INTRODUCTION: The dense tropical rain forests of the Ivory Coast have played a key role in the economic success enjoyed by that country in recent years.
GV PAN DOWN Tree being cut and GV & CU trunk being sawed with power saw
GV Tree falling
GVs Men walking along trunk (2 shots)
CU & GV Trunk cut up with power saws, GV PAN ALONG trunk as sawing continues (3 shots)
GV Logs being cleared by bulldozers
GV PAN DOWN Tree falling
GVs Workers cutting up tree (3 shots)
GV PAN Logs in cleared area
SV & GVs Worker paints letters on trunk ends, logs being bulldozed onto trucks, men marking logs (3 shots)
GVs Log being loaded onto truck, being towed by bulldozer, truck loaded with logs driving away (3 shots)
GVs Loaded trucks arriving it, queueing up outside Abidjan port (2 shots)
GV PAN Logs stacked at Abidjan port
GVs Trucks arriving and waiting to unload (2 shots)
GVs Logs being off-loaded by mechanical grab (2 shots)
GVs Logs being dumped in to water, floating (2 shots)
GV San Pedro port, SV port sign
GVs Logs being loaded onto ship (3 shots)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The dense tropical rain forests of the Ivory Coast have played a key role in the economic success enjoyed by that country in recent years. Timber is the Ivory Coast's main export, more important now than the other two main products, coffee and cocoa. But there are growing fears that the timber boom cannot last.
SYOPSIS: The fact is that forests are being depleted at a rapid rate. Over the last quarter century they have been cut back to less than a third of their former extent -- 25 years ago the forests spread over 12 million hectares (29 million acres); now they cover less than four million hectares (10 million acres). And continued ruthless exploitation of the country's forest resources is pushing back woodlands at the rate of about half a million hectares (over 1.2 million acres) per year.
Such a rapid depletion rate is causing experts to doubt whether the remaining forests can be preserved. One study, by an Abidjan University department, has forecast the total disappearance of the wooded area by the end of the century if felling is continued at the current pace.
The economic consequences of such decimation of this natural resources would undoubtedly be grave. Timber currently accounts for between 15 and 20 per cent of all export revenues, and the industry provides some 30,000 jobs.
And it is not only the probable economic effects of deforestation which are causing concern -- the ecology is also is being threatened. The climate and physical environment are already beginning to suffer as the ecological balance is upset. With declining forest cover, water runs away more quickly, and there is consequent drop in rainfall.
Depletion of the woodlands has already been blamed for water shortages in the south of the country in recent years. And experts say as the forest recedes, giving way to dry savannah lands to the north, agriculture in Mali and Upper Volta will also suffer.
Government officials are now beginning to take note of the warning signs. As truckloads of timber continue to arrive at the port of Abidjan, plans are being made to restore at least some of the country's woodlands. In recent years replanting has never exceeded 3,000 hectares (7,500 acres) annually -- an insignificant amount compared to the rate of destruction. But the Ivory Coast Government recently launched a reforestation scheme jointly with the World Bank and the Commonwealth Development Corporation.
Officials at Sodefor, a government agency set up specifically to deal with the campaign to restore the forests, hope they will be able to replant 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) over five years. By 1985 they hope to be replanting at the target rate of 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) per year. But sceptics consider even that figure to be woefully inadequate.
Apart from the economy and the ecology, another casualty is expected to be San Pedro, the Ivory Coast's second biggest port. Itself a product of the timber boom, San Pedro grew from a tiny village to a town of 50,000 in just over a decade. But timber companies have already begun closing down as resources diminish.