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Forest Conservation

FOREST CONSERVATION Forests are one of the most important natural resources that have been gifted to mankind for their sustained existence on earth. Without question, they provide us with huge amounts of tangible and intangible benefits, without which indeed, all life, less to say human life, would fall under the risk of extinction. Hence, it is vital for us to realize this importance of forest cover, conserve them, and ultimately work towards a sustainable way to maintain our forests and meet our needs at the same time.

In this paper, I have focused initially on the barbaric behavior of us human beings towards forests, and how they have been and are still being massacred around the globe to meet our ever increasing and limitless wants and needs. I have also focused on why some of our conservation strategies and efforts are not working out the way they were supposed to be. In doing so, I have tried to prove that countries like Bangladesh, who are still striving to develop should focus on forest conservation.

My hypothesis is that Bangladesh has the capability to both conserve its forest resources and grow economically at the same time, and create means for poverty elevation by conserving. In the second portion I have focused on a more comprehensive way to sustainable forest conservation, backing up my statements by expert opinions and case studies, and at the end a bit of focus was put on biodiversity importance and its conservation practices and strategies. I have also mentioned some economic, social and policy instruments that can be implemented in order to conserve forests better.

I have used some primary data, from specific experts on forests, but my main data sources are secondary sources, mainly the Internet and books. The full list of references is given in the work-cited portion at the end of the paper. From the very beginning of civilization, human beings have depended heavily on forests for their survival. Cradles of civilization, places of beauty, sources of spiritual inspiration, and treasure houses of natural riches, forests are closely linked with the physical, economic, and spiritual well being of people.

Man has depended on forests for lumber and furniture, medicine and cosmetics, firewood and food, drinking water and fresh air, respite and recreation. Despite their central role in the well being of people, forests are threatened by human actions on a scale and pace far beyond nature’s capacity to adapt. Forests are being destroyed around the globe at a scale, which has already passed the “alarming” stage. Reasons such as land shortage, urbanization, agriculture, excessive and unsustainable timber extraction have led to cutting down of miles upon miles of pristine forest land.

In 2002 alone, 10,000 square miles in Brazil’s Amazon region were deforested due to logging, ranching, farming, and infrastructure development. In Africa’s Congo Basin, roads built into legally protected areas like national parks by illegal loggers provided access for bush meat poachers and contributed to an increase in forest fires. (Overview). Although recently, the importance of forests has been realized to a degree, enough importance has not yet been put into the conservation sector so as to actually retain the remaining percentage of forest cover the world has left.

In this paper I have discussed just how much importance needs to be put on conservation of forests, why this needs to be done, how it can be done in a systematic, sustainable way, and what the aftermaths of not doing so may be. DEFINITIONS: For clarification purposes, a full list of definitions are given below so that the terms discussed in this paper are clear and not confused with other related terms. FOREST: The word “forests” originated from the Greek word “foris”, which means “out of doors”. Generally a large uncultivated area of land bearing trees and undergrowth is termed as a forest.

Wild animals are also associated with this term, which includes their interaction with the trees and undergrowth and their abiotic surroundings (air, soil etc. ). L. S Davis defined forests as a set of land parcels, which has or could have tree vegetation. (Davis). CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION: These two terms are often confused with one another, but they refer to two slightly different concepts. Preservation of anything is basically keeping it in such manner that it cannot or should not be touched or used.

For instance, if a forest is being preserved it means that it is to be kept untouched and nothing is to be extracted from it. It is to be left to its own accord. On the other hand, conservation implies more towards a sustained use, or use in a sustainable fashion. As in the example given above, if a forest is declared as conserved, it means that resources may be extracted in a systematic and accounted way, so as not to compromise the forests ability to replenish itself in terms of resources, and so that it may continue its intangible functions properly.

SUSTAINABILITY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The term refers to the existence and maintenance of a system, on its own accord, over a period of time, or that a system is able to stand and function by itself for a certain duration. This term then leads on to sustainable development, which the latest of concepts in development of a nation and its entities. Sustainable development means the development targeted at making resources available both useful yet sustained, so as no to compromise it for future generations. FOREST MANAGEMENT:

The society of American Foresters (1958) defined forest management as “the application of business methods and technical forestry principles to the operation of forestry property. ” (American). Generally put, forest management is the maintenance of forests in such a way that it is protected and conserved at the same time. In other words it the system by which we make sure that we extract resources from the forest in a sustained way (sustainable yields) and so that the forest does not lose its credibility. Forests come in various types and properties.

They range from tropical evergreen rain forests along the equator of the earth, to temperate and boreal forests in northern America and Russia. The world’s tropical forests, which circle the globe, are interestingly diverse. Ranging from the steamy jungles of the rain forests to the dry forests and savannas, they provide habitat for millions of species of plants and animals. Once covering some 15. 3 billion acres (6. 2 billion ha), these tropical forests have been reduced through cutting and clearing by 210 million acres (85 million ha) between 1985 and 1990. (Louise). This is in fact the story in most parts of the world.

Bangladesh for instance is losing its natural forestland at an alarming rate of 3. 3% a year, which is the third highest rate in the world after Jamaica and Haiti. (Miller, 641). Although plantations have gone up in percentage during the last few years, especially strip plantations, which are a recent phenomenon in Bangladesh, especially in Dhaka, natural forests are still on the decrease. This can be seen in the table below, as of the year 2000, which also includes comparisons to Asia and the world as a whole. Yet probably the saddest story to be told is that of the world’s tropical forests.

Although tropical rainforests cover less than six percent of the earth’s land surface, they are extraordinarily endowed with millions of animal species and represent seventy-five million years of evolutionary stability. Covering a land area approximately the size of the United States, tropical forests are being rapidly degraded, the equivalent of the combined areas of Ohio and Indiana each year. According to some experts, almost half the world’s tropical forests have already been wiped of the face of the earth for good. If we look at the table given below, we can get an estimate of what the situation really is at present.

Data is set as of research till the year 2000. |Forest Area and Change |Bangladesh |Asia (excl. Middle East) |World | |Total forest area, 2000 (000 ha) |1334 |504180 |3869455 | |Natural forest area, 2000 (000 ha) |709 |375824 |3682722 | |Plantations area, 2000 (000 ha) |625 |110953 186733 | |Total dry land area, 1950-1981 (000 ha) {a} |0 |1078121 |5059984 | |Change in forest area: | |  |Total, 1990-2000 |14 % |-1 % |-2 % | |  |Natural, 1990-2000 |-7 % |-1 % |-4 % | |  |Plantations, 1990-2000 |4 % |5 % |3 % | |Original forest {b} as a percent of | |  |total land area {c} |100 % |X |48 % | |Forest area in 2000 as a percent of | |  |total land area {c} |9 % |20 % |29 % | |  |  |  |  |  | FIG: table has been taken from an article titled “Forest Conservation” from the Earth Trends website. Ecosystem Areas by Type | |Total land area |14400 |2494475 |13328979 | |Percent of total land area covered by: | |  |Forests |12 % |17 % |24 % | |  |Shrublands, savanna, and grasslands |3 % |37 % |37 % | |  | | |  |mosaic |73 % |34 % |20 % | |  |Urban and built-up areas |0. 2 % |0. 2 % |0. 2 % | |  |Sparse or barren vegetation; snow and ice |0 % |10 % |16 % | |  |Wetlands and water bodies |11 % |2 % |3 % | The total global forest cover has decreased by approximately 4% in just 10 years, and Bangladesh has lost more than 7% of its natural forest resources.

This is alarming in more than just environmental perspectives. Yet, when we look into conservation possibilities, all sides, sectors, direct and indirect reasons need to be assessed before coming to any kind of decision. Since this paper is about the conservation needs of forests, all such sectors and sides have been touched in the following sections. Before the dawn of agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago, forests and open woodland covered about 15. 3 billion acres (6. 2 billion ha) of the globe. Over the centuries, however, about one-third of these natural forests have been destroyed. According to a 1982 study by FAO, about 27. 9 million acres (11. million ha) of tropical forests are cut each year-an area about the size of the States of Ohio or Virginia. Between 1985 and 1990, an estimated 210 million acres (85 million ha) of tropical forests were cut or cleared. In India, Malaysia, and the Philippines, the best commercial forests are gone, and cutting is increasing in South America. (J. Louise). Several factors are responsible for deforestation: clearing for agriculture, fuel woodcutting, and harvesting of wood products. By far the most important of these is clearing for agriculture. In the Tropics, the age-old practice of shifting, sometimes called “slash-and-burn,” agriculture has been used for centuries.

In this primitive system, local people cut a small patch of forest to make way for subsistence farming. After a few years, soil fertility declines and people move on, usually to cut another patch of trees and begin another garden. In the abandoned plot, the degraded soil at first supports only weeds and shrubby trees. Later, soil fertility and trees return, but that may take decades. As population pressure increases, the fallow (rest) period between cycles of gardening is shortened, agricultural yields decrease, and the forest region is further degraded to small trees, brush, or eroded savanna. Conversion to sedentary agriculture is an even greater threat to tropical forests.

Vast areas that once supported tropical forests are now permanently occupied by subsistence farmers and ranchers and by commercial farmers who produce sugar, cocoa, palm oil, and other products. In many tropical countries there is a critical shortage of firewood. For millions of rural poor, survival depends on finding enough wood to cook the evening meal. Every year more of the forest is destroyed, and the distance from home to the forest increases. Not only do people suffer by having to spend much of their time in the search for wood, but so does the land. Damage is greatest in dry tropical forests where firewood cutting converts forests to savannas and grasslands.

The global demand for tropical hardwoods, an $8-billion-a-year industry, also contributes to forest loss. Tropical forests are usually selectively logged rather than clear-cut. Selective logging leaves the forest cover intact but usually reduces its commercial value because the biggest and best trees are removed. Selective logging also damages remaining trees and soil, increases the likelihood of fire, and degrades the habitat for wildlife species that require large, old trees-the ones usually cut. In addition, logging roads open up the forests to shifting cultivation and permanent settlement. In the past, logging was done primarily by primitive means-trees were cut with axes and logs were moved with animals such as oxen.

Today the use of modern machinery–chain saws, tractors, and trucks -makes logging easier, faster, and potentially more destructive. In Bangladesh, it is more or less the same picture. Being a developing country which is yet striving to stand on its own feet, it is still extracting its only, and few available resources such as forests for the sake of rapid economic growth. Further more, the lack of land space is forcing settlers to encroach upon forest land, in order to use it for agriculture and fisheries purposes. The poor are using forests as means for survival, and there is little the administration (local governments and forest department) can do to stop illegal encroachment in forests.

Yet even so, as I have stated in my hypothesis, it is possible for a country like Bangladesh to conserve forests and elevate poverty at the same time, and the following sections will consist of exactly how this may be achieved. In his article “Conservation Strategy: Rationale and a Framework”, Dr. Mizanur Rahman Khan says, “…there is a difference in perspective regarding what to conserve and how to conserve. One group, often dubbed as ‘radical greens’, argue that the global environmental problems have already reached a crisis proportion and require a ‘fire fighting’ strategy. On the other side of the fence, there are ‘free-market’ environmentalists who argue that environmental laws and regulations impose unfair burdens on the economy and on individuals. ” A balance between the two is what Dr.

M Khan thinks is required, and he goes on to say that the protection of the environment is an essential part of development and that this is globally recognized. In this light, when we look at the conservation efforts being made to conserve the forests of Bangladesh, it is almost immediately clear that most of the above stated conditions are not being applied. Problems with definitions of protected areas still remain, and hence loop holes give people the chance to illegally encroach upon the land. So the question is now, what is there to be done? What steps should Bangladesh authorities take to prevent such anomalies and protect the forests we have? A simple solution is given by Dr.

Abdur Rob Khan, a well known economist and research director at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies, when he was asked as to what Bangladesh can do. Dr Rob says: “Indeed Bangladesh does have the capability to both conserve and elevate poverty at the same time. To do that, the first and most obvious step is to introduce participatory forestry. The stake holders have to be identified and given proper priority in terms of their needs and requirements. Second, we have far too less forest cover, only about 6-7% of the total land area right now. This has to be doubled. This can be done by introducing social forestry, homestead forestry and road side forestry.

Once these two steps have been undertaken, we can then head on towards poverty elevation, because both these steps will not only help the nation as a whole, but also see to the needs of the local people in and around forests. Other wise, conservation may face an early death, and we may as well lose our forests. ” The points upheld by Dr. Abdur Rob are to great degrees true. Indeed, the only way to ensure the survival of a resource and the people associated with it is to introduce those people into its management and care. Below I have stated some of the ways to o this and also some other steps towards conserving forests. PARTICIPATORY FORESTRY: (Social Forestry) To involve the local people, and to pick out the stake holders, the initial thing that needs to be done is to get to know the social aspects of the people involved.

This process is called “Focus Group Discussions” Basically; authority people have to go to the locality and get to know the social life styles of the local people. This is done by conducting such discussions with selected people from the locality. A questionnaire is made which involves everything ranging from average yearly income to what festivals they have and their matrimonial practices. Once this can be done, stake holders can be identified and selected out. They are then involved in to the management regimes, including decision making privileges to resource extraction etc. In depth discussions are then held with the selected people and local leaders to figure out how benefits are to be shared. Both tangible and intangible benefits from the forest are then held up to the people.

Participatory forestry can be seen in practice in the strip plantations in and around Dhaka along side roads and rail lines. These are basically community based resource management schemes, from which involved people receive benefits in future for their present services, hence encouraging them to conserve the site. ANCIENT FORESTRY PRACTICES In ancient Persia (now Iran), forest protection and nature conservation laws were in effect as early as 1,700 B. C. Two thousand years ago the Chinese practiced what they called “four sides” forestry-trees were planted on house side, village side, road side, and water side. More than 1,000 years ago, Javanese maharajahs brought in teak and began to cultivate it. In the African Tropics, agro forestry (growing of food crops n association with trees) has been practiced for hundreds of years. Relatively little is known about tropical forestry before the mid 1800’s in most places. At that time, the European colonial empires notably the Dutch, English, and Spanish-brought modern forest management practices to Indonesia, India, Africa, and the Caribbean. Centers for forestry and forestry research were established, and more careful records were kept. (J. Louise). SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY Modern forestry has its basis in 18th-century Germany. Like the Chinese and the Mayan forest practices, German forestry is essentially agricultural. Trees are managed as a crop. Two concepts are important: renewability and sustainability.

Renewability means that trees can be replanted and seeded and harvested over and over again on the same tract of land in what are known as crop “rotations. ” Sustainability means that forest harvest can be sustained over the long term. How far into the future were foresters expected to plan? As long as there were vast acres of virgin (original) forests remaining, this question was somewhat academic. Today, however, sustainability is a vital issue in forestry. Most of the world’s virgin forests are gone, and people must rely more and more on second- growth or managed forests. Perhaps we now face, as never before, the limits to long-term productivity. In the German forest model, forestry is viewed as a continual process of harvest and regeneration.

Harvest of wood products is a goal, but a forester’s principal tasks are to assure long-term productivity. That is achieved by cutting the older, mature, and slow-growing timber to make way for a new crop of young, fast-growing trees. HARVEST REGENRATION METHOD Three examples of timber harvest-regeneration methods (silvicultural systems) illustrate how foresters manage stands to produce timber on a sustained basis. SELECTION Individual trees or small groups of trees are harvested as they become mature. Numerous small openings in the forest are created in which saplings or new seedlings can grow. The resulting forest has a continuous forest canopy and trees of all ages.

Such systems favor slow-growing species that are shade tolerant. CLEAR CUTTING In clear cutting, an entire stand of trees is removed in one operation. From the forester’s point of view, clear cutting is the easiest way to manage a forest-and the most economical. Regeneration may come from sprouts on stumps, from seedlings that survive the logging operation, or from seeds that germinate after the harvest. If natural regeneration is delayed longer than desired, the area is planted or seeded. Clear cutting systems are often used to manage fast-growing species that require a lot of light. Resulting stands are even aged because all the trees in an area are cut-and regenerated-at the same time.

Clear cutting has become controversial in recent years because it has the potential to damage watersheds and because it tends to eliminate species of wildlife dependent on old growth trees. If clear cuts are kept small and the cutting interval is long enough, however, biological diversity may not be impaired. SHELTERWOOD In Shelterwood systems, the forest canopy is removed over a period of years, usually in two cuttings. After the first harvest, natural regeneration begins in the understory. By the time the second harvest is made, enough young trees have grown to assure adequate regeneration. Shelterwood systems favor species that are intermediate in tolerance to shade. Such systems are difficult to use successfully and are the least used of the three silvicultural methods described. ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS:

It seems that the obvious conclusion would be, as Dr. Rob said, that social forestry is the best option available to us at present. This will not only enable Bangladesh to conserve its few remaining forests, but also use those forests efficiently as a tool to poverty elevation. In fact this is not the first time research on Bangladesh forests has led to such conclusions. Many experts have done similar such research and have come to find this sort of forestry as efficient means of conservation. [pic] . Fig: Plantation in Shatchori reserved forest. Bangladesh yet faces many hard steps to the stage we call developed. Even now, it faces harden blockades when the question of conservation arises.

Poverty, high population, land shortage, illegal encroachment, political disfucntionings and sheer ignorance of duty are just some of the barricades that hold us back from preserving the few resources we have left in this once lushly rich country. It not as though we are not conserving. Indeed, plantations have come up across the country in what seems hopeful ways. It seems that there is yet hope for us and our forests. Shatchari, Modhupur, Lawachara, Medakochapia are some bright names in our success books concerning plantation forestry. Yet I raise the question to the jury, is this what we really want for us? Do we really want to see some time in the future that the country is devoid of its natural forests and has only plantations left?

Plantations, Strip plantations, mono-cultures, botanical gardens are very good in terms of forest cover, but if we lose all our natural forests, what would happen to all the hundreds of species of animals and birds that we have? We would lose them forever. Will it be possible for us to conserve them to? The case stands for the rest of the world as well. Tropical forests are being deforested at a football field size a day. Very soon, perhaps sooner than we think, we will lose what we have left to the greed of a few ignorant people. Will it not shame us to think that we human beings will be responsible of wiping out all other species just for the sake of our comfort? Is this not a question of ethics?

It remains to be seen as to how Bangladesh, less to say the rest of the world acts to save its forests, yet perhaps it is not wise to just sit and wait for some miracle to happen. It is time we put on our thinking caps and stepped out into the field, and tried our best to see to that we leave the few natural pristine forests remaining at peace with themselves. Work cited: • Mastrantonio J. Louise. “CONSERVATION OF FORESTS”. Online journal. nd. 18th December 2006. http://www. fs. fed. us/global/lzone/student/tropical. htm • Forests of the World. “Forestry Overview”. Online article. nd. 19th December 2006. http://www. worldwildlife. org/forests/ • Davis, L.

S 1966. “Forest Management”. 1st edition. pp 790. • Earth Trends. “Forest Conservation”. Online Journal. nd. 19th December 2006. http://earthtrends. wri. org/text/biodiversity-protected/country-profiles. html Forest Conservation. “Enterprise for the Americas in Action”. Online article. nd. 19th December 2006. http://www. earthvoice. org/animal. habitat/forest. conservation. htm • Khan, Mizanur Rahman. “Conservation Strategy: Rationale and a Framework”. Conservation and Sustainable Development. • Interview : Dr. Abdur Rob Khan. Research Director at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 20th December 2006.

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