One aspect of the social pillar of sustainable forest management, which has so far received
little attention at the policy level, is the forest workforce. There has been little recognition at
the international level of the obvious fact that sustainable forestry requires a sustainable work
force. Increasingly, forestry operations, -notably harvesting- are carried out by contractors.
These are often small or very small enterprises, which therefore face major challenges in terms
of occupational safety and health and economic viability as they lack a strong structure of
cooperation and mutual support.
A team of specialists was set up under the integrated programme of the UNECE Timber
Committee and the FAO European Forestry Commission to address this issue. This team, led
by Edgar Kastenholz of ENFE, has drawn up a Guide to Good Practice in Contract Labour
in Forestry, intended to help these contractors, and those working with them, to understand
the issues, and function in a truly sustainable way. The Guide is based on European and
North American conditions, but many of its suggestions are applicable elsewhere. We hope
that this good practice guide will take its place alongside other good practice guides prepared
by FAO and its partners as a very practical contribution towards achieving sustainable forest
We take this opportunity to thank the team members for their work in opening up a new
field of activity and drawing attention to a range of issues which need attention, but which,
as this Guide shows, may also be solved by applying basic principles and learning from the
experience of others. The work was supported from the FAO staff side by Joachim Lorbach.