Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

Principles of sustainable tropical forest management where wood production is the primary objective

1 Background issues concerning sustainable forest management
2 A national policy and legal framework
3 Security of forest tenure and the permanent forest estate
4 Forest management planning
5 Permanent definition of forest boundaries
6 Effective forest protection
7 Maintenance of forest ecosystems and site productivity
8 Assessment of forest resources
9 Knowledge of the sustainability of tropical forest ecosystems
10 The choice of an appropriate silvicultural system
11 Minimisation of adverse environmental impacts
12 Commercial sustainability and business management
13 Community participation in sustainable forest management
14 Monitoring of managerial performance
15 Further reading

The basic principles forming the foundation of practical action for sustainable management of tropical forests where wood production is the primary management objective are explained in this chapter.

Figure 2: The Basic Principles of Tropical Forest Management

The basic principle of tropical forest management comprise the following elements:

· · National Policy and Legal framework
· · Security of Tenure of Forest Resources and Land
· · Effective Forest Protection
· · Knowledge on Sustainability of Tropical Forest Ecosystems
· · Maintenance of Site Productivity
· · Forest Management Planning
· · Goals and Objectives for Forest Management
· · Definition of Forest Resources
· · Application of Appropriate Silvicultural Systems
· · Minimisation of Adverse Environmental Impacts
· · A Regard for the Interests of Forest-Dependent Communities
· · Commercial Sustainability and Business Management
· · Monitoring of Managerial Performance

1 Background issues concerning sustainable forest management

What is forest management?
A definition of sustainable tropical forest management for wood production
ITTO forest management guidelines
Criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management
Natural forest management as a conservation tool

What is forest management?

The term forest management is applied in situations where an integrated, coordinated series of actions are taken, directed towards the achievement of specified objectives. It is because of the many different situations where choices need to be made in manipulating forest resources to meet particular objectives that the term has come to have different meanings to different people. In the broadest sense, forest management is a process which effectively integrates the biological, social and economic factors which influence the decisions leading towards the implementation of one or more specified objectives. An FAO understanding of forest management is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: An FAO Understanding of Forest Management

Forest Management:
Forest Management deals with the overall administrative, economic, legal, social, technical and scientific aspects related to natural and planted forests. It implies various degrees of deliberate human intervention, ranging from actions aimed, at. safeguarding and maintaining the forest ecosystem and its functions, to favouring specific socially or economically valuable species or groups of species for the improved production of goods and services. Sustainable forest management will ensure that the values derived from the forest meet present-day needs while at the same time ensuring their continued availability and contribution to long-term development needs.
(Source: FAO. 1993. The Challenge of Sustainable Forest Management - what future for the world's forests?)

Historically, forest management has mostly considered biological issues with a strong focus upon silviculture for the production of wood. As the forestry profession has grown, an understanding of the term "forest management" has broadened to span wider environmental issues, such as conservation of biological diversity, social and economic matters and, more generally, the concept of sustainability.

The Forest Principles, developed at the Earth Summit - the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, held in Brazil in 1992) - have defined forest management as a part of a Statement of Principles for a global consensus on the management, conservation and Sustainable development of all types of forests; it is expressed in Figure 4.

Figure 4: An UNCED Definition of Forest Management

Forest Management:
Forest resources and forest lands should be sustainably managed to meet the social, economic, cultural and spiritual human needs of present and. future generations. These needs are for forest products and services, such as wood and -wood products, water, food, fodder, medicine, fuel, shelter, employment, recreation, habitats for wildlife, landscape diversity, carbon sinks and reservoirs, and for other forest products. Appropriate measures should be taken to protect forests against harmful effects of pollution, including air-borne pollution, fires, pests and diseases in order to maintain their full multiple values.
(Source: UNCED. 1992. Earth Summit - Rio Declaration & Forest Principles.)

A definition of sustainable tropical forest management for wood production

It is important to define the meaning of the term sustainable management of tropical forests where it is applied to the production of wood. A study undertaken for the International Tropical Timber Organization led to a definition having these primary considerations:

I. Sustainable forest management should be practised on an operational and not an experimental scale.

II. It should embrace a balanced and comprehensive range of management activities that include working plans, yield prediction and control and other technical requirements.

III. It should include the wider political, social and economic criteria without which sustainability is probably unattainable.

ITTO forest management guidelines

Prior to UNCED in 1992, ITTO established a set of principles that comprise an international reference standard for the development of more specific national guidelines for sustainable management of natural tropical forests for wood production. Criteria for monitoring of sustainability in tropical moist forests were also defined by ITTO. The ITTO principles were published as:

Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests, ITTO Policy Development Series No. 1.

In 1993 the ITTO principles were supplemented by guidelines for the establishment and management of planted forests in tropical regions and guidelines for the conservation of biological diversity in tropical production forests. The development, application and enforcement of national guidelines based on the ITTO reference standard are matters for national decision by individual countries. The primary features of the ITTO guidelines, many having policy and operational implications, are summarized in Figure 5.

Criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management

UNCED and Sustainable Forest Management

The need to reconcile the productive functions with the protective, environmental and social roles which all types of forests fulfil was firmly expressed at UNCED. A declaration of 27 guiding principles focusing on the rights and obligations of sovereign states with respect to environment and development was agreed to at UNCED.

It included the Forest Principles - a Statement of Principles for a global consensus on the management, conservation and Sustainable development of all types of forests and to provide for their multiple and complementary functions and uses. As one positive step aimed at developing the Forest Principles there has been broad international agreement to formulate scientifically sound criteria and indicators for the management, conservation and development of all types of forests.

Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Management at the Forest Level

Criteria and indicators are tools which can be used to define, implement and monitor Sustainable forest management in the broadest sense of the term, nationally and at the forest level.

Figure 5: Features of the ITTO Guidelines Concerning Sustainable Forest Management at National and Forest Levels


Policy and Legislation

- Forest policy

- National forest inventory

- Permanent forest estate

- Forest ownership

- National forest service



- Static and dynamic inventory

- Setting of management objectives

- Choice of silvicultural concept

- Yield regulation

- Annual allowable cut

- Management inventory

- Mapping

- Preparation of working plans

- Environmental impact assessment


- Pre-harvest prescriptions


- Extraction

-Post-harvest stand management


- Control of access

- Fire protection

- Use of chemicals

Legal Arrangements

- Concession agreements

- Salvage permits

- Logging permits on private or customary land

Monitoring and Research

- Yield control and silviculture

- Environmental impact studies

(Source: ITTO, 1992. Guidelines For the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests.)

IV. Criteria: Criteria define the essential factors of forest management against which forest sustainability may be assessed. Each criterion relates to a key management factor which may be described by one or more qualitative, quantitative or descriptive indicators.

V. Indicators: Through measurement and monitoring of selected indicators, the effects of forest management action, or inaction, can be assessed and evaluated and action adjusted to ensure that forest management objectives are more likely to be achieved.

International Initiatives to Define Forest Management Criteria and Indicators

Since UNCED, criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management have been formulated within the framework of several international and national meetings. These include the Helsinki Process (for European forests, 1994), the Montreal Process (for temperate and boreal forests, 1993 to 1995), the Tarapoto Proposal (Amazon Forests 1995), the Dry Zone Africa Proposal (1995), the Near East Proposal (1996) and the Lepaterique Process of Central America (1997). The international initiatives are summarized in Annex 1.

Internationally coordinated efforts in the testing of criteria and indicators at the forest management unit level are being led by CIFOR in tropical and temperate countries. Criteria and indicators which can be considered objective, cost-effective and relevant in the assessment of the sustainability of prevailing forest management practices are being identified, taking into account ecological, institutional, social and economic conditions and needs.

Natural forest management as a conservation tool

Governments and rural community owners of tropical forests sometimes ask under what circumstances should natural forest management be applied as a conservation tool. When and where does tropical forest management have clear and convincing benefits as a mechanism not only for producing wood but also for achieving lasting conservation of a tropical forest resource?

Undisturbed forest land where natural forest management can be considered as a conservation tool should include at least some of the following conditions:

- Proximity of a forest resource to agricultural frontiers from where agricultural expansion might occur,

- Expanding local populations or rural communities,

- High local rates of deforestation or forest degradation occur,

- Easily accessible road access into tropical forest resources already exists and is regularly used by local communities,

- High local immigration rates occur into localities where manageable forest resources exist,

- Close proximity of a forest resource to wood markets and to wood-processing industries.

This approach to forest management is sometimes called the "use it or lose it" principle.

2 A national policy and legal framework

Policy framework
Forest legislation

Policy framework

For sustainable forest management to succeed a sound forest policy is essential. A national forest policy should be part of a national land use policy, assuring balanced forest use and conservation with agriculture and other land uses. Forest policies should not contradict the policies of other sectors. Policies should also reflect development patterns for a country and regional policies where appropriate. Forest policies are basically statements of goals for the forestry sector without going into detail about how they will be implemented.

A key policy feature of sustainable forest management is a commitment by governments to define, and defend a permanent forest estate based on secure, long-term land tenure for communities, concession holders and other forest users. Although each country decides best how to translate development themes which balance human activities with resource management into development policies, a basic feature for sustainable management is a firm and consistent commitment, including management plans and budgetary support, by governments to implement the forest policies it has formulated and approved. It should be a requirement of a national forest policy that management of tropical forests will be undertaken in a planned and disciplined manner.

Forest legislation

Laws and regulations comprising forest legislation are the legal instruments which are necessary to put into effect many of the objectives of a forest policy. Legislation permits the translation of policy objectives into specific legal provisions affecting both forest use and forest land and the way forest resources enter into the life and development of communities and countries.

Forest legislation enacted by the government should reflect the principle of sustainability in order to support implementation of forest policy. Depending upon social needs and prevailing ecosystems in a country, the objectives of forest law may cover a range of forest management issues. Points concerning sustainable tropical forest utilisation and management which should be included in forest legislation are:

- Maintaining or enlarging the amount and regional distribution of forest cover needed to secure a stable environment and to provide a basis for sound economic and social forest development.

- Protecting in a network of protected areas representative examples of all natural forest ecosystems in order to maintain an acceptable level of biological and landscape diversity.

- Preparing management plans for all State forest land and for forest lands in non-State tenure.

- Establishing and supporting a viable and multi-functional forest economy, combining ecological conservation and economic resource utilisation.

3 Security of forest tenure and the permanent forest estate

Security of forest tenure
National land use planning and the permanent forest estate

Security of forest tenure

Security of tenure of forest resources and access to forest land is a basic principle and a prerequisite for sustainable tropical forest management Appropriate and reliable forms of forest and land tenure should be established by legislation, including various forms of forest ownership and usage rights. The following provisions concerning security of tenure should be recognised:

- Two broad categories of forest land tenure, namely, private holdings (such as corporations and communal ownership) and public land (such as central, provincial or community government).

- The rights and obligations of different categories of forest owners, including local communities.

- Categories and the nature of usage rights.

National land use planning and the permanent forest estate

A fundamental component of national land use planning is identification of a permanent forest estate, comprising forests of all ownership types, based on secure, long-term land tenure for local communities, concession holders and other forest users. Sustainable management of tropical forests, irrespective of purpose, cannot be planned and effectively implemented in the absence of a permanent forest estate. Land use planning should balance the developmental needs of the country as a whole, or for specific states or provinces within a country, with those of natural resources conservation, including sustainable forest management.

A permanent forest estate should be classified into productive and protective zones on the basis of a national forest inventory, ecological considerations and community consensus. Forest management units for wood production within the permanent forest estate should be identified and responsibility for management allocated amongst various owners and users.

4 Forest management planning

What is a forest management plan and why is it needed?
Sustainability in forest management
Goals and objectives of forest management

What is a forest management plan and why is it needed?

A forest management plan translates national or regional forest policies into a thoughtfully prepared and well co-ordinated operational programme for a forest and for regulating forestry activities for a set time period through the application of prescriptions that specify targets, action and control arrangements. It is an indispensable part of a forest management system and should regulate protection, inventory, yield determination, harvesting, silviculture, monitoring and other forest operations. It should always:

- Provide firm guidance on the log yields which may be cut,

- Specify where and under what conditions and constraints the yield may be harvested.

A forest management plan is required to provide continuity in managerial operations over time, to formalise administrative arrangements and to provide a basis for monitoring forest activities. A key criterion for the sustainable management of tropical forests is the existence and effective implementation, including monitoring, of an approved management plan that has been prepared using up-to-date and accurate information. A forest management plan has the purpose not only of setting out approved management objectives and specified action but, equally importantly, of communicating these to people who are concerned with the implementation of a plan in a forest or group of forests to which it applies.

Sustainability in forest management

Recognition of the fundamental importance of the principle of sustainability is essential in the preparation and subsequent implementation of prescriptions in a forest management plan, irrespective of the objectives of management. Sustainable management of tropical forests may be regarded as one of the most important contributions which the forestry sector can make to programmes of national development in tropical developing countries.

Goals and objectives of forest management

The identification of a management goal and specific objectives for a forest management unit, according to policy priorities, resources potential and constraints, is a basic forest management principle.

A goal is a long-term aim, derived from forest policies or determined as the end-point of a strategy to achieve sustainable forest resources development. Only one goal should be determined and defined for any particular forest management unit.

Objectives are measurable activities, or outputs, which state specific results to be achieved during a specified period of time. Several objectives may be determined and defined in a forest management plan. Each objective should be clear about:

- What activities will be undertaken,
- Where they will happen,
- Who has responsibility for taking action,
- When the action should be taken,
- When action should be completed,
- How much will be achieved, or specific quantitative statements concerning outputs,
- Why an activity will contribute to achievement of an objective.

5 Permanent definition of forest boundaries

A basic principle of tropical forest management is clear and permanent definition of forest boundaries - irrespective of land ownership and tenure -linked to permanent marking, surveying and mapping of boundaries. Permanent definition and subsequent surveying of boundaries are essential steps in defining and mapping a permanent forest estate. They also contribute towards achieving effective protection of a forest from degradation or loss. It is not possible, in practice, to define the area of a forest where planned sustainable management is proposed, nor to derive an annual allowable harvest in the absence of permanently defined, surveyed and mapped forest boundaries.

6 Effective forest protection

Forest protection from fire, from conversion to other land uses and from losses caused by shifting cultivation and unlawful logging is a fundamentally important principle of sustainable tropical forest management, irrespective of the objectives. Sustainable forest management cannot be achieved in the absence of a firm and lasting commitment and appropriate action to effectively protect a forest management unit from the threats and activities that might impair the achievement of forest management objectives.

7 Maintenance of forest ecosystems and site productivity

Biological diversity conservation and forest genetic resources
Maintenance of ecosystem integrity and site productivity
Maintaining the capacity of a forest to regenerate naturally

Biological diversity conservation and forest genetic resources

Biological diversity means the variety of life forms of both plants and animals, the ecological roles they perform and the genetic resources they contain. An important feature of natural tropical forests is their great biological diversity. It is estimated that tropical forests contain at least 50 per cent and probably more of all living species in the world, including a large proportion of the higher plants and mammals. Apart from the small number of tree species of current economic importance, or of domestic importance to local communities, there are likely to be many others present having lesser known values. Some of these will be important to ecosystem stability, others might form an important part of future wood harvests or other forest products, in response to changing environmental conditions and market demands. Genetic variation helps to buffer ecosystems against environmental change and provides the basis for selection and improvement of the products and other benefits to meet future needs, so far as they can be foreseen. The greater the uncertainty over the future - whether environmental change or markets for wood and non-wood products - the greater the potential value of conserving biological diversity.

Conservation of the biological diversity of natural tropical forests is dependent upon maintaining essential functional components of ecosystems while allowing for natural dynamic change to occur. It should be recognised that our present level of knowledge is inadequate to enable all the components of tropical forest ecosystems to be determined with certainty. The precautionary principle therefore is that forest management practices, including harvesting, should aim to conserve as wide a range of species as possible. In particular, endangered plant and animal species need to be protected.

Maintenance of ecosystem integrity and site productivity

The maintenance of ecosystem integrity and site productivity includes maintenance of suitable conditions for the biological functions of tree reproduction and growth and the preservation or increase of soil productivity. It is fundamentally important to manage tropical forest ecosystems to maintain their integrity and to enable site productivity to be maintained to supply wood and non-wood products at levels which are consistent with biological requirements, market interest and the needs of local communities. Acceptance of this position may lead to a reduction of wood output where intensive log production has been carried out. In such cases industrial demands for logs may need to be reduced to levels that are consistent with the biological production capacity of specific forest ecosystems.

Key aspects of forest ecosystems management which contribute to the maintenance of site productivity are summarised in Figure 6. The focus is upon maintenance of ecological processes, maintenance of biological diversity, satisfaction of the needs of local people, maintenance of the harvest of all products, and the sustainability of wood production.

Maintaining the capacity of a forest to regenerate naturally

Maintaining the capacity of a tropical forest ecosystems to regenerate naturally is an important principle of sustainable forest management. The essentials are:

- Seed sources of all tree species comprising the ecosystem should be retained,

- Soil disturbance over the entire production forest should be minimised.

Representative areas, especially sites of ecological importance, should be managed to ensure that the capacity of forest ecosystems to regenerate naturally is not impaired. Steps that may be taken include forest protection, minimising canopy opening and protecting corridors of undisturbed forest, including streamside buffer zones.

Figure 6: Key Features of Forest Ecosystems Management That Contribute to the Maintenance of Site Productivity

Maintenance of Ecological Processes

- Forest use should not cause deterioration of the hydrological functions of forested catchments.

- Forest cover should be maintained to protect soils against the erosive effects of rainfall.

- Soil erosion should be minimised.

- The forest structure should, as far as possible, be maintained to ensure that the biological regeneration capacity is preserved.

- Removal of inorganic nutrients should be minimised by leaving branches and foliage, and debarking logs, in the forest.

- Ecologically sensitive areas, especially buffer zones along water courses, should be protected

- Forest management operations should not cause avoidable ponding or waterlogging

- There should be no chemical contamination of soils and food chains.

Maintenance of Biological Diversity

- Sites important for rare or localised species should not be disturbed.

- Endangered plant and animal species should be protected.

- Forests should not be unnecessarily fragmented if it will lead to loss of species which need to range widely or exist at low densities.

- Small areas of undisturbed forest can preserve wildlife species which can recolonise a forest which regenerates after logging.

Maintenance of the Harvest of all Forest Products

- Sustainability cannot be based upon a single product; management should aim at the production, and potential production, of a diversity of forest products.

8 Assessment of forest resources

Clear and reliable definition of all resources comprising a forest management unit, irrespective of ownership or control, is a critically important element of forestry planning. General information on the extent of tropical forest resources is needed for the formulation of sound forest policies and for broad national or provincial planning. Specific forest resources information on wood volumes and growth is needed at the forest management unit level in order to determine sustainable yields of wood production.

Effective forest management relies on the use of good quality information on forest types, wood volumes and growth, on a range of other environmental matters, on local community and wider social relationships and on economic issues. Ideal forest resources information having value for forest management planning and for practical operations are summarised in Figure 7.

9 Knowledge of the sustainability of tropical forest ecosystems

The need for a thorough understanding of forest ecology
Continuous forest inventory
Yield determination

The need for a thorough understanding of forest ecology

A basic principle in the sustainable management of tropical forests for wood production is acquiring a thorough understanding of tropical forest ecology in order to be able to predict how a forest ecosystem will respond to managerial intervention, especially logging. Sustainable forest management should consider the conservation of forest ecosystems as a whole as well as in the context of present or future wood production.

Continuous forest inventory

Continuous forest inventory provides data needed for the construction of yield tables and growth models which may be used, together with current forest inventory data, for growth and yield forecasting. It is also a system monitoring the stocking and development of forests and the rate of growth which enables any unexpected or unfavourable developments to be detected and measured. An important requirement for sustainable tropical forest management is the collection of good quality forest growth and development data through continuous forest inventory in order that the sustainability of forest ecosystems may be properly determined.

Yield determination

A basic principle of sustainable management of tropical forests is that forest products yields should be determined in order that an optimum rate of harvest of wood and other products may be planned. Sustainable forest management can only be achieved through the reliable determination of yields of both wood and non-wood products.

Figure 7: Ideal Forest Resources Information Requirements

Graphical Information Concerning Forest Land

- topographic maps

- cadastral maps

- management maps, including boundaries

- aerial photographs

- satellite imagery

- geographic information system data

Legal Information

- rights and privileges

- land tenure

Environmental Information

- geology

- soils

- biological diversity

- wildlife

- meteorology

- hydrology and watersheds

- forest ecology

- wood (log) resources

- forest growth and yields

- silviculture

- non-wood resources

- pests and diseases

- forest use & management history

- amenity and scenery

Social Information

- population and location

- community structure

- social relationships with forests

- recreation interest or potential

Economic Information

- wood prices

- wood markets

- taxation issues

- costs

10 The choice of an appropriate silvicultural system

The aim of silviculture
Types of silvicultural systems
Harvesting: a silvicultural and a log production operation
The relationship of silviculture to forest management objectives

The aim of silviculture

Silviculture is a set of techniques that can be applied to help attain specified forest management objectives. It aims to achieve the implementation of objectives through manipulation of the composition and structure of a forest. In most instances in a wood production forest, the aim of silviculture is to enhance the growth and quality of potential crop trees.

Types of silvicultural systems

The systematic application of an appropriate silvicultural system is a basic principle in the planned, sustainable management of tropical forests. Since planned management of tropical forests was first introduced in the nineteenth century a number of silvicultural systems have been developed, each comprising a basis for tropical forest management for wood production. Most systems aim to achieve regeneration of trees through natural seed fall from seed trees. Where necessary, artificial regeneration that relies on the planting of nursery-raised seedlings is used to support the natural regeneration systems. The systematic application of an appropriate silvicultural system for management of natural tropical forests depends upon acquiring an understanding of the ecology of the forest for which management is being planned. Silvicultural management of natural tropical forests is superior in both ecological and economic terms to attempts at plantation forest establishment on the same infertile sites.

The primary characteristics of silvicultural systems which have been applied at various times in tropical forests in Latin America, Asia and Africa are summarised in Figure 8. The polycyclic, selective cutting system is the most widely applied system in hill forests. It offers a flexible, practical, technically and commercially realistic basis for harvesting and at the same time it influences forest composition and structure in favour of the next crop. Clearcutting in narrow strips and group selection cutting patterns are applied in some localities but have the disadvantage of causing damage to remaining trees.

Harvesting: a silvicultural and a log production operation

Harvesting of logs from forests managed under polycyclic and, to a lesser extent, monocyclic systems is a significant silvicultural intervention as well as being a log production operation. The long-term managerial effect of relatively low impact log extraction is that it is also the most formative silvicultural operation to be applied during the management cycle in any particular area of forest through its effect on the future structure, composition and growth of a forest.

Figure 8: Silvicultural Systems That Can be Used in Tropical Forests

The Polycyclic System is applied in all-aged forests where the log harvest is cut from specified size-classes and species of trees at intervals which are about one-half of the growing period taken to reach industrial log sizes. Advanced growth is retained. There is one sub-system.
· Selection Cutting of Crop Trees:
Aims at maintaining uneven aged forests; regeneration is either present before logging or can be encouraged to develop following harvesting by leaving seed, or mother, trees; a range of tree size classes exists and the forest does not have a uniform composition.
Monocyclic Systems are applied in uniform forests where age-classes exist or are to be formed. New crop trees are derived from regeneration, seedlings and. saplings of commercially important species and not from older and larger trees which may have or still do comprise the forest structure. Advanced growth is retained. At the end of a fixed rotation crop trees are either removed by clearcutting or, in the case of the uniform shelterwood system, harvested through a regeneration period. There are three sub-systems.
· Uniform System:
Aims at achieving even-aged stands composed of trees of generally uniform size: regeneration is present in sufficient density before harvesting to provide tree stocks for the next crop.
· Tropical Shelterwood System: Aims at achieving even-aged stands through the formation of a shelterwood of mother (seed) trees which are subsequently removed when regeneration has become established.
· Irregular Shelterwood System: Aims at achieving continuing forest development in situations where regeneration is uncertain and retention of trees below specified cutting limits is necessary and will comprise a part of a future crop.

Log harvesting should not only be considered as being a cost incurred in wood production but also as a silvicultural investment in the production of logs for the next harvest. In particular, it has a major thinning effect in that pole-sized trees, saplings and seedlings are provided with "growing space" whilst soil disturbance creates conditions which enable seed of many species to germinate and become established. As a matter of principle, the logger and the silviculturalist should work as partners with the understanding that harvesting is a part of silvicultural treatment but, at the same time, ensuring that logging operations and management objectives are commercially realistic.

The relationship of silviculture to forest management objectives

The choice of a silvicultural system is determined, firstly, by the ecological characteristics of a forest for which sustainable management is being planned and, secondly, by the management goal and objectives for a specific forest management unit. Sustainable management of tropical forests is at the core of a forest development strategy and implies silvicultural manipulation, or intervention, in order to achieve objectives written in a forest management plan.

The following guidelines should be considered in designing an appropriate silvicultural system for a forest management unit:

- The forest planner should provide an appropriate basic framework for silvicultural treatment. The framework should include clear management objectives.

- The silvicultural concept should express basic principles but should leave firm decisions on the nature of specific silvicultural operations - what and when specific activities will take place - to local foresters.

- The definition of short- and medium-term stocking and regeneration targets is an important step in achieving a desirable forest composition and structure. Diagnostic sampling should be applied as a step in determining stocking and regeneration targets.

11 Minimisation of adverse environmental impacts

Minimisation of adverse environmental impacts in the planning and practical implementation of tropical forest operations is a basic principle of sustainable forest management. At all stages in forest management, be it wood harvesting, silvicultural operations, forest protection, harvesting of non-wood products or other activities, forest managers should safeguard the integrity of both land and forest through thoughtful planning and sensitive implementation of forestry operations.

Environmental impact assessment is a useful tool for assessing the environmental impacts of forest management. It is a systematic, stepwise procedure which gathers information and evaluates the likely impact of the change of circumstances that might result from implementation of a management programme. An important aspect of environmental assessment is to ensure that adverse impacts of harvesting activities - road design and construction, cutting, extraction, landing and transport operations - are minimised. As a general principle, the maintenance of environmental values and services should be supported by revenue from wood production, except where forest land is located in places not zoned for production.

12 Commercial sustainability and business management

Commercial sustainability
Private sector participation in forest management
Funding of forest operations from revenue

Commercial sustainability

As a basic principle of sustainable tropical forest management, all operations comprising a balanced programme of activities need to be financially supportable from revenue earned from sales of forest products, primarily from log harvesting. It is the commercial operation of a forest management unit which is the driving force for the generation of revenue from which all forest conservation and development activities should be funded.

The policy and trading environment of a country or province should enable a forest management unit to be commercially as well as ecologically sustainable and should permit sound business arrangements to be implemented that, in turn, will enable long-term forest management programmes to be achieved. It should however be noted that sustainable forest management which follows ecologically sound environmental standards can be expected to be more expensive than is unregulated exploitation. Lower expectation by immediate profit by the private sector is an important pre-requisite to achieving sustainable management of tropical forests.

Private sector participation in forest management

Most large-scale harvesting and management in tropical forests is undertaken by the private sector, most commonly by concession holders having exclusive rights for defined periods of time in designated areas of State forests. Examples may be found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Bolivia, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon and Brazil and many other countries. Logging concessions are also granted over customary land in some Pacific countries but currently the basis for sustainable management over the long term tends to be minimal. On a world scale, only relatively small areas are harvested and managed by wholly State-owned enterprises or by non-government agencies.

Private sector participation is essential in sustainable forest management. The entrepreneurship and business experience of private owners and enterprises can substantially enhance the operational performance and the economic base of management and lead to greater wealth generation upon which post-harvest management, environmental management and local community development are able to be funded. The institutional framework within which forest development can best operate should encourage the private sector to make long-term investments in forest management under conditions of profitability, fair competition and security which can compete with investment alternatives.

Funding of forest operations from revenue

All funding for protection, post-harvest silviculture, inventory, research, environmental management and community development should, if possible, be derived from revenue generated from harvesting. These requirements should be budgeted into an annual operations plan by including specific budget lines for forest development.

13 Community participation in sustainable forest management

Community forestry promotes improved livelihoods of rural communities, especially those which have a traditional dependency upon forests, through more effective management of tree and forest resources. Rural communities and forest users who depend on tree and forest resources for their survival and for economic development are the primary beneficiaries of community forestry activities. Forest managers should work with forest communities in assessing, planning and monitoring the management of natural tropical forests, according to locally defined concerns, needs and goals, in order to better address rural communities' needs. Effective mechanisms should be formulated that will enable the achievement of effective and enduring two-way communication between forest managers and forest communities.

Three features should be recognised in encouraging rural community participation in sustainable forest management:

- A clear recognition and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples who live in or have a traditional dependence on tropical forests.

- Promoting collaboration amongst people and institutions who are involved in the various aspects of forest management, including wood production, integrating professional skills and training with traditional knowledge and resources of local populations in order to more effectively support the needs of rural communities and to minimise or avoid conflicts in forest management.

- Enhancement of the well-being of forest workers and local communities.

14 Monitoring of managerial performance

Monitoring the implementation of activities set out in an approved forest management plan is fundamental to sustainable forest management and forms the basis for transparent accountability of operational activities. Monitoring of forest management has several functions. It allows for the control of current management activities, for the evaluation of the operating performance of a forest management unit and for the evaluation of management programmes. One approach to monitoring involves making comparisons between physical achievements and programme targets, and between financial expenditure and budgets at the end of specified time periods, for example, at three- or six-monthly intervals. Another approach is to monitor specified key indicators continuously, which enables information on the progress of plan implementation to be collected more frequently, such as at weekly intervals.

15 Further reading

Anthony, R. N. & Herzlinger, R. E. 1980. Management Control In Non-profit Organizations. Harvard University, Richard D. Irwin, Inc. Publishers, Illinois.

Bertault, J. G. Dupe, B. & Matter, H. F. 1995. Silviculture for Sustainable Management of Tropical Moist Forest. In "UNASYLVA", Vol. 46, (181), FAO, Rome.

Bruenig, E. F. 1996. Conservation and Management of Tropical Rainforests: an Integrated Approach to Sustainability. CAB International, Wallingford, Oxford.

Catinot, René. 1997. The Sustainable Management of Tropical Rainforests. General Secretariat, Association technique internationale des bois tropicaux, ATIBT. Paris.

de Montalembert, M. R. & Schmithüsen, F. 1993/4. Policy and Legal Aspects of Sustainable Forest Management. In "UNASYLVA", Vol. 44 (175), FAO, Rome.

Dubourdieu, J. 1997. L'Aménagement Forestier - Gestion Durable et Intégrée des Ecosystèmes Forestiers. Office National des Forêts, Paris.

FAO. 1982. Environmental Impact of Forestry. Conservation Guide No. 7, Rome.

FAO. 1985. Intensive Multiple-Use Forest Management in the Tropics: analysis of case studies from India, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Forestry Paper No. 55, Rome.

FAO. 1987. Guidelines for Forest Policy Formulation. Forestry Paper No. 81, Rome. FAO. 1989. Review of Forest Management Systems of Tropical Asia. Forestry Paper No. 89, Rome.

FAO. 1993. The Challenge of Sustainable Forest Management - what future for the world's forests? FAO, Rome.

FAO. 1993. Conservation of Genetic Resources in Tropical Forest Management - Principles and Concepts. Forestry Paper No. 107, Rome.

FAO. 1996. Training Manual for Environmental Assessment in Forestry. Field Doc. 8/1996. FAO, Bangkok/DANCED, Denmark.

FAO. 1996. Model Code of Forest Harvesting Practice. Rome.

FAO. 1996. Addressing Natural Resource Conflicts Through Community Forestry: setting the stage. Paper for an E-Conference "Addressing Natural Resource Conflicts through Community Forestry". Rome.

Ferguson, I. S. 1996. Sustainable Forest Management. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

ITTO. 1992. Guidelines For The Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests. Policy Development Series No. 1. International Tropical Timber Organization, Yokohama. 1992.

IUCN. 1991. The Management of Tropical Moist Forest Lands: Ecological Guidelines. IUCN-The World Conservation Union, Gland.

Johnston, D. R. Grayson, A.J & Bradley, R. T. 1965. Forest Planning. Faber & Faber, London.

Leslie, A.J. 1987. A Second Look at the Economics of Natural Management Systems in Tropical Mixed Forests. In "UNASYLVA", Vol. 39 (155), FAO, Rome.

Pancel, L. [Ed]. 1993. Tropical Forestry Handbook. Springer Verlag, Germany.

Poore, D. & Sayer, J. 1991. The Management of Tropical Moist Forest Lands: Ecological Guidelines. IUCN-The World Conservation Union, Gland.

Schulte, A. & Schöne, D. [Eds]. 1996. Dipterocarp Forest Ecosystems - Towards Sustainable Management. World Scientific Publishing, Singapore.

Vanclay, J. K. 1992. Species Richness and Productive Forest Management. In "Wise Management of Tropical Forests". Proceedings of the Oxford Conference on Tropical Forests, University of Oxford.

Worrell, A. C. 1970. Principles of Forest Policy. McGraw-Hill Book Co. New York.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page