4th meeting of the
Rodolphe Schlaepfer was elected chair
of the meeting.
The agenda was accepted and the minutes
of the 3rd meeting were adopted.
on private forests in the Pays de Gex and Canton de Vaud
Mme Sylvie Perret (Office
National des Forets) explained that although private forests represented
70% of the area of forests in France, they were a minority in the Pays
de Gex. In the Haut Jura most forests are communally owned, and the
private forests are found in the plain (bassin Lémanique) where
forest cover is low. Oaks are the dominant species. Ownership is
fragmented and there is little collaboration between private forest owners.
Under 25 ha in size there are no particular legal restrictions (apart
from limitations on clearcuts in areas adjacent to larger forest stands)
on environmental practices of private forest owners. Above this limit,
owners are asked to develop a management plan. Forests are generally underexploited
and there is a lack of loggers and sawmill operators in the region.
M. Turin (Inspecteur des
forêts, Nyon). As in France, private forests in Switzerland are fragmented
but the proportion of private forest ownership is much lower than France
(approx 30%). The proportion is higher (approx 40%) in the Nyon arrondissement.
As in Gex, the forests are underexploited and the age-class distribution
is increasingly unbalanced, with a predominance of older stands. Despite
the lack of management (78% of forests have not been managed at all in
the last 15 year period), forests have important environmental functions
as the non-forested land is either under intensive agriculture or densely
populated. In Swiss law all forests are treated equally irrespective of
ownership, and the inspector issues permits for felling, infrastructure
development. Management plans are established by the inspector in consultation
with owners for forests above 40 ha. in size. This limit may be reduced
to 10 ha in future. Legislation is in place at both cantonal and federal
levels. Free access to private forests including for hunting and gathering
is guaranteed by the "Code des Obligations". As in Gex, private forest
owners do not collaborate with each other, nor are they organized
in associations. Regional masterplans are currently being developed through
consultative processes (plans directeurs forestiers) as required by new
federal and cantonal forest legislation.
Heimo: What are the incentives for private forest owners to manage their
forests? Are they too regulated?
Perret: Many forest owners are now urban dwellers and do not live near
their forests. Some do not even know that they own forests. In this situation,
economic incentives have only been effective with the larger forest owners
who are interested in managing their forests. Information and education
of the public may be more effective than economic incentives.
Turin: Competition for land use especially for construction is high in
the Lemanic region, so the effectiveness of incentives can be questioned.
Currently the management (or lack of management) of private forests is
not considered to pose a problem for security, erosion etc except in exceptional
cases. Forest management has been a money-losing proposition since the
1950s for private forest owners.
Meyer Could forest strips on borders of streams which have important
environmental functions not be subtracted from sales of land when private
houses are being built? Future owners often do not want to be responsible
for these forests which shade houses etc.
Vaud, buildings have to be a minimum of 10m away from the forest (which
is probably insufficient). This is an attempt to address this problem but
a greater distance would be better: the Confederation suggested 10 to 30
m. The high value of private lands zoned for building should be noted,
compared to land zoned as forests.
Eric Treboux, inspecteur
forestier à Rolle, explained the functioning of this cooperative
which operates in Vaud. After Hurricane Lothar in December 1999, damage
was unevenly spread across the canton, with a focus on the Pays d'Enhaut
and the plateau above Lausanne towards Bern. The immediate response was
to cease all normal forestry operations and focus efforts on the areas
which were most severely affected. Safety measures and a general framework
for wood prices were rapidly established to allow operations to be executed
efficiently. The top priorities were public security and minimising waste
of the wood affected by the hurricane. It required a certain amount of
coordination and solidarity among forest owners to focus forest exploitation
after Lothar on the most severely affected areas. Covalbois was a response
to this situation: a cooperative established with financial support from
the Canton de Vaud which private and public forest owners could join. It
was established on March 10, to organise the harvest, transportation, storage
and sale of wood affected by Lothar on behalf of its members. To date,
there are over 500 members including the canton, communes and groups of
forest owners. Currently this represents 70-80% of the wood entering the
market. 300,000 cubic metres of wood have been handled by the cooperative,
of which about half have been sold at a price about 30% below market rates
before the hurricane, mostly to sawmills in France and Italy. Market demand
is surprisingly high, and the cooperative experience has been a positive
one for private forest owners which could be applied in other areas in
future. This has led to a situation where forest owners have felt relatively
relaxed about the exploitation of their forests affected by the hurricane.
The success of the cooperative is in contrast to the situation in France.
proposed a number of ideas on this issue. He noted that over 30 individuals
and 12 organizations had been involved in one or more meetings of the forum.
It is open to any individual from the Lemanic region interested in forest
Value and future
of the forum
the future he suggested that we could move from "descriptive" themes to
more "prospective" issues such as workshops concerning the future such
as fresh water, global change etc. This could lead to a number of specific
projects such as a UNECE case study on forestry in a commune, a WWF project
in collaboration with private forest owners in La Cote region.
Prins noted that one of the objectives of the forum was to encourage exchanges
between people working on local and international issues and that this
had only been partly successful as the international participants had probably
learned more than local participants. One interesting idea would be to
have a discussion on what forests in the region might be like in 2050 or
a later date in the future.
Finger proposed that debates be opened to a broader audience than technical
specialists. It would be useful to identify themes in advance of the meetings
so that participants can prepare themselves better. Bernt Strehlke
supported the idea of FFL working on a project with WWF in collaboration
with local forest owners. Yves Kazemi said that the FFL should not just
become a club for local foresters and that we should do something more
innovative and concrete.
Meyer noted that the issue of labour costs on both sides of the border
would be an interesting one, and be relevant in a globalised economy.
Sylvie Perret noted that in both France and Switzerland it was increasingly
difficult to attract people to work in the forest sector at the level of
loggers, sawmill operators, etc. and that forestry was considered to be
a "profession sinistrée". From the French perspective there was
a problem of training workers in forestry and then seeing them move over
the border to work in Switzerland, where salaries are higher.
Chairman took note of these constructive suggestions and suggested that
the steering group should come back to the members with some concrete proposals
for future FFL activities, for their consideration. It was agreed that
Yves Kazemi should join the steering group, to help with deliberations
on this subject. All particpants felt that the FFL should continue, albeit
in a modified form with more focussed and "prospective" activities.
Timber Section could host a FFL web site with links to other sites and
updates on meetings, on its own web site. However if we want to do something
more ambitious, this would require additional resources. This kind
offer was accepted and it was agreed that the web site should stay simple.
A working group made up of Claude Heimo, Kit Prins, Jorge Najera
and Jean Rosset agreed to work together on the site.
and location of next meeting
It was agreed to hold the
next meeting in April or May 2001. The steering group will come up with
specific proposals for the future of the Forum for submission to members.
See attached field trip
sheet. Bernt was thanked for organising the field trip.
Number of participants: