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close this bookReversing the Spiral - The Population, Agriculture, and Environment Nexus in Sub-Saharan Africa (WB, 1994, 320 p.)
close this folder10. Managing the natural resource base
View the documentProduction versus protection
View the documentForests
View the documentNatural resource management in farming areas
View the documentDryland and range areas
View the documentWater
View the documentCommon elements
View the documentThe role of governments
View the documentNational environmental action plans


About 30 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa's land area is classified as forests or woodlands But only about 28 percent of this area is closed forest— compared with about two-thirds in Latin America and in Asia. About 34 percent is shrubland and 38 percent is savanna woodland; both are multiples resource systems, utilized for meeting local requirements for fuelwood and other tree and forest products as well as for farming and forage.

As discussed in Chapter 2, Sub-Saharan Africa's forest area is diminishing at a rate of about 2.9 million ha per year, and the rate of decline is accelerating. The most important causes of deforestation are conversion to farmland, infrastructure development in environmentally delicate

Box 10-1 Integrated Conservation and Development

Reflecting the recognition that effective resource conservation and management must involve strong local participation' the concept of "integrated conservation and development" is being developed. It involves the following key aspects

· Local people retain the rights to continued traditional utilization of resources inside state owned protected areas (to the extent that this is not detrimental to the ecosystem) and are, of course, allowed to continue such activities on all land returned outright to term.

· The local communities are allowed to generate income from protected areas through environmentally compatible activities such as tourism, hunting with traditional weapons, and gathering of nontimber forest products. All of these activities are directly dependent on the protected area. Local communities given exclusive rights to carry out these activities will have an incentive to conserve the forest or wilderness area.

· Commercial logging of protected areas is entirely excluded. Logging can be allowed and carefully managed only in those areas specifically identified for logging, but even then only with techniques and management practices that ensure long term sustainability.

Buffer zones, are established around core protected areas, and ownership of the land and associated resources in them is returned to the local people. Buffer zones are meant to provide the local people with sufficient forest and agricultural products to prevent overexploitation of the protected areas. They also serve to keep potentially destructive wildlife away from villages, crops, and domestic livestock.

· Agriculture and social development activities can be provided outside protected areas to attract local people away from these areas and as an incentive to avoid encroachment.

Experience with implementing this concept is still limited in Sub-Sahara Africa. A number of pilot efforts have been initiated, but are at very early stages. A potential danger to watch for is the risk of the "magnet syndrome": priority provision of infrastructure and social services around areas to be protected may in fact attract people to the area if social and infrastructure development farther away is significantly lagging behind that around the area to be protected areas, timber extraction, and commercial fuelwood harvesting. Growing and migrating human populations as well as international demand for tropical timber drive these processes. Timber exports from Sub-Saharan Africa amount to about US$700 million per year at present. Cropland is expanding at a rate of 1 million ha annually—to a large extent at the expense of forest areas and woodlands. A number of agricultural development projects supported by external aid donors, including the World Bank, have facilitated the conversion of forest and rangeIands into cropland.

The most important areas for action to stop the degradation of Sub-Sahara Africa's forest resources lie outside the immediate purview of forestry sector policy. They are: (a) reducing population growth, and (b) intensifying agricultural production at a rate which exceeds population growth, in order to encourage sedentary agriculture and livestock raising and to discourage further invasion of the remaining forests. Rapidly growing numbers of people, barely surviving in land-extensive agricultural systems, have no option than to continue to invade and destroy forests. This points again to the complex mutual dependency of agricultural and nonagricultural activities.

For the forests that remain, improved management for multiple uses will be vital. These uses range from the provision of critical environmental services to the supply of timber and nontimber products, and from tourism and recreational uses ~ mineral extraction. It is unrealistic to expect that all forests can be conserved in their present state. For almost all of Africa's forests the issue is not whether to use them or not to use them—but how to use them .If people (and governments) feel that there is little benefit from forests, they will continue to be mined for urgently needed export revenue or converted into agricultural Land.

To address these problems effectively, there is no alternative to planning, orchestrated by governments This can be done within Tropical Forestry Actions Plans (TFAPs), National Environmental Action Plans (NEAPs), or simply forestry master plans. Each will involve some form of land use and natural resource planning. Land use plans for forest areas should identity conservation areas, parks, areas designated for sustainable logging,, mining areas, farming and grazing areas, and areas designated for infrastructure development.

Farmers have encroached into most forest areas in Sub-Saharan Africa, including into many government-managed "forest reserves " Removing and resettling these people would, in most cases, entail social and economic costs of a magnitude that render this option generally prohibitive. Even if farmers were to be expelled from areas they have invaded for farming, this would not restore the affected areas to their previous forested state. Consequently, areas that have already been largely converted to farmland should be formally relinquished for farming, and farmers already established there should be provided with secure use rights. Areas allocated to industrial wood production should be carefully managed in collaboration with logging companies (which should be compelled under their concession agreements to log in a sustainable manner) and with local populations. Areas designated for protection should be managed by government agencies in partnership with the local people. This will require giving these people specific user rights in protected areas and involving them in management decisions.

A key to improving forest management will be the direct involvement of the local people in both planning and execution of forest resource use plans. As already noted/ the most effective manner to achieve this is to ensure their resource ownership or legally protected long-term use rights and to prepare forest resource management plans in a truly collaborative manner. Where local communities own the forest, governments should assist them, through forest and extension services, to manage their forests productively and sustainable. Indeed, since government agencies throughout most of Sub-Saharan Africa are stretched far too thin to manage even those forest resources that are legally under government ownership and control, and since in many cases local people and communities continue to consider these resources to be rightfully theirs, governments should consider divesting many (though not all) forest and range areas to local people. The traditional owner /user communities could obtain group tide to these resources.

Sound forest management plans would allow some logging and artisanal wood harvesting on a sustainable basis (specifying concession fees, taxes, and so on), provide for essential infrastructure development, and identify areas suitable for crop and livestock production. Local people would utilize the forest and woodland resources for fuelwood and artisanal forestry, hunting and harvesting of nonwood forest products, the arable land for cropping, and the range and grazing land for livestock production. Royalties paid by "outside" users would accrue rue to a local communities; governments would share in such royalties rough the tax system.

Where governments retain ownership of forests the management will be more directly under government control But even there, rnanagement plans will need to be responsive to local people's needs and should, therefore, be developed and implemented with their full participation. Local people will only be induced to cooperate if they are given secure and exclusive user rights: hunting, fishing, collection of nontimber forest products, some wood harvesting. They should also be given a significant share in the royalties received from other users, such as logging concessionaires; the certainty of such long-term sources of income will represent a significant benefit and an incentive to adhere to agreed use plans.

Governments will need to provide the essential policy and administrative framework: publishing standard concession agreements, establishing and collecting taxes and stumpage fees, and creating conservation areas, based on both land use plans and national forest policy parameters Implementation would be the responsibility of the local communities, with the requisite technical assistance provided by government agencies, NGOs, or both. As these communities acquire experience and management acumen, the need for such outside assistance will decline and government support should be commensurately withdrawn. As emphasized above, strong and lasting incentives (embodied in resource ownership, user rights' revenue sharing, and the like) would need to be provided to ensure appropriate local interest in such an approach to resource management

Whether any kind of commercial logging is compatible with sustainable management of primary humid forests is highly contentious. Although the evidence available at present may not be sufficient to make a definitive and categorical statement, there is increasing support among experts for entirely prohibiting logging in intact primary humid forests Although considerable interest and optimism are often expressed with respect to sustainable exploitation of natural forests, ITTO has estimated that only one-fifth of one percent of the world's natural tropical forest areas are currently teeing harvested in en ecologically sustainable manner (Goodland 1991:14; Poore and others 1989). Even logging systems based on selective removal of certain species and age classes of trees may seriously disrupt the ecological balance of a tropical moist forest and destroy a significant portion of the remaining vegetation during the process of extraction. Recovery of the ecosystem can only be assured if the damaged area is very small and if it is surrounded by large areas of undamaged forest that can serve as a reservoir of recognizing species Thus, even though the area may remain forested ,any type of commercial logging in a tropical moist forest may result in a fundamental and quite possibly irreversible degradation of the original ecosystem. This is in contrast to the less diverse and more resilient temperate forests, which can tee fogged productively on a sustainable basis.

Logging certainly should be stopped in ecologically delicate and in environmentally important areas in humid and savanna forests. There should be no logging where it is not possible to log on a sustainable basis. In secondary forests (those consisting of regrowth where primary forests have been logged or otherwise significantly disturbed before) and on forest plantations and tree farms, logging must be undertaken in accordance with sustainable management practices. These areas could, in many cases, be designated and managed as permanent sources of timber, pulpwood and woodfuels—provided the private owners (individuals or groups) agree. Logging companies unable to log in a sustainable manner should not be given concessions and permits, even in secondary forests. This will require governmental regulation of logging, even if it is undertaken on private land.

Loggers will have to improve their performance and show themselves to be responsible in their logging activities. To induce this behavior, concession agreements providing for logging company responsibilities as well as rights will be necessary. Payment of taxes—rather than tax evasion—should be the norm. Sustainable management of secondary growth forests and industrial plantations would then become a more important aspect of the business of logging companies than the mining of primary forests. Even where governments choose to continue to allow logging in primary forests, management of secondary growth should be strongly encouraged by levying much lower taxes on trees taken from replanted areas and industrial plantations than on trees harvested from primary forests. If international prices for tropical wood rise as currently projected, the profitability of forest plantations will increase, making such an approach even more feasible.

Where logging is still permitted in primary forests, it should be more heavily taxed—through area-based taxes levied on concessions. Part of the tax should be collected and retained by local communities owning the forests or having user rights in them Concession agreements should be auctioned to the highest bidder These measures would serve to return more of the benefit to the community and, in effect, impose a charge on the companies for the resource (the forest) exploited. Taxes should be high enough to reflect the economic and social value of the forest, including the environmental services it provides, and the cost of rehabilitation if the public sector or the local community undertakes that rehabilitation.

Governments will also need to develop the institutional and human capacity required to manage protected areas and to monitor logging as well as the use of farming, pasture, and fisheries resources made available for local people's use in forest areas. This is important to ensure that protected areas are in fact protected and that the areas made available for exploitation are used in a productive and sustainable manner. An example of management for sustainability is increasing the availability of wood products to keep pace with population growth—ensuing, for example, that replanting exceeds cutting. This could be done by inducing local communities and individual landowners to set aside sufficient land for wood production. The primary instrument to achieve this would be ensuring that price, tax, and other incentives make tree production and marketing profitable (and more profitable than other forms of land use on land most suitable for tree production). This requires planning and management capacity in government to help local populations manage natural resources. In parks and protected areas, governments will need the capacity to manage resources directly and effectively.

On privately and communally held forest land, government forest services can also help local landowners reforest degraded areas, by providing planning assistance, technical advice, training, and seedlings" But planting, maintenance, and harvesting must be done by the resource owners' the people themselves. NGOs can play an important role in assisting them. Forest services need to abandon their present almost exclusive focus on direct management of forests—which is all too often coupled with an adversarial relationship with the people living around the forests—and place far greater emphasis on extension functions targeted at private and community-owned land. And forestry research needs to pay more attention to the issues faced in private and community management of forestry resources.