FAO estimates that close to 1.6 billion people – more than 25% of the world’s population – rely on forest resources for their livelihoods. The forest products industry alone is a major source of economic growth and employment, with global forest products traded internationally in the order of USD 186 billion, of which developing countries account for 20 percent in which forest based employment provides 32 million jobs (World Bank http://web.worldbank.org Accessed November 2012).
The contribution of FGR _&M to many countries’ formal economies is important, when the forests and forest industry sectors are considered (e.g. Solomon Islands p4, Burkina Faso p2-3). Countries reported differing contributions of these sectors to the economy, both in terms of value of output and also as a proportion of GDP, export income, government revenue and employment. Contribution to GDP ranged widely, from 20% of GDP in Tanzania and valued at USD 2.2 Billion per annum (p 16, MNRT 2008), 20% of GDP or 478 Billion FMG per annum in Madagascar (p12), 6% of GDP in Gabon (p 8), 3-4% of GDP in Germany (pp5, 57) valued at 170 Billion Euros per annum to 0.026% in Cyprus (p7), to negligible for countries with no forest industries, such the Cook Islands11.
Contribution to exports was substantial for many countries: in Canada the forest sector is the third largest contributor to balance of trade, while in Ghana the sector ranked fourth in contribution to export earnings. For the Solomon Islands the export of round logs (1.4 M m3 in 2008) provided over 70% of export earnings and 18% of total Government revenue: and is the mainstay of the economy. In Swaziland the contribution of the forest sector to national revenue was 26%. For countries that are net importers of forest products, import replacement can improve trade balances, and foster the development of domestic forestry and forest product processing industries (e.g. Ferguson et al 2003). Countries expressed their eagerness to increase production of forest products through the formal economy, to increase general economic well-being and to meet the domestic demand for timber, energy, food and medicines of strongly growing populations. Degradation of forest resources can have significant economic impacts, for example, Ethiopia noted a decline of over 50% in contribution of forest sector to GDP between 2002 and 2011, with deforestation and degradation key causes of the fall.
Forestry and forest industries provide significant employment in many countries; for example, the sector supports 50% of the economic base in 500 communities in Canada as well as contributing to employment more widely; 2.8% of the workforce in Finland and 1.2 M people in Germany are employed in forest-based industries. The forest sector is a major provider of rural employment in Africa, e.g. In Swaziland 16-18% of the workforce, Gabon 20-30%, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. Forestry is also the primary source of employment in rural areas of the Solomon Islands (p4). Many jobs in the informal economy are dependent on forests and trees: in Ghana, small to medium forest enterprises make up 75% of wood processing entities with a turnover of 70% of that the formal forest industry’s total export earnings.
The key economic values associated with FGR occur in both formal sectors, e.g. production, trade and employment associated mainly with timber, pulp and paper industries, but also with agriculture, horticulture and pharmacy; and informal sectors, such as through local, and often not well-documented, uses such as forest foods, fuelwood and herbal medicines. The World Bank has estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide depend on drugs derived from forest plants for their medicinal needs, while FAO reports that many developing countries draw on fuelwood to meet as much as 90% of energy requirements with fuelwood being the primary source of energy throughout sub-Sahran Africa.
In all, several billion people worldwide in the informal economy depend in some form on wood products and NWFPs from forests and trees, and the conservation of FGR and the development, distribution and deployment of improved forest trees for use by rural communities therefore offers immense potential to improve and increase security of livelihoods. Studies in Madagascar have found that 80% of rural communites are living below the poverty line and have a strong dependence on forests for monetary income (26-30% of household income). In India, NWFPs are estimated to provide 50% of household income for one third of India’s rural population (India p124) – a significant figure considering the country has 275 M rural poor, 27% of the total population.The harvest of NWFPS from trees and forests in impoverished rural areas can contribute to gender equality: in rural areas of one Indian state women obtained 2.5-3.5 times as much income from forests and common lands as men. The contribution that trees and forests makes to gender equality was also noted by China (pxi). NWFP may also provide significant additional income to small forest owners and traditional communities in developed countries ; for example maple syrup products and Christmas trees and generate over $350 M and $40 M worth of sales annually, respectively in Canada.
Trees play extremely important roles in supporting agricultural production, particularly in developing countries, through providing shelter, shade, protection of crops, soil structure and fertility improvement, reduction of erosion and flood mitigation, and provision of materials such as fencing, processing equipment, and tools. Ghana noted that ‘the use of non-timber forest products in agriculture technologies is such that in their absence most farming activities would be impaired. Trees also support agricultural production through provision of fodder, which may be critical during the dry season or through times of drought, e.g. in India ‘nearly 39% of cattle depend on forests for their fodder either partially or fully’-in Niger 25% of the diet of ruminant animals is derived from tree leaves and fruits and vital during the dry season. Forests and trees also play a major role in alleviation of poverty in times of hardship and crop failure: Zimbabwe noted that a period of national economic hardship resulted in substitution of kerosene with fuelwood by rural and urban families alike, meeting a critical domestic shortfall. Some countries reported that tree food crops are vital in times of drought, when other annual, rain-dependent crops may fail-in Zimbabwe ‘the cutting down of fruit trees is in some areas prohibited by the traditional leaders as the trees are often the source of food in periods of poor crop harvests. Climate change is predicted to bring about greater environmental stress that will impact on agriculture, increasing the role for trees both as food sources to help alleviate famine and for environmental protection in times of drought and flood.
For many NWFPs there is wide genetically determined variation in yield and quality of product obtained, and indeed some industries are only possible because of this variation. An example is UMF (unique manuka factor) honey, a highly antimicrobial type of honey which is only produced by bees feeding on the nectar of particular populations of Leptospermum, such as some populations of manuka (L. scoparium) in New Zealand (Stephens 2006). In Vanuatu certain individuals and populations of New Caledonian sandalwood (Santalum austrocaledonicum) from Malekula and Santo, produce a sandalwood oil which meets the international standard for East Indian Sandalwood oil and accordingly have much higher value as seed and wood sources (Page et al. 2010), and future replanting will be increasingly based on these sources (Stephens 2006). The rich tree and woody species diversity of tropical forests directly contributes to their provision of a wide range of NWFPs, e.g. in Brazil, honey bees have been found to produce a new type of medicinal red propolis through collecting resin from the bark of coin vine (Dalbergia ecastaphyllum; Silva et al. 2008).
The specific economic benefits arising from conservation and use of FGR are difficult to isolate from the economic benefits and impacts of the industries which are reliant on them. A common finding is that the use of selected better performing seed sources (provenances) will often give a 10-25% increase, sometimes several hundred percent, in wood yield above the mean or for the currently used seed source. Given that seed is a small proportion (e.g. 0.1 to 3%) of plantation establishment cost, major economic benefits are being accrued from using appropriate germplasm in plantation establishment and agroforestry (e.g. FAO, 2002). Economically important, although often threatened diversity, is contained in wild tree relatives of fruit and nut tree species. For example, germplasm of a wild and threatened central Asian apple species, Malus sieversii, collected in the 1990s from Kazakhstan has shown resistance to apple scab, fire blight, drought and numerous soil pathogens and is being used by the USDA Agricultural Research Service to improve disease resistance in current apple cultivars (Forsline et al. 2003; Pons 2006) for the USA industry worth USD 2.7 billion in 2011.
The genetic diversity available in tree species is often of economic utility and exploited in tree planting for amenity purposes, such as in urban landscapes. For example the cold hardiness of the Turkish provenance of the cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) is valued for planting in the USA for its greater cold hardiness (Aiello and Dosmann 2007). Economic value was the most commonly cited reason for nominating species for priority for FGR C&M, at 46% of nominations. Economic values also ranked highest of the uses listed for the countries’ most utilized species, with timber, posts/poles/roundwood, and pulp accounting for 32% of uses mentioned. Providing food security was reported as an important use in 12% of cases, and contribution to reduction of poverty in 11%. Energy accounted for 10% of nominated values, medicines 6%, food 5% and NWFPs 12%. There was an emphasis on tree species suitable for development of forest industries and plantations in the priority listings in country reports; the majority of these species were well-researched, widely-planted, globalised, industrial forestry species. Their widespread and major appeal lies largely in their proven, documented ability to perform in a variety of environmental conditions, the high level of genetic and performance information available and the relative ease of obtaining germplasm. Amongst the most widely used genera are Eucalyptus and Pinus; increasingly planted high value tropical trees include teak (Tectona grandis), mahogany (Swietenia and Khaya spp.) neem (Azadirachta indica), rosewoods (Dalbergia and Pterocarpus spp.) sandalwood (Santalum spp.) and agarwood (Aquilaria and Gyrinops spp.). In nominating priority species, many countries cited objectives such as meeting local demand for timber, wood products and food, import replacement, facilitating the development of forest industries, fostering exports, providing employment, and providing alternatives to unsustainable or illegal forest harvesting by rural communities and others.
The predominance of formal economic importance in country priority listings is represented by India’s approach to prioritising species for ex situ conservation, which states that ‘the efforts must be proportional to the present knowledge on the utility of the species’ (India p25)/ Nonetheless, several country reports listed a myriad of tree species used for a multitude of purposes in rural areas, often by many Ms of people. Tanzania, for example, noted that focus on ‘charismatic’ species may draw conservation and development effort away from less recognised indigenous species, even though the latter help maintain ecosystems and at the same time as displaying excellent growth characteristics. In some instances there appeared to be a discontinuity between the economic species nominated by countries for priority FGR C&M, and the patterns of use of trees and forests reported in countries. For example, the use of timber for fuel (as firewood or charcoal) was a primary use value in many developing countries, particularly in Africa, as well as being recorded for Europe. Globally fuelwood ranked second in uses of trees at 10% after timber, posts, poles, roundwood and pulp combined at 32%. Similarly, medicinal uses of tree species were important in Africa, at 14% of nominated uses. However, the importance of these uses was not reflected in country priority lists of species for FGR C&M. A further preference was to prioritise species with uses and potential applications as recognised by countries’ formal economies and forest sectors. This highlights the importance of addressing a wide range of a country’s needs in both the informal as well as the formal sectors in the prioritisation of tree species. A heavy emphasis on a small number of exotic commercial species important to formal forest sector risks overlooking and underestimating the contribution of many other native tree species to national well-being, particularly in rural communities. It also demonstrates the importance of harmonising FGR strategies with other national objectives such as development goals. In some countries there is opportunity to address this matter through more direct and wider consultation and participation of communities in setting priorities for FGR.
Using the example mentioned above, the tendency to emphasise commercial timber and plantation establishment at the expense of other uses and values is illustrated in the Ghana report, where energy use now dominates demand for wood products: wood provides 86% of urban energy and more than 95% of energy consumption in rural areas, and it accounts for 91% of round wood production. However, previous forestry policy has led to the establishment of timber plantations that do not address this demand, instead emphasising high value timber species. ‘to date, a total of 260,000 ha of plantations have been established under various government-led programmes. The main forest plantation species are teak (Tectona grandis), cedro (Cedrela odorata) and gmelina (Gmelina arborea) which constitute 90% of the total plantings. Thus in some countries there appear to be opportunities for closer alignment of species prioritised for FGR C&M with patterns of existing domestic demand.
The emphasis on high performing, ‘globalised’ plantation tree species can result in a tendency to overlook the potential for development of lesser-known but commonly used indigenous species in favour of prioritised, tried and tested exotic species, or ‘charismatic’ local utility trees. Where a focus on priority species is at the expense of exploring the potential of local trees and conserving their genetic variability, there is a risk of losing opportunities for development of highly adapted, productive trees as well as important components of ecosystems.
Some regional differences were observed in country listings of values of most commonly used species, with the Pacific Island countries expressing a much wider spread of values than other regions (although this may be skewed due to inclusion of few Pacific nations in the figures). Food was the primary value listed in the Pacific Islands region at 22% of uses mentioned, followed by posts, poles and roundwood at 18%, eclipsing energy at 15% and timber at 14%. This compares with the predominance of wood products (timber, posts/poles/roundwood, and pulp) in other regions.
In summary absolute and relative economic values of forest and trees products and services vary tremendously from country to country, however an underlying and unifying theme from country reports prepared for the SoW-FGR is that continued availability, access and use of FGR underpin these economic values.
1.2.2 Environmental Values, Ecosystem Services and Resilience
Forest ecosystems are repositories of huge reservoirs of biodiversity, and support a vast number and wide range of species, most of which are forest dependent, and and ecosystem processes. As well as supporting the greater proportion of the world’s biodiversity, there is increasing recognition of the role of forests and trees in environmental protection, rehabilitation, and provision of environmental services more generally. Nevertheless, vital environmental services but these have traditionally been undervalued due to lack of markets for these services. Such services include biodiversity generation and maintenance; carbon storage and sequestration; water production – catchment management services; soil protection and prevention of erosion; assistance to agriculture, e.g. shelter and fodder for livestock including bees; as a habitat and source of animals with human utility and value, and tourism. The roles of forest genetic diversity in ecosystem adaptation and resilience are fertile topics for research, but in-depth scientific investigations are still in their infancy.
Trees contribute major photosynthetic inputs, drive carbon and nutrient cycling, and provide diverse substrates and physical structure to forested terrestrial ecosystems. Perhaps not surprisingly a very large proportion, nearly 90 percent, of terrestrial biodiversity is found in the world’s forests/ The most species diverse ecosystems on Earth are tropical lowland rainforests, and these are principally located in developing countries. Recently the vast richness of herbivorous insects in tropical rainforests has been shown to be driven by the phylogenetic diversity of their plant assemblages (Novotny et al. 2006). Temperate forests and forest tree species support and provide habitat for myriad other life forms. For example, two thirds of _anada’s 140,000 species, two thirds occur in forest ecosystems/ In the UK, 285 different species of phytophageous insect have been found on the English oak (Quercus robur) (Southward et al. 2004) and while in Australia 306 species of invertebrates have been found on messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua) (Bar-Ness et al. 2006). In its native Australia, the globally widely planted river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) is sometimes referred to as ‘nature’s boarding house’ in recognition of the number of mammals and birds that utilise is flowers and leaves for food and its hollows for shelter and nesting sites. In less tree-species rich temperate forests, the role of trees in promoting biodiversity is likely to be more associated with and attributable to their level of intraspecific genetic variation (e.g. Whitham et al. 2006).
Resilience capacities of forest ecosystems are conferred at multiple scales, through genetic, species and landscape heterogeneity (Thompson et al. 2009, 2012). The abilities of different species, including tree species and genotypes, to substitute functions is key to their buffering of impacts of environmental change and maintenance of ecosystem functioning (Walker 1992; Lavorel 1999; Yachi and Loreau 1999; Elmqvist et al. 2003; Hooper et al. 2005; Winfree and Kremen 2009; Thompson et al. 2012). Accordingly the ability of an individual forest stand to adapt and recover from environmental changes will depend on the number of species, their diversity, individual adaptive capacities and abilities to substitute different functions.
Trees and forests, and their genetic resources, will play an essential and central role in helping to limit and rein in rises in atmospheric carbon, and slow climate change. While mature forests are more-or-less in carbon balance, their between and within-species diversity, helps to buffer them against change and destruction (whether mediated by climate, biotic, fire or combinations) which might result in damaging releases of CO2. Vigorously growing tree plantations sequester vast amounts of carbon, e.g. maximally around 80 tonnes of CO2 per hectare for eucalypt hybrids in Brazil, while trees generally provide fuel for billions of people without adding to the burning of fossil fuels. Tree breeders will require genetic diversity to develop faster growing, well-adapted trees for a diverse range of environmental conditions for generation of fuels, and carbon sequestration including through biochar, an important non-labile carbon soil additive to increase agricultural productivity.
Countries reported a range of environmental applications of trees and forests in their country reports, including contribution to biodiversity, water catchment management, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, improvement of soil fertility, erosion management and landscape protection, promotion of agricultural production and maintenance of ecological processes. Ecological values were mentioned in 97 cases or 3% of priority species nominations (Judith table 4a1). In the North American region, ecological values comprised 35% of the species value nominations, followed by the Pacific Islands with 20% of nominations. Countries nominated 1023 tree species used for environmental purposes in report tables; total nominations including multiple listings of the same species by different countries totalled 2902, indicating that some of the same species were used in different countries. However it is clear that these figures grossly underestimate the number of tree species and the contribution of forests to environmental services, as all trees and woody plants, whether planted or of natural origin, fulfil ecological and environmental functions and provide a huge range of environmental services.
The tabulated results show biodiversity conservation as the most commonly nominated environmental use accounting for 27% of lisitngs, followed by soil and water, and watershed management at 23%; improvement of soil fertility at 12.5%. A number of countries included aesthetic, cultural and religious values under this category of ‘environmental uses’, accounting for 30/5% of total species use nominations.
The vast majority of species used for environmental purposes were native (863 out of 1023 species or 84%), with 16% exotic. This contrasts with the species nominated as priority, where at least 85% of the 1451 priority species whose origins were known were exotic. The European region nominated the most number of trees used for environmental purposes, accounting for 1600 or 55% of the 2903 nominations – more than all the other regions combined, followed by Asia with 827, representing 28% of nominations. These figures may reflect the long history and advanced state of European forest management practice which recognises the role of trees in environmental protection on the one hand, and environmental imperatives in the case of Asia on the other, for example, high levels of environmental damage (e.g. flooding, landslides) attributed to illegal logging.
1.2.3 Social, Cultural, Medicinal and Scientific Values
Forest genetic resources have major social, cultural and spiritual values, mainly at tree species level with many individual tree species distinguished and named in local languages. Various native tree species are intertwined with local cultures, customs, stories/folklore, poems, and identity, and integral to the daily lives of indigenous peoples. Many thousands of tree species are utilized for social and cultural uses, including for a multitude of products and in customs, ceremonies and rituals that help give meaning and enrich the lives of hundreds of millions of people. For example in India, between 100,000-150,000 sacred groves have been reserved (p 67), with certain tree species having tremendous social and cultural importance, e.g. banyan (Ficus religiosa) in religious ceremonies, sandalwood (Santalum album) in burial ceremonies and neem (Azadirachta indica) in traditional medicinal culture. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, certain trees and forest areas are considered sacred and maintained in sacred groves or church plantings. Throughout the Pacific Islands, Intsia bijuga has spiritual significance and in Fiji the common name for the tree, vesi, is also the name reserved for village chiefs. There are also numerous examples where intraspecific tree diversity has cultural importance. For example in the Pacific Islands, there are hundreds of named varieties of pandanus (Pandanus tectorius), mostly selected female plants and propagated vegetatively, with different varieties being used at different times for foods, for different types of leis, and in different types of thatched mats and other plaited wares (Thomson et al. 2006). Pandanus is also important for construction materials, medicines, decorations, parcelization, perfumes, and other many cultural uses. Pandanus is the ancestral tree for most Kiribati people from which, according to legend, the progenitors of the I-Kiribati came (Luomala 1953).
Medicinal uses were mentioned as extremely important uses in some regions and countries: many more trees were utilized for medicine in Africa than in other regions, with medical use nominated in 14.4% of total reported uses. As an example in Zimbabwe over 78% of the rural population uses traditional medicines at least once a year for humans and livestock, with the majority of these medicines being derived from trees and woody plants. In the Pacific Island countries medicinal use accounted for 8.6% of reported uses, and medicinal uses are important in Indian Ocean island countries such as Madagascar and Seychelles. Medicinal uses of trees were also noted as important throughout Asia inlcuding China with nearly 1000 medicinal plants, mainly woody species; India, Nepal and Indonesia with 2039 medicinal plants. The search for medicinal compounds, or biopreospecting, has potential to yield dividends to supplier countries where sound benefit sharing arrangements are in place; for example in the Pacific Islands, the Samoa Government has signed an agreement with University of California, Berkeley, to isolate the gene for a promising anti-AIDS drug from the mamala tree (Homalanthus nutans) and to share any royalties from sale of a gene-derived
drug with the people of Samoa, while the Solomon Islands flora’s chemistry and medicinal values are
being investigated through a collaboration with Japan. Given the vital importance of FGR for traditional medicines and the potential benefits from bioprospecting there is vital need for more research on the medicinal values of forest trees to help unlock the full potential of FGR.
FGR are of major scientific value, and intraspecific diversity can be used, for example, to help understand the genetic, biochemical and physiological basis for resistance to pests and diseases or environmental stresses such as climate (drought, flooding) and edaphic extremes (salinity, acidity etc), and biosynthetic pathways for production of important products and metabolites. A recent and surprising example of the potential scientific importance of previously little known tree species is provided by amborella (Amborella tricopoda), a small understorey tree endemic to the wet, upland forests of New Caledonia, and endangered by habitat destruction. Amborella is considered to have diverged earlier than other flowering plants (about 130 million years ago), and lacks vessels in the wood which are characteristic or other angiosperms. In 2012 the Amborella genome project (http://amborella.org/ Accessed 18/10/2012) produced a draft genomic sequence which will be used to provide key evidence for understanding the ancestral state for every gene, gene family, and protein sequence in flowering plants, and how they radiated through the history of flowering plants. The genomic information may provide insights into the evolution of flowering and vessel formation in wood.
Social, cultural, recreational, ornamental and gardening purposes accounted for 15% of the values reported as reasons for nominating species for priority listing, this compares with 46% for economic purposes and 24% for environment. Social values may be especially important in certain countries – for example, sacred and religious values are important in Burkina Faso, India, Zimbabwe, and Ghana. Cultural, aesthetic and religious values accounted for the largest proportion – 30.5% – of ‘environmental’ uses of trees nominated by countries, ranging from !frican nominations at 21/5%, North America 26%, both Europe and the Pacific at 35% and Asia 38%. The great majority of species listed as serving environmental purposes, of which social, religious and aesthetic values comprised the largest part, are native, with 84% of species; in direct contrast to the proportions for priority species where only 15% of species were native. This is likely to reflect the close cultural affinities for native species a country’s people develop over millennia and which help to shape national and cultural identity.