets (Brannon and Baklanoff, 1987) or to help develop local markets.

Plan for Success

If sustainable agriculture options are successfully implemented (as they can be), secondary problems may arise. For example, if farmers are successful, they may build up their equity and begin efforts to increase the size of their farms. If this demand for new lands is not met by converting existing grazing lands, it will put additional pressure on the few remaining forested lands and on farmland operated by less productive farmers. It will be important to develop and implement policies carefully to restrict the use of forested lands for agricultural expansion and to establish policies that will encourage the use of grazing lands for agriculture. Cattle production can easily be accommodated by using more efficient cattle feeding methods (Caesar, 1990; Preston, 1990).

Another possible consequence of a successful transition to sustainable resource management may be more efficient systems that require less hand labor, therefore providing more opportunities for the family to find other jobs in more urban areas. This trend may need to be addressed by government policies that will improve opportunities for displaced farmers or their children to obtain education or jobs or both in towns and cities. Many of these jobs may be provided by new processing and manufacturing facilities that use new forest products.


These are the priorities for reversing current trends of deforestation and the use of unsustainable agricultural practices in the Mexican humid tropics. They are many and complex, and there is no single answer to the deforestation problem.

The best solutions are with small-scale farmers who have the experience, know the terrain, and have the most to gain. The responsibility of the nonrural sector-researchers, educators, industry, funding agencies, governments, and policy makers-lies in developing the infrastructure necessary to solve the problems. This will include better information, education, research, technological assistance, and credit incentives that help farmers build equity. The rural sector cannot respond to opportunities in the market without the means to adjust their production levels in terms of equipment, labor, market access, and knowledge. Investment in small-scale farmers at this very basic level, coupled with preparation for the consequences, can bring deforestation into check and can make agricultural practices in the Mexican humid tropics sustainable.


The authors thank Silvia del Amo, Marlene de la Cruz, Jose Gonzalez, Steve Mitchell, Edward O. Plummer, and William W. Wood, Jr., for comments and suggestions on the first draft of this report. Reports from research undertaken under the Maya Sustainability Project (which is sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation) were used to supplement the available literature.


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The Philippines

Dennis P. Garrity, David M. Kummer, and Ernesto S. Guiang

This profile focuses on the most pressing issues of sustainable natural resource management in the sloping upland areas of the Philippines. It begins with an analysis of the historical and current dimensions of land use in the upland ecosystem, reviews and critiques proposed actions, and recommends solutions within an overarching strategy that builds on the linkages that exist between farming and forestry systems.

The upland ecosystem must be addressed as a distinct entity. The uplands are rolling to steep areas where both agriculture and forestry are practiced on slopes ranging upward from 18 percent. The sloping uplands occupy about 55 percent of the land surface of the country (Cruz et al., 1986) and have an estimated population of 17.8 million. The upland population is projected to be 24 million to 26 million in the year 2000, with a density of 160 to 175 persons per km². Upland inhabitants are primarily poor farming families with insecure land tenure. Subsistence food production rather than forestry is their overriding priority. The paramount objective for public intervention in upland management is that of obtaining the greatest good for the greatest number of people in ways that are consistent with the long-term sustainability of the productive capacity of the ecosystem.

Forest denudation is at an advanced stage in the Philippines. Total forest cover shrank from 10.5 million ha in 1968 to 6.1 million ha in 1991. The remaining old-growth forest covered less than 1 million ha in 1991 and possibly as little as 700,000 ha. At current rates of logging, nearly all vestiges of the country's primary dipterocarp forest biota may be depleted in the next 10 to 15 years. The will of the people and government to effectively address the Philippine deforestation problem is growing, but it is still weak.

There have been several recent reviews concerning natural resource management in the Philippines. These reviews examined government policy, the political climate, and the institutional framework and made numerous specific recommendations for a major reorientation. In addition, the Master Plan for Forestry Development (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990) has recently been issued by the Philippine government. It lays out a framework for forestland management over the next 25 years. It sets a detailed, optimistic agenda that adopts a strategy of reduced public management in favor of increased private management of forest resources through people-oriented forestry.

Although this profile focuses on the dynamics of upland agricultural technology in relation to deforestation, many factors other than agricultural technology have a stronger direct influence on the rate and extent of forest depletion or conversion. These factors include inappropriate forest policy, poor policy implementation, and the insecurity of land tenure among upland farm populations. Commercial logging (legal and illegal) directly caused the majority of old-growth forest depletion during the past half century, and it continues to do so today. The accessibility to remote forestlands brought about by the opening of logging roads stimulated the settlement of small-scale farmers and resulted in the subsequent conversion of depleted forests to farms.

The initial sections of this profile examine the present state of the natural resource base of the uplands and past trends in resource degradation. The profile then reviews the importance of land and forest resources to the political economy of the Philippines and the failure of development in the Philippines in the post-World War II period. This is followed by an analysis of potential solutions to the problems identified. The solutions to the upland resource management and subsistence crises fall into a general strategy with three essential comportents: land tenure, resource management technology, and infrastructure delivery. The final section outlines a proposed action strategy in terms of these three components.


This section analyzes the important factors that have determined the development of land use systems in the Philippines uplands. The major forces and constraints that directly affect upland agriculture and forestry are emphasized.

Physical Environment

The Philippines is an archipelago with a total land area of 30 million ha. Although it encompasses more than 7,000 islands, the majority of these are insignificant in terms of size and population. The 15 largest islands make up 94 percent of the total land area. Luzon and Mindanao occupy about 35 and 32 percent of total land area, respectively. The Philippines is a physically fragmented state, and separateness is a major feature of its geography and culture. The island nature of the country gives it a very long coastline relative to its size. No inland area is far from the ocean.

The country has a complex geology and physiography. Although Luzon and Mindanao have major lowland areas, most of the islands have relatively narrow coastal plains. The Philippines as a whole is characterized by high relief. Steep upland areas with greater than 18 percent slope make up about 55 percent of the total area (Cruz et al., 1986). The climate is humid tropical. However, because of the mountainous terrain, the occurrence of typhoons in the northern half of the country, and the effects of two separate monsoon seasons, there is striking micro- and macrovariation in the seasonal distribution and amount of precipitation. Within-season droughts and the limited length of the growing season are common constraints, but the total quantity of precipitation is abundant: 90 percent of the country receives at least 1,780 mm per year (Wernstedt and Spencer, 1967).

The high relief, the relatively high levels of precipitation, and the frequent extreme concentration of rainfall in short periods because of typhoons contribute to serious soil erosion problems. Given the complex geology and geologic history, the soils of the Philippines are varied but are generally not as weathered as most humid tropical soils because of their relatively younger age. The inherent soil properties are limiting in many sloping upland areas (particularly where extensive erosion and land degradation have occurred), but the Philippine has a comparatively favorable soil base for a country in the humid tropics.

Land Use

In the Philippines today, about half the land is classified as alienable and disposable. This land may be privately owned. The other half, which mostly has slopes of greater than 18 percent, is classified as public forestland. Only 6 million ha has significant tree cover and less than 1 million ha of old-growth or primary forest remains (Tabel 1). In comparison, there was 10 million ha of old-growth forest in the 1950s. The extent of this forest conversion has reduced to critically low levels the habitat of the many species of flora and fauna endemic to the Philippines.

Table 1 Forest Cover in the Philippines as Determined by Various Inventories (in Thousands of Hectares)

Recently, the Swedish Space Corporation (1988) completed a study- the first and only one to cover all types of land uses-of the natural vegetation in the Philippines (Table 2). On the basis of that survey, the World Bank (1989a) calculated that cultivated land covers 11.3 million ha, or 38 percent of the total land area. Cultivated area in the uplands is about 3.9 million ha.

Table 2 Land Use in the Philippines (in Thousands of Hectares)

The 1980 Census of Agriculture (National Census and Statistics Office, 1985) estimated the area of cultivated land to be 9.7 million ha in 1980. If these data and World Bank estimates are correct, then the area of cultivated land increased by more than 1.6 million ha between 1980 and 1987, an annual increment of 229,000 ha/year. The average annual rate of deforestation between 1980 and 1987 was 157,000 ha/year. Although direct conversion from forestlands to croplands cannot be inferred, it appears that large areas of grasslands are now being converted to agricultural uses, increasing the pressure on the limited land resources.

Population Growth

Rapid population growth in the past half century is widely acknowledged as a major force in the accelerated deterioration in the country's natural resources (Porter and Ganapin, 1988). The 1990 population of the Philippines was estimated to be 66.1 million and was increasing at an annual rate of 2.6 percent (Population Reference Bureau, 1990).

Table 3 presents Philippine population data since 1948. Although the rate of growth of the Philippine population declined slowly from the 1948-1960 period to the 1975-1980 period, the population growth rate remains the highest of any country in Southeast Asia. The current population density is second only to that of Singapore (Population Reference Bureau, 1990). The rural population, as a percentage of the total population, has been declining, but at a slow rate (from 73 percent in 1948 to 63 percent in 1980). Urban growth is predominantly in the city of Manila (Pernia, 1988).

Table 3 Philippines Population Data, 1948-1980

The Philippines has a serious population growth problem, but acceptance of this fact has been fairly recent. As late as 1969, Duckham and Masefield stated that the Philippines had a low population density and "no real pressure of population on resources" (p. 417). This assessment seems almost naive today, suggesting how fast the settlement frontier closed in recent years and the inertia in public recognition of the current situation.

The availability of areas with low population densities and available agricultural lands has induced interregional migration in the Philippines since World War II (Abed, 1981; Abejo, 1985; Concepcion, 1983; Institute of Population Studies, 1981; Zosa-Feranil, 1987). Since 1948 the major migration patterns have been toward the frontier, primarily to Mindanao, and toward urban areas, particularly the metropolitan Manila area. Although migration to urban areas has been particularly pronounced since 1960, movement to frontier or upland areas continues (Cruz et al., 1986). Between 1975 and 1980, the destination of almost one-fourth of all interregional migrants was the uplands (Cruz and Zosa-Feranil, 1988). The major out-migration areas have been the Visayas and the Bicol and Ilocos regions of Luzon. Although substantial differences persist among some areas, the population has become more evenly distributed since 1948 (Herrin, 1985).

The upland population was estimated by Cruz and Zosa-Feranil (1988) to have reached about 17.8 million by 1988. This included an estimated population of 8.50 million people who reside on public forestlands. This population includes 5.95 million members of indigenous cultural communities and 2.55 million migrants from lowland groups (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990). One-third of the upland forest inhabitants are displaced lowland farmers who do not have long-standing land use traditions such as those commonly observed among indigenous communities, which have a better grasp of the fragile nature of the ecology of their lands (Sajise, 1979). The displaced population is also growing faster. The University of the Philippines Population Institute projects that the upland population will grow at a rate of 2.72 to 2.92 percent during the next 25 years, increasing by me year 2015 to a density of 371 persons per km², which is a high population for sloping marginal lands.

Current and projected trends in the economy, social attitudes, and government commitment to effective delivery of family planning services may succeed in reducing national population growth rates. Even so, there is little likelihood that the upland population will participate significantly in this transition. The upland rural population has the least access to family planning programs and is least likely to accept the notion that limiting family size is in its best interest. Wherever open access to public lands prevails, children are viewed as additional labor to clear and cultivate more land.

Agriculture and the Uplands

Agriculture continues to play a major role in the Philippine economy. The Agricultural Policy and Strategy Team (1986) states:

[N]o significant structural transformation has taken place over the past 25 years. Despite the strong industrial orientation of past economic policies, agriculture, fisheries, and forestry continue to employ half of the labor force, contribute about a quarter of the gross domestic production, and earn two-fifths of export revenues. Over 60 percent of our population lives in the rural areas. Our country remains today as it has been in the past, a predominately rural society composed of small farmers, agricultural laborers, fishermen, pedicab drivers, and others.

Agriculture's share of the total economy declined slowly in the postwar period, from 36 percent of net value added in 1955 to 29 percent in 1980 (David, 1983). Agriculture's share of the Philippine gross domestic product in 1987 (28.5 percent) was almost the same as it was in 1970 (World Bank, 1989b).

Between 1972 and 1980, the ratio between the price of rice and the non-food price index declined from 1.0 to 0.59 (Hill and Jayasuriya, 1984). The growth that did occur in the agricultural sector came not as the result of but despite government policies (David, 1982; Rocamora, 1979).

Landlessness and near landlessness in rural areas has been reported to be more than 75 percent (Rosenberg and Rosenberg, 1980), and landlessness among the agricultural farm population is almost 50 percent (Agricultural Policy and Strategy Team, 1986; Porter and Ganapin, 1988). Land reform has largely been ineffective in transferring land to the tenant cultivators because of bureaucratic delays and widespread erosion of the spirit of the agrarian reform laws (Carroll, 1983; International Labour Office, 1974; Kerkvliet, 1974; Tiongzon et al., 1986; Wurfel, 1983).

Has the limited effectiveness of land reform resulted in further concentration of control over agricultural lands? In Mindanao, commercial agricultural plantations are expanding. This expansion forces poorer farmers onto marginal lands, particularly in association with the banana and pineapple industries (Agricultural Policy and Strategy Team, 1986; Costello, 1984; Tiongzon et al., 1986; van Oosterhout, 1983). Krinks (1974) showed that there was an increasing concentration of poor farmers in a frontier region in southern Mindanao. Commercial use of agricultural land and the increased concentration of poor farmers on agricultural lands in lowland areas in Leyte has decreased the amount of land available for poor farmers, forcing poor farmers to initiate farming in upland areas (Belsky and Siebert, 1985). The expansion of land for raising sugarcane in the western Visayas from 1960 to 1975 was also primarily at the expense of small-scale upland rice and maize production (Luning, 1981). As effective control of agricultural land becomes more concentrated in the hands of wealthier farmers and corporations, small farms are becoming smaller (Luning, 1981), a process that has been accelerated by the subdivision of property through inheritance. The end result has been increasing landlessness for the rural poor (Cruz and Zosa-Feranil, 1988).

Arable land that can be sustainably farmed on an annual basis with minimal investment in land conservation covers 8.4 million ha, or 28 percent of the country (Bureau of Soils, 1977). Most of the increase in farm area since 1960 has been on nonarable land, as defined by the Bureau of Soils (1977).

Kikuchi and Hayami (1978) argued that the Philippines shifted from extensive to intensive cultivation between 1950 and 1969. As the land/labor ratio declined, the rate of increase in the amount of cultivated land slowed and the Philippine government was forced to invest in irrigation. Hooley and Ruttan (1969) proclaimed the closing of the land frontier in the 1960s.

There was widespread agreement that by the late 1960s or early 1970s, the Philippines had reached the limits of its land frontier and that future growth of agricultural output would have to come from increases in productivity rather than from increases in the area of production. Agricultural output and productivity did increase, but the area under cultivation also increased considerably. From 1970 to 1980, the number of farms increased by 1.06 million (45.3 percent) and farm area (Table 4) increased by 1.23 million ha (14.5 percent). As a result, the average farm size decreased 21 percent, from 3.61 to 2.84 ha. The continued decrease in forest area in the 1980s also implies that the area of farmland continues to increase. Thus, the notion of a land frontier based on arable, safely cultivated land is not appropriate for conditions in the Philippines (Cruz and Zosa-Feranil, 1988; Gwyer, 1977; National Economic Development Authority, 1981). In 1982, 2.5 million ha of cropland was on upland areas (Agricultural Policy and Strategy Team, 1986).

Upland Migration

Cruz et al. (1986) estimated that 14.4 million people lived in the uplands in 1980, and 77 percent of those people lived on lands officially classified as public forestlands. From 1948 to 1980, the upland population grew at a rate of 2.5 to 2.8 percent per year. This is less than the national rate because of the higher mortality and the lower birth rates in the upland areas than in the lowland areas (M. C. Cruz, College of Development Economics and Management, University of the Philippines, Quezon City, personal communication, 1990).

Table 4 Deforestation and Its relationship to Increases in Population and Farmland in the Philippines, 1948-1980

Migration accounted for the bulk of the population growth in the upland areas (Cruz et al., 1986). Of the 18.6 million people who lived in the uplands in 1988, 6 million had lived there before 1945, 2 million had migrated there between 1945 and 1948, and 10 million had migrated there since 1948 (Lynch and Talbott, 1988). In addition, high rates of migration to the uplands continued in the 1980s (World Bank, 1989a). The highest rates of population growth in the uplands were in municipalities with logging concessions (Cruz and Zosa-Feranil, 1988).

Most observers agree that migration occurs because of the lack of opportunities in the lowlands. Poor people are forced to the uplands because they have no other suitable choices. Cruz and Zosa-Feranil (1988) estimated that 70 percent of all upland migrants were landless lowlanders. These poor farmers may be referred to as shifting or slash-and-burn cultivators (Westoby, 1981).

Intensification of Rice Production in the Lowlands

Lowland rice fields in the Philippines are about half irrigated and half rainfed. Initially, the green revolution (the breakthroughs in rice varietal technology in the late 1960s) increased labor use intensity in rice production (Otsuka et al., 1990). More rice crops were produced each year (two instead of one), and more intensive management was applied. But rainfed rice farming did not experience the extent of technical change that occurred in irrigated rice farming or the same gain in productivity. Therefore, the economic disparity between the irrigated and rainfed rice fields increased (Otsuka et al., 1990).

The increased labor demand for irrigated rice accelerated the migration of labor from rainfed to irrigated areas. The intensity of labor use in irrigated rice production plateaued, however, and in many areas it declined as labor-displacing technologies gained widespread use. The technologies included broadcast seeding rather than transplanting of seedlings and herbicide application rather than weeding by hand. This reduced the labor absorption potential and the returns to labor, particularly landless labor. The income-earning prospects of the landless labor pool has declined, as exemplified by the evolution of labor arrangements that are progressively less favorable.

There is some potential for further intensification of rice cropping in irrigated areas and diversification to alternative higher income crops, including grain legumes, and tree crops. It is unlikely, however, that these changes will proceed fast or far enough to substantially increase the amount of labor that can be absorbed in lowland rice farming activities in the future, suggesting a continued rapid increase in the number of underemployed or unemployed families in lowland rural areas.

Upland Farming Systems

One of the most serious gaps in understanding land use in the uplands, particularly agriculture-forest interactions, relates to shifting (slash-and-burn) cultivation. Agriculture in the uplands consists of traditional shifting cultivation (long fallow periods), nontraditional or migrant shifting cultivation (short fallow periods), permanent or intensive agriculture, backyard gardens, pastoral systems, or any combination of these. There is no reliable information on the extent of these forms of agriculture or the proportion of shifting cultivation in grasslands or secondary or primary forests. There are also no data at the national or provincial level on how often farmers shift their plots, although case studies do exist (Barker, 1984; Conklin, 1957). Vandermeer (1963) in a study of Cebu province, which is now entirely deforested, points out that what had originally been a shifting system of maize cultivation has now been transformed into permanent, sedentary farming. The main impetus for the change was increasing population density. Table 4 notes the relationships among deforestation, increases in population, and increases in the amount of farmland.

Analysis of an upland area in Mindanao from 1949 to 1988 revealed a dynamic land use transition from fallow rotation to permanent open-field and perennial crop systems (Garrity and Agustin, In press). The evolution of permanent, mixed agricultural systems in a pioneer community in the mountains of Laguna province dominated by shifting cultivation was documented by Fujisaka (1986) and Fujisaka and Wollenburg (1991). The planting of trees and perennial crops was observed by Cornista et al. (1986) as a typical stage in the evolution toward more permanent cultivation in communities throughout the Philippines.

Agricultural expansion has resulted in a net reduction in the country's grassland area. Data from an historical study of land use changes for an upland community in Mindanao from the immediate postwar period to the present illustrates this trend (Garrity and Agustin, In press). The area of cultivated land increased at a much faster rate than the loss of forest cover from 1949 to 1987. The steady decline in the grassland area provided the major source for the expansion of the area devoted to crops (Figure 1).


There are few reliable historical data on forest cover in the Philippines. Many of the records that did exist have been lost. The Spanish forest records were consumed in a Manila fire in 1897 (Tamesis, 1948), the records of the Bureau of Forestry in Manila and the College of Forestry in Los Banos were destroyed during fighting in 1945 (Sulit, 1947), and the comprehensive Mindanao forest survey of 1954-1961 (Agaloos, 1976; Serevo et al., 1962) has disappeared. The authoritative source of current forest cover data is the Philippine-German Forest Resources Inventory Project (Forest Management Bureau, 1988).

Forest Types

Philippine forests are usually divided into six types: dipterocarp, molave, beach, pine, mangrove, and mossy. Dipterocarps account for more than 90 percent of all commercial forest products in terms of economic value (Agaloos, 1984). Some 89 percent of the total log
production in the Philippines comes from the species Shorea almon (almon), Dipterocarpus grandiflorus (apitong), Parashorea plicata (tikan), S. plicata (mayapis), S. negrosensis (red lauan), S. polysperma (tanguile), and Pentacme contorta (white lauan). The largest timber volume comes from red lauan.

Figure 1

The molave forest, a dry, monsoon forest found only in the western Philippines, makes up only 3 percent of the total forest area of the Philippines (Agaloos, 1984) and is usually included in the dipterocarp category (Umali, 1981). Beach forests formerly grew in coastal areas as a transition between mangrove and other inland forests, but they have been virtually eradicated in the Philippines (Agaloos, 1984) and Southeast Asia (Whitmore, 1984). Two types of pine are native to the Philippines-Benguet pine (Pinus kesiya), found in northern Luzon, and Mindoro pine (P. merkusii), found in parts of Mindoro and the Zambales Mountains in western Luzon. Pine forests occupy less than 1 percent of the total land area (Forest Management Bureau, 1988).

Mangrove forests are restricted to coastal fringes and tidal flats and occupy about 139,000 ha (Forest Management Bureau, 1988), less than 0.5 percent of the total land area. They have been subjected to intense logging pressure because woods that grow in mangrove forests are valuable for fuel (charcoal) and thatch. As a result many mangrove forests have been converted to fish ponds (Gillis, 1988; Johnson and Alcorn, 1989).

Mossy forests are stunted forests with no commercial value (Agaloos, 1984; Weidelt and Banaag, 1982). They are referred to in the literature as mountain or cloud forests and as unproductive forest by the Forest Management Bureau. They are found at higher elevations (usually above 1,800 m) throughout the Philippines and cover about 4 percent (1.14 million ha) of the total land area (Forest Management Bureau, 1988).

Some 92 percent of the decrease of forest types since 1969 has been accounted for by the loss of old-growth dipterocarp forests (Forest Management Bureau, 1988). Destruction of mangroves has been rapid and dramatic as well, but the area involved is insignificant compared with the area of dipterocarps lost. The major cause of the decline of primary forests has been logging (World Bank, 1989a).

Forest Cover Before 1950

Deforestation in the Philippines has not occurred only in the twentieth century. Wernstedt and Spencer (1967) reported that forest cover declined from about 90 percent of the total land area at the time of the first contact with the Spanish in 1521 to about 70 percent by 1900. The major causes were likely to have been the steady increase in population and the spread of commercial crops (primarily abaca [a fiber from the leafstalk of banana-Musa textilis-native to the Philippines], tobacco, and sugarcane) as the Philippines slowly became integrated into the world economic system (Lopez-Gonzaga, 1987; Roth, 1983; Westoby, 1989).

Reliable statistics on forest cover before 1950 do not exist; thus, a discussion of forest cover and its decline must be based on estimates made by contemporary observers. Comparisons between the various estimates are problematic. Therefore, the estimates presented in Table 5 are meant to be broadly indicative. The area of the Philippines covered by forests declined from 70 percent in 1900 to just below 60 percent in 1939. Logging increased rapidly after 1945 and was back to pre-World War II production levels by 1949 (Poblacion, 1959; Tamesis, 1948). In addition, farming in the forests increased after the war because of continuing food shortages (Sulit, 1963; Tamesis, 1948). The overall,extent of deforestation was estimated by Myers (1984) to be 55 percent in 1950. A figure closer to 50 percent for 1950 is probably more appropriate based on subsequent estimates.

Table 5 Estimates of Forest Cover in the Philippines, 1876-1950

Forest Cover Changes, 1950-1987

Since 1950 there has been a continuous decline in forest cover in the Philippines. In absolute terms, deforestation in the 1950-1969 and 1969-1987 periods were about the same (Table 6). On a percent basis, deforestation was more rapid from 1969 to 1987 than it was from 1950 to 1969, with the highest rates occurring from 1976 to 1980 (Table 7). The very high rates of deforestation observed for the 19761980 period were associated with the peak period of martial law, when large-scale corruption in timber extraction was prevalent (Alano, 1984; Aquino, 1987).

Although data are not strongly reliable, the rate of deforestation apparently slowed in the 1980s because the remaining forests became much less accessible. If the rate of deforestation estimated to have occurred from 1980 to 1987 continued to 1991, the Philippines had about 6.03 million ha of forest cover in 1991, about 20 percent of the country's total land area.

The Master Plan for Forestry Development (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990) estimated total forest cover to be 6.69 million ha. The area of old-growth dipterocarp forests was projected to be only 949,000 ha. However, if the old-growth dipterocarp forest has continued to decline at the 1969-1987 rate of deforestation, then only 409,600 ha of this forest type would have remained in 1991. If this rate of decline continues, old-growth dipterocarp forests will disappear entirely by 1995-long before effective management systems to preserve them can be put into place. Thus, one of the major issues confronting Philippine forestry is how to manage secondary dipterocarp forests on a sustainable basis, for which there is little proven experience.

Table 6 Forest Cover in the Philippines, 1950-1987

The calculated rates of annual deforestation differ widely, depending on the data sets chosen for analysis (Table 8). The 1980 forest data are from the Forest Development Center (1985) and the Philippine-German Forest Resources Inventory Project (Forest Management Bureau, 1988), which were projected back from deforestation data for 1987. The 1987 data are from the Swedish Space Corporation and the Philippine-German Forest Resources Inventory Project. There are large discrepancies in deforestation rates among the four possible combinations of the two surveys each for 1980 and 1987. Between the smallest and largest rates of deforestation, the difference is more than 200 percent. A reasonable estimate is that deforestation in the 1980s was about 155,000 ha/year. The World Resources Institute (1990) estimated that deforestation is about 143,000 ha/year. This issue is discussed more thoroughly in the section on future scenarios.

Table 7 Deforestation Rates in the Philippines, 1950-1987

The Deforestation Process in the Philippines

Figure 2 is a simplified model of the major forces that have led to deforestation in the Philippines. Although some deforestation has been caused by other factors, for example, the use of trees to make charcoal and the conversion of mangrove forests to fish ponds, the two most important activities leading to deforestation were logging (legal and illegal) and the expansion of agriculture. Both of these factors must be considered together, along with rural poverty and the open-access nature of forests (Gillis, 1988). The deforestation process in the Philippines since World War II can be characterized by two major activities: the conversion of primary to secondary forests by logging activities and the removal of secondary forest cover by the expansion of agriculture. In most cases, roads provide access to the forest for both types of activities.

Logging does not necessarily result in deforestation; rather, selective logging, properly practiced, converts a primary forest into a degraded secondary forest (Figure 2). Clear-cutting is known to have been practiced in certain areas, but this has been relatively rare in Southeast Asia (Gillis, 1988), and data on the relative extent of clear-cutting versus selective logging in the Philippines do not exist. Selective logging results in some deforestation, given the extensive road networks and collection and loading areas needed for capital-intensive logging and the extensive damage to forests reported to occur as a result of some logging operations (Blanche, 1975; Burgess, 1971, 1973; Egerton, 1953; Gillis, 1988; Philippine Council for Agriculture and Resources Research and Development, 1982; World Bank, 1989a).

The relationship between logging and the conditions of primary and secondary forests is a dynamic one. As logging converts primary forests to secondary forests, loggers move on to new primary forests. Implicit in this scheme is the notion that secondary forests do not return to a state suitable for a second harvest, although several concessionaires in the Philippines are known to have returned for a second cut. Concessionaires have not, in general, engaged in protection of secondary forests, enrichment planting, or reforestation (Food and Agriculture Organization and United Nations Environment Program, 1982). Overall, it appears that there has been minimal protection of forests in the Philippines.

Table 8 Annual Rates of Deforestation in the Philippines Between 1980 and 1987 Based on Different Forest Inventories

Expansion of agriculture takes place primarily in secondary forests. Logged forests are more likely than primary forests to be penetrated by roads, and roads greatly facilitated the expansion of agriculture (Asian Development Bank, 1976; Edgerton, 1983; Food and Agriculture Organization and United Nations Environment Program, 1981: Hackenberg and Hackenberg, 1971; Segura-de los Angeles, 1985; Vandermeer and Agaloos, 1962; van Oosterhaut, 1983). Also, it is much easier for poor farmers to clear secondary forests than it is for them to clear primary forests (Byron and Waugh, 1988). In an economic sense, logging lowers the costs of clearing the land by settlers (Southgate and Pearce, 1988). The majority of logged-over forestlands have been converted to grasslands or are used for agriculture (Hicks and McNicoll, 1971).

Figure 2 Model of deforestation in the Philippines. Source: kummer, D. 1992. Deforestation in the Postwar Philippines. Chicago, Ill.: *University of Chicago Press.

Natural forest regeneration is prevented by a range of prevailing factors: fire in uncultivated logged-over areas and ranch areas, grass succession and loss of tree seed in shifting cultivated areas, and permanent conversion to agricultural fields in intensively farmed areas. The relationships among the expansion of agriculture, the creation of secondary forests, and deforestation are also dynamic. Preceding logging and the expansion of agriculture is the construction of roads (Hackenberg and Hackenberg, 1971). These roads are primarily the result of development considerations by provincial or national government or are built by loggers who have concessions. The roads vary from little more than dirt tracks to paved highways. They facilitate the spread of agriculture by opening up new areas; this occurred in parts of Mindanao in the 1950s and early 1960s (Vandermeer and Agaloos, 1962; Wernstedt and Simkins, 1965). In addition, logging provides jobs and, thus, directly leads to population increases. The relationship between new roads and deforestation has been clearly made by Thung (1972) for Thailand and by Fearnside (1986) for Brazil.

The expansion of agricultural activities onto forested lands is driven by two forces: increases in population and widespread poverty. In addition, the expansion of agriculture in some areas is promoted by wealthier people who open up forestlands for perennial crop production or cattle grazing or simply to establish a land claim. This is often accomplished through support for poor farmers who are subsidized to clear the land. The overriding goal of the low-income households in upland regions is to produce or earn enough to eat. Food income provides basic security (U.S. Agency for International Development, 1980). Poor people are forced to engage in subsistence agriculture because it is often the only option available (Gwyer, 1978). Segura-de los Angeles (1985), in a case study of an upland agroforestry project in Luzon, noted that 88 percent of all those surveyed consumed all of the rice they produced and did not have a marketable surplus. Although upland farmers in Davao grew some commercial crops, their primary crops were rice and maize (Hackenberg and Hackenberg, 1971).

Timber Concessions

The granting of timber concessions occurred for two reasons: the legitimate desire of the Philippine government to foster development and the granting of political favors to either Philippine elites or multinational corporations (primarily U.S. corporations in the 1950s and 1960s). Postwar Philippine governments do not appear to have been concerned with development in the forest sector; rather, it appears that forests are viewed as an asset whose benefits should flow mainly to politicians and well-connected individuals (Ofreno, 1980; Palmier, 1989). As Hackenberg and Hackenberg (1971) pointed out in their study of Davao City, Mindanao, "The basis of wealth is lumber, and the profits are instantaneous for those with political connections to secure a concession" (p. 8). In fact, it is difficult to distinguish between politicians and loggers, since loggers contribute heavily to political campaigns and many politicians control logging concessions (The Economist, 1989). It is now generally accepted that commercial forest resources were vastly underpriced throughout the postwar period and that the high rents flowed to a small group of people (Boado, 1988; Cruz and Segura-de los Angeles, 1984; Power and Tumaneng, 1983; Repetto, 1988).

Factors Associated with Deforestation

Deforestation in 67 provinces was analyzed statistically from 1970 to 1980 (Kummer, 1990). The study used data on the annual allowable cut, which was greater than legally reported logging and may more accurately reflect the actual volume of timber harvested, considering the additional timber that is extracted illegally. Deforestation from 1970 to 1980 was positively related to the annual allowable cut in 1970 and to the absolute change in the area devoted to agricultural activities (Kummer, 1990). The distance from Manila was not significantly related to the deforestation rate, but in those areas of the Philippines where logging was banned during the reign of Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965-1986), the logged area determined from the rates of deforestation were actually higher than the rates where logging was allowed (Schade, 1988).

Postwar discussions of deforestation in the Philippines have tended to blame either loggers or migrant farmers in frontier areas engaged in nontraditional shifting cultivation for the decline in forest cover. These two agents cannot be considered separately; rather, they are linked. The Philippines has recently completed the Master Plan for Forestry Development (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990). The plan articulates a people-oriented forestry program that is sensitive to the current understanding of the complex underlying determinants of deforestation. The policy prescriptions and implementation devices presented in the plan are analyzed later in this chapter.


This section evaluates current and potential directions for formulating concrete solutions to deforestation and sustainable land use. It examines the determinants of sustainable agricultural systems and forest systems within each of the three major land use subecosystems in Philippine uplands. The approach emphasizes the interrelatedness of social and technical issues and the importance of an integrated social-technical approach to forest and agricultural development.

A large and rapidly expanding portion of the upland landscape is being converted to areas that are permanently farmed. These farms are found in the more relatively accessible sloping areas that are closest to the lowlands and nearest to roads. They are predominantly cultivated with subsistence food crops, particularly maize and upland rice, but they are partly used for perennial crop plantations, especially coconut plantations. At increasing elevations and more remote locations that are difficult to access, the land predominantly contains grasslands and brushlands. The remaining forested areas are generally the secondary forest remnants of previous logging activities or localized unlogged areas, which are found at the highest elevations and on the steepest slopes.

These three broad land use types (permanently farmed sloping lands, grasslands, and forested lands) tend to form distinct entities that flow into each other. The permanently cultivated lands expand into the grasslands as shifting cultivation on the grassland margins intensifies, and the grasslands advance at the expense of the forested lands as settlement and the relentless use of fire open and transform the forests. The human and natural ecology of each of these three entities is distinct, and technology and policy instruments must be adapted to the realities of each one.

Permanently Farmed Sloping Lands

The major issue in permanently farmed sloping lands is how to sustain and increase farm productivity to improve the welfare of the farm population and thereby reduce the rate of migration into the remaining forested lands. Increase in and sustainability of farm productivity may be achievable through policy reform and technological changes in agricultural activities, but the development of more successful farming systems in sloping settled lands will not eliminate the migratory pressure on forested lands. Technical change could make forested lands more valuable for agriculture, thus encouraging further migration. It is also evident, however, that if the current upland populations cannot become more successful in sustaining their incomes and increasing their employment opportunities, more farmers and their families will be forced to migrate from unproductive farms that can no longer support them, resulting in more rapid and destructive misuse of forestlands.

This suggests that sustainable upland agricultural production systems are necessary to alleviate many problems of human welfare in the uplands and lowlands and ensure more effective forest conservation, but such changes are not sufficient to solve the problem of the conversion of forests to agricultural uses. The essential elements of a strategy for upland development are the same as those that would apply in lowland areas. They include the need for a positive incentive framework and the availability of appropriate technical solutions. Agricultural technology can provide a crucial, supporting role in solving the forest conversion problem. Progressive policies in forestry, agriculture, land tenure, and general economic development will impinge greatly on the effectiveness and appropriateness of potential technologies.

There are many factors that limit the stability, productivity, and sustainability of upland farms, including climatic variations, biologic stresses, and social and economic uncertainties. A fundamental factor is the nature and rapidity of soil degradation.

The sloping upland soils in the Philippines fall into three contrasting types: acidic, infertile soils; young, relatively fertile volcanic soils; and calcareous soils. The strongly acidic, infertile soils, which are low in available phosphorus, are predominant. The young, more fertile volcanic soils cover large areas in the southern Tagalog and Bicol regions, on Negros Island, and in some areas of Mindanao. These have been the most successfully developed upland agricultural areas. Calcareous upland soils are found on the central Visayan islands of Cebu and Bohol. Restrictions on the available phosphorus also tend to be pronounced in calcareous soils.

In addition to the three basic classes of soils, the immense and localized variations in rainfall patterns because of the diverse topography of the Philippines, and the frequency and severity of damage from catastrophic typhoons affect the sustainable management of upland agricultural systems. Farming systems must be adapted to take into account these various conditions.

Philippine upland farmers face a diversity of land types and high levels of risk, yet they have limited access to credit and marketing resources. Under these conditions, agricultural technologists must be able to offer practical, low-cost farming practices that are viable under a wide array of conditions or that are more specifically tailored to a few conditions but that produce results quickly.


Research on upland agroforestry in the Philippines is limited. Agriculturalists and foresters have few technical tools to cope with the enormous variety of circumstances that require attention. Gibbs et al. (1990) pointed out that the highly inadequate knowledge of agroforestry techniques was probably the weakest aspect in the successful evolution of the government's Integrated Social Forestry Program.

Leucaena Hedgerows Leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala) is common in rural areas with less acidic soils. It was indigenously grown in fencerows as a fodder source for cattle. The National Research Council (1977) indicated that the tree showed promise as a hedgerow intercrop that could supply large quantities of nitrogen and organic matter to a companion food crop. Those observations stimulated applied research on hedgerow intercropping in several locations around the Philippines. Guevara (1976) reported that hedgerow intercropping produced crop yield increases of 23 percent. Vergara (1982) cited experiments in which yields increased by about 100 percent, with no advantage of inorganic nitrogen application beyond the nitrogen supplied by green leaf manure. Alferez (1980) observed a 56 percent yield increase when upland rice was grown in alleys between hedgerows of Leucaena.

Hedgerows of Leucaena provided a barrier to soil movement on sloping lands. Data from studies on a steeply sloping site in Mindanao indicated a dramatic reduction in both runoff and soil loss (O'Sullivan, 1985). In that study, O'Sullivan (1985) also observed a consistent yield advantage over a 4-year period with maize fertilized by the Leucaena prunings obtained from adjacent hedgerows.

By the early 1980s, hedgerow intercropping was advocated by the Department of Agriculture as a technology that was better able to sustain permanent cereal cropping with minimal or no fertilizer inputs and as a soil erosion control measure for sloping lands. The extension of this system among Filipino farmers was encouraged by the work of the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC), a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that began working with Leucaena in the mid-1970s (Watson and Laquihon, 1987). MBRLC developed a 10-step program for farmer implementation of Leucaena hedgerows that was designated sloping agricultural land technology (SALT). SALT recommended that every third alleyway between the double hedgerows of L. Ieucocephala be planted with perennial woody crops, such as coffee trees, with the majority of the alleys maintained by continuous cropping with annual food crops. This concept offered the possibility of more diversified sources of farm income and improved soil erosion control.

By the mid-1980s, SALT was adopted by the Philippine Department of Agriculture as the basis for its extension effort in the sloping uplands. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources also used it as the technical basis for its social forestry pilot projects. A training effort for extension personnel was launched, and demonstration plots of SALT were installed on farmers' fields throughout the country. Several publications have been developed to spread practical information about the SALT system (Celestino, 1984, 1985; Philippine Council for Agriculture and Resources Research and Development, 1986).

Some adoption of Leucaena hedgerows occurred in high-intensity extension projects, but there was little evidence of widespread farmer interest in the SALT system. The lack of secure land tenure was implicated as a constraint to the implementation of this or any long-term land improvement system among tenant farmers or occupants of public lands. Among farmers with secure land tenure, however, the large initial investment of labor, the difficulty in obtaining planting materials, and the technical training and information required for sustained implementation were serious constraints to initiating SALT systems. In addition, the labor needed to manage the hedges, particularly to prune them 3 to 10 times each year, depending on the management system, was found to absorb a large proportion of the household's available labor. This labor investment tended to compete with other income-generating tasks and may have limited the area that could feasibly be farmed in this manner (S. Fujisaka, Social Sciences Division, International Rice Research Institute, Los Banos, Philippines, personal communication, 1989).

Hedgerows of Other Species The extension effort on Leucaena hedgerows suffered a major setback in 1985 when the exotic psyllid leafhopper (Heteropsylla cubana) invaded the Philippines, attacking hedgerows and killing or stunting trees throughout the country. This forced a search for replacement hedgerow tree species. Gliricidia septum has been the most common replacement, but it must be propagated from cuttings in most areas, increasing the labor investment to establish hedgerows. Other species that have shown promise in hedgerow trials include Flemingia congesta, Acacia vellosa, Leucaena diversifolia, and Cassia spectabilis (Mercado et al., 1989; H. R. Watson, Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center, Bansalan, Philippines, personal communication, 1989). Alnus japonica is used in the acid soil highlands in northern Luzon (Barker, 1990).

Pava et al. (1990) compared the changes in crop yields associated with planting a double row of leguminous hedgerows by a group of 10 farmers who adopted the system and a control group of farmers who did not. Over the 2-year interval of monitoring, maize yields increased by both methods, but the greatest increase was among the control group of nonadopters. Fertilizer use among both groups was very similar. When queried about the perceived value of the hedgerows, the farmers who adopted leguminous hedgerows emphasized that their investment in hedgerows was long-term insurance that their children could continue to farm the land.

Contour Bunding with Hedgerows World Neighbors, another NGO, made a substantial contribution during the past decade (Granert, 1990; Granert and Sabueto, 1987). The World Neighbors approach was oriented toward the development of a high degree of direct participation by farmers in devising and implementing local solutions to the perceived dominant constraints to crop cultivation on steeply sloping lands. A system of contour bunding was developed. The bunds provided a base for the establishment of double-contour hedgerows of leguminous trees or forage grasses and a barrier to surface runoff, which is carried off the field in contour ditches.

The contour hedgerow concept was applied to the strongly acidic upland soils by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Philippine Department of Agriculture (Fujisaka and Garrity, 1988). Although these soils are generally deep, soil loss is a problem because it exposes a very acidic subsoil with toxic levels of aluminum. After 3 years of hedgerow intercropping, there was a striking natural development of terraces (Figure 3). Modest yield benefits were observed when upland rice was grown between hedgerows of Cassia spectabilis, a common non-nodulating leguminous tree (Basri et al., 1990). Yields of maize and rice were consistently increased when they were intercropped with hedgerows of Gliricidia septum (Mersado et al., 1992). However, crop yields were seriously reduced in the rows adjoining the hedges, with or without the application of external nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers (Figure 4). The primary roots of both tree species spread laterally into the alleyways at shallow depths (20 to 35 cm) immediately beneath the plow layer. Feeder roots were situated to explore and compete for nutrients and water in the crop root zone.

Figure 3

Sustainability in Alley Cropping Systems The sustainability of crop yields in alley cropping systems is a major concern on all soil types. The work reviewed by Szott et al. (1991) raises particular questions about the viability of hedgerow intercropping on strongly acidic soils. The high level of exchangeable aluminum in the subsoil inhibits the deep tree-rooting patterns that are typically observed on higher-basestatus soils. Phosphorus and other mineral elements are often more limiting than nitrogen in these soils. The acidity of the subsoil appears to promote intense competition among roots for mineral nutrients in the surface soil of the alleys and prevents nutrient pumping from the deeper soil layers. The organic matter inputs from hedgerow prunings of Gliricidia and Cassia spectabilis do not supply adequate quantities of phosphorus to meet the nutrient requirements of cereal crops (Basri et al., 1990). Furthermore, the prunings are composed of phosphorus that the tree may have captured predominantly from the crop root zone. The results obtained with other alley cropping systems on acidic Ultisols in Peru (Fernandes, 1990) and in Sumatra, Indonesia (Evensen, 1989), support the results obtained in Mindanao by IRRI.

Figure 4

Grass Strips Grass strips have also received major attention as contour vegetative barriers for erosion control in different parts of the world (Lal, 1990). Considerable work has been done in the Philippines with napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum), guinea grass (Panicum maximum), and other grasses (Fujisaka and Garrity, 1988; Granert and Sabueto, 1987). The predominant attention has been given to the more vigorous forage grasses, since they tend to provide high levels of biomass for ruminant fodder. Therefore, they are presumed to serve as a beneficial way to use the area of the field occupied by hedgerows, which is lost to food crop production. Experimental data (Table 9) and field observations of plantings in various locations indicate that use of forage grasses for intercropping has the potential to markedly reduce erosion and rapidly develop natural terraces on slopes. Therefore, the establishment of forage grasses has been extended as an alternative to the use of leguminous tree species on contour bunds.

Two major problems have surfaced from the use of grass strips. Farmers have difficulty keeping the tall, rapidly growing tropical forage species trimmed to prevent them from shading adjoining field crops. The biomass productivity of grass hedgerows exceeds the fodder requirements of most small-scale farm enterprises, and it is a burden for farmers to cut the unnecessary foliage frequently. High levels of biomass production also tend to exacerbate competition for nutrients and water with the adjoining food crops and reduce cereal crop yields (D. P. Garrity and A. Mercado, International Rice Research Institute, unpublished data).

Table 9 Soil Loss Affected by Contour Hedgerow Grasses Vegetation

Intercropping with Noncompetitive Species The constraints observed from intercropping with both trees and forage grasses have stimulated an alternative concept of using hedgerows that contain noncompetitive or relatively inert species (Garrity, 1989). An inert species is one that has a short stature and a low growth rate, which minimizes hedgerow-crop competition but provides an effective ground cover for filtering out soil particles. This concept places primary emphasis on the rapid and effective development of terraces to improve field hydrology and maximize soil and nutrient retention. Vetiver zizanioides may exemplify an inert hedgerow species (Smyle et al., 1990). Vetiver is found throughout the Philippines. It tends to form a dense barrier and does not self-propagate to become a weed in cultivated fields. However, it must be propagated by vegetative tillers, which is a laborious process.

Natural Vegetative Filter Strips An alternative approach that has received little attention is the installation of natural vegetative filter strips. These are narrow contour strips that are left unplowed and on which vegetation is allowed to grow naturally. They may be established at the time that a piece of fallow land is brought into cultivation or during the interval between crops in a continuous cropping system. The dominant species in natural vegetative filter strips are native weedy grasses: Imperata cylindrica, Paspalum conjugatum, Chrysopogon aciculatus, or others, depending on the location and the management regime to which the strips are subjected. These natural grasses can be suppressed by allowing cattle to graze them, cutting them down, or mulching them with crop residues. Natural vegetative filter strips are capable of reducing soil loss at least as effectively as commonly recommended introduced species (Table 9, Paspalum conjugatum treatment). They are generally less competitive with food
crops than other hedgerow species, and they are adapted to local ecosystems and resilient in terms of longevity and reestablishment.

There have been some isolated observations of the indigenous development of natural vegetative barriers by upland farmers in the Philippines (Balina et al., 1991; Fujisaka, 1990; Ly, 1990). However, research has not been targeted to exploit this option in Philippine uplands. (In the United States there has been extensive research on the use of natural vegetative filter strips for sediment and chemical pollution control [Williams and Lavey, 1986].)

Farm-level adoption of natural vegetative filter strips has been observed to be comparatively simple. Contour lines are laid out at the desired spacing. The field is plowed on the contour, allowing the designated strips to be left as fallow vegetation. In fields where the technique has been implemented, the soil in runoff water is deposited at the filter strip. This deposition, combined with the movement of soil down the slope during tillage operations, results in the rapid development of terraces of 30 to 70 cm deep within 2 years. The levering effect of terrace formation evidently improves water retention in the field, and the loss of either applied or native soil nutrients is reduced. These effects need to be investigated under a range of field conditions.

The natural vegetative filter strip approach can be considered the initial stage in a long-term process of contour hedgerow development on farms. As terraces form, farmers may diversify the terrace risers for use in other enterprises by planting trees or perennial crops as they fit their management objectives. The natural vegetative filter strip concept may be a practical basis for the rapid, wide-scale dissemination of hedgerow technology. Therefore, a substantial effort in both strategic and farmer-participatory research on natural vegetative filter strips is warranted.

Cash Crop Production in Hedgerows may also be suitable for the production of perennial cash crops. Some perennial crops that have been used in these systems include coffee, papaya, citrus, and mulberry. The suitability of the perennial species is limited by the degree of shading of the associated food crops. The cash income that can be made is a major advantage of using perennial crops. Erosion control may not be provided by the perennial crop, but it may be provided by grass that occupies the area between the widely spaced plants.

Cattle Production Backyard production of cattle has become an important enterprise in some densely settled upland areas, particularly Batangas province. A trend toward more intensive small-scale beef and goat production is now under way in many parts of the country. This trend is stimulated by historically high meat prices. Leguminous tree species, particularly Leucaena leucocephala and Gliricidia septum, are widely used as high-protein forages, especially in the dry season. Backyard ruminant production will stimulate more intensive husbandry of manure. An important model of the development of leguminous trees in hedgerows is the use of prunings as a source of animal feed, either for on-farm use or off-farm sales (Kang et al., 1990). Harvesting of fodder potentially increases the value of the hedgerow prunings, but it also depletes soil nutrient reserves more rapidly because the nutrients contained in the prunings are removed from the field before they can provide their nutrients to the crop. Unless this manure is spread back on the land or replaced, and nutrient supplements provided in the form of fertilizer, the rate of soil depletion may be accelerated. Currently, the use of green leaf manure is insignificant in upland cropping systems.

The experience of the past 15 years with alley cropping and the use of contour hedgerows suggests that appropriate solutions must be tailored to the diverse soil and environmental conditions, farm sizes and labor availabilities, markets, and farmer objectives. The tendency for a package approach to be applied by extension systems must be replaced with a model that recognizes a wide range of possible hedgerow species and management systems (Garrity, 1989). There has been little attempt to clarify the appropriate hedgerow technologies for the range of specific local physical and institutional settings.


Clean cultivation is the universal soil management practice of Filipino upland farmers whether they use animal power or hand tillage on steep slopes. Crop residues are plowed under, burned, or removed and used as fodder. Retention of surface residues through conservation tillage systems is unexploited, although the value of such practices in reducing soil erosion is profound on tropical sloping uplands (Lal, 1990). Many studies have shown significant benefits from maintaining a surface mulch. Thapa (1991) found that soil loss was reduced by 90 percent by the presence of a vegetative barrier, but the maintenance of crop residues on the soil surface reduced soil loss by more than 98 percent. It has been shown (R. Raros, Visayas State College of Agriculture, Baybay, Leyte, Philippines, personal communication, 1989) that upland rice can be dependably established in thick residues without tillage in a hedgerow system, and the yields of a system with three continuous crops per year can be sustained.

At present, no practical approach has been developed to satisfactorily cope with weeds in reduced-tillage systems. Broad-spectrum herbicides such as glyphosate are beginning to be used on a limited basis by small-scale farmers, but the intense weed pressures on upland farms and the tendency for weed species to shift rapidly to resistance to herbicides has severely constrained the development of herbicide-based solutions.

The possibility of successfully using a reduced-tillage system has been reinforced by recent observations on a farmer-evolved system of maize production in Mindanao (D. P. Garrity, International Rice Research Institute, unpublished data). The system involves a crop sequence of three crops of maize monoculture per year but only one primary tillage operation annually. Interrow cultivation and late weeding during the maize grain-filling period enable the second and third crops to be planted on the day of harvest without tillage and with low weed pressures. This unconventional approach provides interesting prospects for practical techniques for reducing the tillage needed for food crop farming with limited resources.


External fertilizer use on food crops by upland farmers is seldom important. This is due to their severe capital constraints, transport difficulties, and low returns from fertilizer use. Therefore, a long-term decline in yields is typically observed (Fujisaka and Garrity, 1988). It is widely believed that the sustainability of food crop production could be enhanced by improved retention of crop residues and by the adoption of more diverse crop rotations that include nitrogen-fixing legumes (McIntosh et al., 1981). The limited work done to date has shown that there are mixed benefits from these practices. The practical constraints to the implementation of improved nutrient cycling practices are often considerable.

Leguminous grains play an insignificant role in upland cropping systems. Mung beans (Phaseolus aureus) and soybeans (Glycine max) are adapted to neutral and slightly acidic soils, whereas cowpeas (Vigna sinensis, also known as black-eyed peas) are more suited to highly acidic soils (Torres et al., 1988). When leguminous grains are inserted into cereal crop-based rotations immediately before upland rice or maize is planted, the legume improves the nutrient balance of the next cereal crop (Magbanua et al., 1988; Torres et al., 1989). Intercropping of cereals and legumes may increase their combined productivities, but it does not increase the net availability of nitrogen to the cereal crop (Aggarwal et al., 1992).

Farmers who cultivate grain legumes do so as an income or food source, but they do not usually observe better cereal crop performance as a result of the legume's inclusion as a second crop in cereal-based rotations (International Rice Research Institute, 1991). This appears to be due to the low biomass production by tropical leguminous grains that mature early and to nitrogen losses during the long fallow period between the time that the legume is harvested and the establishment of the following wet season crop.

Forage legumes have greater longevity in the field than do leguminous grains, and they produce large amounts of nitrogen-rich biomass. On high base-status soils, viny legumes such as lablab (Lablab purpureus) or siratro (Macroptilium atropurpureum) can be intercropped with upland rice or maize. They produce 100 to 200 kg of nitrogen/ ha in plowed down green manure during the dry season for the succeeding wet season cereal crop (Aggarwal and Garrity, 1989; Torres and Garrity, 1990). They also provide high-quality forage during the dry season. Lablab also provides a nutritious and marketable food legume for humans (Torres and Garrity, 1990).

On strongly acidic soils, most of the forage legumes have slow establishment rates, are not resilient to pruning, and do not accumulate substantial amounts of biomass during the dry season. This may be attributed to poor rooting and nodulation in the presence of high levels of exchangeable aluminum and low amounts of available phosphorus in the soil. Their inclusion within annual crop sequences therefore often appears to be impractical without the application of lime or phosphorus or both.


The acidic upland soils of the Philippines are predominantly fine-textured, with organic carbon contents of 2 to 3 percent and with a moderate level of total nitrogen. Phosphorus deficiency is frequently the most limiting nutritional problem (International Rice Research Institute, 1987) and often must be overcome before any response to nitrogen is observed (Basri et al., 1990; Garrote et al., 1986). Phosphorus pumping from the deeper soil layers is limited by subsoils with toxic levels of aluminum and low phosphorus reserves. Since constant nutrient removal or offtake is occurring, crop yield sustainability and significant biologic nitrogen fixation will depend on the importation of mineral nutrients, particularly phosphorus and lime. Greater appreciation of the importance of importing these nutrients in upland agroecosystems with acidic soils is needed.

Deposits of phosphate rock in the Philippines are an efficient source of both phosphorus and calcium (Atienza, 1989; Briones and Vicente, 1985). The exploitation of phosphate rocks for farm use has been neglected and could be expedited. This would require greater government and commercial recognition of the fundamental importance of these minerals to permanent upland agricultural system.


Coconuts are the dominant plantation crop in the Philippines, which has the world's largest area devoted to this crop, covering nearly one-sixth of the land surface (4.88 million ha [Swedish Space Corporation, 1988]). In addition, there are about 100,000 ha of plantations of rubber and other estate trees.

Coconut trees occupy much of the steepest nonarable land at lower elevations. Although the canopy of a coconut plantation is relatively open, the land on which coconut is grown provides satisfactory soil protection against erosion when an appropriate grassy or leguminous ground cover is established. Much of the land on which coconut is grown is owned by wealthier families but is managed in smallholdings by tenants or caretakers. The livelihoods of millions of the poorest families and the economic future of many parts of the uplands are heavily dependent on the health of the coconut industry. A long-term decline in the world market demand for coconut oil is projected because of the increasing worldwide preference for vegetable oils, which have a lower saturated fat content.

Land tenure is the dominant barrier to more productive management of the lands on which coconut is grown. Landlords generally prohibit understory cropping to avoid future claims to permanent occupancy. However, numerous crop species thrive under coconuts (Paner, 1975). Multistory cropping systems-with a two- or three-tiered canopy that may include fruits, vegetables, and food crops- improve farm income and are observed in some areas. It is unclear whether the planned extension of agrarian reform to the areas planted in coconuts, which was indicated in the 1987 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program legislation, will have any effect in overcoming this land tenure barrier. The titling of lands on which coconut is grown to tenant farmers would result in a dramatic increase in land use intensity for coconut. This would significantly alleviate the high degree of income uncertainty for tenant farmers who grow coconuts.


The concept of farmers producing fast-growing trees as crops was popularized in the mid-1970s by the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines, which set up woodlots on farms to grow trees for pulpwood production (World Bank, 1989a). The practice has gained momentum in recent years, as the depletion of old-growth hardwood forests sent domestic timber prices steeply upward. Substantial numbers of small-scale farmers in northern Mindanao now plant in short rotations and then sell gmelina (Gmelina arborea) and falcata (Albizin falcataria) as timber. G. arborea is harvested and coppiced in up to three 10-year cycles. Fast-growing hardwoods such as gmelina are also integrated into contour hedgerow systems. The Master Plan for Forestry Development (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990) places emphasis on contract forestry with private individuals and communities and is supported by a loan from the Asian Development Bank. Development of these systems would be greatly accelerated if credit for contract tree growing is extended to small-scale farmers and hardwood production in hedgerows is encouraged.


The most plausible model of sustainable smallholder farming in the uplands is one of diversification into mixed farming systems. Given the exceptionally high production and marketing risks in the uplands and the generally low marginal returns, a number of alternative enterprises must be undertaken on upland farms to provide stability (Chambers, 1986) and to take maximum advantage of the complementarities that occur among income-generating activities (for example, leguminous trees for fodder, green leaf manure, and fuelwood; cattle for labor, cash income, and manure).

Upland farm families must place primary or exclusive emphasis on subsistence food crop production. The land use systems that result from the pursuit of these needs, however, are the least ecologically sustainable alternatives. The issue from policy, research, and extension perspectives is how to enable the farm enterprise to move profitably along a trajectory that will continually increase the area devoted to perennial plants and decrease the area devoted to annual plants (Figure 5). The gradual expansion of home gardens, ruminant livestock production, and plantation and timber tree crops will contribute to this end. Greater private and public sector support for the development of these enterprises will be essential. However, this must be linked with the improvement of methods for greater sustained food crop production per unit area to release land and labor for other cash-generating activities.

Figure 5 Model of the evolutionary development of a small-scale upland farm on sloping land.

The Philippine Department of Agriculture has only recently begun to give significant attention to the task of understanding upland agricultural technologies. Upland agricultural systems are in stark contrast to the less heterogeneous lowland systems that have historically received overwhelming attention. Therefore, a major reorientation of both the research and extension approach is under way. This reorientation involves the decentralization of operations to the local level. The Department of Agriculture has adopted a farming systems research and development model for technology generation in the uplands, with strong emphasis on farmer-participatory research (Dar and Bayaca, 1990). To be effective, this transformation must be pursued more vigorously and will require major increases in staff capability and mobility.

The Grasslands and Brushlands

The most common form of vegetation in the Philippine uplands is grass, predominantly Imperata cylindrica (cogon) or Themeda triandra (samsamong, silibon, or bagocboc) or, at higher elevations, Miscanthus japonicus (runo). The rhizomes of these perennials are highly resistant to fire, but the shoots are flammable during dry periods. They readily invade abandoned swiddens, land cleared of forests, and forest openings. A small portion of the grassland area may be a result of natural disturbances, but the overwhelming majority owe their existence to repeated disturbance by fire, which is usually started by humans to obtain game or fodder or to clear land (Bartlett, 1956).

At the turn of the twentieth century, 40 percent of Luzon and extensive areas of other Philippine islands were covered with grass. The land classification of 1919 estimated that grassland covered 19 percent of the country, a figure that stayed roughly constant through 1957 (Roth, 1983). An analysis (Swedish Space Corporation, 1988) of Philippine land use estimated the area of pure grassland to be 1.8 million ha, with an additional 10.1 million ha in extensive cultivation mixed with grasslands and brushlands (that is, about 33 percent of the country's land surface). This suggests that more than 20 percent of the surface area of the country is covered by grasslands (see Table 2). The grasslands appear to have served as an intermediate zone-a portion continually being transformed into permanent croplands or plantations-for a long period of time, whereas new area is created as the forest withdraws. In some intensive grass-fallow rotation systems, fire climax savannah is used indefinitely as the fallow species (for example, see Barker [1984]).

The cogon grasslands are commonly used as pasture, but they have a carrying capacity that is probably lower than 0.25 animal units (0.3 cattle) per ha (World Bank, 1989a). Cogon grass is suitable as a forage only during early growth, so the range is regularly burned toward the end of the dry season, which contributes to wildfires that penetrate and further destroy forestlands. Range management by private ranchers is generally poor, and improved management practices have not resulted in competitive economic returns. Overgrazing during the regrowth period reduces ground cover and makes grassland the most significant source of soil erosion in the Philippines. Thus, the net social returns from cattle ranching are low, and justification of this form of land use is questionable.

There has been a precipitous decline in ranching during the past 15 years. A major factor has been the communist insurgency, which targeted its operations against ranches. Associated with this has been a 50 percent decline in the size of the national cattle herd during this 15-year period.

What should be done about the grasslands? They continue to function as a migratory sink for the settlement of landless and jobless families, and in this sense, they are still a frontier. The social value of these lands, however, is greatly constrained by government land use policy and a regressive pattern of formal and informal land tenure. Although the land is publicly administered as forestland by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), wealthy families (pseudo-landlords) have laid claim to large areas, relegating settler families to tenancy.

Small-scale farming in grasslands is predominantly practiced with animal labor. Settlers initially practice a migratory system of farming, shifting their farm area as necessary to sustain crop yields. The greater population densities necessitate rotating the fallow areas of fields within permanent farm boundaries. As the farm size decreases, permanent cropping evolves, in many cases with extremely low comparative yields (Vandermeer, 1963).


Since 1894, the Philippine state has proclaimed about two-thirds of the country's area as public forestland. In 1975, all land with a slope of 18 percent or greater was proclaimed by legislation to be part of the public domain. Subsequent legislation further eroded the rights of occupant families to the land on which they lived. Although the legislation was ostensibly intended to strengthen the state's ability to conserve the forests, its unanticipated effect was to greatly weaken occupants' interest in any long-term forms of sustainable land management.

Later, the realization grew that the upland populations were going to be permanent and were increasing rapidly. This led to a succession of weak programs that involved occupancy permits and communal tree farming contracts. The Integrated Social Forestry Program (ISFP) arose in the early 1980s as an extension of the earlier approaches. It was based on a Certificate of Stewardship Contract (CSC), which grants leasehold occupancy rights for up to 7 ha of land to a family for a 25-year period and is renewable for another 25 years (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990). CSC holders are obligated to use conservation farming practices, plant at least five trees per hectare, and assist in protecting adjacent forest areas. The ISFP promotes agroforestry practices, particularly contour hedgerow farming

Although the CSC is aimed at strengthening the land tenure security of upland farm families, it is a weak instrument for doing so. Many poor farmers and their families face substantial problems in asserting a CSC claim against the claim of more powerful but absentee pseudo-landlords. The CSC lease is nontransferable and, thus, cannot be used as collateral for loans for investing in farm improvements. The CSC lease may be canceled at the discretion of the Forest Management Bureau, and it is heritable only within the 25-year lease period.

The speed of implementation of ISFP has been disappointing. Only 2.5 percent of the upland area has so far been included in stewardship leases. The Master Plan for Forestry Development (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990) targeted CSCs to be issued to 626,700 families during the 10-year period from 1988 to 1997. This would cover an estimated 1.88 million ha of public land. Assuming an average of six persons per family, this would involve a population of 3.76 million. These targets appear to be overly optimistic unless major new funding and staffing becomes available.

Secure land tenure in the uplands would decrease the number of large land claims by elite individuals who use poor families as tenants. Many poor families are part of a well-organized effort of occupation of forestlands carried out by wealthier individuals who hope to lay claim to the land by paying taxes on it. Under such arrangements, the agricultural inputs of the cultivator may be subsidized by the pseudo-landlord and personal credit may be advanced to the cultivator, or the cultivator may be contracted to plant perennial crops for an agreed price per plant and permitted to grow food crops on the young plantation until the trees become established. Then, the cultivator must move on to a new area to renew the cycle or may be hired to care for the plantation.

CSC leaseholds provide a mechanism that serves as a counterweight to the grip of local elites. Effective independence for the cultivator will depend, however, on the infrastructure and support services that will make it possible to earn a viable living from the land without the patronage of landlords. The sense of security that the CSC provides to powerless migrant farmers was explored by Pava et al. (1990). The granting of CSCs will encourage more migration into the uplands. This will happen even if recent migrants are excluded from the program. It will be especially pronounced in areas where the bulk of the fertile lowlands are controlled by a few landed elites.


There are a variety of farming systems in the grasslands, ranging from shifting cultivation to permanent cultivation systems. The technology appropriate for a shifting cultivation system differs from that for a permanent field cultivation system because of the major differences in labor and land use intensity required for each system. As Raintree and Warner (1986) pointed out, shifting cultivators maximize their returns to labor rather than to land and resist inappropriate labor-intensive technologies. Hedgerow farming is a solution that is suitable to the more intensive stages of permanent cultivation. A more relevant concern in shifting systems is management of fallow fields.

Barker (1984) analyzed the role of fallow fields in shifting cultivation. A crop that improves fallow fields must yield higher nutrient levels and accumulate more organic matter than the natural fallow it is to replace. Little work has been done on practical methods of rapidly regenerating soil fertility in fallow fields of the Philippines. Fallow fields are usually burned or subjected to intensive grazing. Farmers acknowledge that these practices are often ineffective in regenerating fertility, and this has been corroborated by sampling the nutrient status of fields (Fujisaka, 1989).

Leguminous cover crops have been proposed as candidates for managed fallow fields, but empirical evidence of their practical utility is sparse. The ubiquitous presence of dry season grassland fires and the difficulty in preventing fires on the grasslands will limit this practice. Protection from communal grazing is also a constraint in many areas. Problems of seed supply and seed collection limit the adoption of leguminous cover crops, but a system for marketing cover crops is rapidly developing (P. C. Dugan, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, personal communication, 1990). A much greater research effort is needed at national and local levels, particularly regarding species that can be used as food for humans (for example, Psophocarpus palustris [siratro]).

Systems for enhancing fallow fields with leguminous trees have been demonstrated. MacDicken (1990) described an indigenous planned fallow that has evolved on steep slopes in Cebu since before 1900. Dense stands of naturally reseeded Leucaena leucocephala are used in the fallow portion of the cycle. When the Leucaena trees are cut, the stems are placed on the contour and staked to create contour bunds. A fallow period of 3 to 7 years is followed by several years of cereal cropping. The concept of naturally reseeded fallow fields deserves serious attention as an alternative fallow for both grassland and forest agroecosystems, where natural woody plant regeneration after cropping is suppressed. Tree species that are suited to strongly acidic soils and are prolific in seed production also need to be identified. Flemingia congesta is a candidate species for medium-elevation sloping acid soils, and Alnus japonica is a candidate species for the highlands.

A tree fallow system for shifting cultivation on the island of Mindoro, which used cuttings of Leucaena that was intercropped with the food crops, allowed development of a tree cover on fallow land after the cropping cycle (MacDicken, 1990). The value of such systems remains unconfirmed. There are also uncertainties in applying these systems-or variations of them-to the diverse range of fallow environments on grasslands or forestlands. Exclusion of fire will also be a dominant concern in successful implementation of such systems. A major sustained research effort on managed fallows is critical.


The grassland areas have been a major target of Philippine government reforestation efforts for the past 30 years (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990). Official forestry statistics indicate that about 1 million ha of tree plantations was planted between 1960 and 1989. This effort was managed by the Forest Management Bureau.

In most ongoing reforestation contracts, fast-growing and leguminous hardwoods are planted as nurse trees to form a protective canopy, with a few premium species planted as the climax crop. Foremost among the nurse trees are Acacia mangium, Acacia auriculiformis, Leucaena diversifolia (psyllid-resistant strains of L. Ieucocephala), and Gliricidia septum. The major premium quality species include Swietenia species and Pterocarpus grandiflorus. Other species that can grow in areas dominated by Imperata cylindrica are Gmelina arborea, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, and leguminous pioneer species. Sometimes, contractors mechanically till the areas to be planted and seed leguminous cover crops during the first year to improve the soil microenvironment. In most projects, nursery-grown plantings are used.

The success record, however, has been disappointing. In a recent nationwide inventory of the status of plantations (Forest Management Bureau, 1988), the actual extent of surviving trees was found to be only 26 percent. In the central and western areas of the country, which have prolonged dry seasons, the situation was more dismal. For example, Reyes and Mendoza (1983) found that after an intensive reforestation effort in the watershed containing the Pantabangan Reservoir, the survival of replanted trees was only 10 to 15 percent because of poor weed control, pests and diseases, and fire.

Control of fires on newly established plantations is difficult and costly. Public reforestation projects are given neither adequate incentives nor appropriate management capabilities to provide protection from fires. In fact, many plantations were deliberately torched by local people who saw that there was nothing to be gained from the presence of a government plantation in their area.


The overwhelming failure of reforestation efforts managed by the Forest Management Bureau has recently prompted a major redirection in approach. The approach is called contract reforestation, by which DENR plans to establish artificial forests via contracts with families, communities, local governments, the private sector, and NGOs on about 630,000 ha by the year 2015 (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990). Contracting consists of a two-phase strategy. First, DENR contracts for the establishment, maintenance, and protection of artificial forests for a 3- to 4-year period. If the contractors perform well in meeting the provisions of the reforestation contract, they can apply for a Forestland Management Agreement (the second phase). This entitles them to harvest, process, and sell or otherwise use the products grown on their reforested areas. The private forestland manager, however, must pay the government a share of the income from sales of production output. This share is equivalent to the amount of money needed to reforest 1 ha of denuded area when 1 ha of 3- to 4-year-old trees is cut. Harvesting and other thinning activities are done in accordance with a DENR-approved management plan.

The majority of the lands targeted for the contract reforestation program are relatively degraded or remote. Because of low profitability and high interest rates, private firms are hesitant to invest their own corporate funds to establish industrial tree plantations (Domingo, 1983; Guiang, 1981). The funds that the government has designated for this program are largely from international donors, particularly the Asian Development Bank.

DENR hopes to generate reforestation funds from production shares under the Forestland Management Agreement. In this way, DENR could spread the financial and environmental benefits of reforestation activities. It is presumed that managers have strong incentives to protect and manage their artificial forests, since they reap the major profit from the sale of the tree crops. They can also plant and intercrop cash crops, fruit trees, and other agricultural crops to augment their incomes and to provide additional incentive for protecting, replanting, or enriching the plantation forests. DENR has also provided an indirect subsidy for rehabilitating grasslands and brushlands that are not profitable under the industrial tree plantation scheme. Enthusiasm for contract forestry is tempered by apprehension about constrictive regulatory controls. If the regulatory attitude prevails during implementation of the program, as is typical of DENR programs, progress will be disappointing.

A major factor in the success of the contract forestry program is the assumption that independent managers will strive to protect their investment from fire. The excellent fire control technologies of indigenous peoples, for example, methods used on the 15,000-ha ancestral lands of the Kalahan Education Foundation, Nueva Viscaya, can be more widely disseminated (Barker, 1990).


When an area is cleared of tropical forest it changes from an ecosystem essentially immune to fire to one in which fires are extremely common. J. B. Kauffman's research (cited in Savonen [1990]) showed that rain forests are capable of catching fire only on an average of 1 day each 11 years, but partially logged areas burn after an average of only 6 rainless days. Grassland areas are flammable after only 1 rainless day.

Repeated burning kills potential tree propagules in fallow fields and favors grasses, in particular Imperata cylindrica, over perennials. When burning or other disturbance is halted, l. cylindrica is rapidly invaded and shaded out by taller, woody species. If the area is large enough, however, I. cylindrica grass may persist for decades, even after the fires have stopped, because the propagules of other plants have been eliminated.

All aspects of this discussion on technology for more productive uses of grasslands for agriculture and forestry emphasize the dominance of fire as a debilitating constraint. Determined ecologic and farm-level management research on fire control will be essential to achieve progress in the better use of grasslands. Identification of practical and cost-effective tactics will require a systems approach. A national research project on the ecology and management of fire could collate the knowledge on the subject that can be provided by indigenous peoples, design a comprehensive framework for investigation, and assist regional and local research teams in undertaking work in this area within the respective land use system research programs.


During the past decade, social forestry research has provided much insight into the complex constraints in the evolution of effective community organizations to sustainably manage local upland resources (Borlagdan, 1990). Many of these organizations will be needed to serve the needs of upland farmers in thousands of villages throughout the Philippines. The initiation of farmers' organizations has so far been limited to specific project sites. Careful consideration must be given to the development of a structure that will link these organizations at the provincial, regional, and national levels. Such a structure might draw on some of the experiences of the conservation districts in the United States (Cook, 1989). These independent units of local government, of which there are more than 3,000, regulate resource use and assist farmers in implementing conservation practices. Conservation districts are created through a referendum involving all occupants of the land. They are governed by an elected board that enlists the skills and services of government agencies at all levels to advance conservation programs in the district.

Saving and Rebuilding the Remaining Natural Forests

The commercially exploitable old-growth dipterocarp forests in the Philippines are nearly exhausted. The Master Plan for Forestry Development (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990) estimates their extent at slightly less than 1 million ha. We estimate that the actual extent may be closer to 700,000 ha-or lower. Nearly all of this area is to be protected under recently enacted DENR policies banning logging in old-growth forests. Therefore, DENR anticipates that further declines in forested areas will be slight (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990). It appears to be optimistic to assume that commercial logging will stop immediately, that illegal logging can be controlled (since it has been resilient in the past), and that indigenous communities and migrants to the forest will not further convert significant areas of the forest to permanent agricultural uses.

The Philippine government has now acknowledged that it is incapable of managing forestlands on its own (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990). DENR recognizes the logic of community control in managing forest resources. The issue now is whether DENR mechanisms set in place to implement this concept will be sufficient to address the needs.


The people of the indigenous communities differ in their willingness to accept the concept of stewardship leases rather than full titling of the land to the community. Their reasons fall into three categories, depending on the community's circumstances:

· Ethnic communities that have been able to maintain secure control of their land: Forest-dwelling ethnic minorities of the Cordillera who have staunchly protected their land fear that acceptance of stewardship leases will mean that they must give up their claim to ownership.

· Communities that have traditionally possessed land but whose lands are under strong encroachment pressure from lowland settlers or plantation expansion: Groups such as the Ikalahans and Mangyans struggled successfully over a long period of time to obtain a lease and consider stewardship leases to be the best practical means for trying to maintain the integrity of their land.

· Communities that have been displaced from their traditional lands: These communities, such as the T'boli, have been forcibly dispossessed and inhabit new locations where they do not have a basis for traditional land claims. Others, such as the Bilaan, have been completely dispossessed of any land and live in squalid refugee camps. These groups are desperately seeking some form of land tenure security and are highly receptive to leasing arrangements.

The predominant concern of many communities regarding land tenure is encroachment by outside interests. The first Communal Forest Lease was obtained in 1974 by the Ikalahan in Nueva Viscaya (Cornista and Escueta, 1990). The major land threat was from lowland farmers and elites from the nearby municipality who claimed land on the Ikalahan's traditional reservation. By 1988, a total of nine communal leases ranging from 50 to more than 15,000 ha were issued to a variety of groups.

An organizing force was critical to the eventual development of these leases. This was usually provided by an NGO. Developing community leadership to manage the process was an essential and often difficult process. Many failures in community management can be anticipated; therefore, a heavy investment in management skills will be essential within DENR, NGOs, and the communities.


In 1989, DENR moved to implement the Community Forestry Program (CFP) (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990). This allows organized cooperatives of forest occupants and upland farmers to extract, process, and sell forest products in exchange for the community's commitment to protect, manage, and enrich the residual forest. DENR provides 25-year wood utilization permits to organized communities under a Community Forestry Management Agreement, which is renewable for another 25 years. The change in policy was intended to democratize access to forest resources, generate employment in the uplands, and manage the remaining production forests in a sustainable manner.

Under DENR's Master Plan for Forestry Development (1990), a total of 1.5 million ha is targeted for community-based forest management. The forests classified for CFP are generally fragmented, inadequately stocked, part of canceled concession areas, near rural communities, and unprofitable for large-scale commercial extraction and processing. In 1990, 26 percent of the forests classified for CFP were in good condition, 40 percent were in fair condition, and 34 percent were in poor condition. Only small-scale and labor-intensive types of forest extraction and processing will result in profitable operations in these forests.

The CVRP-1 Social Forestry Project (1984-1989) was the first test of the community-based forestry concept (Dugan, 1989). The project was located on a 17,000-ha site on Negros Oriental island that had 4,500 ha of forest and about 17,500 inhabitants. The area had been under a logging ban since 1979, but illegal deforestation continued at an annual rate of about 1,360 ha. Eighteen Forest Stewardship Associations composed of forest occupants and farmers were initiated. They assumed responsibility for managing and conserving designated portions of the forest under the guidance of the project staff. The rate of forest destruction declined abruptly-by 92 percent-as the cooperatives began policing their zones, and it remained at only 100 ha annually through 1989. Shifting (slash-and-burn) cultivation in the forest was drastically curtailed. Large-scale illegal logging was eliminated. Using labor-based technology, the cooperative members participated in limited wood extraction, which increased their incomes far beyond what they had earned previously. These projects were proven successes that supported the hypothesis that the deforestation process can be controlled only when the forest occupants have a direct stake in the enterprise.

Nevertheless, some serious deficiencies in community organization, training, and cooperative management were observed. These deficiencies led to confusion in the cooperatives, and instances of corruption and abuses of forest regulations were uncovered. The need for a major reorientation of the skills and attitudes of the foresters involved in a community-based management setting was also highlighted. Success of the approach will be possible only with a large core of committed and competent people. Currently, no organized pool of people has such expertise. The limitation of human resources in the communities and in DENR will make the rapid expansion of community-based forestry uncertain. To date, DENR's experience with implementation of CFP has been limited to the selection of NGOs to operate the program and site identification, but inadequate attention has been given to organizing and training members of the community (Guiana, 1991; Guiang and Gold, 1990). Therefore, emphasis on training programs that can teach the required managerial skills will be needed.

The technical, managerial, social, marketing, and financial management requirements of community-based forest management projects are enormous. Most NGOs, which have strong community-organizing capabilities, must strengthen their capabilities in taking resource inventories, preparing management plans, harvesting methods, marketing, processing, and managing finances.

Under a 1989 DENR directive, part of the money from the sale of products extracted from residual forests should be invested in systems that provide forest dwellers with alternative livelihoods. These systems must not be dependent on forest resources. A key need is for investment in village nurseries that will supply perennial and timber seedlings to individuals on a sustained basis.


Little is known about the ecology of dipterocarp forests. It is not possible to say with confidence that any selective cutting system will ensure the sustained development and harvest of dipterocarp wood. Therefore, maintenance of the remaining fragments of lowland and upland old-growth dipterocarp forests is of the highest priority. Much more research into the ecology and physiology of dipterocarp forests is essential if the remaining fragments are to be expanded into viable forests. Previous efforts to establish dipterocarp forests have generally failed, but there have been a few cases of dipterocarp forest survival on plantations (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990). The factors that govern such successes need to be investigated more thoroughly.


Some foresters argue that sustained-yield timber extraction is highly feasible when native-style logging exclusively is used by local communities (Dugan, 1989). The experience gained from the CVRP-1 Social Forestry Project lends strong support to this contention. Timber extraction is naturally limited by the lower technical efficiency of carabao (water buffalo) logging, but the economic efficiency and profitability for both local harvesters and sawmills is attractive as compared with mechanized logging. Mechanized logging is skewed toward once-over extraction of the 150-plus-year-old virgin trees, with a return harvest expected after some 30 to 100 years, assuming that forest destruction in the logging operation did not permanently disrupt the ability of the valued timber species to regenerate.

Indigenous logging methods emphasize repeated extraction of small amounts of timber and other forest products. These labor-based systems may allow an incremental annual extraction, determined on the basis of the annual accumulation of wood that can be harvested. This would provide continuous income from a limited tract of land and would be less destructive to the environment than capital- and machine-intensive systems. Employment in forest industries may quadruple if indigenous systems are adopted (P. C. Dugan, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, personal communication, 1990).


As communities manage forests to achieve sustainable yields, there will be a tendency to extract the higher quality species, which will eventually lead to species impoverishment-a major concern. Enrichment planting of valuable timber species is a method that has been proposed to avoid impoverishment of economically valuable species in selectively or severely logged forests. There are virtually no data, however, to verify the effectiveness of enrichment techniques or to address the numerous practical questions that arise in their implementation. A strong research effort involving species establishment and ecologic studies in the field is urgently needed. Strategic research will need to be complemented with in-depth surveys of the methods of indigenous farmers and evaluations by participating farmers from multiple locations in forests representing wide ecologic gradients.


The phenomenal depletion of natural resources in the Philippines reflects major deficiencies in the country's development efforts since its independence in 1946. The outstanding characteristics of the lack of development are the failure to create jobs and raise the living standards of the majority of Filipinos as well as the large inequalities in the distribution of wealth and access to financial and social resources. Therefore, a critical consideration in an assessment of future scenarios of forestry and agriculture in the Philippine upland ecosystem must include accurate prediction of trends in the political economy.

There is a no lack of detailed studies of the state of the Philippine environment or suggestions as to what should be done. Such studies include Dames and Moore International et al. (1989), Fay (1989), Porter and Ganapin (1988), World Bank (1989a), and the Master Plan for Forestry Development (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990). The major structural problem in the Philippines has been the inequality of income and wealth. Most observers agree that land reform in postwar Philippines has failed to reduce the power of the landed elites or to transfer substantial amounts of land to tillers. Implementation of the current agrarian reform program is clouded by similar doubts.

Another dominant structural problem is the failure of the industrial sector to provide new jobs at a rate fast enough to absorb the burgeoning labor pool. Upland agricultural and environmental problems cannot be solved as long as the mass of Filipinos are unemployed or underemployed and earn less than a subsistence wage. There must be a structural shift away from agriculture. The upland sustainability crisis is strongly interconnected with national political, economic, and ecologic stability. The strategy for attacking it must be bold, but it must be sensitive to the realities of these aspects.

Elements of a Strategy

There are three overarching elements to a comprehensive strategy for evolving sustainable land use systems in the Philippine uplands: tenure, technology, and delivery. Tenure encompasses human populations and their relationship to the land. Technology covers the technical solutions and the institutional capabilities to develop them. Delivery involves the mechanisms that government institutions and the private sector use to deliver the policy and various infrastructural supports to facilitate and guide the process of change.


Reduce Population Growth Rates Any strategy to address the sustainable management of upland resources must include a reduction in the rate of population growth. This must be powered by a national consensus on the need for a vigorous population control program. National and international efforts could vigorously pursue that policy dialogue by supporting the call by a group of Filipino development specialists for a new national consensus on establishing the two-child family (Porter and Ganapin, 1988).

The poorest households in the rural uplands have the highest birth and mortality rates. Government must redirect health care programs to ensure that there are greater investments in village-level health and paramedical personnel, and family planning support and education should be an integral part of the effort. The cost and political risks from embarking on a vigorous population control program will necessitate strong and sustained international support. Demographic goals and an effective organization to meet those goals must be highlighted as a fundamental component of such support.

Reform Land Tenure to Reinforce Local Stewardship Future success in bringing sustainable land use to the uplands is fundamentally dependent on major changes in the ways that public lands are managed. The Philippine government has proved to be incapable of managing the country's land area. The area under direct central government control must be decreased rapidly. Although this is a declared intention of government policy, progress has been slow.

To harness the energies of upland populations in creating sustainable land use systems and to ensure the success of reforestation and forest remnant conservation efforts, the national government must establish a new political relationship with the upland population. It must recognize the boundaries of the lands held by the indigenous occupants and move to recognize their full ownership rights. The dominant issue is empowerment of the upland people so that they can have a secure stake in the land.

The Philippine Constitution restricts leaseholds on public lands to terms of 25 years, which are renewable for another 25 years. However, further definition of the terms of the lease is at DEN:R's administrative discretion. As of 1988, only 2.2 percent of publicly owned forestlands were placed under leasehold arrangements; thus, only a fraction of the upland farming population has been affected. The Master Plan for Forestry Development (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990) projects a large increase in leaseholds, but DENR has not allocated budgetary support and does not have the implementation capacity to effectively carry out an aggressive program.

In addition, the form of land tenure security in the Certificate of Stewardship Contract (CSC) now being issued will not be adequate to foster viable farm operations with the degree of land stewardship needed. The CSC must be amended to enable it to be transferable and so that farmers can use it as collateral to obtain credit. The transferability of the CSC should, however, apply only to actual land occupants, to avoid an eventual concentration of landholdings.

These provisions should be interpreted as the initial stages that will eventually lead to unrestricted land titles. They give the occupants time to demonstrate their capacity to develop a sustainable land management system. Complete title to the land would then be come an incentive to practice conservation farming methods and to be a good steward of the land. Granting of immediate and unconditional titles to the land is not practical because of the immense administrative work load it would entail.

A comprehensive government response must be initiated to deal with the existence of tenancy in the uplands resulting from the land claims of pseudo-landlords. Although they are illegal, these claims result in nominal tax revenues for local governments, which otherwise have very limited sources of income. It is essential that local governments realize that the changes in land tenure in the uplands will be to their benefit through taxes, income, and social stability. Therefore, the national government must make provisions for local governments to receive alternative sources of income. The 1991 Local Government Code began the process of enabling local governments to obtain local tax revenue. Two additional mechanisms that can be implemented are the allocation of authority for local governments to levy modest taxes on individual leaseholds and to undertake contractual forestry activities on the public lands in their jurisdiction.

Recognize the Ancestral Rights of Indigenous Occupants There is a strong legal basis granting ownership rights to indigenous peoples who have historically inhabited the land (Lynch and Talbott, 1988). Recognition of these rights has so far been ignored by DENR, but we believe it is a crucial element in the sustainable management of upland resources. In general, the optimum mechanism by which these rights can be recognized is a community title. The precise instrument by which secure tenure should be granted, however, may have to vary somewhat for different communities. Direct titles to the land should immediately be given to indigenous communities that have strong and cohesive leadership, particularly in the autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Central Cordillera area of northern Luzon, which have legislative power over ancestral domains and natural resources.

Initially it is not necessary that all those with ancestral property rights receive titles that recognize those rights. The most immediate need is for the delineation of the ancestral domains by survey teams, so that a common basis of understanding exists between the national government and the communities (Lynch and Talbot, 1988) and so that communities can exercise effective control over their domains.

An important activity in developing an instrument of land tenure should be the formulation of a management plan than contains flexible but comprehensive mechanisms for allocating land among the inhabitants and for applying sound land management practices. As public land management is progressively privatized, it will be necessary to give local governments the authority to apply zoning restrictions so that they can control private land usage. These functions will strengthen local governments and overcome the strong objections from some quarters that the titling of public lands will lead to abuse of the land.


Research Upland Agriculture New technologies will be critical to the development of sustainable agriculture in the uplands, but the technologies being extended have not been proved in the diverse environments and for the variety of circumstances farmers face in the uplands. Two issues must be addressed: What will it take to make small-scale farming permanently sustainable? What will it take to improve fallow-rotation systems where they are still practiced?

Permanent small-scale upland farming systems are evolving in the sloping upland areas and are gradually replacing shifting cultivation. Acceleration of the trend toward permanent agricultural systems will fundamentally require simple, effective soil erosion control on open fields by use of vegetation barriers and residue management; mineral nutrient importation to balance the uptake of nutrients by crops and to stimulate greater biological nitrogen fixation; and diversification toward mixed farming systems that include perennials and ruminant animals, in addition to subsistence food crops. The technologies needed to meet these needs are known. Some fulfill multiple requirements (for example, trees in contour hedgerows may provide erosion control, fodder, and crop nutrients). But knowledge of how to adapt them to the wide array of diverse ecologic niches encountered by upland farmers is still inadequate. Much can be done now to take specific action to implement these concepts. The work must rely on farmer-participatory experimentation to refine specific solutions for local conditions.

The major innovation for farming on sloping lands has been the sloping agricultural land technology (SALT) that uses hedgerows of leguminous trees. A serious constraint of SALT is its high labor requirement. On acidic soils, there are questions concerning negative crop-hedgerow interactions. A major extension problem is the lack of hedgerow planting materials of forages, multipurpose trees, and perennial crops.

Because of the limitations of trees and introduced forage grasses in hedgerows, serious efforts should be invested in the refinement and dissemination of simpler methods, including natural vegetative filter strips. The advantages of natural vegetative filter strips are their simplicity of installation, their low labor requirements, and their excellent erosion control and terrace formation capabilities. They also provide a good foundation for soil conservation efforts, so that farmers may subsequently diversify into more labor-intensive hedgerow enterprises, including those that grow perennials, leguminous trees, and improved forages.

The importation of mineral nutrients will be essential to the development of sustainable food crop production on permanent farms in the uplands. Because the majority of soils are strongly acidic, phosphorus is usually the most limiting nutrient, and lime application is often necessary to lower the soil's acidity and alleviate aluminum toxicity. Programs that help upland farmers reduce soil degradation should also consider how to provide supplies of phosphorus and lime at the most favorable prices and provide instruction as to their most efficient use. Nitrogen fertilizer is an important tool that can be used to familiarize lowland rice farmers with nutrient use and bolster national rice sufficiency.

In areas that use fallow rotation systems, there is hope for improved fallow management if fire can be controlled. The use of trees planted in fallow fields has been demonstrated successfully in systems without animal labor. Little research has been directed to the agronomics of trees in fallow fields. In systems that use animal labor, forage legumes have been tested as an alternative to natural Imperata cylindrica infestation, but their effects are poorly documented. Much more research will be needed to refine the agronomic practices used in managed fallows in different environments.

Other top research priorities for sloping lands involve the development of appropriate small-scale mixed farming systems, such as those that include animal, perennial, and tree production, to gradually reduce reliance on food crops. Systems research will be essential for making more rapid progress in diversifying small-scale upland farms. Many NGOs are active in promoting sustainable low-input agricultural systems in the Philippines (Garcia-Padilla, 1990) and will play an important role in adapting solutions to specific local conditions.

Integrate Livestock into Upland Farming Systems There must be greater emphasis on ruminant livestock in achieving sustainability in mixed farming systems. Most hedgerow systems supply the farm with increased quantities of legumes or grass forage. Hedgerow farming enables larger livestock populations and contributes to alleviating the deficit in ruminant meat production.

There is an opportunity for greater investment in NGO-operated programs to distribute ruminants (cattle, goats, and sheep) to small-scale upland farmers for cut-and-carry production systems. Animals would be distributed to farmers who have succeeded in installing hedgerows that contribute to conservation practices. The incentive would popularize the use of contour hedgerows and make it economically attractive to practice conservation. Farmers would receive parent animals and then retain female animal offspring, returning the parent animals so that the program rolls over and expands. International donors may also find such a program to be a sound investment, if it is well managed.

Reorient Forestry Research and Development Forestry in the Philippines will change dramatically in the next 20 years. The extraction of high-value timber from old-growth dipterocarp forests will disappear as the few remaining forests vanish or become protected. The reorientation of forestry to the development of sustainable management systems for secondary forests should begin in earnest. Interest in rehabilitating degraded forests will grow as the real value of timber rises. Tree plantations and farm forestry can then become viable income-producing activities.

Management systems in forestry must be drastically altered, but the technical knowledge base to support these changes is extremely weak. Research on both technical solutions and management systems must be accelerated to provide a sound basis for new directions. Major research efforts will be needed in the following areas: the ecology and management of dipterocarp forests for sustained production, community-oriented forest management, restoration systems for degraded secondary forests, the ecology and management of fire, the impact of policy changes on the supply of wood, and plantation and farm forestry issues. The research must be strongly oriented to the social as well as biologic sciences and requires a systems approach. The development of joint international collaboration will be important to the acceleration of forestry research.

Develop a Research Methodology It is at the interface between forestry and farming that the major future research and development challenges will be encountered (Figure 6). The forestry sector must engage in forestry for the benefit of the land and the people, and the agricultural sector must do the same, thereby creating sustainable upland farming and forestry. An understanding of the constraints and solutions is needed before upland farming populations and government can become effective partners in conserving, managing, and replanting forests while meeting basic subsistence food production needs. Teamwork is essential.

Figure 6 Evolution of a more integrated approach to sustainable land use in sloping uplands

Farming systems research evolved as a framework for a more comprehensive, multidisciplinary attack on the complex constraints in agroecosystems (Harrington et al., 1989). Ecosystem-based research should be targeted to the broader continuum that includes forest management and agriculture. Such work needs a methodology that provides foresters and agriculturalists a common framework within which to interact.

Hart and Sands (1991) have proposed a sustainable land use-systems research strategy based on a farming systems approach that may provide a starting point. It applies a farming systems perspective to the land use system, targeting the land management unit within the context of its biophysical and socioeconomic environments and emphasizes the ecosystem as the starting point of problem analysis and research design (Figure 7).

Figure 7 A research and development process that could be used by a multidisciplinary team as a guide in the development of an appropriate sustainable land use systems research framework. Source: Hart, R.D., and M.W. Sands. 1991. Sustainable land use systems research. In Sustainable Land Use Systems Research, R.D. Hart and M.W. Sands, eds. Kutztown, Pa.: Rodale Institute.

The watershed is the natural unit on which to base a systems research effort because of the interconnected nature of all land uses within a water catchment area, particularly the interplay between uplands and lowlands. The most technically and economically efficient approach would focus on site-specific conservation-oriented farming and forestry technologies. The watershed framework ensures that the social, economic, and political linkages between upstream and downstream lands are not neglected in the analyses (Magrath and Doolette, 1990).

Institutional mechanisms and project structures need to be evolved to make it feasible for the forestry and agricultural sectors to jointly participate in common research and extension work. Professionals in both sectors-long separated by administrative barriers and divergent academic traditions-need to recognize the improved research that can be the result of working together. International donors can assist in generating research opportunities; for example, the Ford Foundation has provided support to a team of foresters and agriculturalists at Central Mindanao University to develop methods of farmer participation in generating practical solutions for sustainable hillside cultivation (Pave et al., 1990).

Colleges of agriculture and forestry need to be encouraged to set up joint academic and research programs targeted to upland ecosystems. The recent initiation of the Committee on Agroforestry at the University of the Philippines, Los Banos, is a step in this direction (R. del Castillo, Agroforestry Program, University of the Philippines, Los Banos, personal communication, 1990). Mechanisms for research collaboration between professionals in DENR and the Department of Agriculture are urgently needed. These may be fostered by an expansion in scope and the participation of the Upland Working Group of DENR (Gibbs et al., 1990). Explicit linkages between the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau of DENR and the Department of Agriculture's research programs, particularly key community-based forestry and contract reforestation projects, would generate a greater focus on the constraints to using various land use systems in deforested areas. The Philippine Council for Agricultural and Resources Research and Development, which has responsibility for approving and encouraging both agriculture and forestry research, will play a central role in expanding resource management-oriented research.

The Philippines needs a more definitive network of on-farm (field) laboratories in carefully selected watersheds where multidisciplinary research and development teams can focus their efforts. These field laboratories need sustained support with a budget structure that keeps team members working together. These sites would be linked to the less intensive applied research and extension programs carried out by NGOs and government departments. Research should be particularly sensitive to the use of techniques that enhance participatory approaches to rural development, drawing strongly on the technical knowledge of indigenous people in all phases of research (S. Fujisaka, Social Science Division, International Rice Research Institute, Los Banos, Philippines, personal communication, 1989).

Support International Research The complex upland sustainability issues faced by the Philippines are common to most countries in Southeast Asia. Because the problems transcend national boundaries, stronger international mechanisms that provide efficient research and development support to the respective nations are needed. A number of institutions and networks are involved with upland resource management (Garrity and Sajise, 1991), including the Southeast Asian Universities Agroecosystems Network, the Asian Rice Farming Systems Network, the International Board for Soils Research and Management (IBSRAM) Sloping Lands Network, and the Multipurpose Tree Species (MPTS) Network.

The major challenge is to evolve new institutional arrangements that direct research toward the upland ecosystem as a totality. A focus on the Southeast Asian upland ecosystem does not fall within the mandate of any of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). But there are major CGIAR initiatives in forestry (Center for International Forestry Research) and agroforestry (the Southeast Asian regional program of the International Centre for Agroforestry Research). Nevertheless, there remains concern that such efforts may address only components of the upland ecosystem, whereas the key to eventual success lies in coping with the interrelatedness of the problems across sectors and in developing the capacity to strengthen each country's research and development institutions to conceptualize, plan, and implement interventions that are appropriate to each ecosystem. This will require a novel upland ecosystem-based approach to international research. The evolving concept of ecoregional research (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Technical Advisory Committee, 1991), under which a consortium of international centers is planning a joint long-term effort to develop alternatives to shifting (slash-and-burn) agricultural systems, represents a promising mechanism for providing this leadership.


Implement Institutional Changes DENR has recognized that its future role will be primarily in development, replacing its historical role as a regulatory agency. It acknowledges that development and management of production forests and plantation forestry are the domain of the private sector and that it should support and guide this transition (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990). Such a role will require a fundamental restructuring of DENR's administration, policy framework, and staff technical capabilities and attitudes. The recent enactment of the Local Government Code requires the transfer of many DENR functions to local government units, decentralizing resource management and giving much greater authority to local leaders.

The redirection of DENR must specifically include a systematic strengthening of forestry policy and planning capabilities, for which there is substantial support expected from international donors. Operations will need to be further decentralized, with much greater accountability and resources at the local level.

DENR has consistently claimed exclusive control over public forestlands, 55 percent of the land area of the country. However, the majority of that land is devoted to agricultural pursuits, not forestry. The development of sustainable upland agricultural systems is a task for which the Department of Agriculture has a much stronger capability. DENR should recognize the potential role of the Department of Agriculture in providing agricultural and agroforestry research and extension services. Within the past several years, the Department of Agriculture has reoriented its priorities to give much greater attention to upland agriculture. A much greater level of support for upland technology development and extension is required to widen this role.

Vigorously Implement the Master Plan for Forestry Development The Master Plan for Forestry Development (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990) marks a fundamental turning point in the philosophy and methodology of forest management in the Philippines. It provides a basis for a range of reforms and restructuring that is essential to future forest preservation and sustainable land use systems. The master plan contains unrealistically optimistic projections for trends in forest cover, but it provides a framework for the kind of comprehensive, directed effort that is necessary.

Enforce Timber Pricing Reform and Logging Ban New fees for timber cutting based on recent legislation have been increased to 25 percent of the actual market price (for example, for logs with a price of P2,000 [US$80.00] per cubic meter, the fee is P500 [US$20.00]). It remains to be seen how effective the government will be in collecting the increased fees and using them to increase forest protection and management expenditures.

A major national debate on a total logging ban occurred in 1991. DENR directives in 1991 instituted a ban in old-growth dipterocarp forests. Logging in secondary-growth forests was restricted to lands with slopes of less than 50 percent and land less than 1,000 m above sea level. Enforcement of these policies will be impossible, however, unless greater investments in enforcement procedures are made and forest occupants are directly involved in forest preservation through limited use of the forests. An integrated protected area system for the conservation of the most important natural habitats is under development. NGOs are seen to be the key to the successful implementation of this effort. They will assume responsibility for the management of national parks, wildlife refuges, and other wild lands.

Give Priority to People-Oriented Forestry Now that regulation of the forests by the national government has been acknowledged to be inadequate, forest protection through empowerment of people and their communities is officially accepted as the only workable model. Implementation of a successful community forestry program will be an immense organizational task that will require a strong commitment by the forest occupants and upland farmers. Capable NGOs will be a key to the program. If further conversion of forests to agricultural uses is blocked through effective community enforcement and shifting cultivation is to decline, there must be agricultural innovation to maintain viable farming systems on the lands surrounding the forests. The equitable capture of income from the limited harvest of forest products will be crucial to financing this transition.

The implementation of current policy will turn the primary responsibilities for forest protection, tree production, and land conservation over to upland communities, NGOs, and individuals. This grass roots approach will open a new era in the management of the uplands. However, it may not be any more effective in forest conservation than a top-down approach unless local management entities receive appropriate support to develop the complex skills needed to guide their efforts. Community-based organizations will require professional guidance to achieve even minimal management capabilities.

NGOs will be involved in implementing many of the new people-oriented forestry programs. They are working as partners with DENR in contracting reforestation and community forest management projects. Eventually, they might form local environment and natural resource centers that would assist the national government in training and on-farm research. Only a few NGOs are competent to handle community-based resource management on a large scale. A major priority of national and international support must be to strengthen NGOs.

The Timber License Agreements (TLAs), by which logging rights are allocated, need thorough reform. Long-term security is essential to engendering a sustainable management perspective among private forest managers. The national government, however, has the tendency to cancel leases on areas peremptorily, sometimes without due process. Many TLA holders continually fear the cancellation of their leases as political circumstances change, with the consequent loss of their fixed investments in processing plants, infrastructure, and forest development in their areas. Moreover, the total 50-year lease period (an initial 25 years that is renewable for another 25 years) does not provide sufficient time for responsible firms to practice sustained forest management. Dipterocarp forests require at least 30 to 40 years for each cutting cycle, and cutting cycles are often much longer. To overcome the destructive short-term perspective, longer lease periods will be necessary. However, these will be accompanied by much stricter enforcement of sustainable forestry practices, making the threat of cancellation solely contingent on quantifiable performance standards. TLAs will be given to only a few firms that demonstrate a people-oriented management focus.

Coordinate International Donor Imperatives Foreign assistance has been critical in all facets of the change toward people-oriented forestry and forest policy reform that has emerged in the Philippines in the recent past. The Ford Foundation's sustained support for research on social forestry developed the knowledge and institutional base for government to test the concept. Innovative projects supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (particularly the Rainfed Resources Development Project) and the World Bank enabled new models of upland management to be implemented on a trial basis. Because the administrative and policy environment has shifted in a favorable direction, international aid to ensure the success of new models will be even more crucial.

The overall effort needs a comprehensive blueprint for sustainable upland management. The Master Plan for Forestry Development (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990) is an important step in this direction. A coordinated donor approach to upland development could assist in rationalizing the priorities and ensuring that the effort is comprehensive and consistent. The redirection of programs within DENR and the Department of Agriculture will place tremendous pressure on their limited staffs and resources. It is essential that staff supported by international projects be equally distributed among programs managed by the departments. However, project aid should be contingent on identifiable progress made by the national government in implementing policy and institutional change over a set period of time. NGOs are envisioned to assume a vastly greater role in upland development.

Deforestation Scenarios

The Master Plan for Forestry Development (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990) is an appropriate starting point for anticipating future land use scenarios in the Philippine uplands. The plan recognizes the limitations of past forestry management and attempts to formulate a macrolevel plan to change the nature of the forestry sector. Specifically (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1990:60), the forestry sector of the country will be directed in the long run towards a condition whereby all of the forest resources will be under efficient and equitable management, conservation, and utilization, satisfying in appropriate ways and on a sustainable basis the needs of the people for forest-based commodities and services.

The master plan presents three scenarios to the year 2015 based on (1) a continuation of the status quo, (2) the implementation of a total logging ban, and (3) the implementation of the master plan. If implemented, the master plan would provide for extensive reforestation, continued logging of secondary forests on a commercial scale, and an aggressive integrated social forestry program. The estimated increase in total protection and production forests would be from 6.693 million ha in 1990 to 8.422 million ha in 2015.

Several major shortcomings of the plan have led to overly optimistic projections. The master plan states that total forest cover in 1990 was 6.694 million ha; however, the Philippine-German Forest Resources Inventory Project (Forest Management Bureau, 1988) concluded that forest cover in 1988 was only 6.461 million ha. The master plan may have started with a larger forest base than is justified.

The master plan assumed a deforestation rate of 88,000 ha/year in 1990. The Philippine-German Forest Resources Inventory Project (Forest Management Bureau, 1988) determined the deforestation rate to have been 210,300 ha/year between 1969 and 1988 and suggested a rate of about 130,000 ha/year in 1987-1988. Kummer (1990) calculated the rate to have been 157,000 ha/year from 1980 to 1987. It is likely that the current deforestation rate is significantly greater than the master plan's assumption.

The master plan indicates that reforestation increased from 40,000 ha in 1987 to 131,000 ha in 1989. Such a rapid increase appears optimistic, considering the actual maximum plantation survival rates of 50 to 70 percent. The sustainability of such rates is also uncertain. The master plan also assumes that secondary forests can be managed effectively to achieve sustained yields. Little evidence is available to support this, particularly the expectation that selectively logged forests can be returned to their full stocks in 20 to 40 years.

Overall, the master plan does not adequately address the numerous constraints that may limit its success. Given the past failure of Philippine forest management, the current political and economic uncertainties, and the sustained commitment of personnel and resources that is necessary, the master plan appears to be overly optimistic, even if one were to assume a best-case scenario.

Table 10 presents three scenarios of projected trends in the natural forest cover of the Philippines. These estimates were constructed to envelop the range of forested areas that may be expected. The baseline scenario assumes a current rate of forest loss of 125,000 ha/ year that gradually decreases to 25,000 ha/year by 2015. It assumes that it will be about a decade before there is an effective capability to enforce policies that limit either old-growth or secondary forest loss and that a moderate rate of reforestation (75,000 ha/year) will begin to significantly reduce the pressure on the natural forest after 2000.

Table 10 Scenarios of Natural Forest Cover in the Philippines, 1990-2015

The worst-case scenario assumes that the political and economic fortunes of the Philippines will deteriorate during the 1990s. Reforestation rates would decline to 25,000 ha/year (Table 11). Natural forest cover loss would continue to exceed 100,000 ha/year into the first decade of the twenty-first century because of the lack of enforcement capability and political uncertainty. The natural forest cover would be reduced to 3.32 million ha by 2015.

Table 11 Alternative Reforestation Scenarious of Natural and Plantation Forests in the Philippines, 1990-2015 (Hectares)

In the best case scenario, it is assumed that the master plan will be largely successful. Substantial annual reforestation (100,000 ha/ year) will occur, and deforestation will drop to negligible levels by 2015. The natural forest cover at that time would be 4.90 million ha This compares with the 5.40 million ha estimated to result from full implementation of the master plan (Table 12). The master plan as sumes a confluence of numerous optimistic assumptions in limiting natural forest losses, for which the cumulative probability is low However, the two scenarios provide similar estimates for the area of coverage achieved in forest plantations by the year 2015 (2.90 million versus 3.00 million ha), up from less than 0.50 million ha in 1991 The Philippines will be highly dependent on the successful expansion of plantation forestry to avoid the complete loss of natural fores cover.


The next 30 years will be a crucial period for the Philippines. Recognition is dawning that many aspects of life will be changed. The land frontier that had always existed as a safety valve for poor and dispossessed people has disappeared during the present generation. The forest resources that had seemed virtually inexhaustible were expended in a prodigal manner. Yet, the population that relies on extractable resources from the uplands is growing as rapidly as ever. The ecologic balance has been lost, and national awareness of the dire implications of this loss is only beginning to emerge. It is difficult for a country to learn how to cope with circumstances in which all of the old assumptions are overturned. Such a serious crisis, however, also offers opportunities to take bolder steps than would be politically feasible in better times. It will be a period in which the willingness to experiment with new solutions will grow.

What is the desired vision of the state of the uplands in 2015 emerging from the current national debate? It is one of a much denser upland population than was previously anticipated. However, up-landers will be involved in managing forestlands and farmlands in novel ways. Families that occupy upland farms will have a form of secure land tenure by which they can gain credit to intensify and diversify their farming systems. Perennial and tree cropping systems will be common enterprises and will be integrated with livestock and food crop production. Cropping systems will use improved cultivars along with soil fertility-enhancing fertilizer and lime amendments and will be practiced on slopes that are naturally terraced with vegetative barriers. The structural transformation of the national economy will have occurred, and the population of the rural uplands will gradually have begun to decline.

In 2015, large areas of degraded grasslands will be managed as farm forests planted by individuals and communities under secure land tenure agreements. The natural production forests will be managed by local communities-with guidance from professional foresters-by using low-disturbance logging methods with animal labor. Indigenous communities will have secure control of their ancestral lands. The preservation forests and protected areas will be managed by communities and NGOs in collaboration with the national government. Much of the Philippines' remaining biodiversity will have been lost in this period, but protection will have stabilized some of the most representative habitats.

Such a picture of the future of the uplands may be overly optimistic. It embodies landmark changes in philosophy and policy that are now accepted by the national government and some that are already part of existing programs. The critical concern, however, is whether the political will and the management capacity can be developed to thoroughly implement the changes. During the years between now and then, judicious international assistance in research, training, policy, and financing will be critical.


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Mudiayi S. Ngandu and Stephen H. Kolison, Jr.

Zaire is located directly on the equator in the central part of the African continent. It is the third largest country in Africa, with an area of 2,344,885 km², three times the size of the state of Texas. Zaire has three distinct land areas: the tropical rain forests, located in the central and northern parts of the country; the savannahs, located in the northern and southern parts of the country; and the highlands, which consist of the plateaus, rolling meadows, and mountains found along the country's eastern border, all along the Great Rift valley. The highest point in this area is 5,809 m, on Ruwenzori Peak in Kivu Province.

Zaire's rivers and lakes are probably its most important natural resources. The most prominent is the Zaire River (formerly the Congo River). It is the fifth longest river in the world and is second only to the Amazon in the volume of water it carries. The Zaire [liver flows for about 4,667 km, but together with its tributaries, navigability of up to about 11,500 km is possible. In some parts of the country, however, the Zaire River is not navigable because of falls and rapids. The country also has several deep lakes, including Lake Tanganyika in the southeast.


Forest types range from dry semideciduous to swamps. Figure 1 shows the geographic distributions of forestland areas by the four distinguishable types: (1) evergreen rain forests and swamp forests in the central basin; (2) dry and moist semideciduous forests to the north and south of the evergreen forests; (3) montane forests in the eastern uplands on the borders with Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi; and (4) woodland and wooded savannahs in the far south. The variety of forest types is due to both soil types and a variety of climatic conditions.

Figure 1


Climatic conditions vary with almost each region of the country. In the tropical rain forests, average annual rainfall reaches 220 cm, and the average daytime temperature is about 30°C. The equator runs through the center of this region, and the weather is hot and humid throughout the year. In the savannahs, the average annual rainfall is about 120-160 cm, and the average daytime temperature is 24°C. The climate of the highlands is characterized by an average daytime temperature of about 21°C and average annual rainfall of about 160-240 cm.


In 1988, Zaire had a population of about 35.4 million (Table 1) and an estimated annual population growth rate of 3 percent. The estimated population for 1991 was 39.2 million for an average population density of about 14 people per km². The population of Zaire is about 30 percent urban and 70 percent rural. Kinshasa, the capital and largest city, has a population of about 5 million. Matadi, in the Zaire delta (formerly the Congo), is the major port for exports. (For more information, see U.S. Department of State [1988].)

Society and Culture

There are about 700 local languages and dialects spoken in Zaire. Four of these-Lingala, Swahili, Tshiluba, and Kikongo-serve as official languages, in addition to French, which was introduced by the Belgians. All 700 languages belong to the Bantu group of languages. French is used in schools and in conducting official business and is used in particular by those with about 8 years or more of schooling. As regards religion, the U.S. Department of State (1988) noted that the population is about 80 percent Christian (Roman Catholics, Protestants, and indigenous Christians), and 10 percent syncretic and traditional religions.


Zaire has two recognized land tenure systems: the modern and the customary. Under the modern system, all land is owned by the government. The right to use land is therefore assigned or given by the government through the Department of Land Affairs, Environment, Nature Conservation, and Tourism (DLAENCT). In many parts of the country, however, the customary land tenure system is used. Under this system, which varies depending on the region and people, land ownership is collective-that is, land is held by groups or clans The group, through its appointee, assigns land for use to its members. Land used by a family over a long period of time is recognized by the group or clan as belonging to that family, but the family may not sell the land because, in practice, land ownership rights belong, ultimately, to the national government. (This reflects the nature of the existing power relationship between the central government and the local communities.)



In the 1980s, management of Zaire's macroeconomy was constrained by the heavy external debt-servicing burden (by 1988, as much as 60 percent of exports of goods and services and 65 percent of the operating budget). This debt arose from the country's borrowings in the late 1960s and the 1970s when Zaire's export earnings were relatively higher and expected to grow and the country benefited from favorable terms of trade. With the deterioration in export earnings in the 1980s, a rising debt burden, and the accumulated effects of past economic mismanagement, Zaire, in cooperation with its major creditors, embarked on a series of economic adjustment programs. Unfortunately, these programs were unsuccessful and have resulted in drastic declines in the standard of living, public-sector employment, wages, and salaries. (See Table 1 for selected macroeconomic performance indicators.)

The related tight budgetary measures did not produce results because they were not accompanied by the institutional reforms necessary to strengthen policy formulation and implementation. The forestry sector has been adversely affected by the ongoing economic adjustment programs, and these constraints are likely to continue. Reforms mandated by the economic adjustment programs offer an opportunity to initiate a meaningful dialogue between the Zairian government and the international aid donor community regarding long-term forestry policy issues and deforestation. In this context, debt-for-nature swaps, as proposed for the heavily indebted Latin American countries, should also be applicable to African countries like Zaire (Government of Zaire and the Canadian International Development Agency, 1990; Hines, 1988).

It is, however, a tenuous hypothesis to link deforestation with foreign exchange to service external debt. In a study by Capistrano (1990), external foreign exchange earnings and the external debt-servicing burden were identified as significant macroeconomic factors contributing to accelerated deforestation in a number of countries, including Zaire, during 1967-1989. However, 98 percent of total wood production in Zaire is for domestic consumption and only 1 percent is exported. Deforestation is more appropriately linked to in-country uses of wood. In addition, because of extensive underinvoicing at the Matadi Port and inadequate export statistics related to other leakages, the reliability of Zaire's data on export earnings from logs and other wood products may also be questionable. To date, the forestry sector has not contributed significantly to the country's export strategy or to alleviation of its external debt. These findings encourage strong support for the establishment of a reliable data base as part of any long-term investigation of reforestation in Zaire.


Zaire has 207 million of the 436 million ha of forests in central Africa or 47.56 percent of the total in the region that includes Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Zaire (see Table 2). In addition, 75 percent of Zaire's national territory is covered by forests. In 1975, Persson (as cited in World Resources Institute [1988]) and the Government of Zaire and the Canadian International Development Agency (1990) estimated that Zaire's total forest cover in 1970 amounted to about 234 million ha, including lakes and rivers (Table 3).

About 101 million ha of closed forests is situated in the central basin and Mayumbe regions (Table 4), while the montane forests occupy about 300,000 ha (Table 3). The band of montane forests spreads from the Haut Zaire Province in the northeast through the Kivu and northern Shaba provinces. The savannah-type formations are found mainly in the northern- and southernmost parts of the country (see Figure 1).


Commercial forestland is classified as that forestland capable of producing at least 20 ft³ (0.56 m³) of industrial roundwood per acre (0.4 ha) annually (Blyth et al., 1984). This means that 1 ha of forest should be capable of producing at least 1.4 m³ of industrial roundwood annually. According to the World Bank (1986), about 139 million ha of forestland in Zaire is commercially exploitable. About 89.43 percent of this estimated area consists of closed forest in the central basin (Food and Agriculture Organization and United Nations Environment Program, 1981b). Furthermore, on the basis of the World Bank report, each hectare is capable of producing 5 m³ of industrial roundwood annually; this is very different from the 1.4 m³ estimated by Blyth (1984). (The average of 5 m³/ha applies to forestland areas that have been logged several times. The figure for the first harvest is on the order of 25-35 m³/ha. The difference between these two figures is an indication of inefficiencies in logging methods [Food and Agriculture Organization and United Nations Environment Program, 1981b:562-563].)

Table 2 Areas of Natural Woody Vegetation in Zaire, 1980 (in Thousands of Hectares)

Although 89.43 percent of the commercial forestlands is situated in the central basin, it does not mean that these forest resources are accessible. In fact, some studies indicate that up to 30 percent of the entire central basin is on waterlogged or seasonally flooded soils, thus making them less attractive for commercial logging (World Resources Institute, 1988).

Table 3 Types of Forests in Zaire, 1970 (in Thousands of Hectares)

About 22 million ha of forestlands in Zaire are classified as national parks, wildlife and forest reserves, reforestation sites, and gardens. Of this, 60 percent has been allocated to wildlife, hunting, and nature reserves, while only 3 percent of the area has been set aside for forest reserves (Table 5).

Forest Management

table 4 Forest Cover in the Central Basin of Zaire

There is limited documentation on forest management in Zaire, and there is no evidence that timber is managed on a sustainable yield basis. The Zairian government indicates (World Resources Institute, 1988) that industrial wood production and forest management consist of prescribed allowable cuts combined with guidelines on harvesting practices. It seems, however, that the vast majority of timber extractors do not adhere to the cut or harvesting guidelines. There is evidence that modest reforestation efforts took place some 40 years ago but that very little took place in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s (World Resources Institute, 1988). Other forest management plans are in the form of protection and conservation of areas designated as national parks and wildlife reserves (World Resources Institute, 1988).

Table 5 Uses of Forestlands in Zaire (in Thousands of Hectares)


Industrial Roundwood Production

In 1988, about 113,000 m³ of logs worth US$15 million and 20,000 m³ of sawn wood worth US$4 million were exported from Zaire (International Society of Tropical Foresters News, 1990). It has been estimated that Zaire produces about 2.6 million m³ of industrial roundwood annually. About 81 percent is cut by small-scale operators and domestic pit-sawers. (Domestic pit-sawers are individuals who cut logs by using pits and hand-operated saws. Usually the process requires two persons, with one person in the pit holding one end of the saw and the other person standing over the log holding the other end of the saw.) The remaining 19 percent is cut by forest concessionaires (owners of companies that produce forest products on a large scale). These concessionaires control extensive tracts of forestland leased from the government. Most of this production is used to meet domestic demands, with less than 1 percent being exported (World Resources Institute, 1988). There are between 100 and 200 large- and medium-scale forestry-based companies in Zaire (Government of Zaire and the Canadian International Development Agency, 1990; World Resources Institute, 1988).

Tax Policies and Investment Procedures

There appears to be a discrepancy between the value of exported wood products and the government's estimated value on which the export tax is based. The government levies taxes on exported wood products on the basis of actual export market prices. Therefore, for the government to collect the full, prescribed amount of taxes on these products, it must be fully aware of the prevailing prices in the international markets so that it can make the necessary adjustments in the required taxes. Because the government does not keep track of price trends, however, exporters take advantage of the situation ant report prices far below actual market prices. Thus, the value of certain species, which is based theoretically on the value on international markets, is, in effect, unrelated to the tax levied. It is estimated that the true market value and corresponding government revenue are reduced by about 50 percent (Government of Zaire and the Canadian International Development Agency, 1990:42). The government of Zaire loses an estimated 50 percent of its potential forest products tax revenue.

Bureaucratic red tape, extra taxes, and uneven collection of taxes place a particularly heavy burden on domestic pit-sawers and small. scale operators. At the same time, the relatively lower extra taxes assessed to higher valued primary tree species create an incentive for large operators to engage in selective logging (World Resources Institute, 1988). Thus, not only are taxes enforced unevenly between operators of forest concessions and small operators but also selective logging by larger concessionaires removes the more valuable tree species, leaving the lesser valued species for the small-scale and individual loggers, and in the process of removal damages what trees remain.

The cumbersome investment and export procedures have had an adverse effect on potential investors. It is equally true that the absence of policy and lack of enforcement of measures that have been enacted have created an environment in which existing companies familiar with the rules of the game benefit immensely. These unsustainable forest management practices and the underlying public policies reduce the long-term contribution of the forestry industry to the national income.

Domestic Loggers

The structure of the logging industry points to the important role of small-scale logging operators and domestic pit-sawers. Of the total industrial wood production of 500,000 m³ per year in the late 1980s, domestic loggers accounted for about 70 percent of sawn wood for domestic processing and consumption. Not only have the local pit-sawers and small-scale operators successfully supplied domestic markets in many parts of the country with wood at a fraction of the cost charged by large logging companies but also their contribution to employment and income creation is significant. The estimated value of locally produced sawn wood is on the order of US$200 million, compared with an estimated US$37 million of exported forest products produced by large companies. The level of dynamism, resilience, and productivity of domestic loggers is remarkable, given the many adverse policy biases, particularly heavier export taxation than on large commercial loggers (Government of Zaire and the Canadian International Development Agency, 1990), facing local pit-sawers and small-scale logging operators.

Equally significant, however, is the impact of domestic loggers on deforestation, forestland degradation, and depletion. The depletion of the Mayumbe forests in gas-Zaire attributable to domestic loggers, the severe degradation of the montane forests in the Kivu region, and the depletion of the woodlands and wooded savannahs in the Shaba and Bandundu regions cannot be dismissed. To promote long-term and sustainable forest management practices in commercial logging, public policies need to be reoriented so that they serve traditional domestic pit-sawers and small-scale operators better than they do at present (World Resources Institute, 1988). One of the policies that needs to be reoriented is the policy on land tenure. Because local communities cannot own forestlands or have the security of long-term tenure, they have no guarantee that they will be able to reap the benefit of any time or labor they might put toward sustainable practices and, therefore, have no incentive to replant trees they cut down. This lack of security progresses to depletion of fuelwood supplies and forest destruction. To prevent this destructive sequence, the government, in association with its major aid donors, needs to enter into a dialogue with local communities to resolve these issues.


There are many causes of deforestation: the advancement of agricultural frontiers, demand for fuelwood, commercial logging, overgrazing of forested lands, and demand for land because of high population density. Another cause central to the problem is that the institutions responsible for formulating and implementing forestry policies are ineffective and inefficient in carrying out these functions. In Zaire, assessing the significance of the causes of deforestation is hampered by the lack of adequate and reliable data on such factors as estimates of forest cover, agricultural land use, and extent of forest regeneration. This is evidenced by the widely different forest area totals noted by various sources (see Tables 2-5). The lack of a national forestry policy has nurtured an environment that is not supportive of data collection. Fortunately, the seed of a policy has been planted through the remarkable efforts of a few dedicated national academics, civil servants, and a handful of foreign advisers, so that there is now a greater interest in the forestry sector than there was in previous years. However, this seed, in terms of policy formulation and implementation, has yet to take root.

Table 6 Average 5-Year Deforestation of Closed Broadleaf Forests in Zaire (in Thousands of Hectares)

Table 7 Area Logged for Industrial Hardwood, 1975-1981

The limited data available, mainly from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and United Nations Environment Program (1981a), indicate that during the period 1976-1980, the average annual deforestation rate of closed broadleaf forests was about 165,000 ha (Table 6). It is difficult to estimate the relative weights of the various factors responsible for deforestation, namely, agricultural crop conversion, perennial cash crops, small-scale farming, traditional subsistence agriculture, logging on commercial concessions, and tree-cutting for fuelwood. However, on the basis of 1976-1980 discussions with Zairian forestry experts, which were superseded by information from regional assessments, FAO projected that 180,000 ha would be deforested annually from 1981 to 1985.

Not all forestland clearing results in deforestation-some land reverts back to forests, at least temporarily. In many instances, however, degradation is irreversible, so forest regeneration is not possible. Of the 80,000-100,000 ha logged for industrial hardwood production for export and domestic consumption each year, an unknown portion is permanently deforested (World Resources Institute, 1988). Table 7 gives the amount of forestland logged for industrial wood production during 1975-1981 (Department of Land Affairs, Environment, Nature Conservation, and Tourism and International Institute for Environment and Development, World Resources Institute, 1990), when a total of 559,215 ha and an average of 80,000 ha/year were logged. This is not in agreement with FAO's estimate of 180,000 ha (Food and Agriculture Organization and United Nations Environment Program, 1981a); indeed, FAO's estimate is about 100 percent higher. Perhaps this inconsistency is an indication that there is much more logging than is reported.

Because of the abysmal record of commercial concessions regarding replanting, which has been required since 1982 but not enforced, one can infer that deforestation attributable to unsound logging practices is significant. A crude ordinal ranking based on the available data related to the major causes underlying deforestation and estimates of the area of forestland permanently removed in Zaire each year is given in Table 8 (in descending order). This ordinal ranking is based on (1) a review of the existing literature from the standpoint of the relative weights assigned to the various causes of deforestation, (2) interviews with national experts, and (3) the authors' knowledge of the country. An important realistic assumption underlying the ranking is that virtually no significant replanting has taken place. In addition, there seems to be more logging by large- and small-scale operators than official statistics indicate.

Table 8 Ordinal Ranking of Cuses of Deforestation

There is a lack of adequate time-series data on permanent forest removal for various cropland uses. However, there are other indicators of forestland degradation, impoverishment, and depletion that, if combined with the lack of reforestation, point to an unsustainable rate of forest resource exploitation. Using the conservatively estimated rate of deforestation of closed broadleaf forests-165,000-180,000 ha/year (Capistrano, 1990; Food and Agriculture Organization and United Nations Environment Program, 1981a)-it can be inferred that, on average, about 1 percent of Zaire's total forestlands may have been permanently removed each year in the past decade. These estimates are extremely conservative, especially since they apply to the deforestation of broadleaf forests and not to savannahs. Since reforestation is insignificant and many forest areas are not under government control, the rate of forest destruction in Zaire is probably much higher than these numbers suggest.

Other indirect evidence, such as the shortened fallow period in traditional subsistence agricultural systems combined with the demographic pressures on land in many areas of Zaire, supports the thesis that permanent forest removal, along with forestland degradation and depletion, has worsened in the past 10 years. The magnitude of this increase is not known with certainty, however, a 1 percent permanent deforestation rate annually is considered to be detrimental to the environment, especially without reforestation.

Advancement of Agricultural Frontiers

For Zaire, there are at least three challenges to analyzing the long-term effects of traditional farming on forest areas. First, all farming does not necessarily take place on lands classified as commercial forests. Second, not all of the forestland converted to cropland remains in crop production. Usually the land is farmed for a number of years and then abandoned; depending on the soil's capabilities, some soil types easily allow regeneration over time, others do not. Third, adequate and reliable data are not available.

Fuelwood Demand and Harvesting

Fuelwood is an important source of energy for rural and urban households in Zaire, but more than 66 percent of the population lives in parts of the country where there is an increasing imbalance between fuelwood demand and supply. World Bank projections (World Bank and United Nations Development Program, 1983) to the year 2000 point to a growing demand for fuelwood, which is reflected in ever-increasing prices for charcoal along with pervasive shortages. According to these projections, each year about 5.5 million ha of forestlands would have to be depleted to meet the increasing fuelwood requirements. Without meaningful alternatives to fuelwood as a source of energy and given the dubious success of isolated and limited experiments with fuelwood plantations and more efficient wood-burning furnaces, the demand for fuelwood harvesting is likely to continue to put pressure on forests and increase the level of their destruction.

According to the World Resources Institute (1988), annual fuelwood demand is about 25 million m³, and annual production of industrial roundwood is 2.6 million m³. This means that about 27.6 million m³ of wood would be required annually to meet the estimated demand. Assuming annual growth of 700 million m³ of wood on commercial forestlands, it can be inferred that about 4 percent of the growth of commercial forests would need to be removed annually just to meet the demands for fuelwood and industrial roundwood. On the basis of forest productivity, which is estimated to be 5 m³ ha, this level of wood consumption will require logging about 6 million ha annually.

If reforestation is carried out and/or fuelwood plantations are established at a rate at least equivalent to the rate of removal, then the present rate of removal may not present a problem in the long run. Under the present circumstances, however, this would be an optimistic scenario because it is unlikely that such measures will be adopted in the near future. The worst-case scenario, one in which the area of forestland continues declining while the demand for wood (fuelwood and industrial roundwood) accelerates, appears to be the more likely for Zaire's future; and on the basis of current information, this appears to be the case. Unless this is reversed, not only will the rate of consumption or removal exceed the rate of growth, but also the growing stock itself will be threatened.

No systematic analysis of fuelwood plantations or the related issues of local community ownership and control has been undertaken to date. Also it is unclear whether the more efficient wood-burning furnaces have been thoroughly tested in various regions of Zaire or whether their rate of adoption by farmers and private charcoal-producing businesses justifies large-scale investments.

Unregulated Commercial Logging

Each hectare of commercial forestland in Zaire is capable of producing at least 5 m³ of industrial roundwood/year according to the Government of Zaire and the Canadian International Development Agency (1990). Given this estimate, one can infer that the 139 million ha of forestlands classified as commercial produces about 700 million m³ and can be considered the total annual growth for those areas classified as commercial forestlands (Food and Agriculture Organization and United Nations Environment Program, 1981b; World Bank, 1986).

The logging industry, despite prescribed management practices and regulations enacted since 1982, has been virtually unregulated because of weak administrative capabilities of key forest management institutions. These weak capabilities concern planning, organizing, and monitoring harvesting and management methods to achieve sustained yields. This lack of performance in managing existing forest resources allocated to industrial wood production (estimated at 100,000-150,000 ha per year in the 1980s) casts serious doubt on DLAENCT's capacity to manage the 600,000 ha of forest to be used to produce a target of 6 million m³ of industrial wood by the year 2000. This production level is 12 times the present production level of about 500,000 m³ (Government of Zaire and the Canadian International Development Agency, 1990:37-42).

Large-scale operators (mostly foreign), domestic pit-sawers, and small-scale operators use many methods that lead to unsustainable logging. High-value species most in demand in export markets are logged selectively; however, there is waste and destruction of the surrounding low-value species. A few logging companies (and special interest groups) control larger areas than is allowed by law, areas that are larger than can be sustainably exploited. Logging companies often exceed annual cut ceilings specified in concession agreements and cut immature trees whose diameters are below the limit. Loggers operate without forest-use permits and harvest forestlands that are not allocated to industrial wood production. Finally, there are inadequate reforestation efforts because of the lack of policy and penalties.

Added to these unsustainable logging practices are the government's flat-tax policies based on incorrectly quoted prices for higher value species, with the effect that high-value species are taxed at the same rate as low-value ones and are selectively harvested to the destruction of surrounding species. In terms of biodiversity, this policy encourages questionable tree-grading and does not help the promotion of lesser known species. It is estimated that Zaire has about 70 species of tropical woods, but only a dozen are known and marketed.

Population Density and Forest Removal

The relationship between population density and forest resource exploitation is not well known, but it is known that there is a high correlation between the two (Government of Zaire and the Canadian International Development Agency, 1990). The most densely forested areas, such as the central basin, tend to have below-average population densities. Zaire's fast-growing population (in excess of 3 percent annually [U.S. Department of State, 1988]) is concentrated in areas with fertile land and in economic enclaves.

Figure 2

Areas of greatest population concentration and urbanization are associated with permanent forest removal, as in the Mayumbe forests (Figure 1, area 2b); with forest degradation and impoverishment, as in the northern rim along the border (Figure 1, area 2a) and in the montane forests of Kivu (area 3); and with depleted woodlands and wooded savannahs in the south, Bandundu, and southwestern, Shaba, areas of the country (Figure 1, areas 4a and 4b). These areas are highly urbanized and heavily populated. Figure 2 shows that about 70 percent of Zaire's estimated population of 35 million (1988 estimate) lives on less than 33 percent of the total land area.

The population concentration associated with large urban centers is clustered along three major areas: the west-southeast band, which extends from the lower Zaire River region (Bas-Zaire) through Kinshasa to north Shaba; the mid-southeast/northeast band, which extends from north Shaba across the Kivu region to the higher Zaire River region (Haul-Zaire); and the densely populated centers of Gemena in the Equateur region and Kisangani and Isiro in the Haut-Zaire region. This pattern of population concentration is, to some extent, related to the relatively fertile soils (derived from volcanic materials and known to support agriculture), particularly in the Kivu region, and also to the uneven pattern of economic growth, urbanization, and administration established by the colonial government. This pattern has been reinforced in the postindependence era beyond the capacities of current physical and social infrastructures, especially in the major urban centers. The forestland areas in the three major areas with the highest population concentrations are the most impoverished and depleted.

The declining income of the rural population, because of the government's inadequate pricing and market policies and general neglect of agriculture, has caused farmers to stress cultivation practices beyond their technical limits. In addition, to compensate for declining yields and low prices, farmers have had to bring more forestland into cultivation to sustain their families, thus aggravating the permanent removal of natural forests (Government of Zaire and the Canadian International Development Agency, 1990).


Responsibility for forest resources management in Zaire has shifted frequently in the past 20 years as ministries and agencies have been reshuffled, reorganized, or relabeled. One constant has been that the department responsible for forestry, DLAENCT, been the orphan child of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Extension or the Ministry of Land Affairs or the Ministry of Tourism. DLAENCT was always several steps removed from the centers of financial, personnel, and political decision making, for example, the president's office and the National Executive Council. As a subordinate entity to a larger ministry, DLAENCT always fell prey to overriding national budget priorities within the agricultural sector. In fact, although DLAENCT has been separated from the Department of Agriculture for some time, its budgetary allocation is still often combined with that of the Department of Agriculture. It amounted to about 0.4 percent of the country's total operating budget in 1985 and rose slightly to 0.5 percent in 1987 (compared with an average of 1.1 percent for agriculture during 1985-1987 [World Bank, 1986:Table A, Annex A]). Moreover, these budgetary allocations fall far short of actual spending because of unusual central financial control practices; that is, the line ministries are not allowed to spend the amounts allocated to them.

Despite these meager budgetary allocations, DLAENCT's man date has broadened over the years to include the goals of revenue generation, forest conservation and wildlife protection, and the development of local community-based forests. These objectives are in addition to the traditional goal of forest service management in spite of the fact that there is some agreement that DLAENCT sufficient!: structured or empowered to effectively formulate appropriate policies or to implement relevant strategies for dealing with sustainability and resource management issues in the forestry sector.

In Zaire, austerity measures arising from the economic adjustment programs of recent years have lead to chronic problems for DLAENCT: inadequate funding and staffing, delinking of budge allocations from the amount of revenue generated from forestry activities, and a narrow and short-term view of forest resource exploitation. All of these are incompatible with long-term and sustainable resource management. Since civil service salaries today have declined dramatically in real terms to about 20 percent of their level 10 years ago, it is not surprising that the focus of DLAENCT is on the more lucrative and most visible aspects of its management activities logging concessions and negotiations with large companies. These transactions can yield tangible individual recognition and monetary benefits to participants, often in the form of legal and illegal, but tolerated, payments.

The monetary returns on activities such as community-based forestry programs are low, however. DLAENCT lacks an active social economic, and political constituency with vested interests in DLAENCT's objectives of forest management on a sustainable yield basis. There seems to be a lack of concern about the control and ownership of forestlands by local communities and the need to train a national cadre of technocrats to design suitable corrective policies and institutions to carry out these policies.

DLAENCT also has a responsibility to serve small-scale foresters. The government should adequately concentrate on their needs by establishing community-owned and -managed forests and providing agroforestry extension advice. Therefore, an urgent need in DLAENCT is a well-trained cadre of technocrats with the ability to inventory the forest and design corrective policies. There also needs to be appropriate administrative and financial support to implement those policies.

It follows that training of skilled (secondary school education level) as well as advanced-level technicians (post-secondary school education level) is also needed, as suggested by the Department of Land Affairs, Environment, Nature Conservation, and Tourism and International Institute for Environment and Development, World Resources Institute (1990). This could be accomplished by providing basic training in Zaire and specialized graduate training overseas. This would provide support for and serve to strengthen the forestry option at the Bengemisa College of Agronomy and the regular 5-year agronomy/forestry program proposed for the University of Kinshasa and the University of Kisangani at Yangambi.

Given the autonomy of each campus within the National University of Zaire and the agricultural and forestry development challenges facing each university's surrounding community, it makes sense for each campus to have a B.S.-level agronomy/forestry program. Although traditional training in forestry has focused on providing students with forest management skills (for example, forestry management regulations and measurement techniques), what is needed is a much stronger orientation in environmental and resource management, with a specific emphasis on problem-solving abilities related to research and policy.

Given the autonomy of each campus, however, it will be difficult to use all three separate campuses in the most economic manner. One possibility is a central core curriculum at each university, with optional curricula distributed among the three campuses. Ultimately, however, it will be necessary to send graduate students overseas for specialization, for example, to study environmental sciences and sustainable agriculture practices, including those related to forestry.

There is a critical need to understand how key forest management institutions such as DLAENCT function and the institutional reforms that are required to make them function better. Given the nature of critical or sectoral linkages among forestry institutions in Zaire, the second-class stature of DLAENCT within the power structure of the government erodes its coordination capacity with other key departments that address forestry and sustainable agriculture, such as energy, transport, rural development, and agriculture.

In sectoral matters such as access to and ownership of forestland, fuelwood harvesting, soil erosion, and reduced fertility caused by shifting cultivation practices, the opinions of the DLAENCT are the informed voice in the government, and these opinions must have great weight in decision making. The prerequisite for such intersectoral linkages is that DLAENCT be given a greater role in policy formation and implementation. It must also be given greater prominence in forestry matters vis-a-vis the central decision-making departments (for example, central planning, finance, and the president's office). Cooperation and coordination between the institutions and the departments that address the forestry needs of Zaire are absolutely necessary.


Sustainable management will not be possible until the limited and unreliable data base on Zaire's forest cover, causes and extent of deforestation, and corrective measures is expanded with verifiable information.

Research Agenda

The following two-phase research agenda is proposed.


Concurrently with field trials, there should be a detailed forestry survey of the following five regions: Yuki, Kisangani, Mayumbe (the Tshela site), Yamgambi, and Kaniameshi.

· Yuki is in the Bandundu region in the heart of the central basin rain forest where ebony trees are logged for export and low-value species are used for charcoal for Kinshasa.

· Kisangani is on the fringes of the central basin rain forest just north of the equator. Logging in this area is entirely for local consumption.

· Mayumbe, in the Mayumbe forests of lower Zaire, is an area where large logging companies cut timber for export.

· Yamgambi is the region where the corridor system was tried before the independence of Zaire in 1960. Yamgambi is located about 100 km from Kisangani and is the site of the National Agronomic Research Institute.

· Kaniameshi is on the fringes of open wooded savannah forests in southern Shaba near the Zambian border.

These savannah forests are subject to shifting-cultivator's seasonal brush fires, an important land-clearing practice. There is a need to field test low-input types of farming systems to alleviate the destructive effects of shifting cultivation even in areas with relatively low population density (see Table 9).

Ongoing research on various agroforestry systems implemented in other tropical countries should be tested in Zaire at the five selected sites to determine whether these systems are suitable to specific ecosystems within Zaire. (Table 9 supplies available data from some of these five sites.) This research will require staff at all levels and must be a long-term effort that leads to lasting results on the suitability of specific agroforestry systems. It must include those subjects pertaining to forestry that environmental scientists deem necessary, as defined by FAO (1981a). The objective is to assess problems of ecosystems and devise the means to correct these problems (see Table 9). The most promising and suitable farming systems will then be replicated and strictly observed at 12 other sites representative of different forest growth systems. Again, there will be a need for trained staff.

Some of the systems that should be tested at these sites are alley cropping, improved fallow, low-input cropping, livestock pasture, forest/ farming mosaic, continuous cropping, and the corridor system. The corridor system has been practiced in Yamgambi (Jurion and Henry, 1969) and was found to be technically and economically viable, but it was terminated because it restricted the movement of a population traditionally accustomed to the nomadic life of shifting cultivation (Ruthenberg, 1971). Local culture and practices must be considered and incorporated into any research practice implemented.

Because commercial logging is done on exclusive private concessions, it will be necessary to collect data from areas proximate to commercial production areas if access to private concessions is not possible.


Large- and small-scale operators and, in particular, those who practice shifting cultivation must be made aware of the results of Phase I and all research and resources must be made available to them. Therefore, an efficient extension service with appropriately trained personnel will be required.

Human Resources Development

The pervasive shortage of well-trained staff in forestry and environmental management at all levels-technical, undergraduate, graduate, and specialized-must be rectified by extension workers, including those already employed, trained to carry out the requirements of the improved and restructured programs. There should be courses for in-house staff, training at Zaire's three universities mentioned above, and specialized training at overseas institutions.

Table 9 Proposed Agricultural and Forestry Research: Selected Commercial Logging Sites, Deforestation, and Charcoal Production

Land Tenure Policies

Community-owned and -managed forests with proper reforestation will not be possible in Zaire until the land tenure and land ownership rights of local communities are more secure. Whatever laws do exist, they appear to be applied in such a way as to favor large commercial operators. Therefore, the existing relevant laws must be modified. The new regulations must be structured to strengthen communal or local government and individual ownership rights and to ensure that enforcement of all forestry laws and regulations is uniform.

Strengthening the Forestry Department

Forestry policy formulation and the implementation of forestry projects involve the ministries of DLAENCT-agriculture, rural development, environmental-and the transportation ministry. These ministries have a significant impact on forestry management policies; therefore, coordination and consultation between these ministries on matters pertaining to forestry should be mandated in any government policy to minimize conflict. Furthermore, the budget should clearly state what funds are disbursed directly for forestry.


The government of Zaire has stated to its citizens and to international organizations that it wishes to sustain its environment. This statement should be translated into action. All funds allocated to sustaining forestry should be spent for that purpose, fair and responsible taxation policies should be augmented, and agencies that provide aid that supports sustainable agroforestry systems should commit to a long-term but strictly monitored environmental and resource management system in Zaire.

With some modifications and refinements, these suggestions will meet the objectives for formulating appropriate measures and policies to avoid the potentially disastrous effects of the destruction, depletion, and degradation of tropical forest cover in Zaire.


The authors express their gratitude to the School of Agriculture and Home Economics of Tuskegee University and the George Washington Carver Agricultural Experiment Station for the valuable support they provided. Matungulu Kande of North Carolina State University at Raleigh and of the Faculty of Agronomy, University of Kisangani, Kisangani, Zaire, deserves special credit for sharing so generously of his private data base and collections on Zaire during his May 1991 visit to Tuskegee University. Finally, the authors are much indebted to a group of dedicated support staff in the School of Agriculture and Home Economics, Tuskegee University, especially Mary Cade, Judy Kinebrew, Sibyl Caldwell, and Marva Ballard.


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