FORESTRY AND P0VERTY ALLEVIATION, A POLICY PERSPECTIVE
PRESENTATION TO THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY
(NOTING: The Cabinet meeting of
The Forestry programme
promotes the sustainable use and protection of plantation, woodlands and indigenous forests to achieve social and
economic benefits and to promote rural development, through policy development,
regulation, facilitation and monitoring and evaluation. The forestry sector has
significant potential for rural development and job creation in underdeveloped
areas. The eradication of poverty and underdevelopment
is the greatest challenge facing the world today,
Poverty is generally characterized by the inability of individuals, households, or entire communities, to command sufficient resources to satisfy their basic needs. The definition of poverty has been the subject of debate amongst policy analysts, herewith follows some of the ways in which poverty is conceptualized, for example:
We should note that a major threat
to poverty reduction is the spread of HIV/AIDS. The Food and Agriculture Organization
has estimated that by 2020
Considering the purpose of this presentation the following will be addressed:
The forest resources of
through DWAF will in future no longer directly manage plantations, this role is
being transferred to the private sector, to this effect
National forest laws have the following elements; to promote:
Elements referred to above are covered by the
following forest laws, the:
National Forest Act no 84 of 1998;
Forestry Laws Amendment Act no 35 of 2005
to the laws and policy framework referred to above forest management in
3. FORESTS AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION
Forests, woodlands and other
natural resources are crucial to the livelihoods of millions of poor people in
Answers to these questions are
essential to design effective policies and projects to alleviate poverty, and
thereby contribute to meeting the challenge of halving poverty reduction by
2014. In order for Forestry to be
relevant in the current developmental agenda, it needs to make a substantive
contribution to poverty reduction in
Herewith follows forestry means of intervention that contribute to poverty alleviation:
3.1 Subsistence and informal trade
The very poorest have to rely on the
collection of a wide range of items growing in the wild to sustain and
supplement their livelihoods.
(i) the supply of basic needs;
(ii) a saving of cash resources; and
(iii) A buffer or safety-net during times of misfortune.
3.2 The supply of basic needs
This is a function where forest resources do make a contribution towards poverty alleviation. Firewood, building poles, medicinal plants, and edible fruits are all critical to the livelihood of the rural poor. For instance, it is estimated that over 80 percent of rural households use fuelwood as their primary source of energy.
3.3 Cash saving
The saving of scarce cash resources is an important role played by forest resources. Being able to collect such resources to meet daily needs for energy, shelter, medicine and food allows scarce cash resources to be used to secure other household needs, as well as helping to accumulate the necessary asset base for a more secure livelihood. This includes the education of children, investment in agricultural tools, and capital for income generation activities.
3.4 The safety-net function of forest goods
This refers to the role of assisting households cope in times of adversity. During such times many rural households turn to forest resources for subsistence use or as a means to generate income. Because the safety-net function of forest resources is temporarily variable, there is little information regarding its prevalence throughout rural communities.
4. FORESTS AND DEVELOPMENT
4.1 The commercial forest sector
The commercial forest sector offers significant business opportunities for small-scale entrepreneurs, particularly for small growers, contractors and saw millers. It is reported that there is more than 30 000 small growers, 240 small saw millers and 300 independent contractors, of which half are black emerging contractors. In addition to this the pulp and paper industry has created more than 10 000 income opportunities for waste paper vendors.
4.2 Economic contribution of forests
The forestry industry is of considerable importance to the national economy, and to large numbers of poor people living in remote rural areas. Forest management generates 170,000 jobs (this range from permanent, contract and informal workers). The majority of the jobs created are low skilled based and concentrated in rural areas where there is high unemployment. In comparison the forest sector contributes about 1,1% to the total Gross Domestic Product of the Republic of South Africa and 1,4% to the total formal employment; this is comparable to other large sectors of the economy1.
(1. Sub-sectors: plantation forestry, sawmilling, pulp and paper, treated poles, charcoal, & firewood)
4.3 Non-Timber Forest Products
Income from the trade in forest goods constitutes a significant business opportunity for many small-scale entrepreneurs. There is widespread trade in forest goods both within rural communities and in external markets. Rural livelihoods are characterized as being diverse and opportunistic.
Therefore, for any single forest product enterprise, be it marula beer sellers, woodcarvers, timber small-growers, medicinal plant collectors or fuelwood vendors, a large number of people earn relatively small amounts of income but it is still important as it can be used to settle debts or make payments that do not occur frequently, such as school fees, the purchase of agricultural implements, or household improvements
4.4 Households and livelihoods
The rural poor rely on forests for important subsistence goods, such as fuelwood, medicines, wood for construction and household items such as brooms, spoons, Furniture as well as edible leaves, roots, fruits and medicines. Goods, such as fuelwood, medicines, wood for construction and household items such as brooms and cooking utensils, and medicines are also sold at markets, along with crafts and timber products, providing families with extra income and improving food security. Modest in scale, such forestry activities nonetheless make a real difference to poor people
4.5 Forest enterprise development
The benefits of forest products are not only restricted to household use and the substitution of cash items with “free” forest goods. Forest products are also traded extensively and contribute to rural household incomes. For instance the commercial forest sector offers significant business opportunities for small-scale entrepreneurs, particularly for small growers, contractors and saw-millers.
Additionally, other forest operations like charcoal production, honey production and nurseries can be a source of much-needed employment, raising incomes and so indirectly strengthening food security
5. POLICY PERSPECTIVES
Policy measures can also help boost the contribution of Forest resources to reducing poverty. The department will continue to promote forest policies that are people centred to ensure that poor people in forest areas must have a much greater say in decisions regarding the use of forest resources. In areas where forests are central to livelihoods, the main objective of forest management should be meeting their needs in a sustainable way.
It is critical that forest social and economic development opportunities are ‘included’ in Provincial Growth and Development Plans as well as municipal Integrated Development Plans. Forest-based poverty alleviation programmes should not be carried out in isolation, but must be part of an overall Rural Development Strategy of the National Government.
An overriding Forestry Sector Strategy, the Charter and the National Forestry Programme as well as a guiding document for Local Economic Development are being developed to help set the priority work programmes for social and economic development through sustainable management of forests.
The Portfolio Committee could further note the work of Working for Water and Working on Fire forestry related programmes that considerably contribute to poverty eradication within the Expanded Public Works Framework.
In conclusion, Forestry will contribute to poverty eradication within government’s larger agenda by ensuring that the following are implemented:
a. State forest transfers and forestry-related land reform
b. Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment in the Forest Sector
c. Community Forest Management (woodlands, small indigenous forests and woodlots)
d. Forest Products Innovation
e. Management of Ecological Services (climate change, soil & water conservation) and providing information on the ecosystem services value attached to South Africa’s forests, including the fraction of the benefits captured exclusively or primarily by rural communities.
f. Working with other government departments to encourage multipurpose land use in forests and woodlands, on State, private and communal lands, so that benefits and opportunities from the full range of resources are optimized from any piece of land.
g. Strengthening and developing initiatives on improving access rights for rural communities with a concerted strategy to improve opportunities for the poorest to benefit from both private and state forest resources.
h. A review of the legal provisions regulating the subsistence harvesting of forest produce is required to make legal use possible and accessible to the rural poor.
i. Developing and clarifying the roles and responsibilities of all tiers of government, and local structures, particularly traditional authorities, in protecting and regulating sustainable use of forest resources.
j. A long-term fuelwood strategy, which takes into account the predicted 2,5 million rural households remaining without electrical supply for the next twenty years, needs to be developed and implemented.
k. National statistics are required to record the significance of subsistence use of forest produce and services by the rural (and urban) poor. (studies commissioned in Gauteng and Bushbuckridge)
l. Acknowledging the role of women in forest development through proactive gender policies in all DWAF strategic initiatives.
m. Research on the appropriate yields that can be harvested without damaging natural population levels for a number of important plant species is urgently required.
n. Support needs to be provided to the small-scale tree growers and sawmilling industry in securing log supplies and a strategy developed for the saw timber segment of the sector generally, in order to meet the rising and projected increase in demand.
o. Supporting charcoal joint ventures, for example the remaining DWAF plantations in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo contain extensive areas of hardwood suitable for charcoal manufacture.