Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission
Forests out of bounds:
Impacts and effectiveness of logging bans in natural forests in Asia-Pacific
Executive summary


Chris Brown, Patrick B. Durst and Thomas Enters

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the permission of the copyright owner. Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction, should be addressed to the Senior Forestry Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, 39 Phra Atit Road, Bangkok, Thailand.

Cover photo: Thomas Enters

For copies of the report, write to:

Patrick B. Durst
Senior Forestry Officer
FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
39 Phra Atit Road
Bangkok 10200
Tel: (66-2) 697 4000
Fax: (66-2) 697 4445
Email: [email protected]

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Bangkok, Thailand

ISBN 974-7946-10-6

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Context and background

Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission mandate

Objectives of the study

Scope of the study

Regional overview

Forestry in case study countries

Why logging bans?

Implementation of logging bans

Key outcomes

Impacts on timber production

Alternative sources of wood

Patterns of international trade

Socio-economic impacts

Comparative advantage

Achieving conservation objectives

Strategies and solutions

Defining appropriate goals

Alternatives to logging bans



Lessons learned

Changing expectations and demands

Logging bans as a policy response

Does banning harvesting result in forest conservation?

Tenure, use rights and access to forests

Monitoring and assessing outcomes

Mitigating social and economic impacts

Incremental versus comprehensive policy implementation

Ten necessary conditions for achieving conservation




Logging lies at the crux of conflicts between economic and environmental aspirations in forestry

No issue in forestry evokes such strong emotions as logging — and for good reasons. Logging provides the timber and fiber needed to satisfy the rapidly increasing demands of today's societies. It generates billions of dollars in revenues, supports national economic and industrial development, and provides income and employment for millions of individuals. It conveys immense power and prestige to officials responsible for allocating harvesting rights and monitoring logging practices.

But logging — especially as conventionally conducted in many countries — also can cause significant damage to forests, or even facilitate the conversion of forests to other land uses. Logging is viewed by many people as a key factor in the loss of biological diversity and species' habitats, deterioration of watersheds and water quality, expansion of deserts and the demise of forest-dependent people. Moreover, timber harvesting is frequently seen as benefiting only a small segment of society, leaving poor people to shoulder its costs. Arguments become even more emotional when logging is blamed for causing or exacerbating floods, landslides or other natural disasters that result in loss of human life.

In response to rapid deforestation and forest degradation, a number of countries in Asia and the Pacific have imposed partial or total bans on harvesting timber from natural forests. Several other countries are contemplating similar measures. The study of the Impacts and effectiveness of logging bans in natural forests arose from the need to assess the successes and failures of such strategies and approaches in the Asia-Pacific region. While logging bans and other harvesting restrictions are intuitively attractive measures to support forest protection, more rigorous analysis reveals that conserving forests is not so easy as simply banning logging.

A key question is “can logging bans help?”

There are a number of questions regarding the effectiveness and impacts of logging bans. For example, will logging bans actually help maintain or expand the natural forest estate, or will logging continue “illegally” and perhaps even more destructively than in the past? Will countries that restrict domestic timber production simply import more wood from exporting countries, which may not have adequate capacities for ensuring sustainable forest harvesting? What will be the effects on income and employment for forest-dependent workers, communities and governments? Is it reasonable to expect timber plantations to substitute for natural forests in supplying wood needs? What are the necessary supporting conditions needed to enhance the success of logging bans and measures to conserve natural forests? The answers to these questions are crucial in guiding government policies related to logging restrictions and ensuring a policy framework that effectively supports forest conservation.

This study, requested by the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC), highlights the increasing relevance of regional cooperation in developing forestry policy in Asia and the Pacific. The sharing of national experiences within the regional forum supports more efficient assessment and policy development, while ensuring that analyses retain a high degree of social, geographic and ecological relevance. This study continues a growing tradition of timely, high-quality APFC studies, which FAO is pleased to support as part of its efforts to promote sustainable forest management in the region.

R.B. Singh
Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


The study of the Impacts and effectiveness of logging bans in natural forests in Asia-Pacific is the result of the efforts of a large number of people. The success of the study hinged on the efforts of the Senior Study Coordinator, Professor Thomas Waggener (International Forestry Sector Analysis International Consulting). FAO extends its gratitude to Professor Waggener for lending his expertise and knowledge to the project.

Country studies for New Zealand, People's Republic of China, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam were prepared by national experts in each country: Yang Yue Xian (Deputy Director and Senior Engineer), Management Center for Natural Forest Conservation Programme, State Forestry Administration, Beijing, China; Alan Reid (Senior Policy Analyst), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Wellington, New Zealand; Ernesto S. Guiang, (Natural Resources Management Consultant), Manila, Philippines; H. M. Bandaratillake, (Conservator of Forests), Battaramulla, Sri Lanka; Suree Lakanavichian (Resource Sociology and Policy Analyst), Forest Resources Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Vu Huu Tuynh, (Deputy Director) and Pham Xuan Phuong (Forest Policy Expert), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hanoi, Viet Nam.

Technical and financial support for the study was provided by the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, the USDA Forest Service, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Contributions and in-kind support from the Ford Foundation, the Weyerhaeuser Foundation, the Forestry Research Support Programme for Asia and the Pacific (FORSPA), FAO's Support to the Reorientation of Forestry Policies and Institutions of Countries of Asia in Reform to Market Economy Project, and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) also assisted the work undertaken through the study and helped to assure the overall success.

The Study was completed under the overall supervision of Patrick Durst (Senior Forestry Officer) with editorial assistance from Thomas Enters (Forestry Sector Analysis Specialist), Gary Man, Coordinator for the Asia and the Pacific Program at USDA Forest Service, arranged the core financial support. FAO country representatives, senior forestry officials, forest industry, environmental organizations and the NGO community in the case study countries provided valuable assistance. Finally, representatives of cooperating international organizations and invited experts contributed at the 1999 Manila Technical Workshop and the Policy Seminar held in connection with the 18th session of the APFC in 2000. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the Philippines and Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia (AFFA) graciously hosted the workshop in Manila and the pre-APFC Policy Seminar in Noosaville, Queensland, respectively.

Ian Armitage, Forestry Consultant, New Zealand, provided the initial development of the study guidelines and assisted the Senior Study Coordinator in the early project implementation. Rose Braden and Michael Victor provided technical editing support for the main reports.