Patrick Durst and Thomas Enters are, respectively, the
senior forestry officer and forestry sector analysis specialist
for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok,
faces a dilemma: Consumer demand for forest products is
rising, yet so is social demand for less destruction from
timber harvest. Many people see a solution to the dilemma
in reduced-impact logging.
a purely technical standpoint, reduced-impact logging
is all about harvesting with fewer soil disturbances
and less incidental damage to remaining trees. But reduced-impact
logging involves much more than merely learning new
techniques or practices. It calls for changes in attitudes
and behavior, and-perhaps most importantly-a sincere
commitment to sustainable forest management, translated
into actual changes on the ground.
behavior and generating commitment require a visionary,
long-term, step-by-step approach. The Asia-Pacific
Forestry Commission, one of six regional forestry
commissions in the United Nations Food
and Agriculture Organization, is taking that approach.
Since the mid-1990s, the commission has sought to bring
diverse stakeholders together in the forestry sector
to work toward improved forest management.
1999, the Commission published its Code of Practice
for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific. The Code
has helped guide harvesting practices while providing
a model for national codes in several countries. It
has won increasing political support, including endorsement
by the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations Ministers for Agriculture
and Forestry and Senior Officials on Forestry.
Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission also helps countries
implement national codes. It supported the development
of a regional training strategy and disseminates information
about reduced-impact logging, including information
on the contentious economic and institutional implications
of reduced-impact logging. With support from the USDA
Forest Service, the commission maintains an electronic
list server called RILNET. The server provides members
worldwide with a forum to discuss and share information
on reduced-impact logging.
early 2001, the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission organized
the International Conference on the Application of Reduced
Impact Logging, held in Kuching, Malaysia. Cosponsors
included the USDA Forest Service, International
Tropical Timber Organization, Center
for International Forestry Research, and other organizations.
The conference attracted more than 250 participants
from 35 countries. Proceedings are scheduled for publication
in September 2002.
conference made several important recommendations for
promoting and implementing reduced-impact logging. The
enthusiasm and commitment of participants justify cautious
optimism that behavior and attitudes are slowly changing.
However, considerable challenges lie ahead. Governments,
industry, research institutions, and international organizations
must intensify their support for reduced-impact logging.
Without its widespread adoption and vigorous implementation,
the future of the region's valuable native forests remains