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This publication has been prepared in response to a request from the 12th Session of the Committee on Forestry (13-16 March 1995) which called for a handbook on tropical forest management, aimed at providing practical advice to forest services and to the practising tropical forest manager in the field.

Recognising that the sustainable management of forests implies the provision of a range of products and services, this book focuses on the maintenance and enhancement of the productive functions of tropical forests, and deals in depth with the practical aspects of the management of tropical forests in which the main products are wood and timber.

The importance of the productive functions of forests was once more recognised in the conclusions of the XI World Forestry Congress (Antalya, Turkey, 1997) which stated that: "managing the world's tropical forests for sustainability is one of the most critical challenges facing humanity; one of its main objectives continues to be management for wood production, while paying increased attention to the sustainability of other goods and services provided by them".

The present document complements other FAO publications already available, including FAO Forestry Papers Nos. 53, 55, 88, 89, 101, 107, 117 and the FAO Model Code of Forest Harvesting Practice. It is intended to be followed by other publications currently in preparation: "Management of Tropical Forests: II. The Production of Non-Wood Products"; and "Planning for Forest Use and Conservation".

FAO hopes that this publication, which identifies and outlines practical steps for more effective and efficient tropical forest management, in the long run, will contribute to the improvement of the quality of forestry field operations and help increase the area of tropical forests under planned and sound management, in all tropical regions.

Jean Clément
Forest Resources Division
Forestry Department

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