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HEINRICH Rudolf, FAO, Rome

FAO has launched a number of initiatives to promote environmentally-sound forest harvesting and engineering practices aimed at improving forest utilization, reducing costs and negative environmental impact, and supporting sustainable forest development.


The FAO Model Code of Forest Harvesting Practice

The FAO Model Code is primarily intended as a point of reference for countries considering adoption or revision of their own codes of forest practice. It aims to promote harvesting practices that will improve standards of forest utilization, reduce negative environmental impact, help ensure that forests are sustained for future generations and improve the economic and social contribution of forestry as a component of sustainable development.

To ensure the feasibility of the forest harvesting practices described in the code, two workshops were held in 1994 and 1995 to review its content. The final version in English was published in early 1996, and the French and Spanish versions in 1997. Since then, forest enterprises and administrations, and non-governmental organizations have shown strong interest in the code.

For example, in Guyana, a code of practice for forest operations has been drafted, and a regional code for Asia and the Pacific has been drawn up, both based on the FAO Model Code. Assistance has also been provided to the Government of Myanmar to support its efforts to prepare a national code.

In addition, case studies sponsored by private enterprises have been carried out in Brazil, Congo, Indonesia and Peru to test some of the applications suggested in the code.

Case studies on environmentally-sound forest operations

FAO cooperates with government agencies, private companies and institutions (including universities and forest research stations) in conducting field studies to test the principles of environmentally-sound forest harvesting and demonstrate that harvesting practices are compatible with sustainable forestry. The aim is to compare conventional and improved harvesting technologies, measure the costs and benefits of such operations, and foster the transfer of environmentally-sound technology to developing countries. Reports are available on request concerning a number of recent case studies: environmentally-sound forest harvesting in Brazil, the environmental impact of forest harvesting and road construction on natural evergreen forests in Chile, forest harvesting in natural forests in the Congo, the use of oxen in forest harvesting in Costa Rica, and the use of elephants in logging in Sri Lanka.

FAO Forest Harvesting Bulletin

FAO produces a newsletter aimed at creating a global forest harvesting network to facilitate the dissemination of information and experience as a means of promoting environmentally-sound forest practices worldwide. Currently, all FAO member nations participate in the network through nearly 5,000 individuals and organizations.

Harvesting seminars, workshops and forest expert consultations

FAO organizes seminars, workshops and consultations to raise the level of skills and knowledge of forest operation managers, administrators and policy advisors on environmentally-sound forest operations, and share experience on latest developments in the sector. The following seminars have been held, and proceedings are available:

Programme on Environmental Impact Assessment related to Forest Utilization

Commercial forest harvesting is widely blamed for high rates of deforestation and forest degradation in many parts of the world. However, as demonstrated by the FAO Model Code of Forest Harvesting Practice and several recent case studies, harvesting can be compatible with health and sustainability in all types of forest if the proper silvicultural techniques and forest operations are known and practised.

The programme aims to develop a new system for the collection, analysis and dissemination of information specific to the impact of harvesting operations on the forest resources of the world. It will collect information at the national level and test its suitability for drawing conclusions about the intensity of global harvesting, while responding to the needs outlined in the FAO Forest Resource Assessment Project and the State of the World's Forests reports.

The results of this programme will form the basis for understanding the impact of global harvesting. The information gathered can be used to expand sustainable forest development worldwide through improvements in environmentally-sound forest utilization practice, based on reliable and comparable forest impact data.

Programme on Environmentally-Friendly Forest Engineering

The most effective and successful way to reduce the negative impact of forest roads on forest ecosystems is to train road planners, supervisors, machinery operators and other workers in the design, construction and maintenance of environmentally-friendly forest roads, offering:

Seminars on forest roads

Case studies

Topical surveys to provide guidelines for forest road standards and specifications in tropical forests, plantation forests and semi-natural forests in difficult terrain:


State of the Art of Forest Roads, based on the FAO/ECE/ILO seminar on ‘Environmentally-Sound Forest Roads and Wood Transport’ (Sinaia, Romania - 1996)

Audio-visual aids on environmentally-friendly forest road design and construction

Forest road guidelines for road surveys in difficult terrain

FAO Forest Harvesting Bulletin (with articles on forest roads)

Special training courses (on request)

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