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Paragons of forest management in Central Africa

Sustainable management of tropical forests in Central Africa – in search of excellence.
2003. FAO Forestry Paper 143. Rome, FAO. ISBN 92-5-104976-9.

To highlight the numerous efforts undertaken in forest management in the past 20 years, FAO, within the framework of the FAO/Netherlands Partnership Programme and in close collaboration with regional and international organizations, launched an initiative entitled “In Search of Excellence” to identify and document successful examples of sustainable management of Central African forests and thus promote adoption of best forest management practices at the local level. Using an open, transparent and participatory approach, 24 nominations from nine countries in the subregion were obtained. This document describes these forests and provides in-depth case study analyses for 14 of them. The case studies represent a selection of timber production forests, planted forests and agroforests, protected areas and community forests.

The management practices identified demonstrate the evolution of the forest sector in Central Africa. Forest management models are becoming more and more complex: interventions now involve a range of stakeholders, take into account the different products and services derived from forests and aim at alleviating poverty and contributing to the conservation of biological diversity. Despite the many constraints identified, the new approaches and techniques are used for a variety of forest management objectives, at different scales and for different management structures.

It is hoped that this compilation of information will constitute a source of inspiration for actors in the forest sector and will lead to more widespread application of improved forest management practices that take into account all aspects of sustainable development.

Management of secondary forests in Africa

Workshop on Tropical Secondary Forest Management in Africa: reality and perspectives. Proceedings. 2003. Rome, FAO.

Towards sustainable management and development of tropical secondary forests in anglophone Africa – the Nairobi Proposal for Action. 2003. Rome, FAO.

Secondary forests are forests that have developed after clearance (usually by humans) of the original natural forest. If properly managed and developed, tropical secondary forests may provide valuable ecological and economic services. They are important for rural development, biological conservation, restoring site productivity and relieving pressure on undisturbed forests, and hence for sustainable development. Despite their extent, importance and potential for management, tropical secondary forests are often overlooked in national and international forest statistics, policy and planning, as well as in forest research.

In Africa, the state of the resource and its management is less well documented than in Latin America and Asia. Nevertheless, in various countries of the continent, interest in secondary forests is emerging and valuable research and development has been initiated.

Tropical Secondary Forest Management in Africa: realities and perspectives , the proceedings of a workshop held from 9 to 13 December 2002 in Nairobi, Kenya, provides information on the current status, trends and management of tropical secondary forests in English-speaking Africa. The workshop examined the processes of formation and transformation of these forests, use patterns, socio-economic, environmental, policy and institutional issues and management practices. It identified challenges and constraints to management of the resource and recommended priority actions for improvement.

The proceedings include not only the report of the workshop, but also thematic papers and 15 country papers. A series of annexes presents the workshop conclusions and recommendations.

On the basis of the workshop discussions, FAO has also published the Nairobi Proposal, which outlines key issues and recommendations for action relevant to English-speaking African countries. A more comprehensive proposal for action for secondary forests in all of Africa will be developed incorporating the results of a similar workshop for French-speaking countries held in November 2003.

The publications are available online at: and

Communities and fire – case studies

Community-based fire management: case studies from China, the Gambia, Honduras, India, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Turkey. 2003. Bangkok, Thailand, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. ISBN 974-7946-39-4.

The frequency and intensity of forest fires have increased dramatically in many parts of the world in recent years, with major impacts on forests and on rural and urban people and economies. Faced with increasing fire occurrences and decreasing fire suppression budgets, government agencies, local organizations and forest users must consider the full range of fire management options from around the world.

Local communities are sometimes blamed for forest fires or considered by fire and forest management institutions to be part of the problem, not part of the solution. Yet local people usually have the most at stake in the event of a harmful fire – and should therefore be involved in mitigating these unwanted events. Approaches that engage local communities in the planning and implementing of fire management activities may help fire management organizations act more effectively.

This publication features six country case studies documenting a range of local fire management scenarios that have emerged simultaneously in different parts of the world. Each case has a diverse set of land uses. The cases from China, the Gambia, Honduras, India, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Turkey illustrate a recent shift in direction away from centralized, State-driven forest fire management and towards decentralized and mainly community-based management regimes. These approaches offer promise as being more effective and more sustainable than conventional fire management and suppression approaches over the long term. However, they may operate effectively only where local populations are already adequately empowered to manage and use natural resources.

While there is a large body of knowledge on community-based approaches in other fields, the technical and organizational capacity of communities in relation to managing fire is poorly understood and rarely studied. This compilation of community-based fire management approaches is a valuable first step in contributing to the body of knowledge on communities and fire.

The publication is also available online at:

Regional harvesting code for Central and West Africa

Code régional d’exploitation forestière à faible impact dans les forêts denses tropicales humides d’Afrique centrale et de l’ouest. 2003. Rome, FAO. ISBN 92-5-204982-7.

This regional code for low-impact harvesting in the humid dense tropical forests of Central and West Africa was inspired by FAO’s Model code of forest harvesting practice , published in 1996. The code is based on the principle that it is possible to harvest tropical forests following methods that conserve them in the long term and perceptibly limit negative impacts.

The present code, as its name indicates, is devoted to Central and West Africa, taking account of the circumstances specific to the region. It focuses on timber harvesting because of the potential importance of its negative impacts on the environment. Certain directives related to silviculture and the protection of flora and fauna have also been included. The code is specific to natural production forests, although some of the rules could also be applied to protection forests and planted forests.

The code was elaborated during the course of the project “Sustainable forest management in African ACP countries”, carried out by FAO in partnership with the European Community from 2000 to 2003.

It is hoped that the code will be a useful tool for disseminating low-impact harvesting practices in the region and that it will help advance the cause of sustainable forest management.

Certification in Europe

Forest certification: an ideal that became an absolute. H. Mäntyranta. 2002. Helsinki, Finland, Metsälehti Kustannus. ISBN 952-5118-49-5.

Forest certification has been a much discussed issue for the past decade. Forest certification: an ideal that became an absolute , an abridged English version of a book originally published in Finnish, describes the initiatives, negotiations and backstage discussions and action related to forest certification in Europe since 1993. These activities culminated in the development of the Pan-European Forest Certification scheme, originally adopted by 11 European countries in June 1999 and at present the largest forest certification umbrella organization in the world.

The author, Communications Coordinator of the Finnish Forest Association, a cooperative organization of forest-related organizations, has closely followed the development of forest certification schemes in countries in Europe. His aim in this book was to make known the “numerous issues [related to the forest certification debate] which have remained outside the knowledge of the general public”. Sources of information are documented and range from official meeting reports and publications from the forestry and environment sectors to minutes of meeting, memoranda, e-mail messages and letters.

This at times too-detailed account cannot be considered totally neutral. However, it provides fascinating reading for those interested in this subject and in forestry and the environment.

The publication is also available from the Secretariat of the Pan-European Forest Certification Council, Rue des Girondins, L-1626 Hollerich, Luxembourg ( ).

How to treat bamboo for wider use

Bamboo preservation compendium . W. Liese and S. Kumar. 2003. CIBART Technical Report No. 1/INBAR Technical Report No. 22. New Delhi, India, Centre for Indian Bamboo Resource and Technology. ISBN 81-901808-0-0.

Bamboo is an excellent material for countless applications ranging from handicrafts and utility items to industrial products and structural components of bridges and buildings. With such wide applicability it offers tremendous livelihood potential for rural communities and business opportunities for industry. Although the advantages of bamboo are well known, its wider utilization is hampered by its susceptibility to biological degradation.

Like deterioration of wood, deterioration of bamboo can be prevented through appropriate and safe treatments during storage, processing and use. Although such practices have been in use for some time, relevant information on the various preservation procedures is not sufficiently widely available.

The Bamboo preservation compendium is a step forward in addressing this knowledge gap. Commissioned by the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), the publication compiles information on various technologies and procedures used for bamboo protection and preservation around the world. It begins with a thorough description of bamboo, covering biological and technological characteristics, chemical composition, natural durability and factors reducing bamboo quality. It looks at storage practices, chemical and non-chemical protection methods for raw and processed bamboo, bamboo preservatives, safety procedures, environmental impacts and the economics of bamboo preservation.

The book is intended for readers with a basic understanding of the biological and technological characteristics of bamboo, its processing and use. It is hoped that the publication will help increase bamboo availability, enhance its employment potential, reduce related processing and labour costs and facilitate its wider use.

International Forestry Review – Special Issue on illegal logging

Illegal logging costs governments millions of dollars in lost revenue, threatens livelihoods and is a major environmental problem. Estimates cited in the most recent issue of the International Forestry Review suggest that in the most vulnerable regions more than half of all logging activities are conducted illegally, and that illegal activities may account for over one-tenth of a total global timber trade, itself worth more than US$150 billion a year.

The International Forestry Review , a peer-reviewed journal of forest science, policy, management and conservation published bythe Commonwealth Forestry Association, in its September 2003 Special Issue examines the causes and effects of illegal logging and reports on the most recent research and policy developments by foresters, scientists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and policy-makers. Articles cover such subjects as:

• forest law enforcement and rural livelihoods;
• indicators to monitor progress of forest law enforcement;
• the forest law enforcement and governance ministerial process;
• international and bilateral agreements to address illegal logging;
• underlying causes of the rapid expansion of illegal exploitation of tropical timber;
• trade issues;
• the role of the private sector in tackling illegal logging;
• technologies for log tracking;
• independent verification of legal timber.

Several regional papers discuss particular cases in Asia and the Pacific, Central America and the Russian Federation.

Copies can be purchased from the Commonwealth Forestry Association, by contacting the editor, Alan Pottinger:

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