Methodological and Technological issues in Technology Transfer

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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 S

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 than US$4/tC.

Lessons Learned
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, 93, 411-45.
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), 5-8.

Innoprise Corportion Sdn Bhd
88817 Kota Kinabalu
Sabah, Malaysia

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