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Access to forest products made easier for rural artisans

Published the:  05/10/2018

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(TAP) – Residents of rural areas, whose valorization of forest products is the only source of income, are now allowed to exploit these products (eucalyptus, cypress, lentisque, rosemary, Aleppo pine .. ...) without the permission of the Directorate General of Forests (DGF) and therefore without fear of the minutes or even lawsuits.

This news was announced Friday by the Department of Agriculture after the signing of agreements with the Agricultural Development Groupings (GDA), authorizing them to exploit "immediately and free", forest products.

 "We are very excited,” said Fadhila Cherni, a native of Tajerouine (Le Kef), who runs an association that uses aromatic and medicinal herbs for the extraction of essential and aromatic oils and other recently organic certified products.

"We were dependent on Forest Service authorisation and it was a headache," she pointed out.

She added that "access to forest products was very difficult and we, artisans and rural women's associations, cannot compete with the big operators who exploit dozens of hectares of forests without, however, respecting the environment".

Access to forest products is governed by auctions to which neither artisans nor GDAs could participate given their modest financial resources, said Fadhila, who works alongside 180 rural women in the collection and valorization of forest products such as rosemary.

 Her ambition is to attract, thanks to the agreement signed on Friday, more women and to create more decent jobs in the municipalities of Tajerouine, Sidi Youssef, Nebeur, Touiref and all the border localities, of which the majority of the population is low income.

"I believe that our problem is solved, we will no longer be afraid of forests," Houcine Chradi from Sidi Bouzid told TAP, referring to the services of the Directorate General of Forests.

This man exploits the rosemary in the locality of Jelma, for the extraction of its oil with many virtues. He is also a beekeeper and produces Aleppo pine seeds.

The World Bank (WB), which has allocated $ 200 million to this project, targets communities of about 250,000 households (about 1.5 million people).

Women make up 51% of these beneficiaries in 8 regions (Kef, Jendouba, Siliana, Sidi Bouzid, Kasserine, Gafsa, Beja, and Kairouan).

For this major donor, the environmental impact of forestry projects matters a lot.

In this regard, among the shortcomings noted by the international institution is the lack of explicit registration of forestry projects in the mandatory list of projects requiring an environmental impact study.

There is the absence of a system of environmental surveillance and monitoring in the application of the mitigation measures recommended in studies of the economic and social impact of projects.

The Directorate General of Forests is, therefore, called to change approach and "scheme of development of forest landscapes", so as not to allow the economic and social dimension to prevail to the detriment of the environment aspect