D I V ERSE A PPR O A C H ES I N D E F I N I N G F O RES T E C O SYS T E M S A N D I T S I M PL I C A T I O N S O N B I O D I V ERSI T Y M A N A G E M E N T 1 Sheikh Tawhidul Islam 2 Mamunul H Khan 3 Dora Marinova 4 Abstract: The forest
ecosystem is defined differently by different international and national organiza tions as its delineation depends on many parameters such as context, purpose, scale, ecological functions, spatial and temporal characteristics, cultural practice of native community, life forms present in the ecosystems, structural properties including leaf type and productivity. Because of the variations in conceptualizing forest ecosystems by different parties involved in relevant roles such as research, forest management policy/program formulation, actual management, monitoring and evaluation, great va riations are observed in delineation approaches, quantifications and management principles. For instance, according to F A O forest estimates, total global forest resource is about 3.8 billion hectares while World Resources Institute’s (WRI) publication sug gest that only 40% of the F A O estimated current world forests (i.e. 1.5 billon hectares out of 3.8 billion hectares) can qualify as forests. WRI emphasized on the occurrence of intact native forest with the provisions of sound ecological functions wherein F A O forest definition, they identified a certain area (0.5 ha) with trees higher than 5 metres as forest. F A O also mentioned that the areas that do not meet these criteria, but have a potential to reach the standards can be treated as forests. Researche rs strongly criticised this F A O consideration in delineating forest ecosystems. With this backdrop, this paper investigates diverse approaches to delineate forest ecosystems and analyse its implications in selecting principles for forest resources management. The study would use Bangladesh as a case study to substantiate its arguments. The study finally argues in favour of standardization of diverse delineation approaches for consistent and logical data generation as well as sustainable management of forest ecosystems. K ey w ords: Forest, ecosystem, forest management, remote sensing .
1. I ntrod uction Recent developments in remote sensing techniques and increased attention to forest depletion contributed in enhancing nu mber of stu dies in forest asses sment, quantification and map ping at different scales, from regional to global. Research and glo bal vegetation mapping initiatives are carried out by international agencies such as F A O , USGS- N PS, N A S A ’s Landsat Path Finder Project and Joint Research Centr e of E uropean U nion . Reno w ned research entities and N G Os such as W orld Resources Institute, Greenpeace and academic institutions
The authors’ analysis and opinions expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect the views of the U nited N ations Development Programme, Jahangirnagar U niversity or M urdoch U niversity . 2 Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Environment, Jahangirnagar U niversity, Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 3 Programme O fficer, Environment & Sustainable Development , U nited N ations Development Programme, I D B Bhaban, Sher e-Bangla N agar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 4 Associate Professor and Head of the Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy, M urdock U niversity, Perth, Western A ustralia
such as Boston U niversity’s Global L and C over and Land Cover D ynamics Project are also involved in similar initia tives. T he approaches in conceptualizing and delineating forest ecosystem s are quite diverse speci fically at the regional and global levels. Some agencies consider forest quality issues on the basis of forest biophysical variables in map ping and quantifying exercises, some undertake research activities adopting their o w n approaches, data and methods w hile some rely on the country assessment reports for estimating global forest covers . These variations in concepts and approaches have created a gap in statistical accoun ts and confusions in delineating forest boundaries and its management . These anomalies at international level have an impact at local and regional forest management through different kinds of approaches and activities of global environmental research, act ivist, regulatory and donor agencies. This paper , in this regard, w ill demonstrate that how local and regional level forest management is closely linked to the approaches adopted by international agencies. D ra w ing empirical examples from Bangladesh case stud y, it also shows that anomalies at international level ultimately affect local level forest management . Bangladesh forest management have historica ll y been influenced by international im p ulses (first from colonial rulers, then from donors and relevant international agencies). These foreign influences caused uncertainties and create hindrances for the forest planners, users to uphold the ecological and economic balance of forest ecosystems that is appropriate to its context . In general, f orest manage ment activities in Bangladesh is taking place w ith inadequate focus and initiatives that are favourable to biodiversity preservation and suitable for protecting tangible and intangible forest functions. It is often ambiguous in the policy discourse and specific program me documents to specify w hether the forest management activities are targeting at capital accu m ulation or to w ards environmental protection or for ensuring forest prod ucts and services for the com munity. In the past, a nu mber of inappropriate projects in Bangladesh pushed the native forest resources at the brink of its destruction. These were possible because of the vagueness in policy directives. This vagueness also limits the authority of forest department to set guiding rules and standard s for required and jus tified activities. The activities in the long run create a point of no return . This, in turn, creates further space and argu ments for ne w activities to offset past actions. This cycle of erroneous activities finally resulted in clea ring out the forests. D estruction in M adhupur forest in central Bangladesh (Figure 1) can be cited as an example in this regard. The uncertainties in management a pproach and its associated definition s also contribu te to prepare and publish misleading fore st statistics by the government sources w here actual tree cover accounts are generally missing. Bangladesh Forest D epartment may refer to the definition of forest by F A O (2005a) to justify this misinterpretation of forest information. This stu d y portrays the dilem ma in forest management issues in the international level especially regarding the forest definition and w ill sho w ho w it radiates into local and regional scale and affecting forest management negatively . In the later part , the paper w ill focus on an empirical example dra w n from M adhupur forest located in central Bangladesh using remote sensing techniques to sho w ho w an inappropr iate forest management practice , adopted under the influence of international agencies, led to forest depletion in the area. A brief revie w of forest management policies in Bangladesh is given in order to grasp the major dimensions of mismanagement .
2. T he Sp here of D i lem ma: D i f ferences in the D ef i n ition of Forest C lassi f ication Forest ‘quality ’ or ‘condition ’ is a va gue term ( F uller 2006, G iri, et al. 2005, Poore 1991) and it carries many meanings . T he def inition of forest depend on many things like the context, purpose, scale, ecological functions, seasonality and phenology , spatiality, cultural practice of native so cieties, life form s on it, structural properties inclu ding leaf ty pe, prod uctivity. It also depends on agents (people/agencies), w ho defines and classifies it. Q uality or condition of forests indicates its state of wellbeing w ith specific information such as tree height, diameter at breast height, species pattern. These variables are also important determinants to designate certain land cover category as forest. K eith (2006) mentioned that vegetation type / condition can broadly be defined in three major gr oups, (i) aesthetics, (ii) prod uction, (iii) biodiver sity. Sometimes these categories may overlap each other and belong to the same map legend to represent a macro-pattern of the vegetation distribution. G ibbons et al. (2006) highlighted the major drivers that contribute to the setting of properties of the vegetation condition definitions; these are (i) legislative requirements, (ii) to meet the sustainable land management objectives, (iii) restoration and conservation and (iv) state of environmental report ing. D ifferences in definitions also lead to the methods to be employed in the forest quality assessment (i.e. ground assessments, spatial modelling and data used) and mapping . Table 1 highlights the definitions used by key organizations to refer the quali ty/conditi on of forest vegetation. In F A O (2005 a) forest definition, they identified a certain area (0.5 ha) w ith trees higher than 5 metres. F A O (2005 a) mentioned that the areas that does not meet these criteria but have a potential to reach can be treate d as forests. F A O deliberately exclu des trees that stands in agricultural prod uction systems (like agro forestry ) from forest definition (F A O 2005a). In another global report, ‘State of W orld Forests 2005’, F A O (2005b) discussed agro forestry systems as be ing considered as forests. Z hu and W aller (2003) also mentioned that in F A O forest definition ‘plantations’ are inclu ded w ith ‘natural forests’. It is, therefore, clear that there is ambiguity and vagueness in F A O forest definition. W orld resources Institu te (Bryant et al. 1997), H ermosilla (2000) sho w ed concerns and disagreements to F A O forest estimation approaches . W RI ( Bryant et al. 1997) defined w orld tropical forests on the basis of seven criteria , in their term ‘Frontier Forests’, as the large, ecolo gically intact and relatively undisturbed natural forests that still remain. W RI claimed that only 40% of the F A O estimated current w orld forests (i.e. 1.5 billon hectares out of 3.8 billion hectares of global total) can qualify as frontier forests. In c ollating global forest estimations, F A O gathered information from (i) existing forest inventories, (ii) regional investigations of land cover change, (iii) a number of global stu dies focusing on the interaction bet w een people and forests. This F A O estimati ons sho w general agreement w ith other pan tropical forest in ventories like E C ’s TRE ES project, I U C N ’s atlas of tropical forests and N A S A ’a Landsat Pathfinder Project at global level. But w hen compared at country level assessments, then disagreements arise (M ayaux 1998). M ayaux (1998) indicated that discrepancies happened d ue to forest definition differences among the agencies, differences in data source and processing methodology.
Table 1: Forest definitions adopted by different agencies
Forest D ef i n itions N atural Forest- Land spanning more than 0.5 hectares w ith trees higher than 5 metres an d a canop y cover of more than 10%, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not inclu de lan ds that are predominantly un der agricultural prod uction or agro-forestry systems. N ati ve forests- I U C N defined native natural forests as primary or virgin forests, w hich is unmodified by hu man act i v ity. Frontier forest- W RI defined primary native forest on the basis of seven specific criteria. In W RI’s term, frontier forests are defined as the large, ecologically intact an d rela ti vely undisturbed actual forests that still remain. N atural V egetation- USGS-N PS classified vegetation on the basis of physiognomic and florictic properties. They em phasized on canop y closure. C losed canop y vegetation- a class of vegetation that is dominated by trees w ith interlocking cro w ns generally forming 60%-100% to be qualified as closed canop y forests. O pen canop y vegetation - generally having 25%- 60% cro w n cover. T rop ical Rai n Forest- Richards defined tropical rain forests as evergreen, h ygrophilous in character, at least 30 meter high, but usually m uch taller, rich in thick -stem med lines an d w ood y as w ell as herbaceous epiphytes. V egetation Q ual ity- Vegetation quality is defined as the degree to w hich the current vegetation diff ers from a benchmark representing the average characteristics of a mature an d ap parently long-undisturbed stand of the same vegetation com m unity. N atural forests- Schelhas (1996) integrated com m unity demands w hile defining natural forests. H e defined natural forest plantations are agricultural systems that integrate the use of native trees w ith the prod uction of agricultural and other com modities as w el l as fuel w ood an d other household necessities. T i mer Prod ucti v ity- Based on timber prod uctivity the forests (mainly in In donesia) are defined an d classified in three major grou ps; (i) H igh Yiel d Forest (>80 m 3 /ha), (ii) M ediu m Yield Forest (40-79 m 3 /ha) and (iii) Lo w Yield Forest (<39 m 3 /ha). Forest- land covered w ith trees, brush w ood or jungle. (Forest A ct V II of 1865). Forest- Forests in Bangladesh inclu de ‘forest’, ‘ w aste lan d’ an d ‘land suitable for afforestation’. Forest is defined as an ecological entity ‘ w ith a minim u m of 10% cro w n cover of trees an d/or bamboos generally associated w ith w ild flora, fauna, and natural soil conditions, and not subject to agricultural practices’.
A gencies/ References FAO (2005a)
K ey C haracteristics C onsi dered - Tree height - specific area covered
Poore (1991) W orld Resources Institute (1997) USGS-N PS (2006*)
-primary/virgin forests - unmodified by hu man actions - based on seven criteria (i.e.) -ecologically intact - native forests
- based on physiognomic and floristic properties - considered on canop y closure
Biologist Richards (1996)
- based on tree height -climate
H abitat hectare ap proach, Parkes (2006) Sehelhas (1996)
- vegetation quality com pared w ith a benchmark reference.
- forest that can meet com m unity deman ds
K arta w inat a (1981)
- quality of w ood merchandisable.
- covered all kinds of vegetation. - land is the main com ponent to get government custod y. - forest is considered as an ecological entity. -minim u m 10% cro w n cover. -no agricultural activity.
M oE F (1992)
D ifferences in adopted definitions and their resultant effects are also evidenced at national or regional level forest mapping and quantifications. For instance, in Q ueensland ( A ustralia), native forests are called ‘remnant vegetat ion’, defined as vegetation w ith certain amount of canop y cover ( N elder 2006). Parkes et al. (2006) proposed a criteria and a scoring system based on tree canop y health, tree dbh, understorey vegetation, organic litter, and landscape context (i.e. patch si ze, neighbour hood, distance to core area ) for A ustralian native vegetation mapping . This approach differs from native vegetation definition in the savannah forest mapping used in G hana. In G hana, they simply count the number of trees per hectare of area to make label for a forest category w ithout considering its structural quality . D uad ze (2004) mentioned that >150 trees per hectare of area is qualified to be labelled as closed savannah w oodland, bet w een 75 to 150 trees to be qualified as open savannah w ood land and <50 trees per hectare is termed as the riparian vegetation. In Bangladesh, forest is not defined in vegetation quality terms nor based on ecological principles rather forest is conceived as a legally designated land supposed to undertake land mana gement through state departments. Bangladesh Forest D epartment in 1992 adopted forest definition considering forest as an ecological entity, follo w ing F A O definition as it says ‘ w ith a minimum of 10% cro w n cover of trees and/or bamboos, generally associate d w ith w ild flora, fauna, and natural soil conditions, and not subject to agricultural practices ’ (M oE F 1992). But in practice f orests in Bangladesh inclu de ‘forest’, ‘ w aste land’ and ‘land suitable for afforestation’ (Farooque 1997) . It indicates that forest in Bangladesh perceived as a legal statute, it does not necessar il y mean that it holds tree cover. Section 3.1 gives an overview on forest management policies in Bangladesh.
3. C ase Stu d y from Bangladesh : I m pacts of D i lem ma i n Forest M anagement A p proaches A ccording to Bangladesh government statistics, M adhupur moist decid uous forests (figure 1) occupies 120,255 hectares (BF D 2001, BBS 2002) of land w here sal tree ( Shorea robusta) is the predominant species. The case stu d y w ill demonstrate ho w i nappropriate policies and plans adopted under the in fluence of international agencies and donors, and the definition dilem ma contribute to deforestation at local scale. O ptical remote sensing techniques using different satellite sensors like Corona (1962 ), A ST ER (2002) Landsat (MSS of 1977, T M of 1997, E T M+ of 2003), and Q uickbird (2003) at different spatial resolution have been used in the stu d y. Post classification assessment results w ere used to assess the forest cover change in the stu d y area using m uti-temporal, m ulti spatial resolution satellite data. This p ost classification technique is considered to be one of the most appropriate and com monly used methods for change detection (Jensen 1996, L u et al. 2004). Because the method does not require mult i-date image registration and radiometric and atmospheric corrections w hat are essential in pixel -to-pixel comparison such as image differencing and image rationing (Coppin et al. 2004). Field visits w ere also integral part of the research. In ad dition , a thorough literature revie w w as carried out to examine the forest ma nagement policies of Bangladesh to show how successive policies affected the forests in B angladesh .
Figure 1: Study area map, Madhupur thana.
3.1 A ssessi ng Forest M an agement Pol icies i n Bangladesh : From C olon ial D om i n ion to Ecological I m perial ism Bangladesh forest management policies have got a historical inheritan ce from the British, Pakistan regime. The la ws, acts, ordinances d uring this time carried colonial attitu des and forests were seen as a major source of revenue earning. The initial onslaughts faced by sub continental forests carried out by the then British government for their ship building ind ustry and for rail w ay sleeper supply that continued up to mid dle of nineteenth century (G adgil 1993). G adgil (1993) mentioned that Britain w as the major destr oyer of global forests at that time. Forest policies, introd uced by them, reflected timber prod uction provisions and restricted/curtailed the access of local people to use forest prod ucts and s ervices. The Forest A ct 1865, 1894 and 1927 outlined the terms and conditions of state control of forests and proposed scientific forest management through different w orking plans. Forest A ct 1927 w as a comprehensive outline of forest management approaches . In this act, ‘trees’, ‘timber’, ‘forest-prod uce’ w ere defined but ho w geographical extent (inclu ding w aste land and forests) of forest sho uld be delineated w as not indicated. Same motivations w ere transmitted to subsequent forest policies (i.e. in 1955 and 1962) w ithout significant change. Revenue collection activiti es from the forests w ere undertaken by the then feu dal landlords for the British rulers until the enactment of East Bengal State A cquisition and Tenancy A ct 1950 (EBST A 1950). Forests were br ought under state o w nership from feu dal and private management w ith the introd uction of EBST A 1950. Since independence Bangladesh government introd uces several acts, la ws, ordinances in relation to forest protection, conservation and associated ecological management. Forest Policy 1979 and 1994 w ere t w o
major land marks in this course. The 1979 Forest Policy ad vocat ed for a scientific approach of forest management. It also encouraged for forest quality im provement so that optim u m forest resource can be extra cted. A significant shift from this colonial outlook is seen in the Forest Policy adopted in 1994 (w ith technical and financial assistance of A sian D evelop ment Bank), w here it puts a major thrust for social forestry and partici patory forestry. A lthough thi s a ct emancipated from colonial attitu de but infected w ith unclear vis ion of forest conservation approaches w hich w as heavily motivated by donor notions. Because the adopted approach w as unclear how people’s participation in the name of social forestry at the same time upholding w ildlife and biodiversity protection can be equally maintained . This policy also ad vocated to practice agroforestry by long term leasing out forest lands to local people w ithin the legally designated forest area. The social forest a ctivities officially intru ded into the core forests for the first time under the banner o f forest co-management . This approach is a direct contravention to F A O (2005a ) forest definitions and also w ith Bangladesh government ’s forest definition (M oE F 1992), w here any kinds of agricu ltural activities are exclu ded from forest definitions. In ad dition, there w as no indication in the policy ho w to demarcate / delineate forest boundaries such as core forests, fragmented forest or buffer forests so that appropriat e ecological management (e.g. social forestry or P A management) can be implemented. This shift of forest management (i.e. implementing social forestry ) is also a direct contradiction to Bangladesh W ildlife (Preservation) O rder 1973 in several w ays. First the purposes and objectives to form Protected A reas ( N ational Parks, W ildlife Santuaries and Game Reserves, formed through this order in order to protect native flora and fauna and preserve scenic beauty) are incompatible w ith the provisions of social fores try practices via co-management , w here exotic species w ere recom mended . Secondly, natural habitats for w ildlife are destroyed w ith the destruction of natural forests or w ith the fragmentation of forests. Bangladesh W ildlife (Preservation) O rder 1973 gave c omprehensive list of endangered w ildlife in three sched ules so that their habitats can be ensured for safer living ; the act also outlined different kinds of punishment options for the activities that goes against these w ildlife protection. The forest acts and policies in Bangladesh are lacking of long term vision of ho w forest should be seen in distant future. These policies are also deficient of re flecting the thought of local experts rather heavily influenced by the donor perspectives, w here these t w o perspectives may not be mutually inclusive (C D P 2000). M ost of the forest policies in Bangladesh failed to read the right causes of deforestation. The main causes mentioned in policy documents are population pressure, poverty, high demand of fuel w ood, negative im pacts of local and political elites, and encroachment of forest land by local people (Gani 1990). These immediate causes complimented by massive corruption at corporate level w ith the influence and support of corrupt bureaucrats and politicians (Islam 2007), official leasing out of big chunks of forest land for shrimp cultivation (Sanyal 2003), rubber plantation and other land use purposes like establishment of office parks and arm y security installations ( Farooqke 1997, Islam 2006), short term p olicy implementation ( H ermosilla 2000 ), unresolved land tenurial disputes w ith local com munities (Bhui yan 1994), institutional inefficiency in terms of internalizing right approaches , lack of accountability and transparency. It is also evident that distinc tion bet w een deforestation and forest degradation is not clear in the policy documents ; as a result , some clear felling of natural forests are carried out by the Forest D epartment (see figure 3 ) to make room for afforestation program (w ith exotic species) in the name of social forestry . Thus forest erosion may happen in the forest w ithout declining forest cover because canop y cover may be created on forest land w ith exotic tree species . But ecological functions and native w ildlife protection may not be prop erly supported w ith that forest .
4. T he R esu lts: C apturi ng D eforestation w ith Remote Sensi ng 4.1 D eforestation i n M ad h u p ur M adhupur forest w as a compact, densely forested area in the past (Bhuiyan 1994), even in the 1960s (figure 2). But w ithin last few de cades it has shrunken abru ptly (Figure 2 and Figure 5 ). It is evidenced that only about 2000 hectares (w hile closed and open canop y forest classes are combined in the classified Landsat E T M+ 2003 imagery ) of forest left in the current concentration of M adh upur forest (mainly located in M adhupur thana ) w hile present government statistics sho w 18000 hectares forest still remain (M oE F 1997, Gani 1990, BF D 1999) in the same thana area . The forest w as draped over almost 30000 hectares of area in and around t he c urrent forest occurrence . Figure 2 sho ws a t emporal change of forest cover since 1962 and it
a. Corona 1962.
b. Landsat MSS 1977.
c. Landsat TM 1997.
d. ASTER 2002.
Forest Area (closed, open)
Rubber/Exotic Tree Species Floodplain Tract Area Wetlands 8
e. Landsat TM 2003
Figure 2: Forest map distribution in M adhupur tract area.
also gives a clear pattern of rapid deforestation in the area . The major forest cover changes w ere occurred d uring the period of 1962 to 1977 and then speed y and stead y deforestation continued u p to 2003. Q uickbird satellite data (Figure 3; the area in the Q uickbird image is equivalent to the boxed area in Figure 2e) sho ws much w orrying picture of the forest w hile consid ering forest quality concerns w hat the mid resolution imagery of 30 metre pixel of Landsat T M or E T M+ and 80 metre Landsat MSS are not capable to sho w . Q uickbird image classification portrays land cover classes in detail w hich sho ws many ty pes of land use patterns such
Buffer zone plantation through agroforestry. There is no clue why this area were chosen as buffer zone.
See Figure 4 for details of this boxed area.
Rasulpur Forest Office
Natural forest clear felled to make room for social forests.
Natural forest land conversion for security installation
Closed canopy Forest Open Canopy Forest Cleared out Areas Wetland/Homestead Figure 3: L and cover classes in Q uickbird image. 9
Grassland Pineapple Garden Banana Garden Vegetable Garden
as fruit/vegetable gardens as regarded as forests that F A O (2005 a) does not consider as forest . The scale effect (from mid spatial resolution satellite data to high spatial resolution satellite data) also indicates that actual forest cover is much less if spatial resolution is p ut in the context. A ccording to the Q uickbird image classification , open canopy forests termed as ‘Frontier Forest’ by W orld Resources Institute ( Bryant et al. 1997) or ‘ C losed Forest’ by F A O (Z hu and W aller 2003) , spread only over an area of 600 hectares (w hat Landsat E T M+ estimated about 1200 hectares). These figures suggest a striking variation from the statistics presented in government published reports (i.e. 18000 hecta res for M adhupur Thana presented in M oE F 1997) . It is also interesting to note that the red areas (classed as cleared out areas in the bigger yello w box in figure 3 ) are completely treeless ( verified by extensive ground truthing by the author ) and is char acterised w ith the coppice of Shorea robusta . These red areas can be termed as forests according to the F A O (2005 a) forest definition, w here it says ‘ the areas that does not meet these criteria but have a potential to reach can be treated as forests’. But F A O definition did not indicate for ho w long a vacant land like this may remain denu ded to be treated as to qualify as forest land ( H ermisilla 2002). So there is a clear gap in the F A O definition about w hen the land is treated deforested and w hen as fores t land. Therefore if potential areas are considered as forests w hat never reaches in its shape is a clear limitation of the definition. The disappointing thing is, these shortcomings of national level data are not challenged and subsequently fed into globa l forest resource estimates.
4.2. C auses of D eforestation The massive forest change docu mented above happened mainly in Bangladesh regime by official conversion of vast chunk of natural for est-lands (by leasing out processes of forest land) for rub ber plantation, creation of air force firing ground, establishment of office parks and as a w hole because of poor governance (Figure 4). This massive forest land
Figure 4: Forest fragmentation in the name of eco -park project in M adhupur portrayed in the Photograph. conversion is a major cause of deforestation in the area w hat w as not a result of l and grabbing or illegal encroachment of forest lands rather this conversion is a n outcome of government decision. Secondly, introd uction of A sian D evelopment Bank sponsored social forestry
program mes and eco-park in nat ural forests impacted ad versely on th e forest in a number of ways. Social forestry com ponents are said to im plement out of natural forests, on denu ded lands or on unused government lands but this guideline w as not follo w ed in M adhupur forest. These program mes also ignited social tensions (G ai n 2002) in the area. Figure 3 sho ws a clear violation of this provision, w here Forest D epartment cleared out natural forests to make room for social forest implementation . It is also true for the buffer zone plantation. Buffer zone plantation is assumed to protect core forest are as in the Protected A reas . As buffer and core zone forests are not delineated on the map, the local f orest office sporadicall y selected areas for buffer zone plantation. The local forest officials, d uring field visit, did not able to clarify w hy certain a reas are chosen to im plement PBS A (Participatory Benefit Sharing A greement) based social forestry (agro forestry, w oodlot plantation). It w as seen w hile visiting local forest office at Rasulpur that the forest office is decorated w i th different kinds of social forestry statistics in the forms of tables and graphs as an attempt to display their success in forest management. It also indicates Forest D epartment ’s inadequate attention and interest to manage natural forest ra ther than projects in the form of social forestry.
5. D iscussion: I m pacts of d i verse ap proaches on forest management 5.1 Local forest management as gu i ded b y i nternational agencies E valuation of forest management approaches in Bangladesh since independence and t he empirical examples examined above indicates that forest management directives generally follo w those avenues w hich are w ell -suited to attract international funding. In other w ords it can be said, international agencies (both donors and technical partner s) influenced forest management policies so that it becomes easy for them to undertake similar ty pe of programs in different parts of the w orld. For instance, Forest D epartment undertook social forest ry (it’s a non -forest activity) under participatory appr oach in 1981 w ith financial support from A sian D evelopment Bank. First, t he project w as implemented outside natural forest area and this became the major thrust of Forest Department. Sharma et al. (2006) mentioned that ‘a negative impact of increased focus on creating tree resources outside natural forests w as seen in red uced funding for natural forest management as the government diverted funds for social forestry in order to utilize donor funds by providing their matching national contribution’. W hen gove rnment recognized that most of their projects w ere implemented outside the natural forest area, they then started Forest ry Sector Project (FSP) in the 1990s w here social forestry w as one of the com ponents. It is interesting to note that Forest D epartment started benefit sharing arrangement w ith the community t hrough Participatory Benefit Sharing A greement (PBS A ) and implemented social forestry (combining agro -forestry, w oodlot plantation, strip plantation) activities. This has a good rationale in theory; ho w ever, it opened the avenue to abuse the project concept by the concerned authorities in clearing natural forest areas and carry out social forestry activities in those areas. Therefore, t his can be treated as a mistake as it ultimately led deforestation in the natural forests , and forest-fragmentation . It opened opportunities for the concerned officials to be corrupt . A ll these factors resulted in significant forest decline w ith in a very short span of time (section 4 gave a clear evidence) . O ther dif ferent causes as off -spin effect of this co-management approach like problems in selecting participants, favoring local influential people as plot recipients exacerbate the situation (G ain 2002). This PBS A w ithin co-management approach w as implemented w ith financial aid from A D B and extended to seven Proected A reas (i.e. M adhupur N ational Park, La w achara N ational Park, Rema - K alenga W ildlife Santuary, C hunoti W ildlife Santuary, H azarikhil W ildlife Santuary, H imchari N ational Park and Teknaf Game Reserve) , wh ich can be seen an area of conflict w ith P A management objectives . Forest D epartment considered
three kinds of activities in order to maintain protection and conservation of biodiversity in Protected A reas, these are, (i) buffer zone plantations around the protected areas, (ii) core area protection, (iii) extension of protected areas and declaring new areas where possible. This protected area management objectives in paper and actual actions undertaken in the field are quite contrary. In ad dition, it is not clear w hat is the geographical delineation of buffer areas and w hich should be demarca ted as core areas; and w hat w ould be the criteria in differencing this two. Section 4 described (see figure 3 ) ho w local forest office randomly selected areas as buffer area in the natural forest area and implemented social forestry. Figure 3 also sho ws how core forest area in M adhupur forest tampered in the na me of social forestry. It is imperative to mention that the principles of Protected A reas such as biodiversity pr otection are attuned w ith forest definitions adopted by F A O (2005a) and Bangladesh government (MoE F 1992 ); it also complies w ith the criteria of ‘ N ative Forests’ of W orld Resources Institute (Bryant et al. 1997). H o w ever, these principles are rarely being reflected in the actual actions. Rather the forest fragmentation happened as a result of social forestry or eco -park project an d ultimately affected local biodiversity (both flora and fauna). M alvido (1998 ), Laurance et al. (1998) sho w ed in the case of Bra zillian A mazon forests that the fauna and floral diversity significantly declined from continuous forests to forest fragments. So, it can be argued that I U C N (2002) listed plant and w ildlife species in M adhupur forest i.e. 63 plant species, 12 amphibians, 25 reptiles, 149 birds and 35 species of mam mals are under serious threat d ue to the current forest management approach and it is a direct violation to Bangladesh W ildlife (Preservation) O rder 1973. A gainst this back drop, c urrently Bangladesh Forest D e partment is implementing a protected area management project kno w n as N ishorgo Support Project (also kno w n as co-management of Tropical Forests in Bangladesh) w ith financial and technical support from US A I D. This project is aimed at facilitating a process to establish an appropriate protected area management system in the areas under the jurisdiction of Bangladesh Forest D epartment. N ishorgo Support Project w as designed on the basis of a critical analysis of the current situation, earlier mistakes, and as a w hole the issues that are crucial to demonstrate a sustainable protected area management approach in Bangladesh. This project is w orking in five protected areas to demonstrate a viable model to ensure the conservation of protected areas adopting a comp rehensi ve collaborative management model. This project has given emphasis to provide w ith alternative income generation opportunities for the poor resource users in the broader landscape around the protected areas. This w ould also provide necessary capac ity building support to the Forest D epartment for its Protected A rea management programme w hich is also know n as N ishorgo program. To make this objective explicit the name of the project w as renamed as N ishorgo Support Project w hich w as earlier kno w n as c o-management of tropical forest in Bangladesh. This project w ould take special initiative to rehabilitate and restore the habitats in the targeted protected areas. This project may bring a positive change to the Protected A rea M anagement regime in Bangla desh. H o w ever, N ishorgo Support Project is probably the only initiative that tried to conceptualize and ad dress key biodiversity conservation challenges in its design . In general, it can be conclu ded that impru dent projects over the last t w o decades has resulted in significant damage to the forest ecosystems in Bangladesh. This forest erosion (combination of forest degradation and forest decline) can also be seen as a result of conceptual dilemma in the forest management approaches along w ith other reaso ns.
5.2 G lobal Forest Esti mates: Feed i ng w ith Local m islead i ng statistics
The discussions above indicate that local and regional level forest management is steered and influenced mainly by the international agencies since they play a major role in financing and designing the management projects. But the deforestation as a result of poorly conceptualized projects is not reflected in published statistics. This gap in forest estimation (both in terms of quality and area) ultimately results in preparing i mproper reports on the status of forests in terms of its quality, areal extents and degradation and the causes responsible . T w o ty pes of reasons can be identified for such misl eading data prod uction; (i) the agencies are not capable of doing so d ue to fin ancial problems, lack of tech nical kno w ho w, skilled human resources and (ii) lack of interest to prod uce actual data. A nother problem in defining and delineating the forest lie in the fact that field level forest officers are given w ith the responsibilit y to generate estimates about forest at local level (refer to chapter X, section 72a, pp 48 of Forest A ct 1927, amended in 2 000). This local level estimation method (w hich is often faulty) , rather than using state -of-art techniques ( such as G IS and remote sensing), also affect the national forest statistics develop ment. Statistics generation in this traditional w ay at local level also evidence d during field visits.
35000 30000 25000
Forest area in hectares
20000 15000 10000 5000 0
Corona satellite 1962
Landsat MSS 1977
Landsat TM Landsat IRS Liss III 1997 ETM+ 2003 2005
Year and satellite sensors
Figure 5: Forest land use change in the study area (Madhupur Tract Area).
Figure 5 presents the deforestation pattern in the stu d y area, w ha t is not reflected in published statistics (M oE F 1999 ). These faulty statistics are then passed to the international organizations (like F A O) to develop their global estimates (C hou dhury 2006) . A s a result, global estimates do not represent real informat ion of forest occurrence. Sometimes international agencies engage local representatives at the country level w ho gather information from government institutions (or from published reports) and pass it to their concerned international organizations. For instance, the national estimate of forest cover of Bangladesh government source 10 .3% ( w w w.bforest.gov.bd , accessed on 01 January 2007 ) is almost identical to the State of W orld F orest (F A O 2005b) estimate for Bangl adesh for the year 2000 (i.e. F A O estimate is 10.2%). In anot her report called ‘F orest Resource A ssessment’, F A O (2005a) presented this figure as 6.7 for both the years 2000 and 2005. These figures and the results from the case stud y indicate a clear gap a nd confusions about the true representations of the forest status. The case stu d y reveals that 85% forest lands w ere deforested in the stu d y
area. Figure 6 may give another example of divergence bet w een forest estimates of different sources for the same a rea, w hich i ndicates that area estimates of fo rest distribution differs bet w een Joint Research Com mission (of E uropean Com mission) and Bangladesh Government source.
Figure 6: Forest distribution map of Bangladesh., left source: BFD 2005; right source: JRC, European Commission. The area in the box is showing the study area.
6. Propositions for Forest M anagement : Putti ng Local Issues i n the C ontext The lessons learnt from the above assessments suggest that forest management approaches should be free from multilateral donor guidelines. Their suggestions may be incorporated into policy formulation but m ust be scrutinized by different parties of that society before hand. The purpose, long term planning objectives of forest policies, ecological importance and potency of economic contribution may be w ell understood/ascertained by the local people and local experts. Forest management should be seen f rom a holistic point of view w here there must be a balance among biodiversity (inclu ding w ildlife) protection, recognition and maintenance of tangible and intangible ecological functions and its contribution to the econom y . This economic contribution to w ar ds the society must not be envisioned in a w ay that is only limited to incorporating local inhabitants into forest management activities (w hat is happening no w) rather there m ust be a recognition that the role of forest in w atershed protection, maintenance of micro climate, soil nutrient , underground w ater table, pollination plays an important role in contributing economic terms to far reaching communities as well . It must be accepted that factors like poverty alleviation or fuel wood supply to the people living close vicinity of the forest may not be the only determining factor in shaping out forest management directives. Because the direct causes of deforestation , generally perceived , are still an area of concern since the researchers are trying to explor e out the distant or underlying causes of deforestation. For instance, H ermosilla (2000) hinted that underlying causes may originate in the most basic features of the society, such as distribution of economic and political po w er, attitu des to w ards corrupti on, unrelated government policies ( A D B 2000). H ermosilla (2000) further mentioned that sometimes the causes of deforestation originate in other countries and transmit their effects through trade and the operation of transnational corporations. In line w ith this thought, some proposition s
are outlined belo w that may contribute to an appropriate forest management policy in Bangladesh. • Forest management poli cy should reflect locally based planning considering its environmental and ecological significanc e w ithin its socio-ecological-economic context. D onor guidelines may be incorporated but it should be embed ded into the local perspective s. Tangible and intangible services of forest ecology must be recognized in the planning process . Its services should b e seen from a holistic point of view w here a balance in benefit sharing could be maintained among the parties (both human and w ildl ife), at the same time other ecological process and functions must be kept on going. A ctual causes ( both direct and underly ing) of deforestation should be identified so that actions can be taken to ad dress those. M anagement approaches based on only random and adhoc identification of causes (or misreading the factors) may lead the forest into a point of no return. It must be re cognized that shaping out a forest is a long d uratio n process for successful ecological succession. Conflict resolution process must be in place w hich is a fundamental prerequisite for successful implementation of the planning. Conflicts may remain in t he field (e.g. historical land tenural disputes) an d it also may be seen bet ween government policies (policy conflicts) ; w ithout resolving these it may be unrealistic for any kind of protection or conservation measures to be successful . State-of-art method s and techniques (e.g. Geographical Information Science inclu ding Remote Sensing and G IS ) should be em ployed to ascertain and delineate different ty pe s of forest boundaries for protect ion and management . D ifferent terms and conditions , standards, criteria need to be explained beforehand (e.g. ‘forest’, ‘deforestation’, ‘afforestation’, ‘forest degradation’, ‘forest decline’ , ‘plantation forest ’) to make an efficient use of these techniques. These techniques may be used in planning process and at the same ti me can be deployed in monitoring process. Use of these techniques may make the activities more transparent and accountability m ay be ensured. Good governance is another fundamental prerequisite. A ny kinds of corruption must be uprooted. The offences should be w ell defined and process of curbing corrupt practices should be clearly stated in the ad ministrative manuals . Community and p rivate sector participation in planning, research and monitoring processes should be ensured so that management planning and im plementation is more people oriented . It is evidenced that sometimes there is lack of agreement bet w een the relevant policies and programme s implemented in the field .
7. C oncl usion It is argued in the paper that implementation of faul ty policies, pl ans, programs may cause major deforestation or degradation of forest ecosystems. This argument is supported by empirical resu lts derived from the case stu d y, w hat also sho ws that sometimes important causes of forest erosion are su perseded by comparatively minor causes. The diverse basis and
approaches in characterising and delineating forest ecosystems are affecting the forest statistics at national, regional and global levels and often prod ucing faulty statistics and reports. U ltimately this influences the planning and program development in forestry sector. It reveals through the stu d y that standardization (if not unification) of approach es in defining forestry ecosystem is extremely significant to ensure biodiversity conservation at gene, species and ec osystem levels. The paper also argued in favour of community participation, partnership, appropriate government modality and planning and program ming principles. It also emphasized the need of conceptualizing direct and indirect benefits, functions and attributes of forest ecosystems in relevant policy making, planning and its implementation. Em pirical results also suggest that forest categorization (e.g. buffer and core forests) is still absent in the field w hich creates an ambiguous situation for field of ficers to take decisions for programme implementation so that ecological functions of the forest can be ensured. These uncertainties lead the local forest planners to take sporadic actions that cause forest fragmentation w hat , in turn, acts against biodive rsity protection (Laurence et al. 1998). The paper also sho w ed that global model of ecological management approach may not effectual for regional / local ecological management rather policy guidelines should be contextualised based on local socio-ecologica l-economic issues.
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