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This publication is one in a series initiated by FAO to promote forest harvesting systems, techniques, and methods that are environmentally, socially, and economically sound. The aim is to encourage systems that are appropriate for local conditions, make the best use of local technologies, and emphasize harmony between people and their environment.

Many foresters and development officials share common misconceptions that simple, labor-intensive timber harvesting and wood transport systems are outdated, inefficient, and costly. This is far from true. Recent experience has demonstrated that traditional indigenous or modified systems of timber harvesting and transport are often more efficient and less environmentally destructive than so-called "modern" systems. This is particularly true in areas where there is excess labor capacity and where labor costs are low. Moreover, traditional systems can often be modified or improved to further reduce waste and improve efficiency and performance.

This publication presents the experiences of simple, labor-intensive harvesting of timber from tree plantations in the southern Philippines. The case study clearly illustrates the potential for supplying large volumes of industrial wood to modern processing mills using simple tools and techniques in a cost-efficient and environmentally sound manner. In the process, jobs are provided for thousands of people, helping to satisfy social objectives in areas of few alternative livelihood opportunities.

It is hoped that, by increasing awareness of the experiences in the southern Philippines, foresters and development officials in other areas will recognize the potential of simple, labor-intensive systems as viable options for timber harvesting and job creation.

FAO is grateful to Mike Jurvlius for compiling this case study, based on his many years of work in the southern Philippines.

Soetatwo Hadiwigeno
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for
Asia and the Pacific

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