Production forest has been one of the key sources to support economic development for many Asia-Pacific countries. It produces both timber and non-timber products as well as environmental services, linking forestry with economics and climate and water regulation, for the welfare of the people in the region. Managing production forests in sustainable manner has considerable contribution towards sustainable forest management.
Concern about the depletion of the world’s forests, including in the Asia-Pacific regions, has led to many international calls for serious efforts to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, and improve forest management. This concern reflects an appreciation of the ecological and economic functions of production forests as providers of timber and non-timber forest products, as the habitat for much of the world’s biological diversity, and as regulators of local, regional and global environments.
Some million hectares of tropical forests in the regions are officially designated for timber production, while the rate of logging has been reported to be high leading to risk of forest destruction. Consequently, forest management units which manage production forests under forest concessions scheme, are under increasing pressure to improve utilization and management practices that are less detrimental to ecological function (forest structure, carbon storage etc), and that provide economically viable over longer time frames and contribute substantially to the country’s economic development.
Reduced Impact Logging (RIL), forest certification, forest landscape management (forest management at the site level) and forests restoration are among best practices of production forests utilization and management. Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) is the intensively planned and carefully controlled implementation of timber harvesting operations to minimise the environmental impact on forest vegetation and soils, and enhances the long-term economic viability of timber operations. The application of RIL could also have important implications for the long-term conservation of biodiversity within tropical rain forests. By improving long-term timber yields, RIL could protect logged rain forests from risk of conversion which could result in a tremendous loss of biodiversity and is also a major contributor to anthropogenic carbon emissions. Despite the increasing interest in RIL operations, knowledge on the potential of RIL for climate change mitigation as well as for forest productivity improvement is still minimal.
RIL is now prerequisite for forest certification which permits sale of timber at a price premium. Forest certification has become a tool to assess the quality of forest management and production against a set of requirements called ‘standards’. Forest certification, and associated labelling, informs consumers about the sustainable management of the forests from which timber and other forest products were produced and/or the legality of the products. FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) licensing, is a complementary initiative to forest certification that work at different scales. FLEGT licensing operates at the national scale, while certification operates at the scale of the forest management unit. These schemes have become a significant and innovative venue for standard setting and strengthening forest governance.
Sub-theme “Sustainable Management of Production Forests” in the 3rd Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit aimed to discuss the issues on:
- Timber Legality Assurance System, FLEGT and forestry certification.
- Potential of Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) for climate change mitigation and forest productivity improvement.
- Strengthening forest governance through collaboration between communities and forest management units.
- Restoring degraded forests and landscapes, including for production.
- The expected outcomes of the sub-theme “Sustainable Management of Production Forests” include:
- Exchange knowledge and information among stakeholders, who are actively engaged in Timber Legality Assurance System, FLEGT and forestry certification.
- Foster dialogue among stakeholders about the potential of Reduced Impact Logging practice to support climate change mitigation and forest productivity improvement.
- Strengthened forest governance through collaboration between communities and forest management units.
- Provide a global perspective on restoring degraded forests and landscapes.