Call edition 2012
A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.
This thesis is highly relevant to a programme of reforestation and sustainable management of dry tropical forests. Given their relatively lesser importance in terms of biological diversity, the dry deciduous forests of the tropical regions are the poor relatives when it comes to research into ecology and conservation of natural resources. They do, however, play an extremely important role in safeguarding the ecological equilibrium in arid regions (protecting the soil from erosion, regulating the water cycle and contributing to the diversity of natural habitats) as well as in contributing to safeguarding the means of subsistence and sources of revenue for the local populations (supplying energy, materials, forage and marketable products).
However, sustainable management that meets economic, social and environmental objectives combined requires an in-depth knowledge of how this type of ecosystem works, in particular its capacity to regenerate and withstand the pressure of exploitation. This thesis – of great scientific accuracy and methodical precision – makes a significant contribution to improving this knowledge.
It is this knowledge that allows us to get to grips with the problem of the preservation of forest resources (in particular the Boswellia papyrifera species) in relation to their vulnerability (grazing, overexploitation, hydric stress, etc.) and the economic importance for Ethiopia of the products issuing from this species (frankincense among others). This thesis also recognizes its limitations and identifies a number of needs, in terms of future research, but also in terms of a legal framework and a management plan. Indeed, the author addresses from a realistic perspective the dilemma that exists in relation to the subsistence needs of the neighbouring populations, i.e. how to reconcile the closure of the wooded areas that need preserving (prohibiting access to cattle or even in some areas severely limiting the harvesting of frankincense) and the need of the populations to support themselves in a region that is naturally very dry. The issue is far from being resolved but this thesis is a solid step in the right direction.
Report written by Mr A. Jacques de Dixmude, Environmental Expert, Directorate-General for Development Cooperation, Brussels, Belgium