Ensuring Sustainability in Forests Through the Participation of Locals: Implications for Extension Education

  • Mirza Barjees BaigEmail author
  • Juan Pulhin
  • Loutfy El-Juhany
  • Gary S. Straquadine


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a forest deficit country due to high temperatures and lack of water resources, covering only 1.0% of the country’s landmass. The unfavorable climate not only causes low vegetation forests, but also makes it hard to re-establish forest vegetation once destroyed. Factors responsible for thin forest cover include low and variable rainfall, high temperatures; and low humidity. The lack of rivers and scarcity of underground water also have a great influence on forest stands of Saudi Arabia. In addition to these factors, anthropogenic activities like over-grazing, illegal felling, and heavy extraction of wood fuel by the locals highly damage the local forests, hampering the natural growth and making regeneration of the forests very slow. To bring back the forest cover, various afforestation and tree planting programs, though very expansive, have been initiated in the Kingdom. However, to keep the existing forest cover in place, the most viable option would be to encourage and ensure the participation of all the stakeholders comprising locals, NGOs, government, industries, academicians and Extension Educators in protecting and conserving the prevalent forest stands through an appropriate and acceptable forest management plan. Among the available strategies to enhance and ensure this participation, the role of forestry extension and education is of paramount importance. Forestry extension programs can help educating stakeholders involved in planning, developing policies and undertaking institutional measures aiming at improving the existing forests. This chapter aims to highlight the importance for the Kingdom of a plan that focuses on reforestation, restoration and afforestation, and establish the significance of local participation to slow, halt and reverse deforestation, illegal harvesting and forest degradation. The chapter also provides information on the challenges and constraints currently faced by forests, and discuss the possible roles of participatory management approach and forestry extension education in improving the situation and moving towards a sustainable future.


Stressed forests Deforestation Remedial measures Forest planning Participatory management Locals participation Sustainability 



The authors are extremely grateful and express their gratitude to the Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences for extending us all the possible help and sincere cooperation toward the completion of this piece of work and research.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mirza Barjees Baig
    • 1
    Email author
  • Juan Pulhin
    • 2
  • Loutfy El-Juhany
    • 3
  • Gary S. Straquadine
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Society, College of Food and Agriculture SciencesKing Saud UniversityRiyadhKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  2. 2.Department of Social Forestry and Forest Governancem College of Forestry and Natural ResourcesUniversity of the Philippines, Los Baños CollegeLagunaPhilippines
  3. 3.Prince Sultan Institute for Environmental, Water and Desert ResearchKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  4. 4.Utah State University – EasternPriceUSA

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