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1. Introduction

1.1 Sustainable Forest Management
1.2 Development of the Code
1.3 Purpose
1.4 Scope and Coverage
1.5 Implementation
1.6 Stakeholder Roles in Implementing the Code

1.1 Sustainable Forest Management

The demands on the natural forests in the Asia-Pacific region are numerous and increasing with much vigorous debate on their role, purpose, sustainable benefits and beneficiaries. There are many external factors impacting on these forests including demographic changes and changing land-use requirements. As a consequence of the increase in demand for forest products and services and the reduction of the forest resource base, concern has risen over whether the demands for forest products can be met in a sustainable manner.

1.1.1 Growing International Awareness and Initiatives

Concern for the world's forests and their capacity to maintain their environment values while producing timber and non-timber products in perpetuity has been manifested by increased exposure in the media and heightened consumer concerns. This concern has been highlighted by a number of major initiatives, including the following:

the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which provided a forum for the international community to focus and make commitments to the sustainable management of the world's forests.

the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF), which was established in 1995 by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development to follow up the UNCED recommendations on sustainable forest management. Following the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in 1997, the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) was formed as a successor to the IPF. The IPF facilitated considerable global discussion, activities and recommendations on sustainable forest management involving international organisations, national governments, non-government organisations, and the private sector. One particular recommendation of the IPF was a call for the development of voluntary codes of practice for forest management activities, including timber harvesting.

the International Tropical Timber Organization's (ITTO's) multifaceted “Year 2000 Objective,” which promotes conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests. This objective calls for all internationally traded tropical timber to be sourced from sustainably managed forests by the year 2000. Initiatives include the development of ITTO Guidelines for Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests, elaboration of a definition for Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) and Criteria for the Measurement of Sustainable Tropical Management, and development of the ITTO Guidelines on the Conservation of Biological Diversity in Tropical Production Forests.

the development of criteria and indicators for SFM. Criteria and indicators for the world's temperate and boreal forests are being developed under the Helsinki Process and the Montreal Process. Apart from those developed by ITTO, criteria and indicators are being developed for other tropical forests as part of the Tarapoto Proposal and the Central American Process.

the development of international standards for environmental management systems and environmental auditing, certification and labelling through organisations such as the International Standards Office (ISO), Forest Stewardship Council, and other international and national organisations.

the development of the Code of Conduct for Logging of Indigenous Forests in Selected South Pacific Countries.

the development of national codes of practice and national criteria and indicators by several countries in the region, principally for timber harvesting in production forests. These are being complemented by the preparation of mechanisms for implementing the codes through reduced impact logging guidelines and silvicultural prescriptions.

the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Forest Commission's ad hoc Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management in 1996, with a priority mandate to develop a Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific in support of sustainable forest development.

1.1.2 Contribution of this Code

The Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific has been developed with input from many stakeholders in the region to ensure that the benefits of forest harvesting are maximised and the adverse effects minimised.

In itself, the Code does not ensure ecologically sustainable forest management. However, with effective implementation through reduced impact harvesting guidelines, participation in the planning process from all stakeholders, and integration with other sustainable forest management initiatives, the Code will assist in minimising negative impacts of forest harvesting in production forests.

The Code provides an expression of the region's commitment to sustainable forest management and complements other initiatives in the region. It outlines guidelines by which timber should be harvested for supplying products and other benefits for the immediate community and nation as a whole, while simultaneously maintaining other social and ecological values.

Many harvesting operators believe that environmental protection can only be achieved through expensive measures that will make forest harvesting uneconomic. However, the evidence from experienced operators who carry out effective harvest planning and undertake operations as specified in the plans, indicates that operational control is improved and environmental impacts reduced. This in turn often leads to reduced costs and increased profits.

1.2 Development of the Code

The chronological development of the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific was as follows:

December 1995: FAO/ITTO Regional Expert Consultation on the Implementation of Sustainable Forest Management in Asia and the Pacific, convened in Bangkok recommended:
- the establishment of a regional Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management;

- the development of a comprehensive regional code of practice for forest harvesting.

January 1996: Sixteenth Session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) in Yangon, Myanmar:
- established the APFC ad hoc Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management in Asia and the Pacific;

- mandated the ad hoc Working Group to develop a draft regional Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific.

Preparation of Draft Code:
- identification of National Focal Points to co-ordinate inputs for the development of the Code;

- consultant selected to assist with drafting the Code;

- forest codes from around the world assessed for their applicability for the Asia-Pacific Code;

- March 1997 workshop (first meeting of the APFC ad hoc Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management), Bogor, Indonesia, agreed on a framework for the Asia-Pacific Code, including purpose, coverage, scope and implementation;

- country visits to Myanmar, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vanuatu where inputs for the Code were obtained and discussions held with a range of stakeholders on appropriate inclusions (these countries were selected for visits as they reflected different scales of harvesting operations and forest types ranging from mangroves and swamp forests to upland forests);

- consultations with National Focal Points for clarification of elements of the draft Code;

- first draft of the Code prepared in August 1997, and forwarded to FAO/RAP for distribution to National Focal Points and interested organisations and individuals;

- country review of draft Code (including national workshops) prior to second regional workshop;

- second regional workshop (second meeting of the APFC ad hoc Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management) convened in Bogor, Indonesia, 18-21 November 1997, to discuss draft Code and provide comments and confirm amendments from the National Focal Points and interested organisations and individuals;

- draft Code amended according to agreed inclusions and submitted to FAO for tabling at the Seventeenth Session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission in Yogyakarta, Indonesia 23-27 February 1998;

- formal endorsement of the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific by the Seventeenth Session of the APFC, 23-27 February 1998.

1.3 Purpose

The purpose of the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific is to provide:

an expression to the Asia-Pacific region's commitment to sustainable forest management;

an active tool that supports implementation of sustainable forest management;

a model to be modified, as appropriate, in developing national codes of practice;

an interim guide to improved harvesting practices as countries develop specific national codes;

support for forest departments seeking government backing and political support for improved forest harvesting practices;

a non-legally binding set of guidelines and benchmarks for improved forest harvesting practices for the region;

minimum guidelines for forest harvesting activities consistent with the principles of sustainable forest management which can be audited using criteria and indicators;

support for recognition and respect for the rights of forest resource owners;

support for the protection of sites of cultural, historical, archaeological, geomorphological, biological and spiritual significance;

guidelines for conservation measures for flora and fauna;

guidelines for the maintenance of forest regenerative functions and species diversity;

support for promoting forest productivity;

support for improving the health and safety of forest workers;

support for maximum economic return from the forest;

support for equitable distribution of benefits from the forest.

1.4 Scope and Coverage

The Code provides guidelines that, if followed, will allow production forests to be harvested with minimal adverse impact on the forest environment. It is designed to balance commercial considerations with protection of environmental and social values. Implementation of the guidelines will help ensure that important resources and values are recognised and protected during timber harvesting operations, and that the benefits of harvesting to communities, industry and to the nation are maximised.

The Code, while providing details on some harvesting practices, attempts to ensure there is flexibility to account for the specifications in existing sub-regional and national codes and for those countries that intend to develop national codes.

1.4.1 Harvesting

Sustainable harvesting principles apply across all harvesting activities.

The principles for harvesting advocated in this Code are consistent with those developed previously by ITTO and FAO and include:
- commitment to long-term sustainable provision of products and services;

- maintenance of environmental integrity in harvesting planning and implementation;

- consultation on all issues with all effected stakeholders, including those recognised under customary laws of the countries concerned;

- comprehensive harvest planning;

- effective implementation and control of harvesting operations with predetermined guidelines and benchmarks;

- thorough post-harvest assessment and communication of results to the planning team and to harvesting personnel;

- development of a competent and properly trained and motivated workforce.

The primary focus of the Code is on timber harvesting because these activities in Asia-Pacific represent the largest harvesting impact on forest ecosystems.

Harvesting is a major silvicultural tool available to foresters in the region. Hence it is this one aspect of forest management where professional foresters' inputs can be very effectively contribute to maintaining healthy and productive forests in perpetuity.

It is recognised that non-timber forest products are also extremely important. While the general principles of forest harvesting presented in this Code apply equally to timber and non-timber forest products, the harvest of non-timber forest products requires additional special consideration. These specific considerations can be best addressed through the development of national codes for the harvesting of non-timber forest products.

1.4.2 Natural Forests

The primary focus of this Code is timber harvesting in natural forests in the Asia-Pacific region. However it must be recognised that the general principles of sustainable forest management, including harvesting, apply to all forests. In this respect, the application of many of the principles contained in this Code to plantation forestry may be relevant and similar to their application in natural forests, but will also likely differ in some key aspects.

1.4.3 Geographic Coverage

The Code is designed to cover all countries in the Asia-Pacific region while acknowledging the existence of:

the Code of Conduct for Logging of Indigenous Forests in Selected South Pacific Countries developed in 1995;

national codes of countries in the South Pacific and draft national codes currently being developed in several other countries in Asia.

1.5 Implementation

This Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific provides guidelines or regulations on harvesting. The Code concentrates on “what should be done” rather than “how to do the work”. The “how to” is the mechanism by which the Code is actually implemented in the field and involves for example, reduced impact guidelines and silvicultural prescriptions for various forest types covered by the Code.

This Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific should be implemented by members of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission by undertaking the following:

Staged development within the sustainable limits of the resource to avoid undesirable social effects, paralleled with improvement of regulatory authorities' ability to evaluate and monitor operations.

Effective management to:

- maintain future resource use options;

- maintain biodiversity, regeneration processes;

- ensure maximum economic returns while protecting social and environmental values.

Appropriate resource management oriented toward adding value to industry, local populations and the country's economy.

The development of national codes, or equivalent instruments, whereby:

- in the absence of such national codes, or equivalent instruments, this Code is adopted as an interim measure;

- the relevance of this Code is considered where developing national codes, or reviewing existing codes.

1.6 Stakeholder Roles in Implementing the Code

1.6.1 Issues for Stakeholders

A number of issues need to be considered by the stakeholders for the successful implementation of the Code. Two of the most important issues are:

participation and shared understanding between all stakeholders at all stages of the planning and implementation process;

responsibility for both costs and benefits of forest management to be shared among all stakeholders.

1.6.2 Roles of Stakeholders


Provide policies, legislation, mechanisms, staff, education and training, resources and encouragement for the ecologically sustainable use and management of forest, land and water resources, on all classes of land ownership, for the benefit of all of society.

Facilitate training and funding for implementation with international organisations and donors.


Use their resources wisely in a way that will maintain options for future development and so provide for their long-term benefit.

Maintain the capacity of the forest resource to supply essential needs.

Protect neighbouring and downstream resources.

Monitor operations for compliance with good practice.


Prepare harvesting plans in consultation with forest owners and/or regulatory authorities.

Implement effective and safe operations.

Optimise the benefits to society and the company.

Train and employ local community members to increase the level of skills that can be used in the future.


Assist forest owners and local communities in implementing the principles of SFM.

Assist the timber industry to implement sound harvesting practices.

Evaluate harvesting plans.

Monitor and evaluate harvesting operations for compliance with the harvesting contracts and the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific.

Enforce compliance with legislation and harvesting agreements.

Develop “administrative” procedures (e.g. harvesting area clearance procedures).


Assist in educating and training forest owners/dwellers and users in the wise management of forests.

Make use of local authority (provincial/district government) expertise.

Identify multiple use needs of communities.

Assist in arranging the equitable sharing of benefits from forests.


Provide education and promotion of this Code and related regulations to communities and others.

Assist with ensuring Code compliance, monitoring and auditing procedures.

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