26 Ene Collaboration for the sustainability of Tunisian forests
Tunis, November 4-9, 2014. Focusing on increasing collaboration for the sustainability of national forests, the 2nd Tunisian Forest Week offered a platform to present many important initiatives, such as the National Forest Strategy 2015-2024, the potential of non-timber forest product value chains for green employment, the importance of enhancing the cooperation between foresters and the media, and the “Pact for a green Tunisia”.
Tunisian forests have, in addition to their very important role regarding environmental protection and conservation, a huge positive impact on the populations that lives within or near forest areas. In fact these communities represent about 7% of Tunisia’s total population (760.000 people approximately) and are called “forest users”, with nearly one third of their income coming from the use of forest resources (FAO/DGF 2012). And, if we talk at a country level, 2,2% of the country’s total labour force come from the forest sector employment (Indufor Oy, 2012).
Building partnerships between forest users, private enterprises, civil society and public administrations could create a permanent framework for collaboration and encourage private investment in Tunisian forests. In addition, such partnerships will reinforce corporate environmental responsibility and increase the ownership of the forest users, leading to better collaboration for protection and sustainable management of forests.
The concessions system introduced in 2005 was a first step to foster private investment in Tunisian forests. The system allowed the temporary use and concessions of State owned forest areas for reasons of public benefit, for silvopastoral development, the realization of projects or other activities contributing to the preservation of forests and the conservation of their original purpose and sustainability (République Tunisienne, 2011; FAO, 2010b).
Traditionally Tunisian forest policy was centered on the conservation and increment of forest resources, but in recent years there is a huge emphasis on the socio-economic importance of forests and the need for collaboration with other partners (public-private collaboration). Many “forest users” perceived forest administration as a barrier to economic development. This conflict results in an overuse of forest resources and the proliferation of forest fires and other disturbances (UNFF, 2013).
However, the involvement of the private sector and private investments in Tunisian forests remains limited. In order to increase private investments and to find innovative financing sources for sustainable forest management, a second and big step has been taken, with the signature of the “Pact for a green Tunisia” on November 5th. This initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture, supported by economic and social partners, including professional and environmental organizations, aims particularly at developing public private partnerships to attract more private investment to the Tunisian forests. Creating a partnership capable of integrating all economic actors and communities living adjacent to or within the forest and forage areas in the process of sustainable management will encourage green economy and suitable environment for employment in the forestry sector.
- FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization). / DGF (Direction Générale des Forêts). 2012. Etude sur la caractérisation de la population forestière, elaborélpar K. Tounsi et A. Ben Mimoun, Tunis.
- FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization). 2010a. Forest resources assessment 2010. National report, in french, Rome.
- FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization). 2010b. Creating an enabling environment for forestry and forest industries : Establishing mechanisms for joint management of forests in Tunisia. http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/i1775e/i1775e00.htm
- Indufor Oy. 2012. Financing for Sustainable Forest Management in Tunisia, Country Case Study. Dr. Hamed Daly-Hassen; November 29, 2012
- République Tunisienne, 2011. Le Code forestier et ses textes d’application, Tunis.
- UNFF. 2013. Financing Sustainable Forest Management in Tunisia. Full Country Case Study Report. UNFF FACILITATIVE PROCESS 2013 Website. B-02-03 Tunisia http://www.un.org/esa/forests/pdf/facilitative-process/Tunisia_factsheet.pdf
Special thanks to Gisa Marggraff (giz) and Ludwig Liagre (Geico consulting) for their review of the article and detailed corrections.