Valued IMFN Colleague Moves On

After many years of dedication to the pursuit of sustainable forest management through model forest development in Asia and globally, a valued colleague, Mr. Tang Hon Tat, is moving on.


Throughout IMFNS’s partnership with the FAO these past five years, Tang has been an instrumental part of the IMFN in numerous ways. Tang has been coordinator of the Asia-Pacific IMFNS/FAO Bridging Initiative, assisted with local alternative economic development strategies, provided technical advice to model forests; and spoke and advocated on behalf of the model forest approach around the world.


Changing the way we think and act


Drawn to outdoor life since he was a child and, later, presented with opportunities for educational advancement, Tang saw forestry as a logical path to pursue. But it was through his work with the FAO that he became involved with model forests. As one of the authors of the FAO/Japan Regional Model Forest Project proposal, Tang became increasingly convinced that model forests provided an innovative approach to the challenges of sustainable forest management (SFM).


“At first, model forests seemed like just another term for ‘more of the same.’ But, I soon realized that the approach was different in that it aims to address the root causes of the many problems encountered in forest and land use and management, such as conflicts among stakeholders at all levels,” explained Tang.


“The biggest challenge is to help the stakeholders at all levels truly understand the rationale, processes, and potential benefits of the model forest approach. This is a lot more difficult than we may like it to be because it requires significant changes in the way people think and act. Learning about and understanding each other, and working together, is a never-ending, incremental process.”


A prestigious career


Born in Malaysia, Tang earned a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry from the Australian National University in 1968 and a Master’s degree in Forestry from Oxford University in England in 1975.  Since that time, he has worked in forestry research, forest administration and the private sector, before joining FAO in 1990 to work on projects funded by UNDP, Australia, Japan, and Canada. Throughout his career, more than 30 of Tang’s articles, research papers, reports and presentations have been published. In 1996, he was awarded the FAO B.R. Sen Award for “outstanding contribution to the advancement of the countries to which he was assigned”, and in 2002, received further recognition for his relentless commitment to SFM in the form of the Commonwealth Forestry Association Medal of Excellence for Asia-Pacific.


As Tang takes a well-deserved break before deciding on his next move, we wish him and his wife, Gim, all the best in their future endeavors. Thank you Tang!