„Sozio-Ökonomie der Waldnutzung in den Tropen und Subtropen"

Bearbeiter:   Dr. Martin Lux (Dipl. Forstwirt; Dipl. Kaufmann)

Betreuer:  Prof. Dr. Michel Becker (Institut für Forstpolitik, Universität Freiburg)

Secondary Forest Use as an Element of Sustainable Regional Development in the State of Sucre, Venezuela


Key problem

Forest policy and regular forest use in Venezuela have focused nearly exclusively on large scale extraction in primary forests and forest plantations. Small-scale utilization and processing of forest products outside these areas is discriminated by the legal system, basically for conservation purposes. Its actual importance and its potential is ignored completely. As a consequence, in the State of Sucre with its small-scale land tenure there is officially no forest sector although the ecological conditions and existing agro-forestry systems favour its integration in production systems of the state.

Objectives (see figure 1)

figure 1

The objectives of the study are

  • to reveal current activities of forest product utilization and processing, 
  • to analyse actors and factors that influence processes in forest use and forest sector development 
  • to investigate conditions to use the forest potential in a way that creates incentives for the regional development of the State of Sucre, combining conservation and utilization. 
  • and to reveal existing, possible and necessary innovations in forest sector development 
In line with prevailing activities the main focus of the study is put on wood production and processing. Research model (see figure 1) The study uses a systemic approach considering the forest sector a part of the regional system, which in turn is composed of four subsystems (see figure 1). The model of analysis is based on the investigation of actors, factors and processes in the regional system, focussing on the forest sector in order to understand current activities and potentials in this sector in the regional context.

Research methods

The data was collected at different levels (regional, subregional and zonal level) focussing step by step on important phenomena observed in the process of investigation. The methodology puts particular emphasis on the double nature of the actors: They perceive what is going on and are the main source of information, but they also are decision makers and by this influence the process of forest use. In the process of investigation a focus zone (zonal level) was chosen in order to analyse the aspects mentioned in the research model in a concrete example. The following instruments have been used: 

  • 1. Evaluation of literature and unpublished data 
  • 2. Structured interviews with regional actors (about 40 interviews). 
  • 3. Semi-structured interviews with key-informants, especially in the focus zone 
  • 4. Census of the wood-processing sector in Sucre (260 interviews) 
  • 5. Sample inventory of land use, forest use and deforestation in the focus-zone (8 transsects) 
  • 6. Systematic field observations regarding tree-growth, wood-harvesting and processing and land use conflicts 
  • 7. 11 workshops with different actors (farmers, governmental organizations, NGO´s, research institutions, technical asistance, experts) on various topics

    Selected results (numbers in parentheses indicate the research instruments used)

  • Regional and sectoral policy did not stop on-going deforestation of primary forests (2,3,5,6,7) 
  • The short-term and investment orientated regional policy impedes rural and forest sector development. (2,3,7) 
  • Legislation has created a system of corruption in the forest sector which directs profits to officials and merchants, while tree owners are paid very badly (2,3,4,5,6,7). 
  • Wood production in Sucre, as reported in official statistics (some 4.000 m³/year), represents only a very small part of the real production (1,4,5,6). 
  • Most commonly, wood originates from cacao and cafe plantations and is processed on site to boards (3,4,5,6). 
  • There is a dynamic and interregionally competitive wood processing sector in Sucre (basically handicraft and small scale industry) that creates employment for at least 1.100 persons, although it suffers from discrimination (2,4). 
  • There is a large potential of production of precious woods (5,6) (at least 63.000m³ per year) and non-timber forest products in Sucre (2,3,7) 
  • The large majority of actors consider capacity building and institutional development the most important instrument to improve regional rural and especially forest sector development (2,3,7). 


by Eberhard Weber March 1998
updated by V. Brenner, 19.09.2000