Group photo of participants in the first RIL training to be held in PNG
Papua New Guinea’s main policy instrument for regulating management practices in the natural forest concession industry is the ‘Logging Code of Practice’. First developed and adopted in 1996, the Code is the basis for the regulation of the forest concession industry in PNG and applies to any harvesting activity with an annual cut of over 500 m3. Responsibility of enforcing the Code is vested in the Field Services Directorate of the National Forest Authority.
Despite a number of revision (the latest of which is being sponsored by the Asia Pacific Forestry Commission and is currently in process), there are still significant gaps in the code which make the achievement of sustainable forest management difficult if not impossible. Some of the more serious gaps relate to planning requirements and monitoring activities.
This is where the concept of Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) enters the picture. Contrary to some widely held misconceptions, RIL is not only about directional felling or vine cutting or any of a number of specific technical activities. It is an umbrella concept which includes everything from basic inventory, through the operational aspects of forest harvesting and extends to the development of overarching management systems. This concept takes into account, gaps that regulatory frameworks overlook or are unable to address, and helps to guide a forest management company to the achievement of improved efficiency and dramatically reduced impact in its harvesting operations.
Covering the basics of forest surveying and mapping.
Bringing about an understanding of this holistic concept of RIL was one of two objectives of a RAFT (Responsible Asia Forest & Trade) funded activity delivered at the Timber & Forestry Training College (TFTC) by TFF during the first half of August 2013. The TFTC hosted an introductory training of RIL in which this concept was discussed in the context of the PNG Logging Code of Practice. The training then went on to deal with the second objective, namely to demonstrate procedures for contour and tree position mapping in a working environment.
The training consisted of classroom instruction which introduced the concept of RIL and how this concept related to the regulatory framework as defined by the Logging Code of Practice. The field procedures for contour and tree position mapping were also covered in the initial classroom sessions. This was followed by three days of field exercise where participants were organized into teams and were required to implement data collection field surveys. The final days in the classroom helped the participants to process their field data and prepare a composite contour and tree position map. The TFTC will use the resulting tree position and contour map to plan the extraction of logs to supply their sawmilling training requirements.
Processing and mapping field data.
The course brought in 25 participants from the major forest companies in PNG, government representatives, land owners and educators in an unusual, hands on training. Instructors from TFTC were enthusiastic participants in the course. It is clear that TFTC has the personnel, the field locations, and the need for institutionalizing such a training module as part of a larger, national training program in RIL and adoption of the Code of Logging Practice. The anticipation is that funding support to launch such a training program at the national level can be found in the near future in order to strengthen the forestry sectors understanding and capacity to implement RIL