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8. DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS AND RESULTS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE PNG LOGGING CODE OF PRACTICE

The results of this case-study suggest that although major steps have been taken towards environmentally sound forest harvesting through the introduction of the Planning, Monitoring and Control Procedures for natural forest logging operations (PNGFA 1995b) and the PNG Logging Code of Practice (PNGFA 1996a), much remains to be done.

Field implementation of rules and regulations set out in the above-mentioned documents was observed when carrying out the studies on harvesting operations with Stettin Bay Lumber Company Ltd. and Vanimo Forest Products Pty Ltd. From this study it appears that comprehensive planning is not yet recognised as an essential tool for conducting harvesting operations efficiently and in an environmentally sound way. On the contrary, some of the planning activities appear to be seen merely as requirements of the PCMP and the Logging Code, to be carried out at the minimum level necessary for the set-up plans to be approved.

Supervision of logging operations appears to be minimal, both by company logging supervisors and by PNGFA project supervisors. Without active supervision and monitoring, the loggers feel little pressure to adapt themselves to the new rules and regulations, or to improve their practices. Only in the inventory phase was there close supervision of field work in both of the companies visited.

A factor of utmost importance for the effective implementation of the PNG Logging Code of Practice is the relatively low level of expertise and skills of the logging workforce. In particular, untrained fellers who are not able to apply directional felling jeopardise substantially the goal of minimising environmental impacts associated with harvesting, not only during felling itself but also during the subsequent extraction operations.

Although the preferential recruitment of landowners for logging operations is recognised as one means of giving landowners the highest possible participation in resource development, the practice may also interfere with the objective of reducing environmental impacts associated with logging. Because the logging frontier is constantly shifting, this policy results in frequent workforce changes (and the employment of unskilled workers in jobs such as felling for which considerable skill is needed) as the operation moves from one ownership area to another. In addition, when loggers are also landowners who benefit from royalties paid on the volume removed, they may ignore diameter limits and buffer zones, preferring to maximise the volume removed rather than ensure that the residual forest is left in good condition for the future. This type of behaviour was observed directly during the study.

Being aware of the inevitable inertia associated with the adoption of new logging rules, it is recognised in the introductory chapter of the PNG Logging Code of Practice that the goal of replacing conventional logging with environmentally sound forest harvesting will not be achieved in the short or medium term. However, this is not a PNG-specific problem and one of the principal conclusions in Wells (1999) is that "full compliance requires a long-term commitment and should be viewed in the context of political support, time since introduction, resources, the scale of the industry, and the background of customary ownership".

Nevertheless, the Logging Code identifies as a starting point 24 Key Standards as a minimum set to which the PNG Forest Authority requires full compliance in its Planning, Monitoring and Control Procedures (PMCP). Over time, additional standards from the code are to be formally added to the PMCP until the code is fully implemented (PNGFA 1996a). However, without effective supervision and monitoring, and without a comprehensive programme of logger training, it does not appear likely that even the 24 Key Standards will be implemented comprehensively in the near future.

Photo 22. Harvesting of all trees above a specified dbh without considering harvesting intensity or canopy gaps.

Additional remarks on harvesting in PNG are provided below.

Topic

Requirements and suggested measures

Pre-logging inventory and

mapping of set-ups

The PMCP specifies the sampling of at least 10% of the harvestable set-up area and production of a set-up map:

A link should be established between the set-up map and the information obtained from the inventory so that the areas of high or low volumes are shown on the map for efficient location of temporary forest roads and skidtrails.

Preparation of tree location maps should be encouraged as essential for skidtrail planning and control.

Marking of individual trees to be harvested

The PMCP requires that all harvestable trees with dbh > 50 cm be marked and the desired direction of fall indicated on their boles:

The distribution of harvestable trees should be taken into account, as relying entirely on a diameter limit for the selection of trees to be harvested might lead to excessively large canopy openings in areas where there is a high density of mature trees (see Photo 22).

The same applies for the species distribution, which is important as a means of ensuring that rare tree species will not disappear as a result of harvesting.

Forest harvesting workforce

A high priority should be given to logger training, especially for chainsaw operators:

Through such training, wood waste related to poor felling and bucking practices could be reduced substantially. This would benefit landowners, the timber permit holder, loggers, and future generations.

The application of directional felling would minimise canopy gaps (Photo 23), minimise damage to residual vegetation, and facilitate extraction operations.