Case Study 26
Carbon Sequestration Benefits of Reduced Impact Logging
Sudha, P & N.H. Ravindranath
Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science,
Bangalore - 560 012, Karnataka, India
Keywords: Malaysia, USA, Australia, forestry, training, monitoring, N
A Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) project to decrease greenhouse emissions was
taken up by Innoprise Corporation in the forest of Sabah, Malaysia, with financial
aid from a US utility. Malaysian foresters were trained for RIL operations,
and an independent team monitored and verified project activities. The associated
reduction in carbon emissions was estimated at 65tC/ha over the logging cycle
of the coupe at an estimated cost of US$4/tC.
The carbon-offset project for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through RIL
was initiated by Innoprise Corporation (ICSB, Malaysia) in August 1992 with
financial aid from the US-based New England Electric System (NEES). RIL, in
contrast to conventional logging, maintains the capacity of forests to sequester
carbon because of the reduced number of trees logged. This reduces biomass losses
and decreases carbon emissions from the decay of logging debris.
This project aimed at demonstrating reductions in carbon emissions from logging
activities. The project also included field studies for quantifying carbon storage
and fluxes; development of a model to simulate changes in biomass and carbon
pools following logging and a simple projection model to generate an estimate
of the carbon benefit.
Training in RIL techniques: Traditionally, Malaysian forest rangers are trained
in mensuration and inventory methods, with limited expertise in harvesting techniques.
Sawyers and bulldozer drivers receive no explicit training although they are
apprenticed for several years. The RIL project sponsored training at several
levels in the forest department. One of the first project activities was a visit
by senior Innoprise staff and logging contractors to areas managed by the Queensland
Forest Service in Australia. Several of the Australian foresters who trained
the logging contractors then visited Sabah as advisors for implementing RIL
guidelines. Ten tractor drivers and 15 ICSB field staff worked with experienced
Australian foresters for three weeks. During this training period, timber in
a logging block of approximately 50 ha was harvested. During two five-day training
programmes, sawyers were trained by a Swedish specialist in directional felling.
Monitoring: Compliance with the RIL guidelines and verification of reduction
in logging damage was assessed by an independent team comprised of NEES, ICSB
and the Center for International Forestry Research. The team conducted site
inspections and met the ground staff, and verified the records and calculations
of the logging damage studies and of the carbon offsets.
The associated reduction in carbon emissions and enhanced sequestration is estimated
at 65 tC/ha over the logging cycle of the coupe, at an estimated cost of less
The pilot project brought together NEES, ICSB and the Queensland Forest Service.
NEES gained the capacity to plan and implement international carbon-offset projects
in anticipation of US legal requirements to control emissions from its coal-based
power plants. NEES financing enabled the transfer of RIL expertise and technology
from the Queensland Forest Service to ICSB. ICSB gained funds to train staff;
the opportunity to improve harvesting practices in a part of their 1 million-hectare,
99-year concession; and the increase in value of residual forest in the project
area. The financing paid the costs of training operators and implementing improved
harvesting practices. However, the sustainability of RIL is not guaranteed because
of the lack of continuing financial incentives. The expansion of RIL is likely
to depend on acceptance of the Clean Development Mechanism by both developed
and developing countries. However, RIL is not easy to classify under the three
defined activities (reforestation, afforestation and deforestation) currently
allowed under the Kyoto Protocol in the Land Use Change and Forestry Sector.
The people most responsible for the RIL success were the ICSB forest rangers.
The rangers participated in all the RIL activities. They not only consistently
used good judgement in implementing the guidelines, but also suggested a number
of innovations that were incorporated into the project, including excellent
methods for record keeping. The trained forest rangers may serve as future instructors,
a situation that can offer considerable advantage in effectiveness, cost and
ease of implementation.
Pinard, M. A., F.E. Putz, J. Tay, and T.E. Sullivan, 1995: Creating Timber Harvest
Guidelines for a Reduced-Impact Logging project in Malaysia. Journal of Foestry,
Pinard, M.A., and F.E. Putz, 1997: Monitoring carbon sequestration benefits
associated with a reduced-impact logging project in Malaysia. Mitigation and
Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 2, 203 -215.
Tropical Forests in the Kyoto Protocol. 1998: Tropical Forest Update, 8 (4),
Innoprise Corportion Sdn Bhd
88817 Kota Kinabalu