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At the Sixteenth Session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC), held in Yangon, Myanmar, in January 1996, the Commission decided to develop a regional code of practice for forest harvesting. Under the guidance of the APFC ad hoc Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management, the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific was developed during an exhaustive participatory process covering more than two years (FAO 1999a). The Code was subsequently endorsed by the Seventeenth Session of the APFC in February 1998, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Member countries of the APFC and international organizations were called upon to support the implementation of the Code.

The Code is intended to encourage environmentally-sound forest harvesting throughout the region. It was developed specifically to provide a basis for subregional or national codes, and to guide forest harvesting practices in the absence of local codes or forest harvesting guidelines. It outlines key principles of improved harvesting in Asia and the Pacific, particularly timber harvesting with reduced environmental and social impacts.

In support of the Code, the APFC commissioned the development of the Regional Strategy for Implementing the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific (APFC 2000). The regional strategy was published in July 2000 and provides a model for implementing codes of practice that countries can adopt and adapt to suit national circumstances. Its contents comprise aspects of awareness raising, development of national codes of practice, and complementary measures for assessing adherence to the Code with particular reference to training and education. The goals and objectives of the regional strategy are expressed as eight strategies for implementation (see box below), with two of them (3 and 5) referring directly to education and training.

The eight strategies for Code implementation

  1. Encourage appropriate public and political support for the implementation of the Code.
  2. Develop awareness and support for the Code at regional and national policy-making levels by stakeholders.

  3. Develop a forestry sector that is educated and trained in Code implementation.
  4. Encourage the development and implementation of national codes based on the original regional code.
  5. Establish forest sites for demonstration and training.
  6. Implement monitoring and auditing systems.
  7. Collate past and present research results for development of appropriate research to support sustainable forest management.
  8. Further develop and implement sustainable forest management practices in the Asia-Pacific region.

The public and private sectors in the region have responded very positively to the Code, the regional strategy and other awareness-raising activities under the APFC umbrella. At the same time, representatives of the forestry sector have recognized the need to train (or retrain) personnel on the various facets of improved forest harvesting practices before they can implement Code techniques properly. Representatives of the logging industries and forestry agencies have especially requested support in human resource development to enhance capacities at all levels, from implementers (operators and front-line supervisors) to management and policy-makers for effective implementation of the Code and reduced impact logging (RIL) practices. In response, various organizations in the region have conducted training courses or workshops. Examples are:

Discussions during a RIL study tour to Sabah, Malaysia in March 1999 revealed that training requirements to support RIL adoption and application are enormous (FAO 1999b). The two dozen high-ranking forestry officials from the region strongly recommended the formulation of a comprehensive training strategy to accentuate training efforts on clearly identified and prioritized training needs. They emphasized that such a strategy was necessary to bring order to the proliferation of training efforts, which at that time were dissipating scarce resources and minimizing benefits.

As a follow-up to this identified need, the APFC ad hoc Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management agreed to formulate a regional training strategy. This document is the result of that effort. It presents a generic training strategy that can be adapted to specific needs and situations.


Previous training efforts in support of Code implementation

There have been various notable but uncoordinated efforts to meet the training needs for Code/COLP implementation. For instance, Vanuatu, with assistance from Australia, formulated a training manual to address skill deficiencies discovered during initial COLP implementation (Andrewartha 2001).

Several international organizations, such as the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the United States Department of Agriculture/Forest Service (USDA/FS), and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) have provided technical and financial assistance for training their forest harvesting personnel In Asia and the Pacific.

To achieve an optimal multiplier effect, many programs were set up to train trainers who were expected to return to their respective countries to design, develop and coordinate training courses at the national and local level to support implementation of the Code or national COLP. To build up a critical mass of qualified trainers in the South Pacific, a number of these training workshops were undertaken, largely under the auspices of the Pacific Islands Forests & Trees Support Program (PIFTSP)1, in conjunction with AusAID and the USDA/FS.

1 For a comprehensive overview of activities concerning the implementation of codes of logging practices and directions for the future in the Pacific see Bulai et al. 2000.

The need for a comprehensive training strategy

Generally, the individual country responses to the need for training have been reactive rather than proactive. Training courses tended to be uncoordinated and piecemeal. For instance, many training efforts concentrated on personnel directly involved in forest harvesting such as chainsaw operators, fellers/buckers and skidder operators. Frequently it was overlooked that there is also a need to train other stakeholders whose functions are seemingly unrelated or not directly related to activities on the ground but nevertheless influence the impacts and outcomes of logging. Policy-makers are a good example; the forest policies they formulate can either promote or discourage the application of conservation-oriented harvesting techniques.

Proactive and effective training recognizes the heterogeneity of key training target groups and the variety of functions and tasks that need to be performed in forest management and harvesting. Key training target groups range from policy-makers and corporate planners at the apex of a triangle through frontline supervisors in the middle, to field operators at the bottom (Figure 1). Therefore it is evident that the range of knowledge and skills differs among groups and that training in directional felling and skidding is only one component, albeit an important one, of an array of training activities for which modules need to be designed, appropriate trainers employed and training provided.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Organizational levels and key training target groups (adapted from APFC 2000)

This clearly indicates a need for a training strategy that is sufficiently comprehensive to encompass all the identified groups of stakeholders, and satisfies most, if not all, of the identified training needs.

Perhaps the single most critical requirement for the successful application of RIL on a wide scale in tropical forests is the availability of skilled logging and supervisory personnel at all levels. Unless tropical countries and the development assistance agencies that work with them recognize this and strive to overcome it, there is little hope that forest concessionaires will be able to implement RIL on a large scale: they simply will be unable to find the personnel who understand both why and how to do RIL.

Dykstra 2001

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