Chapter IV - Protecting and Conserving Natural Resources

   This document has been made available in electronic format
      by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA

  Contribution of Co-operative Enterprises and the International
     Co-operative Movement to Implementation of UN AGENDA 21:
       Programme of Action for Sustainable Development 

                     Prepared jointly by
             the International Co-operative Alliance
                      the United Nations
  Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development

                 Geneva and New York, April 1995

        For information purposes only. Not an official
   document of the United Nations and not officially edited.

                         CHAPTER IV

A.  Combating deforestation and sustainable management of
    forest resources

    In many countries the greater proportion of forestry
enterprises are members of their own supply and marketing co-
operatives. In Sweden almost all of the forestry industry is run
on co-operative lines. 77/ In Norway in 1990 73 per cent of
forest products were marketed by co-operatives. 78/ In Japan the
National Federation of Forest Owners' Co-operatives include a
high proportion of forestry enterprises in the country.

    In the early 1990s in Mindanao, Philippines, co-operative
enterprises formulated and put into operation "Project Raintree"
which sought to reforest watershed areas by means of aerial
seeding ("raining trees on denuded mountain areas"). Three
separate seeding procedures would be undertaken, with the aim of
at least 90 per cent reforestation. The emphasis would be to
avoid monoculture and to encourage maximum proliferation of mixed
tropical forest in which slow-growing hardwood trees would be
able to grow.  It was estimated that after three years the
mixture of non-commercial species, fruit trees and hardwood trees
would restore watersheds as well as provide shelter and food for
residents in the forest areas. Moreover the forests would be
economically unattractive to commercial and illegal loggers.  
It was considered that aerial seeding would be the most
appropriate and the fastest means of afforestation. With a
coverage of one hundred hectares an hour, this contrasted with
the Government's monoculture reafforestation project which was
extremely costly and slow, using hand planting at a cost of
12,000 pesos per hectare.

     In order to assure a sufficient supply of seeds the Project
set up a seed bank. School children, market vendors, family
members and government employees were encouraged to collect
seeds. These were deposited at collection points in school
campuses, marketplaces, bus terminals, police stations and other
fixed points. Collected seeds would be turned over to the
Reforestation Section of the Forest Management Bureau of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources for selection,
processing, mixing and storage. Thereafter they would be used for
aerial seeding. Germinated seeds would be given to Project tree
nurseries and would be available free of charge to anyone
interested in planting trees or manually reforesting hills.

    The Co-operative Bank of Davao City and other co-operative
banks in Mindanao operated a special time deposit, termed the
Special Tree Deposit, the interest from which would be made
available to Project Raintree. School children were encouraged
to save at least one peso a week for this purpose.

    Citizens were encouraged to undertake surveillance and report
logging activities to Project coordinators who would check with
Government authorities to verify their legality and make
available information to the Department of Justice if
necessary. 79/ 

    In Gujerat, India, the co-operatives promoted and supported
by the Anand Niketan Ashram have undertaken a massive programme
of social forestry involving hundreds of communities and 103
nurseries. The region had been forested until the 1950s after
which commercial exploitation had severely reduced forest cover. 
Three million trees were planted annually, including teak,
eucalyptus, bamboo and fruit trees.  Reforestation of marginal
copy areas, mostly on rocky or sloping sites, was encouraged. 80/

B.  Reduction in deforestation by development of alternative

    In a number of developing market economies co-operative
movements, because of their simultaneous interest in agriculture,
in women and the household sector, and in environmental questions
and issues of local community sustainability, have attempted to
resolve the problem of deforestation caused by gathering of
unsustainable amounts of wood for fuel, for use mostly in the
household sector, but also in handcraft production. Thus the Co-
operative Federation of Nigeria has designed a fuel-efficient
stove, which uses waste products such as sawdust, waste paper and
palm kernel shaft, left over after extraction of palm oil. The
stove not only promotes maximum efficiency in fuel use, but
reduces atmospheric pollution. 81/

    The Kenyan Planters' Co-operative Union - which undertakes
almost all coffee milling - began research in the early 1970s on
ways of converting coffee husks, left over from the processing
of coffee, into briquettes for domestic use.  It succeeded in
developing a briquette - termed "Kahawa coal" - which was
smokeless, burned for a period three times longer than wood,
produced more heat and was easier to store.  Moreover, it could
be used in inexpensive stoves. In 1992 the "Kahawa coal" plant
operated by the Co-operative Union at Dandora in Nairobi was
capable of producing up to 2,400 tons annually. The Union was
then engaged in expanding and modernizing the plant, as a total
of 8,000 tons could be produced if all husks resulting from
coffee processing were used. Exports of the briquettes to the
Middle East and to Europe had already begun. 82/

    In Kenya also the co-operative dairies have adopted "zero-
grazing" techniques, whereby animals are kept in stalls.  This
has permitted development of biogas production and thereby a
source of domestic energy and lighting which relieves pressure
on fire-wood collection. 83/

   In Gujerat, India, the co-operative system promoted and
supported by the Anand Niketan Ashram had by 1992 built biogas
plants in more than 600 villages.  Built by local craftsmen at
a cost of US $ 700, each was able to produce fertilizer and
annual amounts of fuel equivalent to 20 fully grown trees. 84/

C.  Re-afforestation

    In India the Indian Farmers' Fertilizer Co-operative Ltd.,
the largest fertilizer production and distribution co-operative
in Asia, owned by 30,000 farmers, has developed as part of its
programme for rural development, the establishment and viable
operation of "primary level farm forestry co-operatives".  Their
aim is to make rational use of natural resources. They turn
wasteland into profitable forestry and provide employment for
farmers while at the same time trying to maintain an ecological
balance.  The primary forestry co-operatives at the local level
are linked with IFFCO operating at the State and national levels. 
By 1992 33 such village level co-operatives had been organized,
each engaged in the afforestation of about 150 - 200 hectares.
A total of 4,040 hectares had been planted, with an 80 per cent
survival rate.  After one year good fodder crops had been
obtained. Subsidiary activities, such as pisciculture, bee-
keeping, carpet weaving, vegetable production and animal
husbandry had been promoted also.  The programme had attracted
the attention of the Canadian International Development Agency
which in 1994 was proposing to afforest 20,000 acres of wasteland
by promoting the establishment of 90 new primary farm forestry
co-operative societies, providing 90 per cent of the finance
required.  85/

    The Co-operative Union of Tanzania promotes and participates
in the Village Afforestation Programme which began in the early
1970s. 86/

D.  Reduced use of forest products

    Consumer and multi-functional co-operative enterprises have
taken initiatives in a number of countries to reduce the use of
forest products. For example, in Japan in 1991 the Nadakobe Co-
operative enterprise (a consumer co-operative with 940,000
members, from April 1991 known as Consumers Co-operative Kobe)
banned the use of disposable chopsticks in its staff training
programmes, substituting them with reusable bamboo chopsticks. 
The enterprise called for a ban on the use of disposable
chopsticks in order to reduce the use of forest resources. It
estimated that world-wide 20.5 billion pairs of disposable
chopsticks were produced annually, of which 12.4 billion were
manufactured in Japan. 87/

E.  Managing fragile ecosystems - combating desertification
    and drought

    The concern of Agenda 21 for recognizing and strengthening
the role of indigenous people and their communities, dealt with
in Chapter VII, is of relevance in respect to management of
fragile ecosystems subject to desertification and drought.  
Particularly in those regions of northern, western, north-eastern
Africa, in southern and eastern Africa, as well as in western and
central Asia a significant proportion of the residents of areas
with such fragile ecosystems are indigenous peoples. It is their
activities which have in the past made it possible for human
society to live in some degree of balance with the natural
environment, and it is their condition which is at the centre of
contemporary imbalance and hence risk of loss of sustainability.

    In the Sahelian countries, where inadequate rainfall
precludes agriculture except during four months of the year, co-
operatives undertake construction of small dams which enable
farmers during the dry season to produce off-season vegetables
and fruits, some of which is exported to Europe. These co-
operatives also build small anti-erosion facilities and
reafforestation projects, thereby contributing to control of the
process of desertification. 88/ 

F.  Managing fragile ecosystems - sustainable mountain

   In central America, the Andean region, parts of Africa, and
many parts of western, central, southern and south-east Asia
rural populations resident in mountainous regions use co-
operative enterprises as means to secure their livelihood. Many
are indigenous peoples. For example, in India a significant
proportion of the indigenous peoples defined as "tribal
populations" live in mountainous areas. Partly as a result of
changes in their own activities, but largely because of the
activities of enterprises within the same area, the fragile
ecosystems of steeply sloping terrain in tropical climatic
conditions in which they live have been subject to severe damage.

    These peoples have been able to establish co-operatives, most
frequently for the purpose of marketing forest products.  They
have formed a larger federation, which is associated with both
the national co-operative movement and with governmental agencies
supportive of co-operative development.89/

G.  Conservation of biological diversity

    In the United Kingdom the Co-operative Wholesale Society was
the first retailer in the country to provide a special label for
foods that had been genetically engineered. 90/

H.  Protection of animals

    Some co-operative financial institutions have adopted a
policy of not supporting activities injurious to animals.  For
example, in the United Kingdom the Co-operative Bank adopted in
May 1992 an "Ethical Policy" whereby it stated that it would not
support any person, or invest in any business, involved in animal
experimentation for cosmetic purposes, using exploitative factory
farming methods, producing animal fur, or involved in blood
sports, defined as sports which involve the training of animals
or birds to catch and destroy, or to fight and kill, other
animals or birds. 91/

I.  Co-operatively organized tourism

    Some national agricultural co-operative movements report that
uncontrolled development of resorts in rural regions weakens the
ability of their members to preserve the environment: this has
been the case in Japan. 92/ 

  In Zimbabwe groups of large-scale farmers have established a
co-operative for the purpose of managing and marketing game-
watching tourism. 93/

77/  Communication from ICA, March 1994.
78/  A/47/216-E/1992/43, para.5.
79/  ICA News, No. 2, 1993, pp. 21-23.
80/  ICA News, No. 3, 1992, p.16.
81/  Ibid., p. 26.
82/  Ibid., p. 25.
83/  Ibid., p. 24.
84/  Ibid., p. 16.
85/  Review of International Co-operation, vol. 85, No. 4
     (1992), pp. 137-138.
86/  International Conference on the Environment and Sustainable
     Growth, op.cit., pp. 88-89.
87/  ICA News, No. 1, 1991, p.4.
88/  Communication from ICA Regional Office for West Africa, May
89/  Communication from ICA Regional Office for Asia and the
     Pacific, May 1994.
90/  Communication from ICA, April 1995.
91/  Review of International Co-operation, vol. 86, No. 4
     (1993), pp. 71-75.
92/  Review of International Co-operation, vol. 85, No. 4
     (1992), p. 140.
93/  Communication from ICA, March 1994.