|Ecotourism and other Services Derived from Forests in the Asia- Pacific Region: Outlook to 2010. (FAO - Forestry, 1997)|
|2. SERVICES PROVIDED BY FORESTS|
The wide range in services of forests highlights the diversity of forest uses, and reinforces the idea that, for many people, forests have more than economic value. Thus, we are sometimes left with the tension between diverse forest uses, which is intertwined with priorities and the way forests are valued.
The immediate value of forests for timber continues to dominate considerations of forest management by individuals, corporate owners and even governments that represent the public trust. The reasons are many, and include tax policies, ownership of land, tenure issues, economic exigencies, greed, and corruption.
Dwivedi (1992) argues that viewing forests as a resource leads to an excessive weight being applied to economic value, and that it is crucial to now search out a new concept of forest resources. There are signs that this is occurring. It is possible to see that the concept of ownership of forests is changing, in recognition that forests are an important part of the global commons. The public consequently has an important interest in forests and their conservation, not only because of the dependence of life on forests but for other interests such as ecotourism (Woodwell 1993).
Some of the major issues related to services of forests are geopolitical. Though forests are physically located within nation states, issues surrounding their protection go well beyond borders (Maini and Ullsten 1993). This means global geopolitical relations play an important part in the policy context of forestry resource management in the Asia-Pacific region, whether through the calls for international treaties on the banning of hardwoods, green consumerism, or access to the genetic resources of forests by private companies. For Maini and Ullsten (1993), many geopolitical issues can be distilled into four contexts which set the scene for forest management and forest service maintenance:
· The industrialized countries, which are responsible for major deforestation, are advocating strong measures to conserve and protect the worlds forests. Many developing countries are rightly concerned that the industrialized countries preoccupation with tropical forest issues is inconsistent with the amount of attention being paid to global warming and forest decline in developed countries.
· Many developing countries view attempts to protect forests by locking up forest resources as an intrusion on sovereign rights.
· The capacity of developing countries to protect biodiversity is dependent on receiving additional funding and technologies from richer countries.
· Many developing countries have expressed concern at the desire of some industrialized countries to gain free access to genetic resources.
Many geopolitical issues are thus related to more general relationships between nation states. It is often suggested that the development of agricultural lands has been at the expense of forests. This process often involves privatizing communally owned forests and grasslands (Repetto 1993). Two major issues related to services of forests arise out of this. First, because the traditional land rights claims of indigenous and local communities frequently are ignored or not included, land at the frontier is often an open access resource. Because of this market failure, the private price of frontier land cannot and does not reflect the value of services performed by forests (Repetto 1993).
The second relates to the argument that one needs to clear-cut in order to open up agriculture. Because clear-cutting is associated with agriculture, and because in many countries of the Asia-Pacific there are high levels of rural poverty, it is relatively easy to suggest that poor people are the cause of some forest destruction. Just how much depends on the ways in which researchers interpret their information and the paradigms they use, the level of poverty and so on. But this approach, which has been highlighted in research in countries such as Nepal and India, often fails to look at the causes of poverty. Therefore, the emphasis on the relationship between agriculture and forest use may provide only a partial picture, and therefore a partial solution.
Social and cultural issues vary across regions and across cultures within regions. The Asia-Pacific region shares with other regions this diversity, only some of which can be addressed here:
· Issue: inter-generational responsibilities and the rights of forest dwellers, indigenous people and communities living in and around forests and who are dependent on them. There are a number of specific components under this issue, including relocation and resettlement of populations, perceptions by the state (that are reflected in policies) that local or indigenous people are backward because of their beliefs and/or level of socio-economic development, and the uses of indigenous knowledge and issues associated with the transfer of intellectual property rights.
· Issue: the impact of forest destruction on norms and values of indigenous and local cultures as well as the impact of cultural change on forest use by these people. In many cultures within the Asia-Pacific, shrines and initiation rite ceremonies, taboos and other cultural values have developed to protect trees, shrubs and the sacred places themselves. Whilst this protective function has religious or spiritual significance, it also acts as an important mechanism for the reinforcement of local cultural values and, often, as a mechanism for conflict resolution. The destruction of forests, the relocation and resettlement of forest dependent communities and broader processes of social change serve to undermine these value systems and their broader community function.