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Although forest harvesting is machine-intensive, labour remains the most critical element for achieving the goals of environmentally sound forest harvesting. Only if workers are healthy, competent to fulfil their jobs, and motivated to work properly and efficiently can they be expected to contribute effectively to these goals (Dykstra & Heinrich 1996).

Physical condition, skills, and personal interest of workers have been taken into account when selecting them for training programmes prior to forest harvesting operations. Since the health of workers is not only based on physical conditions, special attention has been paid to safety, adequate standards of comfort, sanitation, food, and welfare by the company. Adequate training, according to job requirements, and satisfactory living and working conditions as effective motivators have been provided by the company.

Photo 12. Training in proper felling techniques

Apart from an introduction to the company and the internal system of forest management units, the following training programmes are assimilated according to specific duties.

Practical training programme for the inventory crews:


· Identification of commercial tree species based on tree identification manual


· Measuring of trees


· Quality criteria for prospected trees


· Observation criteria for prospected trees


· Field organisation of prospection activity


· Field test on training trail


Practical training programme for the felling crews:


· Safety considerations during felling activity


· Felling and directional felling techniques


· Maintenance of chainsaw and chain sharpening


· Field organisation of felling activity


· Use of felling maps and forms


· Decision criteria for not felling a selected tree


Practical training programme for the extraction crews:


· Field considerations for reducing the damage to the remaining forest stand


· Field organisation of the extraction activities


· Use of extraction maps and forms


In the environmentally sound forest harvesting system as applied by Precious Woods, the monthly wages are substantially higher than the legal minimum. Workers are paid on a monthly basis as follows:


· Wages according to their specific job


· Compensation for working with hazardous materials


· Benefits for food


Taxes on the monthly wages are 67%. Work-time is 10 hours per day, including a 1 hour lunch break. Wages differ according to job description and range from truck driver (100%), crew leader (72%), machine operator (skidder, crawler and loader operator; 71%) and chainsaw operator (64%) to assistant (34%).

In addition, the following is provided by the company:


· Company housing


· Food three times a day


· Transportation by bus to Itacoatiara and return twice a week


· Medical service by a physician three days a week at sawmill site


· Costs of drugs recommended by a physician will be compensated at 65 %


By contrast, workers hired by companies using the traditional logging system are usually paid according to the volume of timber felled per day or receive the legal monthly minimum of US$ 112 plus food and transportation.

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