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9. Recent advances in training strategy development in support of RIL implementation - Napoleon T. Vergara*

* Green Tropics International, National Highway, Timugan, Los Baños Laguna 4030, Philippines, Tel: ++(63 49) 5361249, E-mail: [email protected]


For a long time, Asia-Pacific countries have been engaged in logging, and have in recent decades emerged as the world’s largest producers of tropical hardwoods. However, in a rising number of countries, ecological stability and the continuity of forest-derived benefits have become doubtful, indicating that timber-extraction techniques have been too exploitative. To counteract this trend, the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) has been trying to motivate its member countries to adopt and apply reduced impact logging (RIL) techniques as a means to achieve sustainable forest management (SFM).

A necessary condition for implementing RIL is that personnel have the qualifications to perform their tasks and responsibilities effectively and efficiently. These qualifications have to be acquired and developed through training and capacity building. First and foremost, personnel need to know and understand the nature and scope of the work to be done, why it has to be done and how best to do it. They need technical skills and manual dexterity. In combination, these skills enable them to carry out complex tasks efficiently. Thus, greater efficiency and higher productivity in timber extraction under RIL is achieved through training: the development of appropriate knowledge, favourable attitudes and suitable skills (KAS) enable a person to perform assigned duties and tasks with minimum effort (least cost) and maximum results (highest outputs).

This paper presents an approach to developing training strategies that could lead to more effective implementation of RIL. Many of the concepts and approaches presented here are drawn from Regional Training Strategy in Support of the Implementation of the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting (APFC, 2000).[8]


Training is easier to implement, more effective in capacity building, and simpler to monitor and evaluate if it is guided by a comprehensive strategy, i.e. a carefully-prepared plan for achieving goals and objectives. Without such a strategy, training efforts generally remain reactive, i.e. piecemeal and uncoordinated responses to emerging problems. For example, RIL training often concentrates on felling/bucking and yarding/skidding operations simply because their negative impacts on the residual stands and the forest ecosystem as a whole are highly visible, and readily measurable in physical and monetary terms. Unfortunately, this approach often fails to recognize that other key stakeholders, such as policy-makers, planners and supervisors also need to undergo training because their decisions have significant and long-term impacts on the productivity and sustainability of the forest resources.

A training program that is guided by strategic thinking is pro-active in nature. It adopts a comprehensive, systematic and long-term approach to that leads to a training strategy encompassing:

Constraints and opportunities for RIL

A number of constraints inhibit the adoption of RIL. Two important ones are:

However, the rapid decline and degradation of forest resources and the fast-rising demand for forest products and services have created excellent opportunities for drawing the attention of policy-makers, forest managers, forest users and the general public to the urgent need to apply RIL to help perpetuate economic, ecological and social benefits derived from the forest.

Knowledge gaps in RIL

At this stage of RIL development in the region, significant gaps in knowledge exist regarding:

Research needs in support of RIL application

The knowledge gaps indicate the need to undertake research, to generate both qualitative and quantitative information on the ecological and socio-economic benefits of RIL, the comparative costs of ‘with’ and ‘without’ RIL in forest harvesting, and the long-term effects of RIL on forest sustainability. The research outputs would be of critical value for formulating appropriate policies and for developing RIL techniques. They would likewise be useful reference materials for RIL training courses.


There is nothing new in developing a generic training strategy. It simply involves the setting of goals and objectives; identifying target trainees; determining training needs; and formulating training courses that address those needs.

What may be unique to developing a RIL training strategy are the following considerations: (a) enlisting the participation of a much broader group of collaborators (e.g. government, industry, the general public, NGOs and academia); (b) focusing on a wider group of target trainees beyond just harvesting operators (i.e. top policy-makers, middle management, frontline supervisors, opinion-makers, and advocacy groups); (c) recognizing that RIL training is not just manual skills development but includes imparting of new knowledge and creation of favourable attitudes as well; (d) promoting the integration of RIL principles and techniques in formal forestry courses in academic institutions.

Goal and objectives of a training strategy

The broad goal of a RIL training strategy is to strengthen the capacity of appropriate persons, groups and agencies to formulate and implement RIL programs for forest management.

The objectives to achieve the above goal are to:

The scope of the training strategy

A RIL training strategy for APFC member countries will have to be at two levels: regional and national.

The regional training strategy would involve the execution of three important tactics:

Adoption of the above tactics necessitates the following activities:

For the regional or sub-regional level

For the national level

Identification of TTGs

In each country, three principal groups are targeted for training:

(a) National trainers - personnel drawn from government or private sector associations to be trained at the regional or sub-regional level, and whose main tasks are to help develop and execute national programs for training TTGs who will become in-country RIL implementers.

(b) In-country RIL implementers - government and private sector personnel of various ranks and responsibilities who will be trained in-country by the national trainers and who will help plan and execute RIL programs in their countries:

(c) Media practitioners and advocacy groups


Each RIL training program should aim directly at filling the training needs of each TTG. Initially it is necessary to determine the required degree of KAS to make the TTG an efficient and effective RIL implementer at his/her level of responsibility. In short, the training needs should be ascertained first.

A four-step generic approach to determining the training needs of each TTG is outlined below:

The nature of RIL training needs

Most candidates for RIL training are employed by logging firms and forest departments and have had significant experience in timber extraction. Thus, training does not have to include basic forest harvesting aspects. Instead it needs to focus on new skills to enable personnel to carry out their old tasks in new ways that minimize damage to the forest ecosystem while maintaining output levels and keeping costs down.

For example, experienced felling crews no longer need to be trained in directional felling. Rather they should be taught to apply their directional felling capabilities to minimize damage to the residual forests, to reduce breakage of the harvested logs, and to facilitate yarding or skidding - in short, to lessen the negative economic and ecological impacts of forest harvesting.


Examples of the important actions needed to meet the objectives of the training strategy, and to produce the expected outcomes, are shown in Table 1:

Table 1. Objectives, actions and outcomes of the training strategy


Action needed

Expected outputs

To identify and prioritize the TTGs that should be trained implement RIL.

Organization of national workshops to identify and prioritize TTGs.

· List of RIL TTGs.
· Short list of priority TTGs that should be trained.
· List of country institutions or organizations with personnel qualified to train priority TTGs.
· List of potential sources of funds for the training courses.
· List of major topics to be included in training the RIL TTGs.
· Potential venues for training.

To improve the capability to design and organize courses that will help improve the implementation of RIL.

Organization of a RIL course for national trainers to be conducted at the regional or sub-regional level.

National RIL trainers with enhanced skills in:
· conducting TNAs
· designing, organizing and coordinating short
· courses in RIL
· methods of teaching
· preparing teaching aids
· teaching short RIL courses

To develop and organize in-country RIL training courses for priority TTGs.

1. Assessment by RIL national trainers of the training needs of the TTGs.

· Lists of topics to be included in the RIL training courses for each priority TTG.

2. Development by national trainers of training courses for each priority TTG.

· Course plans for each priority TTG.

3. Implementation of RIL in-country training courses.

TTGs with improved skills in RIL implementation.

To promote the sharing of training experiences and resources among countries to improve the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of the in-country RIL courses.

Establishment of a regional training unit under the APFC to serve as repository of and distribution centre for RIL-related training materials developed by in-country trainers.

Regional collections of training materials compiled in computerized databases that can be disseminated through the Internet for use in RIL training in-country.

To promote the use of RIL materials as instructional references in universities and colleges that offer formal or informal courses in silviculture and forest harvesting.

Holding of meetings with concerned university officials to distribute copies of RIL reference materials and to discuss their possible use as training materials.

Increased use of RIL references as training materials for relevant courses in universities and colleges.


Coordinating and implementing mechanisms for RIL training

The training strategy aims to provide coordinated training for three major TTGs: (a) the national RIL trainers, (b) the in-country RIL implementers and (c) representatives of the media and NGOs. This calls for the organization of training activities at two levels: (a) regional and (b) national.

The regional strategy aims to put representatives from the different countries through trainers’ training courses. The outputs will be national trainers responsible for helping to design, organize and carry out in-country RIL training courses.

The national training strategy is geared to employ the national trainers to produce in-country RIL implementers and to create favourable public awareness in support of RIL.

Considering the close linkages between the activities and outputs of the two levels of training, it is necessary to set up coordinating and implementing mechanisms: (a) a small Regional RIL Training Coordinating Unit to coordinate efforts and help approach prospective donors, training experts and NGOs to assist with carrying out trainers’ training courses at the regional level; and (b) a National RIL Training Coordinating Unit to stimulate and coordinate the efforts of industry, local government, and NGOs for planning and executing in-country RIL training.

Development and organization of regional trainers’ training

The Regional RIL Training Coordinating Unit, which could be established strategically at the APFC, will have the following functions:

It would be desirable and cost effective to conduct the training in three separate sub-regions involving different countries (see Table 2).

Table 2. Country allocation for training in three APFC sub-regions

Sub-region I

Sub-region II

Sub-region III









New Zealand*



Papua New Guinea






Solomon Islands







Republic of Korea*

Sri Lanka

* Countries believed to have sufficient RIL implementation capacity already.

Regional course evaluation

At the end of each regional training course, participatory evaluation by the TTGs needs to be conducted to:

The results of the evaluation should be made available to the Regional RIL Training Coordinating Unit to be used to improve and upgrade future courses.

Development and organization of in-country training courses

In each country, a National RIL Training Coordinating Unit should be established. Depending on the country situation, the unit could be within the national forestry agency, or in an existing in-country training centre, or in a well-established training-oriented NGO. The unit is expected to collaborate closely with government and industry and take the lead in the following activities:

Identification and prioritization of in-country TTGs

TTGs who will become in-country RIL implementers in each country will be identified and prioritized during national workshops convened by the National RIL Training Coordination Unit, using the following criteria:


The integration of RIL in formal forest harvesting and silviculture courses offered by forestry schools and colleges in the Asia-Pacific region can be of major assistance in creating public awareness and appreciation of, and broadening the support for RIL adoption and application. Knowledge of RIL principles and techniques will be useful for forestry students in their future professional work.

The institutions that are logical targets for possible integration of RIL are:

One possible approach to promote the integration officially is to bring the matter up for consideration by the Asian Network for Forestry Education (ANFE) coordinated by the FAO Regional Office in Bangkok.


Sharing of training resources and experiences among countries could minimize the costly duplication of efforts significantly and reduce the budgetary requirements of in-country training. Examples of resources that can be shared are course designs, audio-visual aids (e.g. slides, transparencies, films, video clips, etc.), course handouts and training specialists.

To facilitate sharing, the Regional RIL Training Coordinating Unit can collect training materials developed by the different countries for compilation in a computerized database that will be accessible through the Internet.


Even the best-planned training strategy will be ineffective if the countries concerned cannot implement it due to lack of financial resources. To ensure that the strategy can be realized it is necessary to consider funding.

Possible sources of funds for carrying out the strategy are:

Domestic funds are scarce, especially among the less developed countries in the region. External grants and loans are often allocated to projects that are perceived to have higher priority than training in RIL. Thus, funds for implementing the training strategy may only be available when ‘excess’ funds are re-allocated. This allocation could be facilitated by cultivating high-level policy makers, industry and the general public regarding the desirability and value of RIL training for sustainable forest management.

Donor agencies that have supported similar projects financially in the region include:

Resource-poor countries could negotiate directly with donors for such aid, but it would be advantageous if an international/regional agency, such as FAO, served as a ‘broker’ to facilitate negotiations between donors and the countries concerned. One significant advantage of a broker is that it can negotiate simultaneously with a pool of donors to support a common activity, such as training, that is undertaken by several countries in separate but coordinated ways.

[8] APFC. 2000. Regional Strategy for Implementing the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific. Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission. Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia.

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