Impacts of RIL and conventional logging on forest damage in Indonesia

Sist et al. (1998) examined the impacts of conventional and reduced-impact logging (RIL) in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, by comparing pre- and post-harvest stand inventories. Felling provoked injuries in the remaining trees, mainly in their crowns. Skidding was the major source of tree mortality. RIL decreased skidding damage but failed to control felling damage. There was a positive correlation between logging intensity and the proportion of trees damaged by felling. If logging intensity was high (>8 trees/ ha), the proportion of trees damaged in RIL was similar to conventional logging. They concluded that RIL techniques can reduce logging damage by 50% in comparison with conventional logging, if logging intensity were kept low or moderate (<8 trees/ha). The techniques used to extract trees should follow the specific restrictions of the RIL guidelines. For example, felling is not allowed in and around ecologically sensitive areas such as riparian strips or steep terrain. RIL also requires a higher rejection of trees by fellers when the felling direction is unpredictable. Results of more recent studies on the same forests led to new silvicultural rules to be used as part of RIL in these forests. These rules specify that it is necessary: to keep a minimum distance between tree stumps of about 40 m; to ensure only single-tree gaps; to use directional felling; and to harvest stems only in the 60- to 100-cm dbh range (Sist et al. 2003). The authors also suggest that RIL techniques should be expanded beyond silvicultural concepts, including the maintenance of other goods and services of the forest.

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