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News release

Forestry experts urge logging training in Africa

Yaoundé, Cameroon, 27 May 2001

Reduced impact logging must be adopted as a matter of urgency, according to a group of Central African forestry experts that here met yesterday.

One of the main criticisms of the timber industry in Central Africa is that it causes unnecessary damage to the forest. Reduced impact logging is the term given to harvesting that causes less damage to the forest and, in many cases, also improves efficiency of the operation.

Yesterday's 1-day workshop was organised by ITTO, IUCN - the World Conservation Union, the Conference on Central African Closed Moist Forest Ecosystems and the United States Forest Service. It was convened with the aim of identifying the main constraints to reduced impact logging and formulating recommendations to promote its uptake in Central Africa.

The workshop was attended by representatives of forest concessionaires, governments, non-governmental organisations and the international forestry community. Presentations covered topics such as fauna management in concessions, a code of logging practice for Central Africa, the costs and benefits of reduced impact logging, and the training needed for the widespread uptake of good logging practice. The presentations were followed by group discussions.

The meeting called for changes in policy that would lead to long-term concession agreements. Among other benefits, these would result in greater investment and commitment by industry and lead to improved forest management by concessionaires. Another recommendation was to increase the participation of local people in forest planning for reduced impact logging and in the harvesting of forest products.

Participants also stressed the urgent need to train the forestry workforce in reduced impact logging. For example, modular training programs should be devised to suit the circumstances of different countries and locations and for different stakeholders in timber harvesting.

The meeting discussed a proposal being developed by ITTO to establish a reduced impact training school for Central Africa, designed to train hundreds of forest workers in good logging practice. Participants provided input that will be used to improve the proposal, which will be submitted to the International Tropical Timber Council, ITTO's governing body.

For more information contact: Dr Eva Mueller, ITTO Secretariat, itto@itto.or.jp