South America hosts 22% of the world´s forests with its unique biological diversity. Among all countries Ecuador is considered being the country with the highest biodiversity. But unsustainable land use and forestry practices threaten this diversity. Up to today Ecuador has the highest deforestation rate of the South American continent. To combate against those high forest losses wide-ranged reforestation has to take place but is still lacking in Ecuador. The reforestation efforts up to now do not compensate the high losses in forest cover. 90% (3500ha) of the annual reforestation in Ecuador is taking place in the Andean region (FAO 2006, 2011).
A common tool to reinstall the forest cover is plantings. To this day 140,000 ha of forest plantations exist in the Andes of Ecuador. The commonly used species are Eucalyptus globulus, Pinus radiata and Pinus patula. Just recently Ecuadorian organizations paid particular attention to tree species native to Ecuador and their reforestation potential. The major obstacle to use native species on a larger scale for reforestation is the lack of adequate knowledge about their physiological and silvicultural traits. Information about appropriate seed storage, propagation methods and silvicultural treatment options has to be acquiered, applied and its experience communicated.
Tree seed programs provide a valuable framework to deal with such sets of questions and research needs. The Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) has over 50 years of experience in the development and establishment of national tree seed programs. Their development framework is used as an orientation in the course of this thesis to frame a regional seed program for the provincial region of Loja.
The general objectives of this thesis are to evaluate the current seed procurement and management methods in the Province of Loja and to develop a concept for regional seed program for the province of Loja which is practicable and adapted to the local circumstances.
Data on the current practices was gathered through a questionnaire survey and structured observation among the provincial tree nurseries. National and regional forestry strategies and plans were revised to understand the encountered situation. To develop the regional seed program the national tree seed program framework from Danida was consulted. This study assesses the main areas of improvement of the provincial seed management and highlights local facts in need for special consideration in the scope of a regional seed program. Furthermore essential parts and how to best implement those in a regional seed program are discussed.
Major results involve the formulation of four main areas of improvement common for all surveyed tree nurseries of the province: Infrastructure, workforce, documentation and seed handling itself. The individual performances of the nurseries were ranked to get a clearer picture about the production efficiency. The survey also revealed the variety of tree species produced. Regarding the regional seed program the results picture the Gobierno Provincial de Loja (GPL) as a suitable entity to be in charge of the program. Moreover important stakeholders beneficiary for the program were detected and an exemplary distribution of activities among them was conducted.
The principal contributions of this thesis consist in conducting a systematic evaluation of the current status of the seed sector in southern Ecuador and particularly in the Province of Loja for the first time, and in providing the provincial government with an elaborated concept to improve the seed management. Additionally the developed ranking scheme can serve as a guideline for further nursery performance evaluations.