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Rainforest management

Conservation and management of tropical rainforests: An integrated approach to sustainability 1996. E F. Bruenig. Wallingford, Oxon. UK, CAB International.

Tropical rain forests fascinate scientists and explorers. The richness and variety of forms and the diversity of species have been acknowledged for centuries. Measures to protect endangered species within this ecosystem were already thought necessary in the nineteenth century, yet tropical deforestation is a major and ever growing problem.

As defined by the author in his introduction, the motivation behind this book is to:

· highlight that there is a large body of knowledge, experience and tradition available to ecology and forestry in the tropical rain forest which is poorly applied;

· correct the more notorious scientific myths and public misunderstandings of the ecology of the rain forest and of the cultural systems involved;

· describe the principles of integrated conservation and management which have achieved reasonable levels of practicability and promise to approach sustainability in spite of the complex dynamics and uncertainties of forestry;

· identify relevant unifying basic laws that regulate the processes in the forest structure-function system and which are fundamental to ecosystem viability and stability in forests of all biomes;

· demonstrate the complexity of the dynamic interactions within and between natural and cultural ecosystems, making each case unique in spite of the universality of basic laws and principles;

· discuss features of the natural forest and sociocultural ecosystems which can be understood as adaptive mechanisms and can be mimicked in the design of self-sustainable forests that are viable, robust and tolerant and capable of coping flexibly with uncertainty;

· define principles of feasible tactics and strategies for forest management and conservation, applying holistic approaches, compromising between fundamental universality and specific uniqueness, especially for Sarawak.

A formidable task indeed and perhaps an unattainable one. Nonetheless, Conservation and management of tropical rainforests is a valuable and substantial contribution to the literature and potentially a valuable resource for all concerned with rain forests.

Two new works on forestry ergonomics from ILO

Improving working conditions and Increasing profits in forestry. Sectoral activities programme working paper. 1996. K. Johansson and B. Strehlke. Geneva, ILO.

Forestry work, and particularly wood harvesting, ranks among the most hazardous of all occupations the world over. Improvements in working conditions and training are usually considered a cost but they often pay for themselves: they are an investment from which both workers and enterprises can gain. This study attempts to show that it pays off to improve the conditions under which forest work is done. Two dozen examples are given of cases where jobs have been made easier and safer, resulting in measurable evidence of significant decreases of fatigue and accidents, reduction of costs and increases of pay and productivity. The examples cover the whole range of forestry activities from nursery work and planting to tending and to wood harvesting.

The book is organized into seven sections. Part 1 explores the links between work organization, productivity and working conditions. Part 11 illustrates advantages that can be gained by using appropriate tools and techniques. Part 111 touches on the employment impact of different techniques. Part IV discusses the cost of accidents and occupational diseases and points out some examples of successful accident prevention schemes. Training is considered in Part V. Part VI contains general reflections on the improvement of conditions of work and life in forestry. The study is concluded with final considerations in Part VII.

The study is intended to inspire government services, employers' organizations and unions concerned to follow the examples given and to stimulate the necessary collaboration of managers, supervisors and workers.

Ergonomics in forestry. The Chilean case. 1996. E. Apud and S. Valdes. Geneva, ILO.

This book summarizes some of the experiences acquired in Chile in more than 20 years of study to improve the working and living conditions of forest workers. The book is divided into three parts. The first contains a description of some aspects of Chilean forest work and forest workers. The second part summarizes a number of case-studies carried out in silvicultural operations and harvesting. Finally, the third part presents ideas on how to face future mechanization, including an illustrated checklist for the evaluation of machines. Overall, the authors demonstrate how applied ergonomic research in close cooperation between scientists and industry can result in very significant progress for companies and workers alike.

Community-based forest resource assessment

Recent approaches to participatory forest resource assessment. Rural Development Forestry Study Guide No 2. 1996. J. Carter. London, Overseas Development Institute.

In many parts of the world there is a growing trend towards local people's participation in forest resource assessment. This may be for a variety of purposes, from securing tenure and rights to forest resources, to collecting information for the planned, systematic management of community forests.

The techniques of forest resource assessment used in the past were generally developed for the needs of national planners, and of managers of extensive forests mainly concerned with the production of timber or the management of extensive areas for protection purposes. These techniques, including remote sensing imagery, electronic data handling and advanced statistical analyses, are largely inappropriate to serve the needs of communities hampered by limited human and financial resources and concerned with a wide range of forest products in a relatively limited area.

Recent approaches to participatory forest resources assessment grew from a recognized need to document and learn from recent field experience in local forest resource assessment. It focuses on case-studies from seven countries: Ecuador, Ghana, Indonesia, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda. Collectively they provide examples of a diverse range of assessment methods, from mapping to complex inventories of many species. Following detailed case-study descriptions, the lessons to be drawn from them are discussed, with supplementary material on participatory forest resource assessment from a wider range of countries and contexts.

The information in this volume and particularly that related to the pertinent field experience should be of interest to policy-makers, mid-level professionals and programme coordinators.

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