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LESSONS:

Sindh Forestry Development Project

sector: Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development | country: Pakistan

Although the target-oriented approach may have worked well in delivering required outputs,the overemphasis of accomplishments in terms of numbers might have affected the quality ofoutputs. Plantation failures could partly result from too much emphasis on the satisfaction oftargeted numbers, while setting aside quality checks on contractor outputs and site selection.

Most failures in the irrigated plantations may be caused by (i) soil salinity, (ii) improper landpreparation, or (iii) drought. Implementors may control the first two causes, but drought is obviouslybeyond human control. The soil salinity problem may be avoided by better site selection. Similarly,closer monitoring can minimize, if not completely eliminate, improper land preparation. Projectmanagement has noted that success rates are generally higher in contracts that are of moderatesize (200 ha or less) than in large contracts (more than 300 ha). This simply means that largercontracts are less manageable and thus, their quality of output is lower.

Participation of local communities in the community forestry subcomponent was primarilybased on optimistic projections that a wood processing plant would be established to absorbproduction of eucalyptus plantations. This did not materialize, however, which dampenedparticipants’ interest in tree plantations. Cancellation of the private sector credit component alsohighlights the need for careful policy analysis, assessment of existing and alternative tenurialarrangements, and extensive consultations with the stakeholders.

Social forestry appears to be an efficient strategy to promote the policy of increasing forest cover and bridging the gap between supply and demand for wood, as indicated by its EIRR of 22% compared with the overall project EIRR of 9%. But the project, in its current design, is biased toward landowners and virtually excludes the landless. Thus, there is a need to develop a strategy that promotes social forestry and helps enhance livelihood security for marginalized groups.

Technical Assistance (TA) outputs can be more beneficial if (i) the TA is conducted in response to clearly identifiedgaps in knowledge, (ii) deliberate efforts are taken to respond to the outputs, and (iii) knowledge istransferred to end users. The management plans are fully appreciated because their use is readilyseen, and filled an executing agency need. In contrast, the assistance provided in developing benefitmonitoring and evaluation system was not very successful because its use was not easilyappreciated, no effort was made to utilize it, and there was no knowledge transfer. Thus for futureprojects, it will benefit the executing agency to include, when applicable, a phase fordemonstrating the use of the results, and a reasonable time for knowledge transfer.

The economic efficiency of developing new plantations in riverine and inland forest reserveshas not been established; this is indicated by their low EIRRs, ranging from 0 to 1%. The lowEIRRs are such that the cost of land preparation and investment in irrigation infrastructure are high,compared with the benefits derived. But it is viable to place existing plantations (where irrigationsystems are in place) under sustainable management; examples are the inland (rehabilitation) andthe existing plantations covered by the integrated management plans. However, considering anecological and environmental perspective, there would be good reasons to continue the forestcover program, including the combat of desertification, preservation of biodiversity, soilstabilization, and minimization of soil erosion.

The project management focused on the physical and financial progress of the project. But besides maintaining adequate records for irrigated plantations, qualitative information was also gathered. Data on stand density or tree cover provided some qualitative measure of achievement of targets. Project management is now using such data to decide whether or not to replant. Reporting only the extent of areas planted for any given year does not indicate the overall area planted. To more meaningfully measure project accomplishments, the area planted as a physical target for a given year should be accompanied by the accumulated areas with sufficient tree cover as a result of plantations established since the project began.

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