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close this bookObstacles to Tree Planting in Arid and Semi-Arid lands: Comparative Case Studies from India and Kenya (UNU, 1982, 63 p.)
close this folder4. India and Kenya: Comparisons and contrasts
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentEnvironmental and technical factors
View the documentInstitutional factors
View the documentSocial and economic factors


Environmental and technical factors
Institutional factors
Social and economic factors


Over a period of some 14 years (1951-1964) the UNESCO programme of arid zone research provided a large body of information on the environment, resources, and plant and animal physiology of the zone. Expanding world populations have placed increasing demands on the resources of the zone and caused loss of productivity and spreading desertification. The severity of the problem (among others) was recognized at the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Environment (Stockholm) by the recommendation for the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, Nairobi), and this agency itself organized the 1977 United Nations Conference on Desertification (Nairobi).

Throughout these international activities and in many individual national development programmes there has been increasing realization of the part played by trees in the prevention of desertification, the restoration of degraded areas, the provision of goods and services, the amelioration of climate and soil, and the general improvement of the quality of life for the inhabitants of the arid zone and their domestic animals. Revolutions, whether green, political, or electromechanical are useless without soil to grow food crops and fuel to cook them, and trees have an important place in the provision of these two major requirements.

Environmental and technical factors

Within the ASAL as defined in this report there are large differences in climatic and edaphic factors, but, common to both India and Kenya, these are not the factors limiting tree planting. Drought-hardy and salt-tolerant species exist that can be planted profitably and yield a range of end products; however, for both countries there is an urgent need for detailed research on the variation in populations within species, and they should both participate to the fullest extent possible in the international, co-operative project for the exploration, conservation, evaluation, and utilization of arid zone trees (organized by FAO). In view of their potentially fast growth rate and early sexual maturity, consideration should be given now to planning tree-improvement programmes with selected species.

Methods are known for raising many species in the nursery and establishing them in the field, but this information is far better known in India than in Kenya. The costs of raising plantations vary within each country and are not well known in Kenya, but even in India there is need for continual research into methods of reducing costs and continual monitoring to ensure they remain low.

Thus basically environmental and technical constraints can be overcome with existing knowledge; the major limits to tree planting in the ASAL are social, economic, and institutional constraints.

Institutional factors

Both India and Kenya have large areas of arid and semi-arid land with different population totals and densities but appreciable demands for multiple wood products including food, fodder, fuel, and fencing. Within the ASAL of both countries there are considerable variations in social structures and customs, land tenure and land use, and the two countries differ in land-use policy, in percentage of total area covered by Forest Acts and in Forest Department field staff organization.

Both India and Kenya are favoured countries for inter" national and bilateral assistance programmes, but this in itself acts as a constraint on some developments because each of the assistance agencies requires the time of the limited numbers of appropriate local staff for the preparation and operation of projects. In Kenya ten agencies are operating or planning projects for the ASAL. Partly to mitigate the problem of limited staff resources and to avoid excessive duplication, Kenya did prepare a policy document on ASAL development. Kenya hosts the headquarters of relevant international agencies including ICRAF and UNEP, but it has no appropriate research institute. India, on the other hand, has both national and international institutes conducting research that is relevant to arid zone development, including CAZRI, FRI, ICRISAT, and CSWCRTI (Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute, Dehra Dun). Some duplication occurs in their work, and there does not appear to be full discussion and co-ordination of their activities but, more important, there is delay in transferring research results to field practice. For both countries the knowledge already available is not widely distributed, and for Kenya in particular there is a lack of awareness of relevant information from other countries with similar problems.

This lack of awareness should be mitigated by the recent introduction of Arid Lands Abstracts by the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux (Farnham Royal, England); but these are not issued free, and commonly a Forest Department or Agricultural Department orders only one copy which then remains in headquarters and does not circulate to the field staff.

The UN University may be able to improve the situation by making copies of its own publications available free to field workers. Further there is a need for annotated bibliographies and reviews of arid zone development. These could include, for the forestry and tree components, general bibliographies (e.g., Taylor and Taylor 1978/1980) or specific information on: (a) species and provenances; these could be covered either by monographs (see Kazmi 1979 for a brief review of Cordeauxia edulis which is drought resistant and provides fodder, food, and fuel, yet is threatened with genetic erosion in its native Somalia) or manuals (see Webb et al. 1980 for a guide to selecting species for plantation in a wide range of site conditions; this includes a computerized multiple-entry information sys. tem) or compilations of available information about a range of potential species such as the EMASAR volumes on forage plants (Kernick 1978); (b) seed handling, nursery, and plantation techniques (e.g., Ghosh 19771; (c) yields of products (e.g., methods of predicting fuelwood yield -see Kalla 1977); or (d) specialized uses (e.g., shelterbelts -see Costin 1976). it would be of great benefit in both countries to appoint an officer to collect, collate, and distribute all relevant information.

While India has more trained forestry staff and a more complex hierarchy of national, state, and departmental administrations, it has a higher proportion of its professionals working in the field (as opposed to Forest Department headquarters). However, like Kenya its staff lack appropriate training in rural afforestation and extension methods. Although currently Kenya lacks proper facilities for professional training, it is hoped that the Department of Forestry in the University of Nairobi will be built up over the next few years to supply national manpower requirements. Attention to curriculum structure is required in order to broaden the education to include arid zone forestry and rural development in general. Both India and Kenya would benefit from short courses in extension, research, and planning methods in forestry, and the UNU could materially support the more widespread availability of such sources.

Social and economic factors

Given appropriately trained and motivated staff and optimum species and management methods, the remaining constraints to successful tree planting are common to both countries. They concern mainly land ownership and use patterns and type of economy.

With tree crops there is an appreciable delay between time of planting (which is itself an expensive operation) and time of harvesting (in which the yield usually has a low value per unit of volume). For communities and individuals on a subsistence level or on a non-monetarized economy it is difficult to find the resources to establish tree crops, and Government support is initially required. Further, in view of the long rotation of trees, throughout which protection against fire and animals is required, security of tenure of land is essential. It thus becomes imperative to develop community awareness of the benefits of trees so that communally owned land may be set aside for managed tree crops.

It is characteristic of the ASAL in most countries that, as we proceed from more to less arid zones, land tenure and use change from communal land with nomadism to individual tenure with sedentary agriculture. The actions needed to encourage tree planting vary similarly from the village community plantation on communal land to the individual farmer's planting of single trees or rows on his land boundary. Different credit and technical facilities are needed, and these are well demonstrated in Gujarat in India. Further, the Gujarat experience also demonstrates the need to use the "package" approach to wood growth and use with the introduction of trees, management, and efficient woodburning facilities (see also Draper 1977). Above all it illustrates the importance of involving the people in forestry activity through demonstration of the technical feasibility. Where business acumen exists the financial feasibility is readily appreciated.

However, there is no easy solution for those areas in which nomadic pastoralism occurs. No individuals and few communities would consider planting a long-term crop on land for which they feel no immediate responsibility and to which they may not return for long periods. They do not appreciate the service values of trees in soil and water protection, and Yet their excessive herds cause damage that trees could help to repair. An integrated approach to land use and development is needed in such areas with estimates of the carrying capacity of land and education in the concepts of limiting herd size.

Sedenterization is not necessarily the optimum policy, and systems may need to be developed to permit combinations of different life-styles (see, e.g., Maydell 1979), but, where it is desirable, trees can play an important part in developing a monetarized economy and in contributing to marketing and transport infrastructures, as well as in fulfilling protective functions.

Recognizing these various factors India has for many years attempted to develop rural community forestry, with more success in some areas and states than others. The successful programmes can act as an excellent guide to similar development in Kenya where, to date, plantation forestry has been concentrated almost exclusively on the high potential sites outsides the arid and semi-arid lands.