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Background and Objectives

The 7th Meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials on Forestry (ASOF), held in May 2004, called on the ASEAN Secretariat to undertake, in collaboration with the FAO, a review of the development and implementation of codes of practice for forest harvesting in ASEAN Member Countries. The results of the review are presented in this report.

The objectives of the review were to:


The development and implementation of national codes of practice for forest harvesting and promotion of RIL in ASEAN Member Countries has contributed to the improvement of forest harvesting practices and standards of natural forest management, although progress remains slow. The progress made is due partly to enabling legislation, improved regulations and increased interest in forest certification by forestry enterprises. The positive development is further indicated by:

Additional findings are as follows:

Research on improved forest harvesting practices has been conducted, primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia. Research results indicate that the application of RIL practices can reduce damage to the residual stand by about 50 percent and logging waste by 10-30 percent. Some innovative RIL techniques and technologies have been developed, but have been applied on a small scale only in a limited number of forest management units (FMU). Although the body of knowledge on better forest management and RIL has expanded, dissemination of such knowledge in the field remains slow, especially across the borders of the ASEAN MemberCountries.

Knowledge on the economics of different logging systems remains limited. Research on costs and benefits continues to show mixed results. The debate on the financial implications of RIL is far from concluded and decisions are often based more on perceptions than scientific information.

Currently, in some countries (e.g. Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, Viet Nam and partly in Indonesia), forest harvesting in some natural forests and plantations is shifting from mechanised to semi- mechanised systems. This has both positive environmental and socio-economic impacts, through enhanced employment and income generation at local levels.

The implementation of national codes remains problematic, as most codes were formulated without wide stakeholder consultations. Many key stakeholders do not feel ownership of the national codes. Many codes also do not leave sufficient flexibility to account for local differences in topography, soils, forest types, forest harvesting systems or socio-economic conditions.

Most of the national codes, with the exception of the Cambodian Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting, are not legally binding. In several countries, national codes have been prepared and published, but not formally adopted and disseminated widely, which results in enforcement problems. In addition, the implementation of national codes is not systematically monitored and evaluated in any of the four countries visited as part of the review (Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, and Myanmar).

Illegal logging has emerged as a serious threat to the effective implementation of national codes and the adoption of RIL practices. Illegal operations depress market prices for forest products, reduce the comparative profitability of products produced under more sustainable regimes, and provide a competitive advantage to illegal operators. Legitimate operators should not be expected to invest in the training, equipment, supervision, and incentives that are needed to support the application of improved forest harvesting.

Awareness among communities and foresters about small-scale forest management operations in natural forests and forest plantations in ASEAN Member Countries is growing. This is a good sign for sustainable forest management (SFM). It is therefore important to include aspects of manual and semi-mechanized forest harvesting systems in national codes of forest harvesting, and also to consider the issue of labour- intensive, low-impact forest harvesting and forest management in the guide lines.

Discussions during country visits revealed several concerns and requests for the ASEAN Secretariat, FAO Regional Office, APFC and other regional institutions to consider. They include encouraging and facilitating the exchange of information among ASEAN Member Countries, especially on illegal logging, illegal timber trade, international and domestic timber market prices, growth and yield data of forest stands and forest certification schemes.


1. ASEAN's role in promoting the implementation of codes of practice for forest harvesting and RIL during the ongoing strategic planning period 2005-2010:

2. Areas of mutual concern for ASEAN and other regional organisations:

3. The needs of future projects and activities:

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