Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

The results of this case-study show that even with a minimal planning effort, planned harvesting as applied at the study site on sample unit Plot/02 is economically and environmentally superior to conventional logging as commonly practiced in Suriname.

On this study, the labour cost associated with planned harvesting was 20% lower than that associated with conventional logging, even though a larger initial labour investment was required to do the pre-harvest inventory and tree mapping. Furthermore, planned forest harvesting has the significant advantage of meeting not only short-term but also medium and long-term economic and environmental objectives. These advantages become clear through a comparison of characteristics of the two systems:

Conventional logging


Planned harvesting


Timber losses in total came to 15.7% of the total volume cut at the felling site, mainly due to poor felling and bucking.


Directional felling by trained operators would substantially reduce timber losses during felling and bucking operations.


Timber losses due to lost logs amounted to about 5% of the total volume cut by felling operations.


Lost logs are eliminated due to the use of the tree location map during felling and skidding operations.


Depletion of timber resources in the vicinity of the few established roads that provide access to the forest.


Pre-harvest survey and a proper recording system permit timber removals to be controlled and monitored in order to avoid depletion of timber resources and disappearance of rare species.

Focusing on environmental impacts of harvesting operations, advantages of planned forest harvesting include the following:

Conventional logging


Planned harvesting


Randomly distributed non-harvested forest areas remain due to difficult site conditions rather than to considerations of preservation.


A general inventory during the exploration phase provides basic information about timber resources in the area but also serves zoning purposes (e.g., setting aside areas for reasons of preservation).


Unrestricted timber removal can lead to the disappearance of certain tree species associated with a loss in diversity of forests.


A pre-harvest survey helps to determine the proper level of AAC and identify the need for restricting the felling of certain species, in order to assuring the continued existence of rare species.


Undiscovered internal decay was responsible for 7.8% in timber losses.


Reliable decay investigation prior to felling should be part of planned harvesting in order to prevent timber losses caused by internal decay.


Unreliable rot identification causes unnecessary felling of trees, increasing environmental impacts.


Trees suspected of having internal decay are not felled, but preserved as shade and seed trees in order to diminish environmental impacts.


Neighbouring trees are unnecessarily damaged during felling operation by interconnecting vines.


Climber cutting, done well in advance of harvesting, enables directional felling and helps to reduce felling damage.


The area affected by primary skidtrails came to 12.4% of the sample unit area, not even taking into account a criss-crossing network of secondary skidtrails caused by unplanned searching for and skidding of logs.


Soil disturbance associated with soil compaction remains restricted to the areas of designated skidtrails, which covered about 5.4% of the area harvested on the planned harvesting trial.

These medium and long-term advantages of planned forest harvesting operations in producing tropical forest products are confirmed by similar studies (Elias 1998, Winkler 1997).

Conventional logging as commonly practiced in Suriname can be characterised as poorly planned, haphazard timber harvesting without inadequate consideration for future crops and forest sustainability. Nevertheless, the replacement of conventional logging by environmentally sound forest harvesting systems is not likely to be achieved overnight. As a first step towards sustainable forest management, the existing potential for improving harvesting operations should be fully utilised. This would, however, require planning and the enforcement of existing laws and regulations (e.g., the Forest Management Act of 1992).



Requirements and measures to be undertaken


Exploration phase


An exploration phase is required according to FMA 1992 before a concession application can be submitted:

B7 Once enforced, the results of the exploratory inventory will not only provide preliminary information for strategic planning but also serve zoning purposes as part of overall forest management planning and a component of comprehensive land-use planning.


Forest inventory requirement


New concession agreements normally include inventory requirements:

Once implemented, inventory results will provide for the AAC to be set at a level that provides the maximum harvest volume while ensuring that the prospects for future harvests do not deteriorate.

Determination of the AAC based on the area and the length of the concession agreement is to be replaced.


Demarcation of "blocks"


SBB's policy is to define management units, often referred to as "blocks", of 100-500 ha:

Once implemented, this will permit a transportation system to be designed for the entire concession area with roads being constructed when access to an individual "block" is required.


Stock survey


New concession agreements do include stock survey requirements and SBB's policy is to introduce a pre-harvesting 100% stock survey as obligatory condition for the issuing of concessions:

In implementing the stock survey requirement, the blocks are to be divided into administrative units, often referred to as "cutting units," that can be easily identified on the ground and used to help control and guide harvesting operations.


Tree location map


SBB's policy on the 100% pre-harvest stock survey also includes the requirement to map the cutting unit:

All trees that might be harvestable are marked on the map along with all other features that might influence harvesting operations (e.g., swampy areas).

Such tree location maps should, however, not only serve planning purposes but are to be used by the felling and skidding crews to increase efficiency of operations and reduce wood waste.


Design of skidtrails


 In easy terrain when cutting units are contiguous, the planning of the skidtrail system should be done simultaneously for all units (e.g., regular pattern of straight skidtrails at certain distances).

If cutting units are not contiguous, individual plans are required at the level of a cutting unit or a group of units.

The skidtrail system must be laid out so that it efficiently accesses the trees to be harvested taking account of problem areas (e.g., swamps) while at the same time minimising the total length of skidtrails.

Skidtrails should generally be as straight as possible, curving where necessary to reach timber marked for cutting or to avoid wet soils and other obstacles, but avoiding tight corners in order to prevent damage to trees standing near the skidtrail.


Tagging and recording


SBB/LBB monitors the log transport and the concessionaires are obliged to keep a logging register and to tag each log for tracking:

However, the tagging of logs should be done at the felling site so that the concessionaire can be charged not only for the timber removed from the area but actually cut on the area.

Thus the concessionaire would have an interest in removing all trees cut and would thereby tend to reduce wood waste.


Database on concessions

with SBB


The database established by SBB should be developed as a kind of "management" tool rather than a purely statistical tool.

All information on inventory results and timber removals available at the lowest management level (ideally the cutting unit level) should be stored for easy retrieval in order to identify problem areas where concession agreements might not be renewed or timber harvest should be restricted to selected species or certain cutting units, to avoid depletion of timber resources.


Payment systems


As a first step, the current piece-rate payment system for felling should be reconsidered by the concessionaires, who would profit by moving from payments based on the number of trees cut to a payment based on volume of timber cut per day. This would encourage chainsaw operators to cut mature trees rather than small trees which should be left to form the future crop to be harvested during the next harvest entry.

A logical second step would be the introduction of a "mixed" payment system involving a base hourly wage that would be supplemented by payment on a piece rate basis (per cubic metre) once the timber production passes a certain threshold. In such a system the chainsaw operator would be encouraged to cut mature trees and to carry out reliable decay investigations (e.g., making a probing cut with the chainsaw blade into each tree selected for harvesting where internal decay is suspected) in order to avoid wasting time by cutting those trees.


Forest harvesting workforce


Training for workers at all levels, but in particular chainsaw operators, should be a high priority in order to enable them to do their job efficiently and safely.

Training of the felling crews would permit wood residues related to wasteful felling and bucking practices to be reduced substantially.

First steps are being taken, but much remains to be done. A high priority should be placed on efforts to promote the implementation of environmentally sound forest harvesting systems throughout Suriname in order to bring forest harvesting into compliance with the objectives of sustainable forest management.

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page