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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 pages)
close this folder2. India
View the documentForestry policy, strategy, and organization
View the documentSelection of the study area
View the documentResources and needs for forest products and services
View the documentOvercoming the major obstacles to tree planting
View the documentThe Gujarat community forestry project

Forestry policy, strategy, and organization

The first Indian Forestry Act was passed in 1865 to control indisciminate felling and initiate the preparation of working plans that would regulate yield. The first statement of National Forest Policy in 1894 emphasized the need to demarcate, reserve, and conserve forests. While this was excellent from the point of view of genetic resource conservation and wildlife, soil, and water protection, it did not rationalize or maximize yields of forest products nor did it endear forestry officials to local populations, because forest officers carried out a policing function. Even today it is not uncommon to hear foresters talk of forests "burdened with rights" implying that, in their opinion, non-foresters should be excluded from the forests. Yet, even under the 1894 policy, which later served as a model for other countries of the British Commonwealth, if a demand for agricultural land arises that can be met only from a forest, it should be conceded without hesitation (subject to certain reasonable conditions); further, forests that yield only inferior timber, fuelwood, or fodder, or that are used for grazing, should be managed mainly in the interest of the local population.

The policy was revised in 1952 and re-emphasized the protective function of forests; it suggested that one-third of the national surface area should be retained under forest cover (without showing the basis for this suggestion). However, the full importance of improving the productivity of the forests was not recognized until 1972 when the National Commission on Agriculture published its interim report on "Production Forestry-Manmade Forests" (NCA, 1976a). Prior to that time India had been slow to adopt new methods of forest planning, management, extraction, and research that were being rapidly developed and widely used elsewhere. However, acceptance of the need for change was accelerated by the creation of State Forestry Corporations, operating commercially and separately from the State Forest Department, beginning in 1974 (IBRD 1978a). A revision of the forest policy has been prepared, but recent political problems and changes of government have prevented its discussion by Government so that it has not been published yet.

Whereas the main plantations in India comprise indigenous species, especially teak (Tectona grandis) and other broad leaved species, approximately 10 per cent are of fast-growing exotic species, such as pines and eucalypts, intended for industrial and commercial uses. However, a significant contributor to total plantation area, and the most rapidly increasing in proportion, is farm forestry/fuelwood plantations. Until 1979 approximately 316,000 ha of the latter were established out of a total of 3.6 million hectares of manmade forests. (See table 1 and Sagreiya 1967.)

Social or community forestry (including village, school, and farm activities in the broad categories of farm forestry and extension forestry) began in 1973 as a result of the NCA's Interim Report on Social Forestry (NCA 1976b) with its suggestion that Rs 770 million (approximately US$100 million) should be allocated for these activities during the period of the Fifth Plan (1974-1979). Until 1978 less than half had actually been allocated. (See table 2 and IBRD 1978b and 1979a-e.) In addition to social forestry activities, increasing attention is being paid to environmental forestry, which includes afforestation of catchment areas, reclamation of ravines and other erodible areas and degraded forest, preservation of protection forests, and creation of wilderness areas and nature reserves.

The overall national strategy for forest development reflects two priorities: first to develop production forestry programmes to supply the growing needs of the domestic wood products industry (particularly for pulp and paper) and second, through community forestry programmes to supply fuelwood, fodder, small timber, and minor forest products to rural populations. The National Commission on Agriculture recommended that each state reorganize its Forest Department into two separate wings, one to remain responsible for traditional forest production and wildlife, while a new wing would deal with community forestry. Gujarat, which, with Rajasthan, lies almost entirely in the arid zone, was one of the first (with Uttar Pradesh) to create a Community Forestry Wing.

Selection of the study area

There can be no precise delimitation of the arid zone because of the paucity of meteorological data, the annual variablility of climatic factors, and the range of methods for calculating climatic indices; many of these were referred to in ICRISAT (1978), in chapters by Gupta and Prakash, Ramaswamy, and Meher-Homji in Gupta and Prakash (1975), and in chapters by Krishnan and Meher-Homji in ICAR (1977). For practical purposes India is zoned into eight agro-ecological regions (Murty and Pandey 1978; Krishna Murty 1979) of which the arid western plains (region 6) include Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Haryana. These lie to the east of the core-in Pakistan-of the arid zone in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. An outline of the geology, soils, hydrology, climate, and vegetation of this south-west Asian arid zone was given by Kaui and Thalen (1979). Detailed studies of some 20 different environmental and biological features of the most arid portion in India, the Thar Desert, were described by 17 contributors and compiled by Gupta and Prakash (1975). See also CAZRI (1964, 1974, 1977), FRI (1963), and Indian Ministry of Education (1964).

TABLE 1. India: Physical Achievements in Establishing Forests (thousands of hectares)

period (i)
for industrial
and com-
mercial uses (ii)
forest (iii)
plantations (iv)
of fast-
species (v)
Total (vi) iv as
of vi (vii)
First to
post annual
594.5 477.6 72.8 255.6 1,400.5 5.2
291.2 127.3 63.0 232.8 714.3 8.8
760.0 200.0 180.0 350.0 1,490.0b 12.1
Totala 1,645.7 804.9 315.8 838.4 3,604.8b 8.8

Source: Ministry of Agriculture and IBRD 11978).

a. Estimates only: actual establishment will not be known until the end of the Fifth Plan period.

b. Some 186,200 ha of plantations established by the State Forestry Corporations must be added to these figures to arrive at total estimated physical achievements by the end of the Fifth Plan (i.e.., some 3,791,000 ha).

TABLE 2. India: Estimated Financial Commitment to Social Forestry in the Fifth Plan (in millions of rupees)


Suggested allocation
in NCA Report on Social Forestry

Actual allocation total

Percentage of suggested
  Centre State Total    
1. Farrn forestry 20 - 20 155.8 780
2. Extension forestry
(a) Mixed forestry 100 - 100 66.6 67
(b) Shelterbelts 75 75 1501    
(c) Road/rail sides and canal banks - 100 100 100.0 40
3. Reforestation of degraded forest 150 150 300 50.6 17
4. Recreation forestry - 100 100      
Grand total 345 425 700a 373.0 48

Source: Ministry of Agriculture and IBRO (1978)

a. Includes expenditure for setting up the extension organization but not the funds required for research or the preliminary survey needed for selecting suitable districts and areas within districts. If research and survey were included total could amount to Rs 800 million.

For the purpose of this study attention was concentrated on the semi-desert of Gujarat rather than the drier areas of Rajasthan, not because the slightly better conditions of Guiarat are more conducive to tree growth but because an active, successful programme of tree planting is in progress and has demonstrated methods of overcoming constraints. However, contrasts with Rajasthan are drawn where possible and, later in this report, with Kenya where no comparable social forestry activities exist.

Resources and needs for forest products and services

India has a total population of 550 million persons, of whom approximately 80 per cent live in rural areas. Of the total area of 327 million hectares some 75 million hectares (23 per cent) support forest. Gujarat has a population of 32 million (1978), increasing by 2.6 per cent per year, of which 72 per cent live in rural areas in 18,300 villages with an average population size of 1,050 persons. These villages are organized into 19 districts and 186 talukas (subdistricts), with administrative councils (panchayats) having been elected in 1,200 villages.

The area of the state is 19.6 million hectares, only 10 per cent of which is forested. The most important blocks of forest are confined to hill areas along the eastern border and in south-west Saurashtra.

Virtually all forest areas within Gujarat are owned by the state and managed by the Forest Department. Of the 2 million hectares of forest, 62 per cent are reserved, 6 per cent protected, and 32 per cent unclassified. (Reserved forests typically include protected and commercial forests in which existing rights are either settled, transferred, or commuted; other forests are declared "protected," and the rights over them, which are often extensive, are recorded and regulated.) The Government of Guiarat also purchased large areas of degraded private land and is conducting research into its rehabilitation. There are also nearly 300,000 hectares of ravine lands for rehabilitation.

For ail India the total volumes of wood recorded as produced during the period 1974-1977 averaged 9.8 million m3 per year of industrial roundwood and 16.7 million m3 per year of fuelwood. For Gujarat, in the same period, the state forests produced an average of 150,000 m3 of timber, 300,000 metric tons of fuelwood (225,000 m3 assuming a density of 750 kg/m3, IBRD 1979b, 1979c), 73,000 metric tons of bamboo, and 22,000 metric tons of fodder grass.

Of the total national energy consumption in 1975 (235 million metric tons coal equivalent), 125 million metric tons were obtained from wood, dung, and agricultural waste, with 70 million metric tons derived from wood.

Fuelwood accounted for 90 per cent of all wood used in 1975. According to Singh (1978) 16.25 million ha of fuelwood plantations would be required to replace all dung burnt (see fig. 3.), and farm forestry could be a significant contributor particularly if charcoal manufacture and use can be encouraged (fig. 4). The development of improved charcoal kilns and efficient cooking stoves would of course contribute to ameliorating the problems of fuel supply.

For fuelwood the NCA (1976b) assumed that the current annual per capita requirement of 0.22 m3 would drop to 0.18 m3 by the year 2000 because of the use of alternative fuels. The projected increases in population (to 1,059 million) would require an increase of fuelwood from 184 million m3 in 1980 (recorded and unrecorded) to 225 million m3 in 2000. Correspondingly in Gujarat the fuelwood equivalent (which includes 0.02 m3 per person per year each for cow dung and charcoal) required by the projected 54 million persons will be 11.9 million m3, slightly more than double the 1972 demand (IBRD 1979a). To meet this demand for recorded fuelwood alone it will be necessary to establish some 1.5 million hectares of plantations in the period 1980-2000 (75,000 hectares annually, assuming a mean annual increment of 8 m3 /ha).

Many national and state figures include a large but probably not precisely estimated proportion of forest products obtained free or at nominal rates through rights and privileges (nistar). In 1972/73 these composed 3.4 per cent of the total forest revenue in Gujarat but 27 per cent in Rajasthan. In addition illegal removals ("external sources") are considerable and increasing, adding to the problem of deforestation with its consequent soil erosion and spreading desertification. In addition to major and minor forest products that support a large number of industries in Gularat, the forests provide benefits to scheduled castes, marginal farmers, and landless labourers (fruit, flowers, grazing, honey, Poles, bamboo, etc., as well as paid employment). In 1976/77, primary forest production generated 7 million work-days of employment (IBRD 1979b).

If the increasing demands for fuelwood and other products are not met by plantations, the forest resource will decline, and the use of animal and agricultural wastes will increase with concomitant decline of soil fertility and structure. The present limited and unequally distributed natural resources cannot continue to support population needs, and rehabilitation and improved management of the forest will be inadequate unless coupled with plantations on currently unused land. However, the establishment of plantations is not the sole solution for meeting fuelwood needs. Fuelwood supplies may be increased by better management of the natural vegetation, and the quantities required may be reduced by using more efficient stoves and crematoria. It should also be noted that the use of crop residues and animal dung for fuel cannot always be avoided; the decline in soil fertility commonly ascribed to burning such residues relates only to the proportion of them that would actually be otherwise used as a soil conditioner.

Overcoming the major obstacles to tree planting

To plant any crop anywhere successfully, four sets of criteria have to be met. First the natural environment must be suitable for crop growth. The availability of water, temperature, and soil type are crucial variables. Second, the economic environment must be conducive in terms of providing resources for meeting the expenses of planting, culturing, harvesting, and marketing the crop. The availability of land, labour, and capital must be considered, as well as the condition of transport facilities and markets. Third, the social environment must be favourable, which includes examining how the distribution of resource ownership, production relationships, and the ultimate distribution of benefits from the crop influence incentives for growing and distributing the crop. People have to perceive real benefits for planting and caring for the crop. Finally, technical expertise must be available in terms of the technical operations themselves and their management at the scale required. Depending on the crop, whether an indigenous or an exotic species, technical assistance is found not only from outside specialists but from the local people themselves.

The objectives of planting must be clearly understood. In the ASAL these may include environmentally focused goals, such as soil stabilization and shelter, or economically oriented objectives, such as increasing productivity in major and minor forest industries and improving rural incomes and welfare. A comprehensive and integrative approach to ASAL forestry preferably should have a combination of ecological, economic, and social objectives, and it should aim at the most equitable distribution of benefits among regions and among the various sectors of the population.

Environmental Constraints

Within the arid and semi-arid lands the two major environmental constraints to tree planting are of course rainfall and temperature (both means and extremes). The broad rainfall pattern for India is illustrated in figure 1, and detailed data for selected stations are shown in table 3. Absolute extreme temperatures are 1°-45°C, and extreme droughts may occur every four to five years. The rainy season is short, but rainfall may be intense, leading to heavy surface run-off and soil loss.

Since it is not yet feasible to control rainfall or temperature on a regional basis by artificial means, successful land management and crop growth requires the use of soil and water management techniques that make more water available to the crop, particularly in its initial establishment phase. These can take the form of irrigation, reduction of weed competition, addition of organic materials, water conservation methods (such as construction of terraces, ridges, mounds, basins, and trenches!, and soil working (to improve aeration, water-holding capacity, and temperature relations, while reducing run-off and evaporation).

Although in North Africa some direct sowing is practiced (either by human hand or goat excretion} and in Gujarat Acacia nilotica and Prosopis juliflora are occasionally established by direct sowing, most tree crops are established in the ASAL by planting seedlings raised in nursery containers or beds. Even when the nursery stock have been hardened-off by reduction of water in the nursery, the trees face a period of severe stress immediately after planting in the field. It is thus essential to work the soil to give the necessary depth of good filth (with good aeration, granulation, and crumb structure for growth), to hold a large proportion of the total precipitation in the root zone and to remove competing, transpiring vegetation. (It is possible, of course, to irrigate seedlings at planting until the rainy season is well established, but at the end of the dry season scarce water is rarely made available for trees particularly where annual crops, animals, and humans themselves need the water. Where water is available, irrigated plantations may be economic-see below.) In India, these problems are well known, and both mechanized and manual plantation techniques are available. They are described for a range of soils and rainfall classes in the arid and semi-arid zone by Seth (1977). Examples of tree planting pits from Gujarat are illustrated in figure 5 (village plantation) and figure 6 (Forest Department plantation).

TABLE 3. India: Monthly Rainfall and Temperature Data for Three Selected Stations


Jodhpur (Rajasthan) 169 m.a.s.l.

Jaipur (Rajasthan) 436 m.a.s.l.

Bhuj (Gujarat) 105 m.a.s.l..

Rainfall (mm) Temperature (°C) Rainfall (mm) Temperature (°C) Rainfall (mm) Temperature (°C)
Mean Mean maximum Mean minimum Mean Mean maximum Mean minimum Mean Mean maximum Mean minimum
January 4 16.9 24.6 9.2 11 15.6 22.9 8.2 2 18.8 26.3 11.3
February 6 19.2 270 11.4 8 17.7 25.0 10.3 4 21.2 28.7 13.6
March 3 24.4 32.5 16.4 9 23.1 31.3 14.9 3 25.9 33.8 17.9
April 3 29.5 37.4 21.6 4 28.6 36.8 20.4 2 29.8 37 7 31.8
May 10 33.6 40.8 26.3 15 32.9 40.9 24.9 7 31.9 38.1 25.4
June 36 33.9 39.8 27.9 57 33.2 39.5 26.9 35 31.4 36.3 26.5
July 101 31.4 36.1 26.8 197 30.1 34.6 25.7 161 29.2 32.7 25.6
August 123 29.1 33.2 25.0 205 28.6 32.7 24.4 74 28.0 31.3 24.7
September 61 29.2 34.6 23.8 82 28.3 33.9 22.7 46 28.5 32.2 24.8
October 8 26.9 35.3 18.6 12 26.2 34.5 17.9 8 28.5 35.6 21 4
November 3 22.1 30.9 13.0 4 20.9 29.7 12.1 2 24.4 32.1 16.7
December 3 18.2 26.1 10.3 8 16.7 24.7 8.7 2 20.1 27.7 12.4
Total 361       612       346      

Soils are varied within the ASAL of India (Seth 1977). The most difficult to manage are the saline and alkaline soils that develop under low rainfall and high temperature with infrequent water percolation and leaching, thus accumulating carbonates, bicarbonates, sulphates, and chlorides of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Irrigation tends to concentrate them in the surface layers, but this can occur naturally also with extreme evaporation (fig. 6). Saline soils occupy over two million hectares in Gujarat, particularly in Kutch, and 700,000 hectares in Rajasthan. The chemical toxicity of these soils (fig. 6) and the physically limited air and water supply and cracking surface of the more clayey soils (fig. 7) can be improved to enable support of some agricultural and tree crops by improved drainage (embankments, deep ripping, and underground drains}, lowering the water table (through tube wells and adding gypsum, sulphur, or pyrites to the soil), and incorporating organic matter.

These areas, which are extensive and treeless, clearly need afforestation to meet local demands for fuel, small timber, and fodder, but the excessive salt content frequently prevents any plant growth, and to date no cheap method of leaching out the salts has been evolved. If a method could be developed within the existing water and social resources, large areas could be transformed into highly productive land for both agriculture and forestry. In total some seven million hectares exist in 14 states of India.

The topic of choice of species is considered below, but it is of interest here to note the need for testing alkaline- and salinetolerant species for planting. In Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh Prosopis chilensis establishes itself on saline patches, and in Gujarat Prosopis juliflora has been planted since 1951 (Patel 1972); the legume Sesbania aculeata can improve such soils if ploughed in as a green manure.

Another major, difficult soil type is the wind-blown mineral sand of the Thar Desert of Rajasthan (some 128,000 km2), which may also be saline, and the coastal dry sands in Gujarat. These should not be worked since this reduces the already limited structure, and considerable effort and expense is involved in stabilizing these sands as a first step toward production. Techniques available include levelling of hummocks and dune crests and provision of mulch, vegetation barriers, and artificial barriers to halt progress of the sand while direct-seeded grasses become established. These approaches are described by Kaul and Chand (1977) and by Verma (1975) together with techniques and species suitable for other soil types in the Thar Desert.

Although a wide variety of practices is evolving for improving the productivity of the dry lands by afforestation, establishment and improvement of pastures, shelterbelts, and general sand stabilization, considerable biotic agencies reduce their effectiveness, including a wide range of insects and rodents. Techniques for biological control, fumigation, trapping, and poisoning are described by Prakash (1980).

The gnat type of problem site for which afforestation is desirable within the ASAL of India is ravine land. Gullies and ravines have been formed and are eating back into fertile tablelands in some three million hectares throughout India, particularly in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, by uncontrolled removal of natural vegetation, poor cultivation, unrestricted grazing, and neglect of soil and water conservation practices.

Depending on soil depth, moisture availability, nutrient status, and the presence of iron-pans, techniques and some species for the reclamation of these lands are known (see Ghosh 1977). Obstacles to tree planting are social, economic, and administrative rather than technical or environmental. Rehabilitation of such lands must be approached on a catchment basis, and many areas are being treated by Forest Departments and by the Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute with support from various assistance agencies. (Probably the most significant contribution to reducing further degradation would be adequate fencing and prevention of grazing. Where this has been feasible rapid invasion occurs by grasses and woody species, including the naturally common Acacia nilotica

Technical Obstacles

Establishment Techniques

As shown in the previous section, field techniques have been developed to facilitate the survival and growth of trees under a range of adverse environmental conditions of temperature, water availability, and soil type. These were well described by Ghosh (1977) and Seth 11977), particularly in regard to soil working and water conservation, and seed handling and nursery techniques were suggested by Ghosh (1977) for a large number of species. However, in many locations these techniques are not being employed, and this failure is attributed more to economic and social factors than to technical obstacles and is discussed in a later section.

This does not imply that improvement and local refinement of the establishment techniques should not be pursued. Indeed, for every major afforestation site type in the ASAL of India, there are four technical areas in which further work is required to maximize tree survival and growth and to calculate the economic feasibility of tree planting. These include (a) correct choice of species and provenance, (b) development of adequate protection methods, (c) determination of optimum size of nursery plants for field establishment, and (d) determination of methods of management and yields of products especially in mixed crops.

Species and Provenance

For any plantation programme the importance of correct seed source cannot be overemphasized. Within the northern tropical thorn forests the natural vegetation resulting from the local previous and prevailing climate is composed of scattered, slow-growing, thorny members of the Mimoseae family of which Prosopis cineraria (syn. P. spicigera) is most common. Acacia species (especially A. nilotica and A. senegal) are widespread, and Capparis decidua is often conspicuous. Anogeissus latifolia, Azadirachta indica, Erythrina suberosa, and Zizyphus species also occur in the dry scrub forests. As conditions become arid the numbers of local species and their growth rates decline.

While many of these indigenous species can be planted, they may not survive in adequate numbers nor grow sufficiently fast to be economic. Then exotic species introduced from other areas, countries, or continents may be more useful. Some of these may occupy a large natural geographic range within which varying environmental conditions have operated different selection pressures and caused the formation of genetically distinct populations (seed origins or natural provenances). Further, some may have been planted artificially elsewhere outside their natural range and become subject to a different set of natural and artificial selection pressures within the new exotic environment; seed collected in turn from such exotic plantations could also be genetically different (derived provenance: see Jones and Burley 1973).

It is thus desirable for any new plantation scheme and site type to compare the survival, growth, yield, and managerial characteristics of as wide a range of species and populations as possible. A systematic methodology for this research was described by Burley and Wood (1976).

Large numbers of species have been introduced into the ASAL throughout the world, often in a haphazard, uncoordinated manner so that strict comparisons are difficult. Simple lists or detailed descriptions of species can be found in Adams et al. 1978; Burkart 1976; Burley 1978; Delwaulle 1979 a-d; FAO 1976; Ghosh 1977; Goor and Barney 1968; Kaul 1970; Leakey and Last 1980; Maydell 1978a; NAS 1975, 1979, 1980; Radwanski 1977; Webb et al. 1980; and Wood 1980.

Within India the bulk of research for arid zone afforestation was conducted at the Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, between 1958 and 1970. Some 112 provenances of 43 species of Eucalyptus, 64 provenances of Acacia, and 82 other species from 44 genera from more or less isoclimatic regions around the world were established in arboreta at Jodhpur and Pali (Kaul and Chand 1977; CAZRI 1976). E. camaldulensis and A. tortilis were outstanding, and a provenance trial of the former was established in 1966. Provenance trials of Zizyphus and Prosopis juliflora were begun in 1976 and various small trials of indigenous and exotic species have been initiated since then to examine suitability for fuel, fodder, and shelter (table 4). Other species have been reported as potentially useful for afforestation of sand dunes (Kaul 1980), ravine lands (B. Singh 1972; B. Singh et al.1972), shallow soils (R.P. Singh 1972), and dry zones generally (eucalypts only, Sahni and Bahadur 1972). However, the species and sources tested to date do not exhaust the list of populations worthy of trial, nor do the results apply to all site types and management systems in the ASAL although the variation in ecological amplitude for several Indian species is recognized (Gupta 1978).

Significant gains in survival and yield can be expected to follow from expansion of research and extension efforts (see below). However, one of the major problems in conducting species and provenance research is the supply of seed of known source for testing. For a wide-ranging species it is difficult for any one agency to collect seeds from all possible seed sources, particularly if the species occurs in several foreign countries or remote areas. It is even more difficult and wasteful of effort for several agencies interested in a particular species to mount their own individual collecting expeditions. It is therefore desirable for a single agency to arrange the collection on behalf of all likely users. Since 1970, several bilateral assistance agencies (often with moral or financial support from FAO through its panel of experts on forest gene resources) have already taken this initiative with species of wide potential for industrial plantations in the tropics, including Central American pines and some hardwoods (CFI, Oxford, and INIF, Mexico), South-East Asian pines and some hardwoods (FAO, Danish Tree Seed Centre), and eucalypts (CSI RO, Australia, and CTFT, France). It was only recently, however, at the fourth meeting of the FAO Panel (FAO, 1977) that attention was given to the exploration, collection, evaluation, conservation, and utilization of nonindustrial species, particularly species with potential for multiple uses in arid areas. The FAO list is shown in table 5. Under a new initiative of FAO and the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, a project is proposed for the systematic and internationally coordinated testing of priority species for the arid zone, including Prosopis species and Acacia nilotica, A. senegal, and A. tortilis, which are indigenous to India, plus nine exotic species, and three consultants have already visited eight countries with interest in arid zone afforestation (FAO/IBPGR 1980). Seeds of this group of species will be collected by agencies within countries where they are indigenous and made available to others, rather than by a central agency in a developed country collecting all sources for all users.

TABLE 4. India: Priority Species for Conservation and Provenance Testing




Fuel Folder Share, shelter Timber, poles Tannin Gum Oil seed Coppice Soil improver Saline soils Drought tolerant Priority
Pods Foliage
Indigenous species
Acacia nilotica (L.) Willd. ex Del. ssp. indica Brenan X X X   X X X     X   X 1
A. senegal (L.) Willd. X X X       X           1
Prosopis cineraria (L.) Druce X X X           X X   X 1
Albizia lebbek ( L.) Benth. X     X X       X X   X 2
Pongamia pinnate Pierre X     X         X       2
Azadirachta indica A. Juss. X   X X X     X     X X 2
Exotic species or provenances                          
i. Immediately available:                          
Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh, X     X X       X     X 1
E. microtheca F. Muell. X     X X       X       1
Acacia aneura F. Muell. X   X           X X   X 1
ii. Seed to be collected and distributed                          
Acacia tortilis (Forssk.) Haynea X X X       X   X X   X 1
A. senegal (L.) Willd.b X X X     X X     X   X 1
A. albida Del. X X X X X         X     1
A. nilotica (L.) Willd. ex Del.b X X X   X X X     X   X 1
Prosopis juliflora (Swartz) DC X X   X     X   X X   X 2
P. tamarugo F. Phillipi X X X X         X X X X 1
Prospopis alba Gris                         2
P. chilensis (Molina) Stunz

not known

P. nigra (Gris) Hieronymus                         2
P. cineraria (L.) Druceb X X X           X X   X 1
Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) De Wit. X   X   X   X X X       1
Gleditsia triacanthos L. X   X         X X       3
Bursera penicillata Engl, X     X                 3
Conocarpus lancifolius Engl. X   X X                 3
Terminalia browned Fresen.                         3
Eucalyptus terminalis F. Muell. X     X X     X         2
E. tessellaris F. Muell. X     X X     X         2
E. melanophloia F. Muell. X     X X     X         2

TABLE 5. FAO Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources: List of Candidate Species for Non-industrial Uses

Acacia albida Fd Fu F F  
*A. aneura Fd Fu Sh SS
A saligna Fu Sh SS  
A. Iigulata Fu Sh SS  
*A. nilotica Fd Fu FF  
A. peuce Fu Sh SS  
A. sa/icina Fu Sh SS  
*A. senegal Fu FF    
A. tortilis Fu F F    
Argania sideroxylon Fd Fu SS  
Azadirachta indica Fu Sh F F  
Calligonum spp. SS      
Casuarina decaisneana Fu Sh SS  
Ceratonia siliqua Fd Fu    
Eucalyptus astringens Fu Sh SS  
E. brockwayi Fu Sh SS  
E. camaldulensis Fu Sh    
E. gomphocephala Fu Sh SS  
E. intertexta Fu Sh SS  
E. lleucoxylon Fu Sh    
E. loxophleba Fu Sh SS  
*E. microtheca Fu Sh SS  
E. occidentalis Fu Sh SS  
E. ochrophloia Fu Sh SS  
E. salmonophloia Fu Sh SS  
E. salubris Sh SS    
E. sargentli Fu Sh SS  
E. sideroxylon Fu Sh    
E. tereticornis Fu Sh    
*Gleditsia triacanthos Fd Fu Sh SS
Leucasna leucocephala Fd Fu FF SS (for wetter areas)
Prosopis spicigera Fd Fu Sh SS
Prosopis Spp.a Fd Fu Sh SS
Tamarix aphylla Fu Sh SS  
Ziryphus spp. Fd Fu SS  

Emphasis was given to arid zones since this is where environmental amelioration or abuse is likely to have the greatest effect.

*Species marked with an asterisk were selected as priority species for the improvement of agricultural environments and rural living.

Fo= Food
Fd = Fodder
Fu = Fuelwood
Sh 5 Shelterbelt
SS = Soil stabilization
FF = Farm forestry

a. Nomenclature of the American species needs clarification.

It is not yet clear whether co-ordination within India for this project will rest with FRI, Dehra Dun, or CAZRI, Jodhpur; both institutes can claim some experience, either in seed import and genetic conservation (FRI) or arid zone trials (CAZRI). It will probably be absorbed into the FRI based National Bureau of Forest Genetic Resources. What is important, however, is that the seed-lots when accumulated will be used for well-designed, managed, -assessed, and -recorded experiments on a wide range of site types throughout the zone, with the field trials made accessible and the computed results made available to all potential users. Table 6 shows the species, seed sources, and test sites in India for the FAO/IBPGR project. In the case of social forestry programmes for fuel and fodder within the ASAL, normal plantation yields may be expected to begin within four to five years, and results from research trials could be meaningful from three years after planting. This type of trial will apply equally to the ASAL of Kenya, but for all field trials there remains the problem of design and assess ment for areas in which agricultural crops are to be combined with the tree crop. A formidable range of combinations of tree species, crop species, intimacy of mixture, and spacing exists, and the problem of determining land equivalent ratios for such agro-forestry systems has not yet been resolved. Systematic programmes of agro-forestry research have been initiated at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria, and the Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigación y Ensefianza (CATIE), Turrialba, Costa Rica, and several possible experimental designs have been proposed (Burley 1979).

The most promising species for India and the uses and priorities assigned to them by F R I and CAZ R I are tabulated in table 4. Indigenous and, where possible, exotic sources of these species should be examined in the main planting areas. The 11 priority species within the FAOIIBPGR project are listed in table 6, together with the number of seed sources and locations of test sites. The importance of these trials cannot be over-stressed, and, although financing for the first year of the international project has been approved by IBPGR, there is no guarantee of continued financing. India should therefore take the appropriate action to ensure the continuation and expansion of this vital work.

Seed Supply and Tree Breeding

TABLE 6. India: Sources and Test Sites for FAO/IBPGR Project (FAO/IBPGR 1980)


Test Sites


Gujarat (Kutch) Haryana (Saraswati) Punjab (Ludhiana) Maharashtra Total sites
Pali Jodhpur Bikaner Jaisalmer
Eucalyptus camaldulensis 3 Australia X X     X X X X 6
E. microtheca 3 Australia X X     X X X X 6
Acacia aneura 3 Australia X X X   X X X   6
A. tortilis (3 sub-species) 1 local (exotic), 4 Yemen, 3 Sudan, any other available   X X   X X X   5
A. senegal 5 India, Yemen, all available African   X X X X X X   6
A. albida any available X   X   X X X X 6
A. nilotica (all forms) 16 India, 6 Sudan, 1 Yemen plus all others available X X     X X X   5
Prosopis chilensis All available incl. Sudan cultivar X X     X X X X 6
P. tamarugo All available X X X   X X X X 7
P. cineraria 4 India, 2 Yemen   X X   X X X X 6
Leucaena leucocephala Any dry zone (provenances or cultivars) X X     X X X X 6

Note: Should additional seed of the above species become available, it could be tested in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

A constraint to planting of the optimum seed source may follow the trials, namely the lack of bulk seed supplies for large-scale planting. Where centralized agencies have undertaken collection of small amounts of seed for trials of industrial species, they have often made efforts also to collect larger supplies of seed for industrial plantation or gene conservation stands.

This may not be feasible for the arid zone project currently being prepared. However, many of the species of interest do seed profusely at an early age so that local supplies should be available, subject to the genetic restriction of collecting from too few parent trees in the small plots of experiments. The majority of countries in the arid zone do not have adequate numbers of trained staff for normal forest management and rarely for research (see below), yet the potential for genetic improvement of arid species is great after the initial choice of optimum provenance because of their variability, early sexual maturity, possibility of vegetative propagation, and potential for multiple uses. It is highly desirable that selective breeding programmes be established for the major species either centrally in India (e.g., at the FRI, Dehra Dun), by each State Forest Department, or internationally. Some basic research will be necessary to determine floral biology, techniques for pollen and seed handling and vegetative propagation for each species, and the development of selection criteria for multiple trait breeding.

Economic, Social, and Institutional Problems

The socio-economic, political, and cultural context of the ASAL constitutes the framework in which forestry programmes are to be carried out. To some extent, this context can be a greater obstacle to tree planting than environmental and technical constraints. A knowledge of this context is crucial if potential obstacles are to be avoided (see studies by Beteille 1965, 1969, 1974; Bose and Jodha 1965; Breman 1974; Chauhan 1967; Dasgupta 1977; Dube 1955, 1977; Griffin 1979; Jodha 1980; Lewis 1965; Mandelbaum 1970; Mathur 1977; Narain, Pande, and Sharma 1976; Pearse 1980; Purohit and Kalla 1978; Shah 1974; Singh and Joshi 1979; Srinivas 1963, 1975, 1977; and the various Village Survey Monographs from the 1960 census for descriptive and theoretical information on the ASAL or on rural Indian society in general).

Cultural/ Perceptions

Some observers have suggested that the concept of wood products as free goods inhibits investment of personal land, labour, or capital in tree planting. According to this view, the problem is that people who have been accustomed to an abundant supply of wood available at no cost other than the labour of gathering it have difficulties, at least initially, in accepting that the concept of scarcity, which they apply to water and arable land, now applies to wood. This, together with their lack of knowledge of and experience in growing and managing tree crops, is said to create a major constraint in afforesting the ASAL. Considering that in India, ". . . a large but not precisely estimated proportion of forest products are obtained free or at nominal rates through rights and privileges" (NCA 1976a), this argument deserves careful attention.

Overall, the validity of the above suggestion is dubious. There are several reasons. One of the most compelling has to do with how the concept of scarcity is to be understood at the local level. An understanding of scarcity is manifested in behaviour and social actions; people are responding continually to the decline of forest stock and individual trees. Evidence of scarcity is present in a number of actions: requirements of more time and labour to procure sufficient wood supplies; the necessity of using less desirable types of wood or substitutes; dietary changes as food requiring less cooking fuel are eaten with greater frequency or as the number of cooked meals are reduced; and the abandonment of land eroded from the removal of its vegetation cover. Decreasing wood supplies can affect other cultural practices. In the village of Magdalla, Gujarat, the 1960 census of India found that the custom of cremating the dead was being replaced by burial because of the "high cost and scarcity of wood." Thus, whether or not villagers subjectively recognize wood as being scarce, their actions demonstrate an acute awareness of its decline.

Another objection to the above suggestion is that it underestimates the technical knowledge that local people commonly hold. As Srinivas (1977, p. 336) has pointed out, a scarcity of resources characterizes life for most of India's rural population; therefore people must utilize any resource they have to its fullest extent. Trees serve many purposes for rural dwellers, including being a source of fuel, fodder, food, medicine, timber, and raw materials for implements and crafts. For example, Srinivas (1977, p. 337) has observed:

Every part of the ubiquitous babu/ (Acacia arabica), including the two inch thorns, are put to use. Its twigs are used for hedging, its leaves and pods are eaten by the ominivorous goat, its wood is used as timber and fuel, short lengths of babul/ twigs are used as toothbrushes, its thorns as pins, and its fragrant flowers to adorn women's hair and to make garlands.

Sometimes particular trees are preferred for certain uses. The 1960 Indian Census Village Survey Monographs, for example, show that the babul was preferred for use in the lacquer crafts industry of Bhirandiara, Gujarat. In many Rajasthan villages, the kheira {Prosopis spicigera) was consumed mainly for fuel, although it was used in some areas for timber and agricultural implements. Several different trees may be used for the same purpose, with a clearly established hierarchy of preference. To some extent, the scarcity of trees in general may not be as important or crucial to the local people as the scarcity of particular species.

The recognition of trees as valued resources is often ex" plicit. Srinivas (1975, p. 135) states that in one community:

The planting of trees at suitable places on one's land was not only welcome from the point of view of agriculture and domestic economy, it was regarded as an altruistic act especially if it was planted where neighbors and passersby could take advantage of its shade.

In the same community cutting down a tree was considered "unethical . . . particularly so if the tree was a yielding one." The economic value of trees is often calculated separately during land transactions. Certain species have special cultural values attached to them, such as being considered sacred or being used only for ceremonial purposes.

In Sarawa, Rajasthan, the peepul and kher trees are used only for ceremonial fires, and their cutting is prohibited, according to a 1960 Village SuNey Monograph. In exploit ing trees, techniques such as coppicing or depending only on twigs and branches for fuelwood are practices used by villagers for consemation purposes. When a tree is cut down villagers generally attempt to use every part of it: " . . . every part was put to use in the house or farm, or in both places. Even the meanest twig was used as fuel after the sheep and goats had stripped it of leaves" (Srinivas 1975, p. 135).

A final consideration on the issue of scarcity is that of seasonality. In many places scarcity of wood tends to be seasonal in character, with wood becoming scarce during peak periods of agricultural activities, when there is no available time to gather wood, or during rainy periods. Prior to such times households often attempt to store wood against later shortages.

To conclude, villagers often recognize various economic and domestic values of trees, and they sometimes convey upon them cultural and symbolic values. Studies world-wide (e.g., Eckholm 1975; Wood et al. 1980) have shown that people generally are cognizant of having to spend more time, having to use other than preferred species, and other changes arising from a decline in the availability of trees. Thus, it is difficult to generalize that the inability to perceive wood as a scarce resource is a major obstacle to afforestation. Villagers often perceive scarcity of wood in several different ways. Furthermore, attitudes toward wood and trees are complex, and in some cases villager attitudes could be said to be conducive to afforestation.

This is not to say that cultural practices and attitudes are always conducive to afforestation. Some cultural adaptations that are rational from the perspective of the local people may be irrational from the forester's viewpoint, as this observation by Srinivas (1977, p. 337) suggests.

The popularity of the goat is measure of the shortage of fodder. Its omnivorousness enables its survival even in our overstocked countryside, and its survival makes arboriculture extremely difficult, if not impossible.

As will be discussed below, market opportunities, demographic pressures, and other factors can lead people to exceed environmental limits without taking remedial actions. Another consideration is that while people may perceive forestry needs as important, they have other priorities, such as obtaining food, shelter, or education, that are felt to be more urgent. The forester, villager, and bureaucrat do not always agree on the priorities in development efforts. However, the point to be emphasized is that a major constraint in any afforestation programme is the failure to take into account indigenous uses and technical knowledge of trees, as well as recognition of cultural attitudes toward trees.

Social and Economic Structure

Awareness of wood as an increasingly scarce resource, however manifested, does not necessarily lead to remedial actions, whether by individuals or groups. Attempts by outside forces, such as forestry officials, to organize projects sometimes fall far short of anticipated goals. Even the highly regarded social forestry scheme in Gujarat has encountered many problems, and its success in some areas may not be as great as earlier reports indicated. In order to clarify and to understand many of the obstacles faced by afforestation efforts, it is necessary to delve into the social and economic context of the project.

Competing Uses of Land and Other Resources

The feasibility of afforestation must be considered within the context of existing land use and resource allocation patterns. Trees compete to some extent with other uses of land, water, labour, and capital. Thus, a knowledge of resource use patterns is imperative if potential obstacles are to be identified and remedied. Furthermore, such knowledge should be viewed within the total context of demographic, market, geographical, and other forces that influence resource use. This section first considers some of the broad forces that have influenced resource use in one particular arid region of India, then it examines the competing uses of resources at the local level.

A succinct and penetrating analysis of changing patterns of resource use in Rajasthan's arid zone is provided by Jodha (1980). An examination of the Rajasthan case is important for two reasons. The first is that Rajasthan holds nearly 63 per cent of India's tropical arid land. The second reason is that afforestation programmes in Rajasthan have met with only limited success, while the problems of deforestation and desertification have continued.

Jodha points out that under the area's traditional resource use system most land was used for grazing. The system also involved mixed farming, with the relative importance of the crop and I livestock components varying according to rainfall zones. In drier areas livestock accounted for the larger share of household total asset value and gross income. Pockets of sustained farming existed where rainfall was more substantial. Jodha (1980, p. 1351) suggests that farming and livestock raising were complementary activities. Practices such as seasonal migration of livestock, crop rotation, and long fallow periods protected against resource over exploitation. At the base of this system was subsistence: the self-provisioning of household needs.

This traditional system of resource use has changed pro" foundry during the past 30 years. Improved means of transport and communications, as well as growing urban demand, have increased the opportunity to market arid area products, particularly livestock products and pulses (Jodha 1980, p. 1352). Increased subsistence requirements, owing in part to population growth, have further intensified farming and livestock production. The importance of drought as a leveller of human and livestock pressure on the land has been reduced by improved relief and resource transfers during crisis periods.

Another factor intensifying land use within Rajasthan's arid zone has been land reform. An important ecological consequence of the reform has been the distribution and subsequent bringing into production of submarginal lands, which are suitable primarily for limited grazing. Further ecological consequences derived from reforms in tenancy and other exploitative arrangements. The abolition of high rents, landlord-imposed animal grazing fines and taxes, periodic gifts of livestock to landlords, and similar exploitative practices has lowered the costs of both farming and grazing land use. While these production costs were being reduced, the prices of wool, milk, and other farm produce increased.

As a response to these markets and demographic and political forces, changes occurred in resource use patterns. Jodha states that many traditionally pastoral people now are farming in addition to their livestock activities, while traditional agriculturalists are adopting dairying and sheep raising as subsidiary occupations. The desire to expand economic activities has not been accompanied by simultanous improvement of the resource base. Besides the movement of agriculture into ecologically marginal areas and overgrazing, especially around watering places, traditional conservation practices such as periodic resting of the land are being discontinued. The consequences of these changes are a deterioration of the resource base and an accentuation of desert-like conditions.

This thumbnail sketch of changing resource patterns suggests that recent commercial, demographic, and political demands have altered the relationship of farming and livestock production to land, water, capital, labour, and thus trees. Strong material incentives now exist for consuming resources in pursuit of farming and livestock production without accompanying measures to protect the resource base. The nature of this "economic development" is not peculiar to Rajasthan but has occurred to some extent in all world regions (see Eckholm 1976). Two important implications arise for tree-planting programmes. First, any attempt at afforestation not only must compete for scarce resources but must increasingly do so within the context of expanding commercial agriculture and livestock production systems whose dynamism depends on the consumption of these resources. Second, the quality of available resources appears to be deteriorating under current use patterns, making even more necessary, yet perhaps more difficult, attempts at afforestation.

Moving to a consideration of resource competition at the local level, the number of complexities increases. For the most part, tree planting probably will take place on land that is usually perceived and treated as "barren" or "wasteland" and is thus economically marginal aside from limited grazing use. The planting of trees alongside canals, railroads, and roads has been very important in demonstrating the feasibility of tree planting. However, some tree planting, particularly by large landowners in Gujarat who have found commercial forestry profitable, has involved the conversion of irrigated plantations of rice, wheat, and other food and industrial crops into eucalyptus stands. While many, and often most, of these crops were not bound for the local internal market, this change in land use suggests some competition between demand for food or an industrial crop such as cotton and commercial wood products. The impact on available food supply and prices should be considered prior to any conversion.

Besides private and government lands, tree-planting efforts are being undertaken on community lands, usually the main resource for grazing and wood products for the poor and landless. Noronha (1980) states that three factors must be taken into account if afforestation projects on communally held lands are to succeed. First, there has to be sufficient land for agriculture within the community. Second, the commons must be large enough so that villagers do not perceive forestry as infringing upon their other uses of the land, such as grazing. Finally, the afforested area ought to be large enough to meet community fuelwood and other wood needs, if only once out of every five years.

According to Noronha, these conditions are seldom met in Gularat and probably elsewhere in the ASAL. Relatively few villages have sufficient land even to meet the seemingly small amount of land that the government asks to be set aside for tree planting If our to six hectares). The common lands often are very small, and, with a large number of people possessing use rights to such a limited area, conflicts arise ( Lewis 1965, p. 94). There is some reluctance on the government's part in some cases to convert the common lands into woodlots because it intends to allocate these lands to the landless and scheduled castes under the "land reform" programme (Noronha 1980). Moreover, the local elective administrative councils, the panchayats, sometimes are reluctant to use the land for forestry because it may compromise potential future uses. That is, not only current use pressures but anticipated future demand creates a general sense of uncertainty concerning land use at the community level.

A common conflict over use of community or private lands is between grazing and tree planting. Livestock, through browsing and trampling, can destroy seedlings and young trees. However, stock raising is an important element in the ASAL economy. Planting trees can mean closing land to grazing for at least a year, which can impose hardships on rural families. A related problem is providing adequate protection for newly planted trees. Importing fencing materials can be costly, a burden for limited-capital households orpanchayats. Local shrubs, trees, and other vegetation often provide hedges and fencing materials. Planting of these living fences or sources of material would have to occur prior to the tree planting itself. Some observers suggest that attention should be given to improving the quality of livestock, so that productivity can be increased while overall numbers are reduced. Such a programme could prove very beneficial, but it is not an easy solution. Problems would include ensuring an equitable distribution of improved stock and preventing overstocking.

The competition between grazing and forestry can be reduced by the planting of quick-growing grasses in afforested areas. In Gujarat, after protection from livestock for a year, land that had been almost barren now produces grass that is used for fodder or harvested by hand (Eckholm 1979, p. 54). The combination of trees and grasses allows villagers to receive economic benefits from formerly marginal lands as well as a quicker return on their investment.

Competition for labour can be a constraining factor for afforestation projects. Periods of peak labour demand in agriculture and tree crops may coincide, with the latter suffering. Moreover, landless and poor rural workers often are obliged to work for their patrons, reducing the amount of locally available labour. In Gujarat labour in forestry programmes has to be supplied by tribal migrant labourers (Noronha 1980, pp. 15-16). The conversion of a cotton plantation into a commercial tree farm by a large landowner was said to create a bigger and more continual (that is, with the work spread out instead of peaking seasonally) labour demand (Eckholm 1979, p. 53), but the long-term effects of such conversions by large farmers remain to be seen.

Problems deriving from the demand for capital in tree planting are discussed in the next section. However, attention will be given here to problems faced by panchayats. Many of the local administrative councils operate at a low financial level. This capital constraint means that priority expenses must be decided upon, and community forestry generally is placed behind other development needs such as agriculture, water, roads, schools, and sanitary facilities. However, the lack of funds itself does not appear to be the most important constraint on social forestry (see Noronha 1980; this is discussed further in the next section); but it does create a need for government subsidies and aid such as providing free seedlings and technical advice. In Gujarat, the Forestry Department sometimes pays for the labourers who care for the trees.

To conclude, afforestation schemes face competition for land, labour, water, and other resources, but these obstacles can be overcome with careful planning and an awareness of both regional and local patterns of resource use. To some extent, tree-planting projects can be made to complement grazing and other land use. Government support for afforestation is essential, and government ambivalence, as in the case of wanting to keep community lands for the purpose of land redistribution, can obstruct tree-planting efforts. Finally, greater attention has to be given to the problem of land shortages at the community level.

The Significance of Caste and Class

Social and economic inequalities are basic aspects of life in rural India. A fundamental element in social and economic organization is the caste system, which traditionally determined occupations, diets, and capacity to act with members of other castes. The caste system has undergone some modification within recent years, and the system was never as rigid or static as it has sometimes been portrayed, but it continues to be significant in social life. Divisions in status and life-style between castes can be quite sharp. Some observers have suggested that caste divisions are somewhat offset by the arrangement of intercaste service and commodity exchanges, the jalmani system, which binds upper and lower castes and is said to make them mutually interdependent. Other observers have been more impressed by the apparent exploitativeness of some of these traditional arrangements.

There are several implications for tree-planting projects arising from the caste system. Perhaps one of the most significant is that a relatively large proportion of India's ASAL population belongs to traditionally disadvantaged groups. Scheduled tribes tend to inhabit more hilly and forested regions. In Gularat, scheduled tribes comprise about 14 per cent of the population, and scheduled castes account for nearly 7 per cent of the state population. These groups still face social discrimination, and they remain among the poorest and least-educated sectors of the population. These groups often provide the migrant wage labour used in tree-planting projects when local labour is unavail able.

Wood-related tasks, such as collecting firewood or making wooden farm implements, are sometimes the responsibility of a particular caste or castes within a village's jajmani system. A study of the jajmani system in a western Rajasthan village found that the Suthars, ranked as an upper caste, were responsible for making and repairing wooden agricultural implements, bullock carts, wooden frameworks for building houses and sheds, wooden household articles, and wooden articles required in socio-religious ceremonies (Bose and Jodha 1965, p. 107). The Bhambis, a lower caste, collected fuelwood and carried wood to the funeral ground for use in the funeral pyre (Bose and Jodha 1965, p. 109). The Suthars served all castes, and their patrons were responsible for supplying the wood. The Bhambis served all castes except those lower in the local caste hierarchy.

The jajmani system is changing throughout rural India, with traditional exchanges of services and goods being replaced by cash transactions. In many areas the number of house holds participating in the system has declined. Sometimes services given by a particular caste are withdrawn. The aforementioned study in western Rajasthan noted that the Suthars no longer would convert logs into fuelwood for use in socio-religious ceremonies (Bose and Jodha 1965, p. 124).

The amount of social distance and socio-economic interaction among castes varies regionally and among communities. In part this is because the number, importance, privileges, and obligations of each caste tend to differ from place to place. Another variable is the interrelationship between caste and economic stratification. Caste and class should not be viewed as two exclusive or even distinctive concepts, since the two often overlap and are related. Many times a village's dominant caste (or castes) holds power not only by virtue of its position within the traditional social hierarchy but also because of its control over strategic resources such as land and water. Differences in wealth also exist between members of the same caste.

Economic inequalities are an important source of division within Indian communities. Gradations of wealth are present even in the poorest communities. Beteille (1974, pp.68-69) points out that minor differences in properly and income may result in sharply differentiated life-styles in terms of housing, dress, education, manner of speech, and political power. Economic inequalities in rural areas are usually based upon, and measurable by, differential access to land, with the quality of land and access to water important variables. The type and number of livestock is another source and indicator of wealth differences. Holding lucrative sources of non-farm income, such as from money lending, trade, or steady salaried employment, is another source of economic differences (see Castro, Hakansson, and Brokensha 1981).

Wealthier households and groups by definition have greater command over resources: capital, land, equipment, and labour (including the ability to hire it or command it through patron-client relationships), and generally better access to public services (agricultural extension, education). This conveys upon them the ability to risk longer term investments, such as tree crops. This is not to say that they are any more "innovative" than other, less wealthy households. Financial ability to innovate and a willingness to do so should not be confused. Rather, wealthier community members, who have more resources to invest and greater reserves to fall back on than their poorer neighbours, can more easily afford to tie up their capital in long-range but potentially profitable ventures such as tree crops that will be ready for harvesting after several years.

Some private investment by wealthy individuals in tree planting has occurred. In Gujarat some wealthier landowners, having recognized the growing demand for wood products, have converted their irrigated plantations of cotton, rice, wheat, and sugar-cane into eucalyptus stands that are coppiced at four to five years and from which all products can be sold profitably. An analysis of one particular enterprise near Ahmadabad recorded internal financial rates of return of 213 per cent for each coppice crop excluding the value of the hectares of land or 61 per cent including land (Gupta 1979). Given this high rate of return, it is no surprise that some entrepreneurs have decided to invest in tree crops instead of annual crops. Approximately 300 landowners have begun growing hybrid eucalypts. Although they cannot all expect the same high rate of return, they will contribute significantly to Gujarat's wood needs and to the rehabilitation of cultivable wastelands in the state (which cover over 550,000 ha).

The apparent success of some entrepreneurs in tree farming suggests that forestry with a high level of fixed investment per unit of land may prove more economical than forestry with lesser investments. That is, capital-intensive forestry may be more productive economically than less intensive capital use. However, there are several consequences and limitations to such an approach. The strongest reason for not relying on a capital-intensive strategy is that it effectively bars participation by the poor and landless, except as employees or clients of the wealthy landowners. Besides the fact that many inhabitants of the ASAL are landless or land poor, a chronic shortage of capital, a lack of reserves to depend on in case of adverse conditions, and the necessity of waiting a relatively long time before any returns on investments are received places poorer households at a severe disadvantage. Programmes such as social forestry based on community or public lands, government subsidies, free seedlings, abundant technical advice, and a cropping system that yields benefits early in the rotation can reduce these handicaps.

There are other problems with the strategy of afforestation based on capital-intensive forestry by wealthy landowners. in the absence of any effective participation by less wealthy community members, and if tree planting continues to be highly profitable, a process of income and land concentration could occur. Besides the financial gain available from the tree crops, the ability to improve formerly economically marginal lands through afforestation may increase land values, creating incentives for entrepreneurs to accumulate land. Unable to compete with the large landowners' greater access to capital and inputs such as irrigation, smaller and poorer landowners may decide to sell out their holdings. While such a scenario may appear gloomy, or slightly far-fetched, the history of "development," whether in arid rural India or elsewhere, is sometimes characterized by the accumulation of wealth by a few and the dispossession of the poor (for example, see Pearse 1980; Griffin 1979). Given the nature of existing socioeconomic and political inequalities in the countryside, the capitalization of forestry, like the capitalization of agriculture, could have the unintended consequence of concentrating land and wealth.

Economic and political inequalities can also pose problems for community-based or social forestry strategies. Officially, a democratic political structure exists at the local level. Administrative power is held by elective corporate councils, the panchayat, at the village, taluka (sub-district], and district levels, Scheduled castes and tribes, as well as women, are represented. Panchayats undertake and control many activities in the areas of agriculture, education, and health that relate to rural development, including regulation of community lands. Although designed to carry the benefits of development to ali villages and their members equally, in some cases an inequitable distribution of funds and other benefits flow to those individuals, families, castes, or factions that dominate the community. Instead of narrowing the gulf between groups, the implementation of policies may occur in such a way as to accentuate them.

Quite simply, a policy that assumes a community of interests may fail because no such community exists. Social relations in rural Indian communities have sometimes been said to be based on feelings of village solidarity, but such an image is often at odds with social reality. The coming together of divergent castes and groups may be limited to socio-religious occasions or ceremonies such as weddings or temple festivals, with each caste performing traditionally defined roles. Furthermore, as Noronha (1980, p. 11) states, "There is no tradition of growing trees that falls within the rubric of traditional common action." Even the right to use common lands may be a source of conflict instead of cohesion: "One might expect the common to be a source of village unity, but here the rights of so many people in so little land have led to bitter quarrels which have been a source of dissension" (Lewis 1965, p. 94).

In conclusion, despite economic, political, and social reforms, inequalities of social ranking and economic position have not been easily erased. While disadvantaged groups have gained some political leverage, the actual structure of power within communities generally continues to reflect the distribution of property and privilege Thus, special consideration must be given to the effects of socio-economic stratification on afforestation programmes and how these programmes will affect different socioeconomic groups. Finally, the importance of wood-related tasks within the local jajmani system should be ascertained.

Forestry Institutions and Training

Most of the states in the ASAL of India have a professional forest service responsible for ail forestry operations, conservation, and wildlife management. Some states have a separate Forest Development Corporation responsible largely for plantations and forest production. Numbers of staff are rarely limited; indeed in many cases the multilayered bureaucratic hierarchy is itself a constraint to action. The professional staff are trained at the Forest Research Institute and Colleges, Dehra Dun, in a long tradition of conservative forest management. The demarcation and conservation of gazetted forest reserves and the exclusion of the public from them have historically been among the most important tasks of the forest officer, often leading to friction between the Forest Department and the public. Nevertheless, there is often a lack of Government commitment to rural development in arid areas and to afforestation in particular.

Only relatively recently has training emphasized multiple use and intensive management of forests, particularly plantation techniques, and to date there is no formal training in extension work and the place of forestry in rural development. Yet, in the ASAL, if the increasing demands for forest products are to be met, more staff will be needed with training appropriate for extension service to communities as well as for the rehabilitation and intensive management of degraded lands and relic forests.

In response to demands for extension training in Guiarat alone, where some 40 district extension officers are required, the Commonwealth Forestry Institute, Oxford, has proposed a one-month training course to be repeated four times each for ten students (outlined in Appendix 1). If this proves successful it may form the basis of a package that could be offered to other states and countries in the ASAL. ICRAF is also discussing with ICAR the possibility of holding joint agro-forestry courses in India..

Since the demand for land for planting trees in the ASAL has to be integrated with the demands for agricultural crop production, there is great incentive for developing management systems that combine both types of crop on the same unit of land, either in an intimate mixture or in sequence. These types of system, known collectively as agro-forestry or agrisilviculture, are currently under intensive study in high potential areas but are equally relevant in some arid areas; again the concepts are not detailed in the current courses at Dehra Dun. Dr. Huxley is preparing a 35-hour teaching package {outlined in Appendix 11) aimed initially at agricultural undergraduates but suitably modified for forestry students. In the absence of such courses, recent forestry graduates are found unsuitable, at least in Gujarat, and there the Forest Department is choosing new agricultural graduates for initial on-the-job experience for two years, followed then by a forestry course at Dehra Dun.

Within the ASAL, technical constraints, while not as important as socio-economic obstacles, require that some research be conducted into choice of species and management system. Details of such research are given below, but a current institutional constraint is the lack of trained research staff. Within many forest departments throughout the world it has been the custom to appoint a research officer from the field staff for a limited period (three to five years) with no special training. Conversely in some countries, particularly in Europe and North America, it is considered essential for a research officer to have postgraduate research training leading to a master's or doctor's degree. Because research in agro-forestry land-use systems requires a particularly well-integrated approach and a critical selection of research methods, some additional training is required. While developing countries can usually find financial support to send students for such courses, they are less able to spare any of their limited staff for the two or three years necessary to achieve the qualifications. It is for this reason that a range of intensive short courses are offered regularly at CFI, Oxford, including the Forest Research Course, the Planning and Management Course, and the Community Forestry Course. (see Appendix III.)

The use of tree breeding is not yet contemplated for the ASAL, but, when the correct choices of species and provenance have been made, genetic improvement will be possible, and trained tree breeders will be required. Appropriate university undergraduate and post-graduate courses are available in Australia, Europe, and North America, but the need for a short course is met by the two-month courses offered at irregular intervals by North Carolina State University. A shorter course has been offered in the past by FAO with DANIDA support in both tree improvement and seed handling. An FAO/DANIDA training seminar and workshop in total arid zone afforestation was presented in New Delhi and Jodhpur in February, 1980, and could be repeated to great advantage for different sets of participating students and countries.

The Gujarat community forestry project

Background and Outline of New Project

Throughout the preceding discussion frequent reference was made to the Community Forestry Project in Gujarat (IBRD 1979a, 1979b). This project is discussed here in more detail because it illustrates the typical constraints to tree planting within the ASAL and the various methods used in attempts to overcome these constraints.

As discussed above, the proportion of forested land in the state is small (10 per cent), and the demands for forest products are great. To provide fuelwood alone 1.5 million ha of plantations will be required in the 20 years from 1980 to the turn of the century. In addition to yielding major and minor products such an extent of forests could offer employment possibilities far in excess of the current 7 million work-days per year demanded for primary production and materially assist in the improvement of pastures and in the rehabilitation of degraded agricultural lands, deforested ravines, and other local centres of desertification.

The rehabilitation and improved management of the existing forest estate would contribute to the forest economy of the state but the forest is not distributed equally throughout the state and, for a more equitable distribution of resources, new forests must be established. To minimize transport costs for wood products and to provide the other forest benefits of climate amelioration, soil and water protection, and pasture or fodder improvement, these new forests must be located near the populations requiring them and hence should be planned and managed at a local level. Some 6 million ha of land are suitable for community forestry plantations; eventually 10 per cent of village commons and other wastelands- which encompass barren and uncultivable land (2.7 million ha), permanent pasture and other grazing land (0.8 million ha), and cultivable wasteland (2.3 million ha) 200,000 ha of degraded forest, 60,000 ha of private agricultural lands, and 60,000 ha of strip plantings could be improved.

In Gularat the concept of involving local people in the responsibility and benefits of forestry did not begin with the Eighth World Forestry Congress (1978, Indonesia, of which the theme was "Forests for People"). Within the state, schemes were established in 1949 to create Forest Labour Cooperation Societies eliminating exploitation of Government forest reserves by private timber contractors, thus increasing financial returns to the forest labourers and encouraging tribal people to recognize the importance of rational management and conservation of the indigenous forest.

Since 1951, plantation forestry has been emphasized, including reforestation of degraded forests and agricultural lands and afforestation of eroded lands and the edges of coasts and deserts, including the establishment of fast growing species. Largely due to the personal dedication of M.K. Dalvi (later Inspector General of Forests for India), a major community forestry programme was initiated in 1969 to establish fuelwood plantations along roadsides and canal banks. Following the success of this initial programme the Gujarat Forest Department created, in 1974, a separate Community Forestry Wing to deal with the establishment of plantations on public and private lands outside the forest reserves, and the first village plantations or common lands were planted. By 1978, 33,000 ha had been planted including 12,000 ha of village woodlots (8 ha in each of 1,500 villages), 10,000 ha alongside roads and canals, and 10,000 ha of degraded forests (see table 7 and fig. 8).

TABLE 7. Gujarat State Plantation Establishment, 1974-1978


Area planted (ha)

Category of plantation 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 Total
1. Traditional forestry
Plantations of economic and
industrial importance
3,873 4,054 5,045 5,400 5,250 23,622
Plantations of fast-growing
1,439 1,975 2,046 2,185 1,995 9,640
Plantations on coastal borders 364 330 455 602 820 2,571
Afforestation on desert borders 400 265 1,350 1,560 1,600 5,175
Soil and moisture conservation
and afforestation in denuded
6,461 5,569 4,208 5,400 8,725 30,363
Mixed plantations - - 280 304 1,231 1,815
River valley project 137 690 733 640 914 3,114
Total 12,674 12,883 14,117 16,091 20,535 76,300
2. Community forestry
Roadside and canalside 1,151 1,663 1,646 2,939 2,882 10,281
Village woodlots 924 2,480 2,434 2,996 3,910 12,744
Reforestation of degraded
forests - - 2,000 4,000 4,000 10,000
Total 2,075 4,143 6,080 9,935 10,792 33,025
3. Drought-prone area programme (Ministry of Rural Development)
Roadsides 616 500 - - - 1,116
Afforestation 2,600 8,721 8,130 6,307 8,147 33,905
Village forests 250 610 254 186 140 1,440
Soil and moisture conservation 16,510 6,032 - 1,877 - 24,419
Grassland development 200 2,542 5,743 1,490 8,627 18,602
Total 20,176 18,405 14,127 9,860 16,914 79,482
Grand total (ha) 34,925 35,431 34,324 35,886 48,241 188,807
4. Farm forestry
Seedlings distributed (millions) 8.5 8.5 7.5 25.0 36.5 86.0

The success of this work has led to the demand for its expansion to other villages and hence to the request for financial assistance from the World Bank (IBRD 1979a, 1979b). The five-year project period provides for plantation of 37,000 ha of village woodlots, 30,000 ha of degraded forests, 1,000 ha of private, eroded, agricultural lands, and 37,000 ha of strip plantings alongside roads, canals, and railways. In addition it provides for tree nurseries for project needs and free distribution, maintenance of 25,000 ha of existing plantations, staff and facilities, and the construction of 10,000 smokeless stoves and 1,000 cremation facilities to make more efficient use of available fuelwood and to replace the 1 million tons of animal dung that are currently burned each year,

Demonstration and Public Awareness

The early plantations were established by the Forest Department on state-owned land at the sides of roads, canals, and some railways. These naturally passed close to rural communities and provided the first visible proof that trees could survive, grow, and provide shade and products on what previously was unproductive ground. They also improved the Forest Department's image among the public. Although initially there was some confusion and inefficiency because of the varied responsibility for these lands and trees (Revenue Department, Public Works Department, Railways Board, Forest Department), these are gradually being taken over by the Forest Department and gazetted as protected forest; their major value was the demonstration that trees will grow provided they are protected against cattle. An extensive publicity campaign was initiated to raise public awareness of the benefits of trees through the press, radio, social workers, and the normal forestry extension functions of education, demonstration of techniques, provision of material, and monitoring of progress. (These demand an increasing number and level of skill of extension officers.)


The main original constraint to fencing, was the cost, but now the psychological barrier of cheap fences made of split bamboo and thin wire is enough to ensure that herded cattle are kept out of the plantations by the cattle owner. (It is doubtful if the individual, unattended cow would recognize the nicety of a psychological barrier but these are infrequent in the rural areas and all of the people in participating villages would be inclined to chase wandering animals away from village plantations.) In the case of village woodlots, live fences, particularly of thorny Euphorbia species including E. royaliana, are cheap, fast growing, and effective although more preplanning is required to have them established before the trees are planted. (In contrast, barbedwire fences are used by the Directorate of Afforestation and Grassland Development for Arid Areas in Rajasthan, and for these both the initial costs and the maintenance charges are direct constraints on tree planting.) For roadside plantings an outer row of thorny Prosopis species is commonly used as an added protection for interior rows of Acacia nilotica and Albizia lebbeck in saline parts of Gujarat.

Involvement of the People

It is one thing to demonstrate that afforestation is technically feasible on government land; it is quite another to make it attractive for local participation. While the programme of attracting private landowners has been called "a runaway success" (see below), and the community forestry programme has received considerable and favourable attention, overall village participation rates are surprisingly low. A recent report estimates that only about 14 per cent of Gujarat's panchayats are participating (Noronha, 1980, p. 6).

This low rate is surprising in part because of the different approaches used to encourage participation. Talukas (subdistricts) accrue 50 per cent of the proceeds of sales of poles and timber from plantings alongside the road, rail, or canal, and villagers are allowed to collect grass, fodder, fallen wood, and minor produce. Village labour is paid for forestry work either as casual employees within the Community Forestry Wing or as full-time employees within tribal and other socially disadvantaged groups. Village schools are encouraged to raise nursery stock for sale to the Forestry Department, and the children are educated about the principles and benefits of tree cropping. Village forests are established and managed in one of two ways; either the Forestry Department manages them and harvests the products, returning 50 per cent of the sale price to the taluka panchayat, or the villages may become entirely self-helping with only technical advice and perhaps free seedlings from the Forestry Department. The former, called supervised villages, number about 2,500, while the latter, the self-help villages, total around 70.

Noronha (19801 analysed some of the reasons for the apparently slow growth of the community woodlots. He identifies village factionalism as the most important obstacle to the initiation of tree-planting programmes. Other problems described in the study include the panchayats giving higher priority to other needs such as school, water, and sanitation facilities than to forestry; the scarcity of land and labour; and the unwillingness to convert to forests land that is currently needed for grazing or for future uses such as accommodating population growth or land distribution to landless labourers. Some villagers felt that the 50 per cent of returns received by the Forestry Department was too high. Although the scarcity of funds was often cited by officials as a reason for low participation, Noronha observed that many poorer villages had participated in the programme while many richer ones had not, causing him to look elsewhere for relevant factors.

Besides the demonstration effect, Noronha states that dynamic and charismatic leadership has been important in increasing participation. In self-help villages, some village leaders who are respected and trusted by other community members have been able to raise funds and organize efforts for tree planting. Villagers, seeing that trees can be grown profitably, will initiate forests in hopes of raising funds for other community projects, such as schools or sanitary facilities.

Therefore, while the community programme has had some success, social, economic, and political obstacles are retarding its growth. Noronha's analysis is particularly convincing in demonstrating how village socio-economic organization and leadership affects tree-planting efforts. In this regard, he states that village leaders in some cases fail to consult with all sectors in the community, especially the poor and traditionally disadvantaged groups, in deciding whether or not to participate in the forestry programme. Furthermore, he suggests that a problem of distribution may arise shortly as decisions are made on how to distribute the harvests. If harvests are distributed as wood products, such as firewood, then it is likely that all villagers will receive a share. If the harvest is sold, then proceeds most likely will be applied to other needs as determined by the panchayat If this occurs, and Noronha feels it is likely, woodlots would have then failed in their goal of providing for villagers, particularly the poorest ones, fuelwood and other tree products (Noronha 1980, p. 16).

Individual Owners

In addition to the Government and village planting (not all of which will be on arid lands), the Gujarat project is aimed at encouraging individual farmers in the countryside and private individuals and groups in towns to plant trees on their own lands. The farm forestry scheme distributed nearly 86 million free seedlings in 1979, and it is planned to continue offering 30 million annually. To date little is known about their survival and growth; monitoring is required in future.

For the afforestation of private agricultural lands a variety of contractual arrangements are being tested-including the provision of cash advances equal to the estimated value of the agricultural crop, which is then replaced by trees planted and monitored by the Community Forestry Wing.

Multiple Yields

Any plantation established in any part of the ASAL where productive land is scarce in relation to human and cattle populations should provide an array of products and services. While the species and techniques chosen must ensure soil and water conservation and provide shade and shelter as services, they must also yield the immediate requirements of food, fodder, fuel, and poles.

Within the Gujarat project, approximately 90 per cent of all trees planted will yield fuelwood and poles; the remainder will be mainly fruit trees in village woodlots. Approximately 30 per cent of fuelwood trees will also produce leaf fodder, and in some areas entrepreneurs have already contracted for the collection of toothpicks (Rs 1,000 ha -1 years ). The mere fencing of an area against cattle has demonstrably increased the yields of fodder from naturally occurring grasses, and these may be increased further by the sowing of genetically improved grasses and legumes between the rows of trees and by improved pasture management le.g., O.N. Kaul 1977).

Research and Training

The need for continued research in the choice of species and management for the ASAL was discussed above, particularly the importance of the international programme of trials of species and provenances (FAO/IBPGR 1980). The Gujarat project includes provision for a small research institute (with four field stations) staffed by five professionals including an agrostologist, a horticulturist, an ecologist, a soil scientist, and a seed-testing officer. While aiming to increase tree productivity and decrease establishment and maintenance costs, the research group will be involved in monitoring farm forestry activities and the effect of plantations on soil nutrients.

Provision is also made for extending training facilities within the state and sending staff for courses in extension methods to other locations within and outside India. Reference was made above to the proposal for a four-week course (see Appendix I), and the Inspector General of Forests for India is encouraging the Forest Research Institute and Colleges, Dehra Dun, to establish an Extension Directorate.


The results of the community forestry achievements to date and those reasonably expected of the new project in Gujarat support the feasibility of tree planting in a range of difficult climatic, edaphic, and social conditions. Various cost-benefit analyses undertaken by World Bank staff show that financial and economic rates of return of various components of the Gujarat programme are acceptable.

After ten years from the start of the new phase many benefits are evident. Average annual production of fuelwood from village woodlots alone is 386,000 tons. Besides providing fuelwood, the programme has contributed toward meeting needs for poles, fodder, and other wood products. However, it should be recognized that these benefits have not always been distributed in an equitable manner among the targeted population.

In addition to conservation of 15,800 metric tons of fuelwood through the use of improved stoves and crematoria, 105,000 ha of underutilized land will be made productive with the restoration and conservation of soil, and the equivalent of 26,000 people will be fully employed for five years. Above all, perhaps, the "people barrier" has been broken, and both individuals and communities are aware of the benefits of tree planting.

The programme in Gujarat is an excellent example of, though not the only approach to, afforestation and the social and technical methods that may be used to overcome problems. Constraints still exist, of course. A sociological enquiry in 1980 appears to indicate much more deeply rooted and complex social and institutional constraints to tree growing at a communal level, and a fuller assessment of the sociological aspects seems needed.* Professional and technical staff are needed in greater numbers and with more appropriate training, but people and courses are available. Technical aspects of nursery and field operations can be improved, but research methodology is established; only more trained staff are required to develop the methodology for individual site types in Gujarat and the other ASAL of India. Species are already known for all but the most refractory sites, although more attention must be paid to their genetic variability and selective breeding. Methods of involving individuals and communities in tree planting have been developed, but closer monitoring of tree growth and control of the distribution of benefits are required. Despite these limitations, the programme has shown success and future potential in this area of the ASAL in which the populations traditionally show co-operative ability and marked business acumen. In other parts of the ASAL, where these desiderata are less developed, it is more difficult to overcome the socio-economic constraints even when the technical problems can be defeated. Above all, what is needed in pastoral communities is an integrated approach to rural development in which activities with tree and crop species and their efficient use are paralleled by research into the carrying capacity of land, by development of improved breeds of domesticated animals by acceptance of stall feeding, and by public education in the limitation of populations of both domestic animals and man himself either of which may have serious cultural, religious, or political overtones.