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  FORESTRY SYMPOSIUM 1996

KEYNOTE ADDRESS - OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT AID POLICIES AND SUSTAINABLE UTILISATION OF FOREST RESOURCES IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

Laurance Roche
Emeritus Professor, University of Wales,Bangor, U.K.

The gradual emergence of forestry in the developing world as a well defined sector, during the post-colonial period and subsequently, coincided with the emergence in the developed world of a forceful environmental movement equally concerned with related Third World Issues such as deforestation, the rights of indigenous people and the role of women in rural development. In due course this movement strongly affected the policies of governments in the developed world in regard to forestry at home and abroad. The institutional arrangements in the forestry sector in the developed world, because of their strength and maturity, and because the historic phase of deforestation was over, were able to incorporate quickly and efficiently new government policies on environmental issues and these new policies on the whole resulted in improved practices within the sector both public and private. In short, forestry in the developed world, without massive institutional upheaval, adjusted, as it has done progressively through the centuries, to the changing needs of society.


This has not happened in the developing world and the needs of society in many developing countries in so far as they relate to sustainable forestry practice, are not being met. There the forestry sector, almost entirely public, and struggling to emerge during the post- colonial epoch, has lost, or is in danger of losing, its identity as a sector. Before it had reached any significant degree of maturity in its institutional arrangements, and emerging in conditions of economic weakness and political uncertainty, it is being subjected to the full force of the environmental and social concerns of the urbanised, developed world. Without the means and institutional strength to cope adequately with a traditional forestry mandate, within a well- circumscribed forestry sector, it is now being asked to extend its activities across the entire agricultural landscape and to a very broad spectrum of social and environmental issues. As a consequence, in country after country the role of the forestry sector has been blurred, the scale of its operations massively extended without a corresponding increase in resources, and its institutional arrangements weakened.

It is against this background that an attempt is made to outline the true identity and role of the forestry sector, both public and private, in its current phase of historic development in the developing world. Arguments for the reappraisal of official development aid policies, for the forestry sector thus defined, are presented and it is concluded that unless changes in policies are made many forested nations in the developing world, particularly in Africa, will not be able to meet, now or in the immediate future, the objectives of many donor-sponsored international agencies, such as the Forest Stewardship Council, concerned with the consequences of deforestation and the sustainable utilisation of forest resources.


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