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At the sixteenth session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC), member countries made a firm commitment to improve forest management by establishing an ad hoc Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management with a priority mandate to develop a regional code of practice for forest harvesting. The ensuing task of drafting this Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific was time consuming and arduous, involving numerous specialists and interested individuals from varied groups and perspectives over a two year period, and culminating in its endorsement at the seventeenth session of the APFC in February 1998. The result is a Code that is broad in scope, yet sufficiently detailed with respect to field applications that can be applied throughout most of the region to enhance forest management.

As Chairmen of the sixteenth and seventeenth sessions of the APFC, we are pleased to endorse and present this Code to member countries and the broader international community. We believe that this Code can play a very positive role in supporting and enhancing sustainable forest management in the region. It advances one step further towards field-level implementation of sound forestry practices that are so vital if countries of the region are to meet the growing demands for forest products and services without damaging the forest environment.

In preparing the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific, members of the APFC recognised that forest harvesting, particularly timber harvesting, can have major negative impacts on forests if carried out improperly. It was further recognised that forest harvesting is perhaps the one area where forest managers have maximum control of the operations that affect the forest. For these reasons, the development of this Code was felt to be a highly appropriate and necessary task of the Commission.

Progress in moving towards sustainable forest management (SFM) in Asia and the Pacific varies among countries for a number of reasons. These include:

lack of universal agreement on the definition of SFM and how SFM is to be assessed;

the wide range of forest types in the region, from high forests to swamp forests;

limited capacity of institutions and lack of resources in some countries;

inadequate guidelines and procedures for implementing sound forest management (e.g., lack of codes of forest practices and guidelines for reduced impact harvesting).

This Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific addresses some of these issues and supports other regional initiatives in promoting sustainable forest management. APFC member countries to developed it to:
contribute to sustainable forest management in the Asia-Pacific region;

provide a component that will contribute to an integrated system for achieving sustainable forest management;

assist the development of national codes by providing a model for the region, given that countries are currently at different stages in developing national codes;

focus on timber harvesting in natural forests because of the importance of this activity to country economies and to sustainable forest management in the region;

enable the development of national codes for non-timber harvesting, the provision of forest services and plantation forests as separate processes;

cover the entire Asia-Pacific region, while acknowledging the existence of various national codes in the region and the Code of Conduct for Logging of Indigenous Forests in Selected South Pacific Countries;

enable the provisions of the Code to be enforced as appropriate in each member country of the Commission, or at least be promoted by all stakeholders in the region.

This Code serves as an expression of the Asia-Pacific region's commitment to sustainable forest management. It is intended to assist all countries in the region during the interim period while specific national codes are developed. The Code is also intended to provide a model that could be adopted by countries, with appropriate modifications to reflect national circumstances. The Code is not intended to be legally binding, except as individually and specifically determined by member countries or other legal bodies.

Timber harvesting under voluntary codes of conduct cannot, in isolation, ensure sustainable forest management. Areas to be harvested must be identified as part of a comprehensive forest and land-use policy framework aimed at meeting the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of future generations. Codes such as this one, however, provide guidelines for improvements to the way production forests are harvested for timber, to minimise adverse environmental and social impacts, and to ensure a viable residual stand for the future.

It has been our privilege to serve as Chairmen of the APFC during the development of this Code and to oversee its completion. We look forward to seeing its broad adaptation and application for the betterment of the region's forests and people.

U Kyaw Tint

Toga Silitonga

Chairman, Sixteenth Session

Chairman, Seventeenth Session

Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission

Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission

(Director-General, Forest Department, Myanmar)

(Director General, Forestry Research and Development Agency, Ministry of Forestry and Estate Crops, Indonesia)

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