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The pursuit of excellence is at the heart of all worthwhile human endeavour. We try to do better than we did yesterday, and attempt to outperform others. Or we may simply work for the pride and satisfaction of a job well done. With so many people striving for excellence, how is it that forestry and foresters alike attract so much negative publicity? Literally hundreds of books and thousands of news items tell the story of deforestation and the failure to manage forests sustainably. It is, therefore, no surprise that the public perception of forestry is one dominated by mismanagement, avarice, irresponsibility and arrogance. The contradiction, however, is that the professional foresters one meets will tell you that they joined the profession not for a love of money, or the sound of chainsaws, but for an appreciation and enjoyment of forests and trees.

In search of excellence deviates from the path that most authors have taken. Instead of dwelling on the failures and the negative, it celebrates the "good" and the many positive management efforts in the Asia-Pacific region. It highlights the many people who are striving for excellence in forest management and seeks to encourage others to emulate these positive efforts. Collectively, the story of forestry that emerges may be more about endeavour and ingenuity than greed, indifference and incompetence.

This publication reflects the outcome of an ambitious initiative of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC), entitled In search of excellence: exemplary forest management in Asia and the Pacific. The initiative was coordinated by the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAO/RAP) and the Regional Community Forestry Training Center for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC). It has set out to make a difference by drawing our eyes from the negative to the positive. It has also significantly advanced understanding of the common elements of what constitutes good forest management and what can be generally regarded as "well managed" and a job well done.

The publication highlights a diversity of management approaches that have proven particularly innovative and successful in meeting challenges. Thus, it reaches out to foresters, policy-makers, planners and anyone interested in the future of forestry in Asia and the Pacific. This publication also marks a significant step forward in FAO's and RECOFTC's efforts to bring its forestry literature closer to general readers who are less familiar with the technical aspects of forest management, but no less concerned about the fate of the region's forests, natural resources and rural people.

He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific
Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations

Yam Malla
Executive Director
Regional Community Forestry
Training Center
for Asia and the Pacific

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