Model code of forest harvesting practice

In 1996, FAO significantly advanced the concept of reduced impact logging (RIL) when it produced the FAO Model Code of Forest Harvesting Practice. The Model Code focuses on four essential elements:

• comprehensive harvest planning

• effective implementation and control of harvesting operations

• thorough post-harvest assessment and communication of results

• development of a competent and motivated workforce

The Model Code examines each of these components with the intention of providing information on methods to accomplish them in environmentally sound ways. Information is also presented on the potential consequences that may result from the failure to implement these practices.

The Code is available in English, French, Spanish and Chinese. Based on the FAO Model Code, a number of countries have started initiatives to develop national codes and guidelines.

Regional codes of forest harvesting practice

The Model Code was further adapted to regional and national needs. FAO worked with 29 member countries of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) and various partner organizations, including the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), to develop the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific, which was published by the comission in 1999. National codes have subsequently been developed for at least 14 Asia-Pacific countries and training of forestry personnel for the implementation of the code is ongoing.

FAO then began working with Central and West African countries to prepare a Regional Model Code of Forest Harvesting Practice, specifically reflecting the conditions in the region. The French version of this code was completed in 2002 and will be translated for the English-speaking countries of the region.


FAO will commence work on a Regional Code of Forest Harvesting Practice for Latin America in 2004.

Case studies on environmentally sound forest operations

FAO collaborates with government agencies, private companies and institutions, to undertake field studies that test the principles of environmentally sound operations and demonstrate that forest operations are compatible with sustainable forest management practices. Among other things, these case studies aim (a) to compare conventional and improved technologies and systems, measuring the benefits and costs of such operations and (b) to foster the transfer of environmentally sound technology to developing countries. Besides the assessment of the environmental impact, an important part of these studies is an assessment of costs and productivity and the social benefits of improved forest operations. To date, 20 case studies have been completed in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe.

last updated:  Wednesday, April 23, 2008