Rome, 3 November 2005 - Selective logging is not necessarily destructive and can be done with low impact on the remaining forests, if the proper techniques are applied, FAO said today, in response to a recent study on logging impacts in the Amazon.

Researchers at Stanford University have recently been successful in developing sophisticated methodologies and in applying them on satellite data from the Amazon to show the extent of selective logging in the forests, which had previously been missed in other assessments.

"The approach developed by the researchers helps to monitor the impacts of logging in the Amazon and shows us where forests are harvested unsustainably. However, selective logging is not in principle that destructive. Sound logging practices allows the use of the forest without losing it or risking its regenerative capacity," said Wulf Killmann, Director of the Forest Products and Economics Division at FAO. "The severe logging damage shown in the study is unacceptable and sustainable logging practices should be applied."

Reduced Impact Logging
Good forest harvesting practices or so called reduced impact logging should be applied when logging, according to FAO. By using reduced impact logging, forests can be harvested while providing economic benefits as well as protecting the soil, water and biodiversity.

Reduced impact logging refers to widely-accepted practical steps to be taken when logging. It includes specific measures such as assessments before and after harvesting, careful construction and maintenance of forest roads, and cutting down trees at a certain direction and of climbing vines.

According to a global study carried out by FAO, the University of British Columbia and the Lakehead University in Canada, reduced impact logging, if done properly, reduces not only disturbance to the remaining tree stand but also logging waste, compared to other conventional practices.

"Selective logging can sustainably deliver timber with minimum detrimental impact on forests. If forests do not generate income, forest owners tend to convert it to other land uses, which is worse than selective logging." Killmann said.

To help implement reduced impact logging, FAO developed together with countries, regional and national codes for forest harvesting for Asian and African countries. A regional code is now underway for the tropical rainforests of South America, including the Amazon.

The FAO is the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Above is a modified version of one of their press releases.

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(1) FAO press release ( 3 November 2005)

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