Impact of forest commons and agro-forestry concessions on household resilience in Southern Laos


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The Lao government's forest strategy aims to increase national "forest" cover to 70% by 2020 from the current estimated 41%. At the same time national strategic priorities for inviting foreign investment have led the government to allocate an estimated 13% of Lao's forest land to concessions during the period of 2002-09. Dryland dipterocarp forests (DDF) represent a unique forest ecotype that is under particular threat to conversion. The frequently stunted appearance of these slow-growing forests contribute to their being undervalued, and there is increasing pressure to permit conversion of such "low value" forests for (predominantly) foreign investment in export-oriented commercial agricultural or tree cropping plantations.

Our analysis comparing case studies of forest resources use, incomes and vulnerability in three villages associated with production forests, sugarcane concessions and eucalyptus concessions in Savannakhet Province challenges these assessments. We discuss the extent to which the conversion of DDF forests for many such concession models should be regarded as a high-risk strategy with the significant potential for "maladaptation" outcomes.

CIFOR Scientist Aaron Russell with Joost Foppes and Southone Ketphanh on 4 June 2013 at the panel discussion "Trade-offs between large-scale and small-scale land commercialisation and impacts on forest commons" at the 2013 IASC conference held on Mount Fuji in Japan.

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Impact of forest commons and agro-forestry concessions on household resilience in Southern Laos

  1. 1. Aaron J.M. Russell, Joost Foppes, Sounthone Ketphanh( IASC Conference, Kitafuji, Japan (Jun.4, 2013)Using Forests to Enhance Resilience to Climate Change “ForCC”Impacts of forest commons and agro-forestry concessions onhousehold resilience in Southern LaosTFESSD
  2. 2. Laos - overview• Landlocked nationin SE Asia• 41.5% forest cover• High importance ofNTFPs• Development focuson FDI & land useintensification
  3. 3. Forestry policy context7th Nat. Socio-Economic Devt. Plan (2011-2015)• National 8% economic growth annually• Reduce poverty to 19% of pop. and 11% of householdsby 2015• Foreign investment in land: $8-8.75 billion 2011-2015,• Establish 500,000ha tree plantations by 2020Forestry Strategy 2020• Restore “forest” cover to 65% by 2015, 70% by 2020“Participatory” Forest Management (PFM) Relatively new, many challenges, limited resources Dry dipterocarp forests (DDF) largely excluded
  4. 4. The land grab in LaosLand grab in 2000’s (Heinimann and Messerli 2012):• 2600 land deals in Laos that cover 1.1 million ha (5%of the nation’s land)• FDI dominates (> 72%) the land leases granted (esp.Vietnam, China and Thailand)• 1990s – primarily in Northern Laos• Late 2000’s acceleration in Savannakhet due to the“East-West Economic Corridor”
  5. 5. DD Forests vs concessions on Lao PDRDDF villageSugarcane villageEucalyptus village
  6. 6. DD Forests in Lao PDR
  7. 7. forests’ invisible actors and values
  8. 8. 1. How will climate change impacton livelihood resilience?2. How do DD forests contribute toresilience of communities?3. What are the impacts of DDforest conversion to sugar caneand eucalyptus plantations onresilience?Q. How do forests enhance resilience of theagricultural sector to climate change?
  9. 9. Projecting scenarios on impacts ofclimate change and land-use changeBaselineDD Forest – NTFP& riceCommercialagrictultureTree croppingPresentClimate1st CC/LUCScenario2nd CC/LUCScenarioForest Governance/Land Use AlternativesClimateScenariosBaseline Baseline
  10. 10. 1. Participatory Rapid Appraisal(PROFOR Poverty-Forests Toolkit)• List/rank sources of cash/non-cash income by land category• 6 focus groups per village (3wealth classes, 2 gender)2. Household socioeconomic survey(strat. random sample)• 3 wealth classes x 4 HH3. District, province stakeholdervalidation workshopsResearch Methods – in 3 villages
  11. 11. Forest area available per household
  12. 12. Cash income disparitiesHousehold Cash Income poor middle rich averageSUFORD village (kip) 1,041,750 2,062,250 8,430,000 3,873,833Eucalyptus village (kip) 3,842,500 7,037,500 13,476,500 8,118,833Sugarcane village (kip) 4,302,000 5,343,500 10,157,500 8,077,000average (kip) 3,062,083 4,814,417 10,688,000 6,689,889-500,0001,000,0001,500,0002,000,0002,500,0003,000,0003,500,0004,000,0004,500,000PSFM Eucalyptus Sugarcanecashincome(kip)HH Cash Income between 3 villages
  13. 13. Questioning the myth of the forests-poverty nexusAverage HouseholdIncome DDF villageEucalyptusvillageSugarcanevillageAvgcash income 3,873,833 8,118,833 8,234,500 6,689,889non-cash income 8,234,500 5,769,125 4,323,958 5,607,861total hh income 12,108,333 13,887,958 12,558,458 12,297,750US$ equivalent $ 1,514 $ 1,736 $ 1,570 $ 1,537% non-cash 32% 58% 66% 54%% from forest 38% 26% 38% 35%
  14. 14. costs/benefits for whom?
  15. 15. will we lose nutritional diversity?
  16. 16. Higher NTFP consumption by 1)middle,2) poor wealth classes…Village Wealth groupArea of forest(ha/capita)Consumption of wild foods(kip/capita) ($/capita)PSFMpoor 2.59 198,000 $ 24.75middle 2.56 510,581 $ 63.82wealthy 2.45 40,122 $ 5.02Eucalyptuspoor 0.81 171,429 $ 21.43middle 1.02 495,262 $ 61.91wealthy 1.08 219,769 $ 27.47Sugarcanepoor 0.19 264,568 $ 33.07middle 0.20 181,232 $ 22.65wealthy 0.36 101,667 $ 12.71Average 1.05 238,988 $ 29.87…and annual consumption between villages similar(excl. seasonality effects)
  17. 17. High rice consumption among wealthy inconcession villages, and most have enough…Village Actual Norm Riceconsumption paddy rice balance to normkg/capita kg/capita kg/capitapoor 0.36 319 350 -31middle 0.37 332 350 -18wealthy 0.17 360 350 10poor 0.53 360 350 10middle 0.32 297 350 -53wealthy 0.79 558 350 208poor 0.70 322 350 -28middle 0.29 290 350 -60wealthy 0.38 596 350 2460.44 404 350 54AverageWealthgroupArea ofricepaddyPSFMEucalyptusSugarcane…again, seasonal shortages are a concern
  18. 18. Livestock for resilience to shocks
  19. 19. Livestock assets as a measure ofresilience to shocks…HH Livestock assets/Annual cash income poor middle rich AvgSUFORD village 143% 334% 396% 359%Eucalyptus village 96% 110% 128% 96%Sugarcane village 2% 114% 168% 118%Household Cash Resilience (years) poor middle rich AvgDDF village 1.4 3.3 4.0 3.6Eucalyptus village 1.0 1.1 1.3 1.0Sugarcane village <0.1 1.1 1.7 1.2…poorest forced to sell livestock first.(Current livestock far above carrying capacity inconcession villages)
  20. 20. TFESSDintact forests keep communities together and reduceoutmigration
  21. 21. Labor contribution to household incomegreatest in concessionsAll Income Sources DDF Eucalyptus Sugarcane ALLIncome from Forest 38% 38% 26% 35%NTFP/wood sales 2% 2% 5% 3%→livestock sales 19% 21% 11% 18%→NTFP non-cash 16% 15% 10% 14%Other Income 62% 62% 74% 65%→labor income 8% 29% 33% 25%→remittances 1% 5% 13% 7%agriculture sales 1% 1% 1% 1%→Rice consumed 38% 25% 22% 29%→Other crops consumed 14% 3% 6% 3%Total 100% 100% 100% 100%
  22. 22. Lessons learned on concession economicsassessment of benefits from different concession models
  23. 23. Sugar cane seems to be a high riskinvestment in DDF areas……not clear which is primary source of challenge.
  24. 24. Little employment in eucalyptus Eucalyptus plantation companydeclined interview About 30 persons wereemployed out of 246 laborforces available in 85households (12%) Company only needs this labor3 months per year Compensation is 20-25,000 kipper day, without lunch This is lower than local laborrate (30,000 kip/day) Most household labor incomederived outside the concessions
  25. 25. Lessons learned on economics of largescale concessions Bad soils in DDF make sugarcane and eucalyptusuncertain investments Poor documentation, data availability, governmentoversight heighten conflicts Employment offered by concessions is seasonaland insufficient for everybody Privatization of remaining DDF out of fear maybe lost to concession claim. Little forest left for communal use.
  26. 26. forest loss results in tragedy of remaining commons
  27. 27. Tentative conclusions regardingHH resilience The forest community relies most on non-cashwhereas concession communities rely most oncash income, but overall incomes are close(counter to poverty-environment nexus theories) All communities and wealth classes relysignificantly on forests for non-/cash income(confirms expectations). Rice consumption appears adequate everywherewith excess in the concession villages (??), butvery different yields. Highest NTFP consumption among middle wealthgroup in more forested communities (sampling?Literacy/numeracy?).
  28. 28. Tentative conclusions regardingHH resilience Concession communities report shortages inseasonal availability of forest products:• negative impacts on dietary diversity andhousehold cash needs – but have similar levelsof forest produce consumption(overall pessimism due to loss of commons vs??) The poor in concession communities rely most onmigrant and day labor income (not surprising). Forests provide significant buffer for major shocksto all in forested communities, wealthy insugarcane concession through livestock (moresignificant than expected, but how to model?).
  29. 29. ignorant communities and poor legal institutions contributeto conflict and vulnerability.
  30. 30. Poor coordination and data sharing limits planning
  31. 31. Priority questions for policymakers/planners How much paddy land should be allocated per household orper capita to ensure future food self-sufficiency? How much DDF forest should be preserved per household orper capita to allow for a minimum buffer to shocks? What criteria could be applied to ensure that companies candemonstrate the viability of concessions? Where concessions are allocated what amount and form ofcompensation would assist communities in replacing the lostforest benefits? What institutional monitoring and arbitration/adjudicationmechanisms are needed to safeguard the interests of localstakeholders and the state? Lacking any of the above, how does the government plan toaddress demand for employment as rural livelihoods areundermined?
  32. 32. TFESSD
  33. 33. • Agricultural intensification onland already under cultivation isessential (require improvedpractices, services, infrastructure and research).• Forests critical in supportingsustainable agriculturallivelihoods.• Increases in crop yields alonewill not protect forests, activestakeholder engagement is key.• Poortransparency/coordination, monitoring, adjudication by govtinstitutions regarding concessionallocation = tragedy in forests.• A “landscape approach” isparticularly promisingConclusions
  34. 34. Annual DDF Ecosystem services valuesDry Forest Ecosystem Services Annual returns kip/ha $/haLivestock sales 88,214 $ 11.03NTFP sales and consumption 33,510 $ 4.19Timber for house construction 24,000 $ 3.00Firewood consumption 8,706 $ 1.09Domestic water use 10,857 $ 1.36Total value provisioning services 165,288 $ 20.66Erosion control (25 % of rice production) 210,455 $ 26.31Total value regulatory services 210,455 $ 26.31Actual contribution to HH income 375,743 $ 46.97Potential from timber sales (110 -yr cycle) 55,273 $ 6.91Potential annual carbon value 28,435 $ 3.55Total option values 83,708 $ 10.46Overall potential value 459,451 $ 57.43
  35. 35. Village participatory land use planningmap – DDF village