|Forest codes of practice. Contributing to environmentally sound forest operations. (FAO Forestry Paper - 133) (1996)|
|The FAO programme on environmentally sound forest harvesting operations|
World forestry is challenged by a number of issues such as the loss of the earths biodiversity, forest decline because of air pollution and transformation of old growth forests in the temperate region, decrease of forest land due to conversion to other land uses in tropical countries, forest land degradation and tree stand impoverishment as well as generation of forest waste caused by inappropriate and unsustainable forest harvesting practices. Recently issues such as labelling of wood products, suggestions for trade restrictions and even boycotts of tropical timber from non-sustainably managed forests have emerged as further causes of concern in forest and wood products development.
Although great advances have been made during the last two decades in developing and introducing highly mechanised and specialised machinery in forest operations, which permit environmentally sound, economically profitable and socially acceptable forest uses to support sustainable forest development, there still is a great need to ensure the introduction and application of appropriate policies and practical codes of environmentally friendly harvesting practices with the aim to advance sustainability of both timber and non-timber forest products.
Worldwide in 1991, some 3.4 billion m3 of roundwood (FAO 1993) have been removed from the worlds forests of which a little bit less than half has been used for industrial purposes and the other half as fuelwood. The presently existing forest resources worldwide are estimated to amount to about 4,100 million ha. With an ever increasing rate of deforestation for other land uses (conversion to agricultural land, infrastructure, and urbanisation; presently the rate of forest decrease in the tropics alone amounts to some 15.4 million ha annually), it is evident that a concerted effort is needed to motivate policy makers, managers, technicians and forest operators to encourage forest development programmes that harmonise interests in conserving forests as well as to wisely use the potential of the forest while maintaining its full regeneration capacity.