Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Navigation

RILNET Reduced Impact Logging Information Exchange

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 08:03 AM
In early 1999, a group of high-level officials from nine countries of the Asia-Pacific region traveled through the tropical rainforests of Sabah, East Malaysia, to learn about the practical issues surrounding the application of reduced impact logging (RIL) techniques in forest harvesting operations. Spending long days in the forest environment they gained first hand experience on issues such as pre-harvest planning, directional felling and other important components that make up RIL. The tour provided an excellent opportunity for the participants to gain insights into RIL, to share experiences with sustainable forest management in their respective countries, and to discuss the road ahead for further improvements. As an awareness-raising activity, the study tour was a success. However, the discussions during the trip indicated that far more needs to be done to encourage wider adoption of RIL.

RILNET Reduced Impact Logging Information Exchange

In early 1999, a group of high-level officials from nine countries of the Asia-Pacific region traveled through the tropical rainforests of Sabah, East Malaysia, to learn about the practical issues surrounding the application of reduced impact logging (RIL) techniques in forest harvesting operations. Spending long days in the forest environment they gained first hand experience on issues such as pre-harvest planning, directional felling and other important components that make up RIL. The tour provided an excellent opportunity for the participants to gain insights into RIL, to share experiences with sustainable forest management in their respective countries, and to discuss the road ahead for further improvements. As an awareness-raising activity, the study tour was a success. However, the discussions during the trip indicated that far more needs to be done to encourage wider adoption of RIL.

Information sharing and the exchange of experiences were found to be extremely weak. Therefore, it is not surprising that study tour participants requested an improved communication and networking mechanism. In response to the request, and as one of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) follow-up activities, RILNET was established and has been in operation since September 1999.

RILNET is an e-mail list server managed by Tan and Associates for the APFC and supported by FAO and a USDA Forest Service grant. It currently has about 300 recipients. The objective of RILNET is to distribute information and synopses of research results and activities on reduced impact logging

RILNET sends out brief messages (usually one page or less) and indicates where and how additional information on a particular topic can be obtained. On average, one to two messages a month should reach recipients via the internet.

As RILNET is all about sharing information and experiences, it can only operate successfully if information is made available to the network operator. The topics that RILNET covers include:

·         biophysical issues (including impacts on-site and off-site as well as biodiversity impacts);

·         economic issues (including financial and economic aspects);

·         the role of incentives in encouraging improved harvesting;

·         occupational health and ergonomics issues;

·         relevant technologies; and

·         links between the Code and the application of C&I and certification.

 

Code of practice for forest harvesting – do they make a difference?

 

Did you know that most ASEAN member countries have developed national codes of practice for forest harvesting in natural forests? The countries that have not yet done so are in drafting stages or do not need a code, such as Thailand, which imposed a logging ban for natural forests more than fifteen years ago, and Singapore, which for well-known reasons, is not permitting any logging in its small tropical forest.

 

Developing a code of practice is one thing. Implementing it on the ground is something entirely different. So what's the implementation status? The ASEAN Secretariat and the Regional Office of FAO asked exactly this question and commissioned an assessment of progress made in ASEAN Member Countries. The result of the assessment has recently been published in "Taking stock: assessing progress in developing and implementing codes of practice for forest harvesting in ASEAN Member Countries".

 

It should come as no surprise that the report presents a mixed picture. It concludes that efforts to improve forest harvesting are commendable and that there is room to be cautiously optimistic. However, that particular room appears to be rather small, whereas the room indicating that much more needs to be done to make a real difference on the ground is substantially larger.

 

Positive developments include capacity strengthening programs in many countries, the publication of reduced impact logging guidelines in some countries, and a significant increase of certified forests, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia.

 

Various efforts at national and international levels have emphasized the need for improved forest harvesting. Unfortunately, not one country appears to have developed a comprehensive code of practice implementation strategy to give individual, and often independent initiatives, direction and to make them part of a step-by-step approach.

 

The report also stresses that illegal logging has emerged as the most serious threat to the implementation of national codes and the application of RIL practices. Illegal logging depresses market prices for timber. Legitimate operators can therefore hardly be expected to make the necessary investments to reduce the impacts of logging operations. Hence, the difference that codes of practice for forest harvesting have made is much smaller than one would hope for.

 

Back to Top