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The need for a new resource conservation policy

Studies carried out in this area have shown that past and present resource use has resulted in resource degradation exemplified by gully erosion, sheet erosion, exhausted soils, waterlogging, over-grazing, and fire damage. They have also shown that forest policy alone is not enough and piecemeal recommendations on isolated problems are not a remedy. It is therefore desirable to have a resource conservation policy for each ecosystem. Such a policy will aim at conserving all resources to serve human requirements in a sustained manner without causing any deterioration of the resources but rather enhancing their value in the process.

The natural resources of the study area are its water, soils, and vegetation. The human demands are for water for people and animals, food and cash crops, grazing, fuel, timber, and amenities. To make it possible to meet these demands, water resources need to be examined more carefully with a view to reducing dry-season shortages and understanding the interactive relationships between water and the other resources. More detailed evaluation of the various soil groups and their potential management for agriculture, including livestock rearing, is urgently required.


Recommendations for wood resource conservation

The study team is aware that recommendations similar to the following have been made before and have not been followed up over the years so that the situation in the Nuba Mountains has deteriorated. However, we are also aware of changes in attitudes towards natural resources. The lessons of land degradation learnt from places like El Bashiri (sanddune encroachment on arable land) and soil degradation in eastern Sudan caused by mechanical crop production have been well publicized. "Desertification" (zahf sahrawi) has become a common expression, repeated daily in the newspapers and on radio and television, and Nuba Mountains farmers at several local conferences linked low agricultural yields and desertification in their discussions. The recent drought, the energy crisis, and inflation in Sudan have taught people to care more for their local resources.

With all these factors in mind, we believe that these recommendations are realistic and easy to adopt and would meet local acceptance more than in the past.

The need for a policy to conserve all the natural resources of the area has already been stressed, because all of them affect each other. To achieve the objective of conserving wood resources in the area, the plan of action needs to be integrated into a rational land-use plan based on the requirements of the society concerned.


Once wood consumption is known and population distribution identified, special plantations for firewood are recommended. Species producing wood with high calorific values are to be selected.

Areas with limited land resources should have firewood depots to meet their requirements. Unless this is done, cutting in the wrong places will be inevitable.

Efforts need to be made to improve the efficiency of wood-burning stoves. Present-day resource use is extremely wastefuI.


The conversion factor from wood to charcoal is very large indeed and reflects a substantial waste of resource. Improvement of charcoal kilns is a necessity if wood conservation is to succeed.

Charcoal depots are also recommended for large population centres to meet the local demand, fix the price, and eliminate illicit burning for charcoal.

Charcoal stoves of present design are also wasteful, and it is recommended that efficient ones should be designed to conserve wood.

Timber for Construction

It is recommended that enough forests should be established by reservation and plantation to meet the demand for poles and timber for building.

For population centres that lack adequate sites for such forests, suitably located pole depots are recommended.

It is recommended that a construction manual for low-cost wooden homes should be prepared. Present rural cottages and their enclosures are extremely wasteful of vegetation resources. Such a manual would provide designs for homes that not only would use less timber but also would last longer and be more healthful.

On the basis of these designs, schedules of the quantities and sizes of timber needed in each location for a given period could be made so that it could be provided from the nearest forests.

The main objective is more and better rural housing. Improved housing will mean homes that are low in original cost, easily maintained, and equipped for good family living. The basic material will be wood, and the design should stem from the present homes.

The use of live hedges for enclosures wherever possible is recommended.

Cottage Industries

Cottage industries such as making rope and mats, turnery, furnituremaking, and tanning ail depend on vegetation. It is therefore recommended thatspecialplantations should be established to provide the required raw materials.

The use of the resource should be rational so as to give a sustained yield. For example, zaaf should be cut from dom and doleib palms in such a way as not to kill the trees.

Wood Protection

It is recommended that an adequate network of fire lines, or fire breaks, should be established to protect all vegetation and property from the hazard of bush fires. This system of well-maintained fire lines should be supported by adequate patrolling and active extension work on the danger of fire.

Termites, borers, fungi, and other agents do a great deal of damage to wood resources. The treatment of building timber against borers at the time of felling and against termites and fungi later is therefore recommended. Talh, a popular building timber, is particularly vulnerable (Forest Department 1968).

Local Involvement

The success or otherwise of such a series of recommendations requires not only the acquiescence but the active co-operation of the local people. Unless a genuine attempt is made to understand the needs and attitudes of the local people, and local and regional government officials and leaders are convinced of the validity of these constraints on people's traditional courses of action, no policy of thiskind concerned with local natural resources can succeed.



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Babiker, A.B., A.G. Babiker, and A.S.D. Abdou. 1981. Rural energy and the environmental impact of women in semi-arid Sudan, Paper presented to Workshop on Women and the Environment, Khartoum, April 1981.

Digernes, T.H. 1977. Wood for fuel: Energy crisis implying desertification-The case of Bare, Sudan. Geographical Institute, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

———, 1978.Addendum. University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway. Harrison, M.N., and J.K. Jackson. 1958. Ecologica/classification of the vegetation of the Sudan. Ministry of Agriculture, Khartoum.

International Union of Forestry Research Organizations. 1976. Report of the 16th World Congress of I UFRO.

Mukhtar. 1978. Wood fuel as a source of energy in the Sudan. Proceedings of the First Energy Conference, April 1978. Ministry of Energy and Mining, Khartoum.

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Smith, J. 1950. Distribution of tree species in the Sudan in relation to rainfall and soil texture. Ministry of Agriculture, Khartoum.

Sudan Government. 1944. Report of the Soil Conservation Committee.

———, Forest Department. 1968. Report on Acacia seyal. Laboratories Report No. 8.

———, Ministry of Energy and Mining. 1981. New and renewable sources of energy. Paper prepared for the UN Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy, Nairobi, Kenya, August 1981.

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