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Exotic vs. indigenous species - Paraguay

In Paraguay, the forests are being depleted at alarming rates. If these rates continue, it is estimated that within the next fifteen to twenty years, Paraguay will have no indigenous forests remaining. Through this accelerated deforestation, the country will encounter problems such as massive soil erosion, wood scarcity, loss of habitat to local flora and fauna and a lowering of the watertable.

The Servicio Forestal Nacional (SFN) which was formed nearly ten years ago, is aware of the deforestation hut is moving slowly in taking steps towards reforestation. Servicio Forestal Nacional is interested in exotic species which grow rapidly. They have planted approximately 5,000 ha of experimental plantations using three exotic species; Araucaria angustifalia (Kiri'y), Pinus alliottii (Slash Pine), and Pinus taeda (Loblolly Pine), as well as various species of Eucalyptus. The format used to establish these plantations was based on models used in Brazil and Argentina. Both Brazil and Argentina currently have the market as well as the technology necessary for these types of tree species. however, at present there is no market within Paraguay for the products of these plantations and hopefully, they will be exported to Brazil or Argentina. This in turn creates an economic problem. Paraguay, being landlocked, has a rather underdeveloped transporation system. With exhorbitant prices for fuel, the need to transport timber to outside markets is a costly expenditure. Also, the government has passed a law stating that whole logs cannot he exported To date, this project does not have a very high priority and the plantations have not been efficiently managed. If Paraguay was to build mills for paper or particle board, and carefully manage these plantations, the mature trees could he processed within the country. The plantations then could prove to be valuable. However, without proper management interest, the exotic species that are currently growing will continue to be in poor condition and will have no significant economic value.

On the other hand, the existing indigenous species are very hardy, grow well in their respective sites, and are useful within Paraguay. Most of the indigenous forest species grow rapidly have a high quality wood, and there is a strong market demand for them. They are used for construction purposes, firewood, furniture, ornamentation, etc. Paraguay has the necessary sawmills to reap the economic benefits of indigenous species.

Environmentally, the use of indigenous species in reforestation is a sound measure. Using species which have existed naturally for years, maintains the wide diversity of indigenous flora and fauna. They will also retain the natural soil structure and chemical composition. These indigenous species have been growing in Paraguay for centuries and have achieved a dynamic equilibrium with their environment.

Thus, specifically for Paraguay, future reforestation efforts should concentrate more on the country's existing indigenous species rather than bringing in exotic species, based on economic and environmental reasons.

Peace Corps Volunteers Peter Gould,

Jennifer Alderman, Patrick T. Evans

contributed to the articles on Exotic

vs. Indigenous Species.

Forestry for Community Development

Assuming that most Peace Corps Forestry volunteers will be working with rural, small-scale farmers and small landowners, the forestry volunteer must be conscious of the specific needs and problems that affect the forest and land use of the Third World.

"Forestry for community development must reflect the needs, problems and aspirations of local people as seen through their eyes. To be truly appropriate its strategy will vary according to community and place" .

If the volunteer is to be a catalyst for judicious forest and land management in his or her community, he/she rust consider a number of critical factors.

The volunteer can teach simple methods of forest and land management to rural land owners. In this way, the campesino can determine his own land resources and assess the results of reforestation projects or other remedial measures on his land. Forest inventory is also necessary if the volunteer or other extension agent is to determine the extent of deforestation in the area.

The volunteer must stress the needs for the complete evaluation of rural lands, so that the campesino can learn to determine what would be the most appropriate uses of his land. A relatively simple land evaluation could prevent forested areas from being cleared for livestock grazing or other agricultural activities when the land is inappropriate for those purposes.

The campesino must learn to consider soil quality and type, topography, land fragility, flora, fauna, water resources, and local cultural factors, such as economic conditions and pressures which are affecting him. It is important that the volunteer impresses upon the rural farmer the number of options from which he may be able to choose. Depending upon the land characteristics, forest resources, and local socio-economic conditions, the land may be used for intensive agriculture, grazing, forest plantations, agro-forestry, multiple-use systems, mining, parks, wildlife, refuges, ecological reserves and other uses.

Several factors may affect the volunteer's success at promoting proper land use. Local professionals (land use planners, etc.) must be willing to act as resources to rural campesinos and apply their techniques in the field. It is important that local administrative agencies are effective in ensuring that land is actually allocated and used appropriately. Incentives are needed initially to stimulate proper land use. Most important, and perhaps most difficult is acquiring the acceptance and commitment of the members of the rural community.

1Forestry for Rural Communities. FAO forestry Department Pg. 8.

The forestry volunteer must stress the importance of protecting and conserving the existing soils and watershed systems which are so critical to the livelihood of rural farmers. The campesino must be aware of the need for protective measures against slope erosion, the detrimental effects of wind on deforested or semi-arid areas, and the problems created by stream siltation, resevoir sedimentation, and torrential water flow in steep, mountainous areas.

The volunteer should promote soil conservation techniques that can utilize and be combined with the growing of crops and trees and the production of other valuable resources. In this way, the rural farmer can keep his land under production and protect it at the same time. In semi-arid and arid regions, the PCV can instruct farmers in the construction of shelter hefts and other structures that can stabilize sand dunes, which if left unchecked, would inundate agricultural areas.

One hectare of tropical forest may contain as many as 100 tree species, but only a small number are now exploited for commercial use. With such a low density of commercial species, there has been very little economic stimulus for sustained management of tropical forest areas.

Thus, it is important for the tropical forestry volunteer to introduce techniques for managing and more efficiently utilizing tropical forest stands. He or she can teach simple criteria for selecting crop trees for exploitation, control measures for unwanted vegetation, insects, and plant pathogens; principles of seed selection and storage, and methods of reforestation. The campesino must be encouraged to use harvesting techniques that protect remaining trees and enhance forest regeneration.

Because many, if not most, rural communities face very marginal economic situations, it is critical that the volunteer promotes proper management techniques and better utilization of forest resources in order to realize more of the economic potential of the forest. The campesino must be made aware of the value of many non-traditional forest species.

If forest resources are to be conserved and/or restored, carefully developed site-specific reforestation plans must be implemented.

The volunteer must be aware that it may not be possible or desirable to restore the original tree and plant species to a given area. It may be more judicious to introduce species that are known to grow rapidly and reliably.

The selected reforestation species must be well suited to the local ecological conditions. Reforestation will fail if the introduced species cannot adapt to the soil, water, climatic or other environmental factors critical to its survival.

The PCV should teach the campesino proper seedling care and other measures necessary to ensure successful reforestation (proper pruning, etc.). Nursery management, seed collection, storage, and treatment; seedling transport, care and planting techniques are all skills that the volunteer can transfer to the campesino so that he can independently sustain reforestation on his own land.

The campesino should be encouraged to reforest with trees that serve multi-purpose. He should be made aware that a reforestation system that not only controls wind and water erosion, but also provides food, animal fodder, fuel, and wood products such as lumber and pulpwood is not only desirable, but possible.

The method of reforestation involves the establishment of managed tree plantations of one or more species. Such a system could provide fuel and timber, and relieve the exploitation pressures on the natural forests in the area. Research has shown that a successful tropical plantation could supply 4-10 times the amount of usable wood produced in the natural tropical forest. Plantations could also be labor-intensive and serve as an economic stimulus in high unemployment areas.

However, the forestry volunteer must examine the situation very carefully before he or she proposes a monoculture plantation for a rural community. The specific sensitivities of the proposed species to the site and climate must be determined beforehand. The clearing of a natural forest in order to make way for a plantation is not recommended because the conversion of a very diverse forest to a monoculture could potentially create an ecosystem highly susceptible to disease and insect infestation. It could be a catalyst for soil deterioration and consequently other ecological and socio-economic problems.

It is especially valuable for the forestry PCV to teach the rural farmer methods of conserving the forestry and land resources which he has. It is critical that the campesino learns how to reduce heat losses during firewood burning, as well as methods of cutting waste and tree loss during forestry and wood-processing operations.

Rural families must be made aware of the inefficiency of heating and cooking, using open fires as compared to contained heating units. stoves could be designed much more efficiently and still remain simple. The Lorena stove is one example of a much more efficient heating device that could be built and used by rural families. Many traditional wood and charcoal burning systems in use today have heat losses that approach 60%. Charcoal should he discouraged as a fuel because a great deal of heat energy is lost during the conversion of wood to charcoal.

The campesino must be encouraged to reduce his waste during timber harvesting. The selective exploitation of only a few species frequently leaves residual trees damaged. Much wood is wasted when the tree limbs and tops are cut off and left to rot in the forest.

The volunteer should be aware that an all-species rather than selective harvesting could cause deforestation and lead to more traumatic effects on the environment than traditional, selective harvesting. However, if properly managed, a system involving clear cutting, and all-species harvesting, combined with well-managed reforestation, could meet a community's wood needs, while reducing the exploitation pressures on remaining forests.

Because so much wood waste occurs during processing at sawmills, the volunteer must promote the use of improved technologies (where affordable), to reduce wood losses during milling and other wood-processing operations. The use of the entire tree should be encouraged.

By demonstrating better transport and storage methods for rough logs and lumber, the PCV can show the campesino how he can cut his losses due to mold, stains, insects, splitting, decay, improper drying methods, and mechanical damage caused by poor handling methods.

By introducing methods of wood preservation, the volunteer can teach a community how to prolong the life of wood products such as telephone poles (where applicable), fences, stakes, etc. Better preservation of lower quality woods would reduce the demand for more durable woods for these purposes. Consequently, the higher quality woods could be saved for more critical uses.

In agricultural areas, the forestry volunteer should promote agro-forestry practices as a means of making the land more productive, and conserving its resources at the same time. The carnpesino should be made aware that by planting trees together with food crops, or by rotating trees and crops he can maintain his land in a constantly productive state, without draining or destroying the land's productivity.

Successful agro-forestry systems can reduce the need for forest removal in two ways. It will eliminate the need for shifting cultivation (which usually entails more deforestation), because land that is utilizing agro-forestry should remain productive. It will reduce the need for more clearing of forests in order to increase food production. A well planned agroforestry system should enable a rural family to the self-sufficient in the basic food, fuel, and lumber needs.

To meet better a rural community's lumber and energy needs, the forestry volunteer can organize the establishment of a community woodlot. This will require a major effort in community organization by the volunteer. The people themselves must feel the need for the woodlot. There must be strong public support of the project, and a community-wide willingness to share in the planning, establishment, maintenance, and benefits of the woodlot. without this popular support, a community woodlot will have little chance for success.

Changes in the attitude and habits of local government officials may be needed as well. It may be difficult for these officials to accept the idea of a community taking the initiative and organizing a major project themselves. The PCV should always be conscious of the political problems that are involved.

The forestry volunteer can reduce deforestation for fuel purposes by introducing simple, low cost energy alternatives to his or her community. Solar, wind, big-gas, and mini-hydropower may all be possible depending on the specific conditions at the site. Such energy systems would greatly increase a campesino's self-sufficiency, and greatly reduce his need for firewood. For example, solar dryers could be used for agricultural products such as grain, meat, fish, and tobacco, instead of depleting the local wood supply for fuel.

By showing the vast quantities of resources in the forest other than wood, the PCV may be able to convince the rural farmer that it makes poor economic sense to cut down the forest. The economic value of forest fruits, nuts, herbs, aquatic and terrestrial animals should be highly publicized.

Since many forestry volunteers may be in extensive livestock areas, it is important that the PCV be aware of the factors involved in managing a range to ensure conservation of the range resources as well as maximum livestock production. The campesino must be made aware that if he desires a sustained yield of livestock over a long period of time, he must consider several factors.

1. The selection of the most suitable kind of livestock for the land available.

2. The recognition of the proper seasons of grazing.

3. The degree of range use, including the proper distribution of animals over the range.

4. Available water resources for animals.

5. Protection of livestock from illness or injury.

6. Available forage crops. Livestock production can only be sustained by conservation use of forage crops.

Changes in the forest environment may have a significant effect on wildlife habitats. Thus, the Peace Corps forester may find himself working in wildlife management as well.

In order to manage a forest judiciously for its wildlife resources, as well as its timber and land productivity, the forester must be able to recognize the wildlife species present, their populations, and understand their life histories. This knowledge will enable the Peace Corps volunteer, or the campesino to determine what forest practices improve the environment for wildlife and what activities disturb it. For wildlife production and protection, the rural farmer needs to know the positive and negative effects to aquatic and terrestrial animals of such practices as pruning, clearing, thinning, and timber cutting.

The forestry volunteer may find that the most difficult part of his or her work will not be in actual physical labor, but rather, in extension. The volunteer may have to overcome a great deal of cultural and social resistance before successfully convincing the members of the rural community of the need for planting trees, and proper land management.

The volunteer can use intellectual and economic arguments to make his case. He can demonstrate that an early and continued harvest is possible with integrated (forestry and agriculture) production techniques. The PCV can compare the income potential of tree planting with other uses. Often tree planting requires less capital and can be as fast an income producer as certain agricultural crops or livestock. It may require three to five years for a farmer to realize a profit on a new cattle herd.

The campesino should know that trees can be security in old age. By performing the physical labor when young, he can be assured of a good income to provide for his old age. It should he pointed out to rural farmers that while few people plant trees, those who do usually realize a very good profit.

The volunteer can also use a more personal approach to extension. He or she can emphasize to the campesino that in several years, his children will be attending school. Trees planted now can pay for his children's education.

The volunteer can ask the rural farmer directly what provisions he has made for his old age? What will he do if he or his family is ill and needs medicine but has no income with which to pay? Trees planted now would provide some insurance against such a situation.

Every volunteer will have a different personal style for extension. The only correct method is the method which works well for you and for the community in which you are working. The volunteer should carefully consider what style and approach will achieve the most success in his or her community.

Peace Corps Volunteer Daniel

Saxon contributed this article.

References Cited

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Centro Forestal Alto Panama, Seccion de Investigacion Forestal, Informede un vieje a la parse non-oriental de Paraguay. 7 - 14 Julio, 1981.

Dimitri, M.J. 1974. Anales de Parques Nationales: La flora arborea del Parque Nacional Iguazu. Servicco National de Parques Nationales, Buenos Aires.

Eckholm, E. 1979. "Planting for the Future: Forestry for Human Needs." Worldwatch paper No. 26. Worldwatch Institute, Washington, D.C.

Golfari, L. 1978. Xonificacion esquematica e indication de especias de crecimiento rapido pare experimentation y reforestation en Paraguay. PHUD/EAo/SFN. PAR/76/005. Documento de trabajo 25. Asuncio'n, Paraguay.

Hartshorn, G.S. 1480 Neotropical Forest Dynamics, In, Tropical Succession. Pp. 23 - 30. Tropical Science Center, San Jose, Costa Rica.

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Holdridge, L.R. 1979. Ecologia basada en Zonas de vida. Institute Interamericano de Ciencias Agricolas, San Jose, Costa Rica.

Klein, M.A. 1974. "The forest resources of Parayuay." Institute of Interamerican Affairs, Washington, D.C.

Lawton, R.M. 1978. "The Management and Regeneration of Some Nigerian High Forest Ecosystems". Pp. 580 - 588. In, Tropical Forest Ecosystems. UNESCO/UNEP/FAO. Impremerie de Presses Universitas, Paris.

Lopez, J.A. 1978. Arboles de la Region Oriental de Paraguay. Asuncion, Paraguay.

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Mark, G.G., and Dimmick, R.S. 1971. "Managing the Family Woodlot." U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farmer's Bulletin No. 2187. Washington, D.C.

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Myers , N. 1980 "Conversion of Moist Tropical Forest." National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.

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Seth, S.K. and Kaul, O.N. 1978. "Tropical Forest Ecosystems in India: The Teak Forest (as a case study in Silviculture and Management)." Pp 628 - 640. In, Tropical Forest Ecosystems. UNESCO/UNEP/FAO. Impremerie des Presse Universitas, Paris.

Simeone, R.J. 1981. Plan de Manejo, Monte Reserva San Benito. Excuela Agricola San Benito, Pastoreo, Itapica, Paraguay. (Unpublished).

Farnsworth, F.H.. 1974. "Natural Forests in the Development of the Humid American Tropics." In, The Use of Ecological Guidelines for the Development in the American Humid Tropics. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resource New Series. No. 31 Caracas, Venezuela.

__________. 1969. Prospective Silviculture for Paraguay. UNDP/SF Forestry and Forest Industries Development project. Institute of Tropical Forestry, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.

__________. 1965. "Tropical Forest Regeneration Practices." In, Proceedings of the Duke Univeristy Tropical Forestry Symposium." Bull. 18. School of Forestry, Duke University, Durham, N. Carolina. PEP. 3 - 3U.

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