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1. African Timber Organization (ATO)

Description: The African Timber Organisation's (ATO) main priority since 1994 has been to “promote the implementation of sustainable forest management in ATO member countries”, and “in accordance with recommendations made at international level, specially by the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests” it has chosen to use for its work five Principles, two “Sub-principles”, 26 criteria and 60 indicators at the regional and national levels.

Initiated: 01/1993; Libreville, Gabon, in co-operation with CIFOR and the European Union.

Member Countries (13): Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Cote-d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sao Tome et Principe and Tanzania.

www address:

Criteria and Indicators:

Principle 0. Sustainability of the forest and its multiple functions is a high political priority.

Criterion 0.1. The government has clear forest development objectives and a realistic action plan to meet them.


0.1.1. There is a permanent forest estate governed by laws and regulation which are the basis for its sustainable management.

0.1.2. The Government has a system of reliable, adequate and updated information on the forestry sector (especially a national forest inventory) which enables it to update its action plans and adjust the means of implementation.

Criterion 0.2. The government allocates adequate means for sustainable management of forests.


0.2.1. There is a mechanism for sustained and adequate funding for the management of Government forests.

0.2.2. There is a forestry service in charge of the management of all the forests, with adequate staffing to fulfill its mandate.

0.2.3. Forest research is allocated sufficient means (human and material) and its results are applied.

Criterion 0.3. Actions are taken by the government to reduce all types of pressure on the forest.


0.3.1. Existing, on-going and future plantations in the national forest plantation plan can contribute to supply the timber sector.

0.3.2. The Government implements appropriate programs to stabilize agriculture.

Criterion 0.4. At international level, the government has ratified or approved treaties, conventions or recommendations on sustainable development of forests issued especially by such organizations as ILO, CITES, ITTO, FAO, UNCED.

(No indicators listed)

Principle I. Areas devoted to forestry activities or the permanent forest estate are not declining.

Criterion I.1. Areas devoted to forestry activities or the permanent forest estate are clearly delimited and their boundaries have been well established


I.1.1. There exists a map showing the boundaries of the permanent forest estate.

I.1.2. The boundaries of the permanent forest estate are well marked on the field.

Criterion I.2. Efficient measures have been taken by the authors to monitor the forest and to protect it against clearing, fire, settlements and illegal gathering of sorest products.


I.2.1. There is a control mechanism (direct or delegated control, type and frequency of control) complied with by the forest service.

I.2.2. The procedure of control is followed by results. (mission reports, case files, transactions, condemnations, etc.)

I.2.3. There is collaboration between the forestry service, agricultural service, public order authorities and other public services concerned in forest management.

Criterion I.3. The government implements measures in order to promote the participation of various stakeholders (mainly neighboring villagers) in protecting the forest.


I.3.1. There is a direct, sustainable, efficient system to interest various stakeholders in protecting the forest against clearing, fires and poaching.

I.3.2. Programs for the enlightenment and education of the rural population are implemented.

Principle II. Forests are adequately managed and developed irrespective of their role.

Criterion II.1. A management plan has been established for the sustainable management of the forest taking into account all its components and functions such as timber production, other forest products, contribution to the well being of the local people, ecology.


II.1.1. There is a management plan comprising:

II.1.2. Management is approved by the Minister in charge of forests.

II.1.3. Management is effectively implemented.

II.1.4. The follow-up and the control of the implementation of the management plan are done on the basis of the information included in the appropriate documents.

Criterion II.2. Forestry service and other stakeholders of the sector have enough capacity to properly develop and manage the forest for all its roles (Timber production, other forest products, ecology, farmer-forest relationship)

(No indicators listed)

Sub-Principle IIA. Sustainable timber production (in quantity and quality) is quaranteed.

Criterion IIA.1. Standards for silvicultural and other activities adapted to the specific ecology of the forest and ensuring sustainable management have been developed and are operational.


IIA.1.1. Adequate effort of investigation is undertaken to define, validate or adjust silvicultural and work standards.

IIA.1.2. Silvicultural and work standards are explicit and easy to implement, easy to control.

IIA.1.3. In the area of harvesting, the standards are explicit on:

Criterion IIA.2. Planning and implementation of logging are carried out in conformity with guide-lines of the management plan and the contract agreement based on technical and social standards as well as financial specifications.


IIA.2.1. Operational low-impact felling and skidding techniques are available.

IIA.2.2. Fully consistent with silvicultural standards, and based on previous inventory, the area to be harvested over the management plan period is assessed and maped.

IIA.2.3. Calculations of allowable cut and rotation period are clearly detailed in the management plan and are consistent with silvicultural standards, increment data, prior inventory and harvestable areas, and are established at levels considered compatible with sustainable production of the forest.

IIA.2.4. The felling and work program is operational, clear and realistic. Each harvest is subject to prior validation and design.

IIA.2.5. Felling programs are adjusted rapidly if the change in data collected on the field is significantly different from that on which the manager's initial estimate is based. The management plan is amended to be consistent with the true data.

IIA.2.6. Trees to be felled are previously plotted on a map and marked. Their selection is in compliance with silvicultural standards and protection measures specific to the particular coupe.

IIA.2.7. Trees to be protected are plotted on a map and conspicuously marked, prior to harvest.

IIA.2.8. Financial clauses, technical standards for logging and specific arrangements to protect the forest are clearly specified in the management plan compartment register.

IIA.2.9. The application of provisions of the contract agreement is to be assessed periodically. Non-compliance is penalized.

Criterion IIA.3. Deforestation areas are regenerated by natural or artificial means.


II.A.3.1. Reforestation is implemented with chosen species in conformity with the specifications of the management plan.

Criterion IIA.4. Infrastructure (roads, bridges, firebreaks, etc.) is designed, established and maintained in such way that negative impacts on the environment (forest, soil, watercourse network) are reduced to a strict minimum.


II.A.4.1. The planning and establishment of infrastructure (primary and secondary roads, timber yards, skidding tracks) takes into consideration the topography of the forest area and the needs of exploitation.

II.A.4.2. Sizes of infrastructure (primary and secondary roads, timber yards, skidding tracks) are reduced to the barest minimum possible.

II.A.4.3. Minimum infrastructure required for logging is made permanent.

II.A.4.4. Measures are taken to ensure that infrastructure established for logging and forest management in general, do not disturb the flow of water in the network of river streams, etc

Sub-Principle IIB. Sustainable production of non-timber forest products is ensured.

Criterion IIB.1. Non timber forest products and their uses are identified.

Criterion IIB.2. Guidelines for rational harvesting of non-timber forest products are defined and put into practice.

Criterion IIB.3. Research is undertaken in order to define the conditions for a sustainable use of non-timber forest products.

Criterion IIB.4. Guidelines for harvesting of non-timber forest products are monitored, evaluated and can be corrected if necessary.

Principle II B - (Criterion 1 to 4: no indicators.)

Principle III. The main ecological functions of the forest are maintained.

Criterion III.1. The capacity of the forest for natural regeneration is ensured.


III.1.1. Logging is not authorized if the vertical stratification of forest is disturbed.

III.1.2. Light demand (pioneer) species do not form dense stands within the forest.

III.1.3. Actions are taken to assure natural regeneration when necessary.

Criterion III.2. Negative impacts of various interventions on biodiversite are minimized.


III.2.1. Zones of biological protection where no interference is authorised are created in the permanent forest estate.

III.2.2. The size of biological reserves is adapted to suit the object of preservation.

III.2.3. Selection of biological preservation areas should take into account their potential for effective protection.

III.2.4. Special provisions for the protection of sensitive areas, plains, stream banks, steep slopes should be defined in the management plan.

III.2.5. The management plans of forest only provide for single - specie or exotic specie plantations when other types of silvicultural action have been considered by forest management experts and abandoned for justified reasons.

III.2.6. If enrichment plantings are carried out in logger-over forests, preference will be given to species that were actually harvested in the forest.

III.2.7. Rare or endangered species are protected.

III.2.8. Non timber forest products in high demand are the objects of conservation and domestication trials.

Criterion III.3. The function of water filtration (Protection of water and soils) of the forest is maintained


III.3.1. Water system (regime) and quality do not decrease.

III.3.2. Erosion and other forms of soil degradation are minimized.

III.3.3. Soil and water restoration programs are implemented when necessary.

Principle IV. The rights and duties of all stakeholders should be clearly defined, perceived and accepted by all.

Criterion IV.1. All stakeholders have their users or property rights well defined and secure.


IV.1.1. The methods of access to forest resources are clearly defined and respected by all stakeholders.

IV.1.2. Stakeholders' tenure rights are clear to all parties and are secure.

Criterion IV.2. All stakeholders participate in forest resources management.


IV.2.1. Management techniques are well understood and applied by all stakeholders (forestry service, local population, timber industrialists).

IV.2.2. There is efficient communication between various stakeholders.

IV.2.3. All the parties involved participate in the management of natural resources in a manner accepted by all.

Criterion IV.3. Forest management has no adverse effect on health.


IV.3.1. Necessary preventive measures are taken by concessionaires or the managers to minimize and possibly to take into account health risks linked to forest activities.

Criterion IV.4. The demand for goods and services expressed by beneficiaries by stakeholders on the forest is consistent with its capacity to meet it.


IV.4.1. The needs of the population are taken into account in the management plan.

Criterion IV.5. Sharing of benefits from the forest is considered equitable.


IV.5.1. Damages caused are compensated for in a fair manner.

IV.5.2. Wages and other benefits conform to national standards.

IV.5.3. Forest-dependent people have opportunity to be employed and trained by forest companies.

IV.5.4. Forest utilization is based on necessary compromises and complementarities.

Criterion IV.6. Procedure for dialogue and conflict resolution between various stakeholders.

Source: Anon. 1998. The African Timber Organisation (ATO) initiative on principles, criteria and indicators for sustainable management of African forests. General Presentation. Organisation Africana de la Madera. Liberville, République Gabonaise.

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