The Sudan had recognized the need to regulate and control the use of the forest resources since the onset of the 20th century. In 1902 the government established the Forests and Woodlands Service and issued regulatory acts in 1908 and 1917 supportive to the adopted policies of conservational nature. The first formal national forest policy was declared in 1932. That policy reined for more than half a century and was amended in 1986 to accommodate new concepts such as the need to involve local communities in forestry activities and enhance coordination in policies and operational programmes with related sectors. Since 1932 several changes both external and internal have occurred and have greatly impacted on the forestry sector and clearly necessitated a full revision of the forest policy. Considering these changes the government became determined to actualize a revised policy that guides the sector to meet the challenges ahead; namely reduction of poverty, improvement of people’s wellbeing, amelioration of physical environment, changes affecting the levels of supply and demand for forest products and obligations and commitments emanating from recently endorsed regional agreements and international conventions To this effect, the government of Sudan requested the assistance of FAO in 2002 to provide support to revise the country’s forest policy, the legal and institutional framework. FAO responded with the approval of Project TCP/SUD/2903, which commenced in July 2003. The project covered policy revision, institutional reorganization and forestry legislation reform. Baseline and specific studies were conducted. A policy document was finally formulated in a participatory manner through opening forestry issues, concerns and problems to wide discussions among stakeholders and the general public. The Policy Document contains the following:•Background information that explain the reasons for policy revision and the methodology of the policy formulation process. •Principles for governance of the forestry sector •The vision the Sudan holds for its forests •The national goals that will be pursued in future covering the key areas of action and aimed at achieving the Sudan vision. •Specific policy objectives and policy guidance that will be adopted during the current policy cycle aimed to contribute to the realization of the national goals. The specific objectives are directly derived from the issues raised by the different stakeholders.
Sudan is classified as a moderately forested country with about 29% forest and woodlands cover (Aricover 2003), of which only 3% is gazetted forest reserves. Almost two thirds of the country is desert or semi-desert. While low rainfall woodland savannah forests cover most of the central Sudan, open broad-leaved trees are the most common forest types in southern Sudan and closed forests are found in small niches on mountain slopes in the South. Forests importance emanates from their vital role in environmental conservation and from their economic importance in satisfying the basic needs of the society for forest products. Forests contribute about 12% of the gross domestic product (GDP).Their products in form of fuel wood, charcoal, construction poles, timber, gums, food, fodder, and native medicines are in demand at varying levels in the country. The means and intensity through which these products are obtained had and continued to have varying impacts on the role played by forests in environmental protection and in the livelihood of the different communities. The Sudan had recognized the need to regulate and control the use of this important resource since the onset of the 20th century. To this effect a Forests and Woodlands Service was established in 1902 even before the establishment of the Department of Agriculture. Forest acts were issued in 1908 and 1917 supportive to policies of conservational nature. The first national forest policy was declared in 1932. That policy outlined guidelines for tree cutting inside and outside forest reserves and spelt out the restrictions and privileges of the local populations with regard to forests. The policy also clearly divided the responsibilities and functions between the central and provincial authorities over forests. The 1932 policy was amended in 1986 to accommodate the growing concern about environmental protection and the newly emerging concept of people’s participation. Although both policies aimed at the conservation and improvement of the forest resources, they did not result in satisfactory outcome. Many other changes had also occurred during the last decades that affected the forestry sector, both internally and externally, and necessitated a full fledged policy revision. Among these are: ?The adoption of the federal government system with clear commitment towards decentralization and the issuance of the Sudan Transitional Constitution that stipulated the division of wealth and power between federal, southern and state levels