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Forest policy

In general, ASEAN Member Countries have clearly specified forest management objectives, planning requirements and operational rules in their respective national forest policies and/or forestry acts.

Several countries (Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar) have a long tradition of forest policy development; their national forestry acts have governed the administration of their forest resources for decades. The National Forest Policy of Malaysia was adopted by the National Forestry Council in 1977 and later endorsed by the National Land Council in 1978. The forest policy in Indonesia was derived from Article 33 of the Indonesian Constitution of 1945 and the Forestry Act No. 5 of 1967. The Forestry Act No. 41 of 1999 replaced Forestry Act No. 5. Myanmar's forest resources were administered for more than 100 years under Forest Act 1902. The Act has been amended several times. The Burma Forest Act of 1902 was repealed in 1992 and the State Law and Order Restoration Council enacted the new Forest Law No. 8/92 on 3 November 1992.

In Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam, forest policies were formulated more recently. For example, the Government of Lao PDR laid down the basic forest policy and guidelines in 1 989, and Forest Law and Water Resources Law in 1 996. Several Prime Minister Decrees were released following the Forest Law of 1 996. The most relevant for SFM and forest harvesting was Decree 59/PM/2002, issued on 22 May 2002, on the Sustainable Management of Production Forest Areas.

In recent years, forest management has witnessed considerable changes in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines and Viet Nam. Forest policies have been revised frequently, forest management has been decentralized to different extents, and various forms of community forestry have been introduced. In some countries, high deforestation rates, unchecked degradation of natural forest ecosystems and unsustainable logging practices have resulted in the imposition of partial or complete logging bans and the suspension of concessions in natural forests. Thailand took the lead in cracking down on forest abuses in 1989. It was followed by Lao PDR and Philippines (1991), Viet Nam (1997) and Cambodia (2002). In an attempt to halt the overexploitation of forest resources, Indonesia banned log exports in 2002 and introduced logging quotas in all provinces.

The logging ban in Thailand was declared on 17 January 1989 by Cabinet Resolution Order Number 32/2532, after severe floods and landslides in three southern provinces caused major destruction and the death of over 400 people. The catastrophe convinced the government to ban all commercial logging operations and terminate timber concessions in natural forests.

The partial logging ban in Philippines was issued by the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 1991. DENR issued Department Administrative Order (DAO) 21 Series of 1991 banning timber harvesting in all old-growth forests in Philippines. The same order bans timber harvesting in steep areas (above 50 percent slope) and above 1,000 m altitude. More than 70 percent of Philippines' provinces are affected by the logging ban (Guiang, 2001). The ban is regulated by administrative orders, letters of instruction from the Office of the President, radiogram orders or laws such as the NIPAS Law and RA7611 (Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan Act).

In Lao PDR, concern over unsustainable logging practices led to a Presidential Decree banning logging in 1991 and the Government stopped issuing concessions for forest harvesting in 1994. Meanwhile, logging is still permitted in areas designated for infrastructure and rural development projects.

In the 1990s, Viet Nam introduced logging restrictions. Since June 1997, Viet Nam has implemented the policy on "strengthening forest development, recovering barren hills towards logging ban" (Phuong, 2000). Logging operations have since been banned in special use forests, in the very critical protection forests for 30 years, and commercial logging in all the remaining natural forests in the provinces of North Highlands and Midlands, South East and Mekong River Delta and Red River Delta. Exceptions are made in Central Highland and Central Coast for timber-rich forests outside special use and very critical protection forests. Under the forest policy, logging is permitted in only 19 provinces. These actions reduced the logging area from 25,000 ha to 12,000 ha, and decreased the logging volume from 620,000 m3 to 300,000 m3 annually.

Since 2002, Cambodia has suspended concession logging activities, and an evaluation of forest concession management is currently being undertaken. With the assistance of the World Bank, the Royal Government of Cambodia has undertaken a comprehensive review of all 20 forest concessionaires to determine compliance with their contracts and with existing Cambodia law, and to assess their performance against internationally accepted practice of SFM. While Cambodia has suspended large-scale logging concessions, small-scale logging operations continue.

Silvicultural systems and practices

In most ASEAN Member Countries, selective cutting systems are the dominant silvicultural practice in natural forests. Clear-cutting is rare. Common principles for selective cutting are retention of immature and seed trees, and trees of protected species. All selective cutting systems are based upon minimum diameter at breast height (dbh) as a common criterion.

The diameter limits for cutting of trees in the Myanmar Selection System is based on three criteria: (1) forest type; (2) tree species; and (3) location. In moist teak forests, the minimum diameter cutting limit is dbh 73 cm, while in dry forests it is dbh 63 cm. The minimum diameter cutting limit for other hardwoods ranges from dbh 40 to 60 cm depending on species. Cutting cycles are 30 years.

The minimum diameter cutting limit of trees in the Selective Management System in Malaysia is based on the stand and stock information obtained from pre-felling forest inventories. For dipterocarp species it is dbh 50 cm, except for Neobalanocarpus heimii (Chengal), for which it is dbh 60 cm. For non-dipterocarp species it is dbh 45 cm while the residual stocking must contain at least 32 economically valuable trees per hectare in diameter class dbh 30-45 cm. At least four mother trees must be retained, and the percentage of dipterocarps in the residual stand for trees with dbh 30 cm and above should not be less than in the original stand. If the last requirement is not met, the logging intensity (harvested trees/hectare) should be decreased until the estimated residual stand fulfils this requirement. The system is operated on a 25-30 year cutting cycle with an expected harvesting intensity of 40-50 m3 per ha.

The minimum diameter cutting limits of the Indonesian Selective Cutting and Replanting System depends on forest types and forest functions. In dry land forests in the Permanent Production Forest, Limited Production Forest, and Swamp Forest, they are 50 cm, 60 cm and 40 cm, respectively. After logging is completed, the number of economically valuable trees for the above three types of forest must remain at 25 trees per hectare with the diameter at dbh 20-50 cm, 20-60 cm and 20-40 cm, respectively. This system is operated on a 35-year cutting cycle.

The minimum diameter cutting limits of the Cambodian Selective Cutting System are regulated by Ministerial Degree. Limits vary across tree species. They are above dbh 45 cm for luxury species, and above dbh 60 cm for first and second class species. Cutting cycles are 25-30 years.

With respect to silvicultural practices, general shortcomings are as follows:

Forest management practices

In most of the countries visited, forest management plans are prepared for different levels (e.g. national, provincial and district) and implemented on a mandatory basis. Where forest management practices (e.g. buffer zone management, forest road standards, specifications and maintenance) deviate from the national codes of practice (in Indonesia and Myanmar), this is due to insufficient recognition of specific local conditions in the national codes. In some countries, logging quotas are set at the national level based on a pre-determined annual allowable cut (AAC) per FMU. Although forest management, silvicultural systems and practices in some countries appear systematic and practical, and logging quotas are set, the enforcement in the field is weak. This is due to socio-economic and political problems, and weak local, national and regional monitoring and enforcement systems.

Current estimations indicate that timber extraction rates in some countries exceed the AAC. This is caused by, inter alia, an upsurge in demand for timber due to industrial over-capacities, illegal logging and the trade in illegally sourced forest products (both domestic and imported); land conversion, the need for export earnings from timber, and unstable political situations (mainly inappropriate policy reforms and rapidly implemented decentralisation processes). The successful implementation of national codes of forest harvesting practices and application of RIL requires that forest resources and forest areas are secured, illegal logging and forest encroachment issues are properly addressed, and the AAC is calculated and applied in a transparent and accountable manner. Long-term tenure and use rights of land and forest resources should be clearly defined. In some ASEAN Member Countries, these conditions are not met, law enforcement is weak and illegal logging activities are rampant, particularly in the remote and transboundary areas.

Forest harvesting practices

Common selective logging systems include: (1) mechanised system (in Indonesia and Malaysia); and (2) semi-mechanised system (in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam).

The tractor-based mechanized systems are mostly applied in hilly to steep terrain. Their conventional application results in severe damage to residual stands and forest soils. They can also generate a high volume of logging waste (see Figure 1). In the highly productive dipterocarp forests of Borneo, conventional logging generally damages more than 50 percent of the original stand if the logging intensity exceeds more than ten trees per hectare (Sist et al., 2003). Earlier work by Noack(1995) indicates that the logging waste caused by mechanised conventional logging in hill forests in Malaysia reaches up to 44 percent of the cut volume, while in Indonesia the logging waste is around 36 percent. In the tropical natural hill dipterocarp forests in Malaysia, mechanised logging based on heavy tractor crawlers for skidding usually causes severe damage to 53 percent of the residual stands. Soil compaction at 1.5 g/cm3 (bulk density) covers 1 5-40 percent of the logged area (Shukri and Kamaruzaman, 2003). This clearly shows that mechanised systems based on tractor crawlers in conventional logging often produce unacceptably high damage to residual stands and forest soils.

Forest harvesting operations are increasingly moving into steep hill forests in some ASEAN Member Countries (e.g. Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar). In many cases, the same road standards, road construction and maintenance practices are used on the steep slopes as in lowland forests. Most soil erosion associated with logging in hilly terrain can be attributed to improper construction and maintenance of forest roads (Figure 2).

Taking Stock: Assessing Progress in developing and implementing codes of Practice for forest harvesting in ASEAN member countries

Figure 1:
Logging waste generated by conventional logging operations in forest concession areas in Kalimantan (Source: Elias)

Taking Stock: Assessing Progress in developing and implementing codes of Practice for forest harvesting in ASEAN member countries

Figure 2:
Poor construction and standard of roads in Berau,
East Kalimantan, Indonesia (Source: Ellas)

The application of RIL can effectively reduce negative impacts. RIL techniques have been developed, promoted and applied in some FMUs in ASEAN Member Countries. The most innovative technologies are the "Log Fisher" and "Rimbaka", developed in Malaysia. However, due to the high capital costs and shortage of trained personnel, they are applied only to a limited extent.

The DoF in Viet Nam initiated recently an innovative programme intended to enable local villagers to harvest logging residues (tops and branches left behind) of conventional logging. Research results in Viet Nam indicate that tops and branches comprise around 20 percent of the total biomass harvested. Such waste can be extracted by a combination of manual (e.g. buffaloes and man power) and semi-mechanised methods (e.g. motorcycles and small locally-assembled trucks). Due to the increasing demand for raw material by wood-processing industries, logging residues can become a source of local income, and manual harvesting systems provide a sound option for using logging residues that are otherwise left behind.

Aerial logging (helicopter and skyline/cable logging) has been applied in East Kalimantan, Indonesia and in Sarawak and Sabah, Malaysia. These systems can significantly reduce damage to the residual stand. However, due to their high capital costs and personnel and technical requirements, aerial systems will continue to be used if additional incentives are provided by governments, if the systems are made mandatory in steep and otherwise sensitive areas, and/or if log prices increase significantly.

Explaining CL, RIL and LIL

Conventional Logging (CL) generally refers to systems based on heavy machinery (Hendrison, 1990), especially if it is preceded by poor pre-harvest planning. Most forest harvesting operations in natural forests in the ASEAN Member Countries take place in steep terrain, mainly in Kalimantan, Sumatra and Sulawesi in Indonesia, and in Sarawak and Sabah in Malaysia. Most operations are ground-based crawler tractor systems that were originally developed for lowland operations.

RIL refers to ground-based crawler tractor or rubber-tired skidder systems, designed, as the name implies, to reduce the impact of conventional logging. It usually consists of the following components:

  • detailed pre-felling inventory of harvestable timber, regeneration and terrain conditions, with stock and topographic maps as two important outputs;
  • harvest planning including determination of logging intensity, felling direction, layout of openings (e.g. skid trails, log landings and forest roads) and felling sequence;
  • careful extraction including prescribed felling direction and care in skidding and winching;
  • low extraction intensity to conserve the forest's productive potential for subsequent cutting cycles, and simultaneously reduce the logging damage;
  • adequatetechnical supervision and control during logging operations;
  • logging restrictions including skidding operations only during dry weather, exclusion of protected areas; and
  • post-harvest treatment immediately after logging (e.g. erosion prevention on skid trails and log landings, road decommissioning) and damage assessment.

LIL refers to alternative logging systems including aerial and manual systems such as:

  • helicopter logging and skyline logging (mechanised systems); and
  • animal logging and "kuda-kuda" logging (manual system).

The following benefits of RIL are generally recognised:

Although RIL techniques have been identified and promoted for more than ten years, most logging operators prefer conventional logging. Many companies do not see the need for change and do not have sufficient numbers of staff trained in the various components of RIL. The major barrier to the widespread application of RIL is that it is perceived to be more expensive than conventional logging, especially if training is included in cost calculations. However, investment in RIL training increases the total timber production cost by less than one percent. On the other hand, additional pre-harvesting planning activities can increase costs by up to 20 percent. This is what concerns companies most. These additional costs are frequently outweighed by reduction of winching and skidding costs (approximately 50 percent). Stand rehabilitation costs are also reduced, while the efficiency of timber utilisation increases (Elias, 2006; Lindawati,2002).

Research results are very location specific. While research conducted in Brazil (Holmes et al., undated) confirms the general direction of Elias' (2006) and Lindawati's (2002) findings for Indonesia, Tay et al. (2001) and Dagang et al. (2001) show that RIL is more expensive in Sabah and Sarawak, respectively. The mixed results continue to fuel the debate on the financial implications of RIL and decisions continue to be based more on perceptions than a thorough analysis conducted under local conditions.

Some countries have great potential for using semi-mechanised forest harvesting systems. Manual skidding (Figure 3) can also be an attractive alternative especially for harvesting small-dimension logs and logging waste.

In Myanmar, elephants are used predominantly for skidding. In Philippines, buffaloes are used for log extraction in forest plantations and community-based forest management areas. On Java, Indonesia, teak logs have been skidded by cows for hundreds of years. Another manual skidding system is "kuda-kuda", which is commonly used in swamp and peat swamp forests in Indonesia and Malaysia. All of these LIL practices effectively minimise logging damage.

Taking Stock: Assessing Progress in developing and implementing codes of Practice for forest harvesting in ASEAN member countries

Figure 3:
Some manual logging techniques in ASEAN Member Countries
(Source: Ellas)

Current status and progress of national code development and implementation

The current status and progress of implementation the respective national codes in ASEAN Member Countries can be briefly summarised as follows:

  1. Brunei Darussalam has produced Basic Guidelines for Logging in Mixed Dipterocarp Forest (MDF) in Negara Brunei Darussalam (Yussof, undated.)
  2. Cambodia: In 1977, the Cambodian Code of Practice for Forest Harvestingwas prepared by the Forestry Administration in cooperation with FORTECH under a World Bank Project. The national code was adopted and published by the DoF and Wildlife, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Kingdom of Cambodia in 1 999. The implementation of this national code was declared by the Minister oftheMAFF, Kingdom of Cambodia, according to the Declaration No. 530 MAFF, signed and sealed by H.E. Chhea Song, the Minister of MAFF. The national code is legally binding and its implementation mandatory.
  3. Indonesia: In 2000, the National Code entitled Principles and Practices of Forest Harvesting in Indonesia was adopted and published by the MoF. The implementation of this code is voluntary. The code was developed with the assistance of the Natural Resources Management Program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

The code comprehensively covers key elements of forest harvesting. Its provisions reflect the provisions of the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific, and include forest planning and forest engineering standards. To support the implementation of the National Code and RIL at the FMU level, several documents have been adopted and published by the Ministry of Forestry including:

Existing forest policies, laws and regulations, institutional arrangements, instructions and guidelines for forest harvesting, and specific local conditions (e.g. forest types, silvicultural systems) are not sufficiently supportive of the implementation of the national code of practice in Indonesia. Since the country is very diverse geographically and culturally, and consists of various forest types and different local communities, a proper participatory approach is necessary to ensurethe involvement of all stakeholders in the development and the implementation of the code. The national code was prepared without inputs of all stakeholders concerned with the result that a sense of ownership by many stakeholders is lacking. Also, the Indonesian Selective Cutting and Planting System (TPTI) and forest rules and regulations applied in the Indonesian local context were not incorporated in the national code of practice.

  1. Lao PDR: The National Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting of Lao PDR was adopted in December 2005. Measures in developing the national code and promoting RIL include: (1) drafting and review of the provisions of the national code through a systematic, participatory approach; (2) field-testing the code; (3) establishment of demonstration forests; (4) establishment of community forest management units; and (5) improvement of silvicultural systems.

Improved standards of forest management and harvesting are being implemented in four provinces: Khammouane, Savannakhet, Salavan and Champasak. Training is being provided on various RIL components. The Government and local communities are also working towards the development of participatory forest management in Lao PDR.

  1. Malaysia: According to Abdulrahim (1997), under Article 74(2) of the Malaysian Constitution, forestry is defined as a state matter and thus comes under the jurisdiction of the respective State Governments. On 6 May 1 996, a "Special Working Committee forthe Formulation of the Code of Practice for Peninsular Malaysia" was established at the Forestry Department Headquarters of Peninsular Malaysia. The development of two codes took into account International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO)'s guidelines for forest harvesting and sustainable forest management. After continuous improvements by a broad array of stakeholders, two codes were published in 1 997, i.e. the Kod Amalan Pengusahasilan Hutan Darat Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting of Natural Inland Forest, Peninsular Malaysia), and the Kod Amalan Pengusahasilan Hutan Paya Laut Semenanjung Malaysia (Code of Forest Harvesting of Mangrove Forest, Peninsular Malaysia). These codes were formally adopted as non-legally binding documents. The long process and acceptance by all stakeholders has assured the appropriateness of the codes under Malaysian policy, regulations and conditions. In Pen insular Malaysia, key elements of these codes have been incorporated into the forestry institutions'daily routines. Meanwhile, Sarawak and Sabah are yet to develop and publish their codes of forest harvesting.

The regulatory framework for code implementation consistsof:

  1. Myanmar: The National Code of Forest Harvesting Practices in Myanmar was published by the Ministry of Forestry, Union of Myanmar in 2000. The national code was prepared by the DoF in cooperation with the Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE) and the Planning Statistics Department of the MoF with the financial and technical assistance of FAO.

According to the field inspection at Reserved Forest in Bago Yoma, some standards in the national code are considered incompatible with local conditions:

Most of the interviewed persons indicated that the national code put too much emphasis on mechanised logging and that the forest road standards are too high to comply with. The following amendments to the code have been proposed and are currently under discussion:

Further recommendations include incorporating elephant and buffalo logging practices in the national code and combining the national code with the Myanmar C & I.

  1. Philippines: The Forest Management Bureau of the DENR of Philippines have prepared a draft of the Philippine Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Community-Based Forest Management Areas, with assistance from FAO's Regional Office in Bangkok, Thailand, and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The code was developed through a consultative process involving people's organisations, non­ government organisations, local government units, indigenous people, representatives of DENR and other stakeholders. The code is unique as it features topics related to the implementation of the community-based forest management program as a vehicle for rural development. Due to a moratorium (lifted on 18 March 2006) on all logging activities, the provisions of the code were not actively pursued. Until today, the final version of the national code has not been published.
  2. Viet Nam is currently drafting a national code of practice with FAO's assistance. The drafting process includes study tours for all stakeholders to raise awareness on the importance of the national code and RIL, preparation of on-the-job RIL training courses and establishment of a demonstration site to facilitate the development of the national code. The purpose of the demonstration site is to facilitate field visits for all relevant stakeholders, demonstrate practical RIL operations, test and evaluate the national code, support the refinement of RIL guidelines that were recently published and to develop suitable practices for the extraction of logging waste by local communities.

The status and progress of the national codes of the ASEAN Member Countries is shown in Table 1.

Table 1 . Status and Progress of National Codes of Forest Harvesting Practices Development in the ASEAN Member Countries (2000 and 2005)

 Countries Develoment status 2000*

Develoment status 2005*

Formally adopted


In process of drafting

Formally adopted


In process of drafting


Lao PDR        
Viet Nam             √

*Adopted from APFC (2000) in Durst et al. (2003)

**State forest management with each state determining its own Codes of Practice

Training in support of codes of practice and RIL implementation

Since the 1990s, Malaysia and Indonesia have made some progress in training related to the implementation of national codes and RIL. As of 2005, the number of trained persons in RIL in Malaysia was as follows:

Lao PDR and Myanmar commenced national code and RIL training programmes in 2004. Viet Nam followed in 2005. In the three countries, training needs assessments and training activities are currently supported by the FAO Project GCP/RAS/1 92/JPN: "Enhancing Sustainable Forest Harvesting in Asia" (through financial support from the Government of Japan).

In Lao PDR, on-the-job training courses for villagers and forestry officers were held at the demonstration site at Naphakeo Village, Mahaxai District, Khamouanne Province. In 2004, 1 9 participants were taught the basics of pre-harvest inventory, tree marking for directional felling, preparation of harvesting plans, and post-harvest assessment. Additional training courses were offered in 2005 and will again be offered in 2006.

In Myanmar, the provisions of the national code have been integrated in training courses and applied in demonstration forests, in Nawin and Pauk Khaung, Bago Yoma region and West Swa Reserved Forest in Bago Yoma. In 2004 and 2005, training on the concepts and implementation of RIL and the national code was conducted at MTE's No. (1) Training Centre at Nanchun. In 2004, the centre organized training programmes for 350 trainees. Funds for training were secured from the MTE. This shows the important role of the Nanchun Training Centre No. (1) In the skill development of forest operators.

In Cambodia, the ITTO-supported training in RIL was postponed, due to the imposition of a national logging ban in natural forests.

Regional training on RIL was conducted several times in ASEAN Member Countries. In 2004, FAO conducted the "Regional Workshop on Proper Planning for Effective Training in Forest Harvesting" in the Terengganu State, Malaysia, in collaboration with the Forest Department Peninsular Malaysia. In addition, FAO, in collaboration with local partners, organized 11 training courses in five ASEAN Member Countries (Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar and Viet Nam), for more than 200 participants on the use of RILSIM, a software package developed for the financial analysis of logging practices.

The impact of training on forest harvesting operations remains unclear due to the absence of regular monitoring and evaluation of training. Some trainees interviewed during the mission in Indonesia, Lao PDR and Myanmar confirmed that after attending the training courses, they had a much clearer understanding of how RIL and forest harvesting standards can help improve forest harvesting and forest management practices. They also felt that their performance in daily forest operations had been improved.

Comprehensive silvicultural systems and technical standards for logging were found to be conspicuously missing in many curricula. This may be attributed to the following reasons:

Most national training strategies and programmes classify their training courses according to three main groups of potential trainees: (1) national trainers; (2) code implementers (at the senior and middle management, technical and operational levels); and (3) others. Trainees come from public administrations, government institutions, the private sector, NGOs and forest-dependent communities.

Many training institutions face common problems, including:

To overcome these problems, it is recommended to:

Each ASEAN Member Country has educational facilities capable of providing training on the subjects relevant to the implementation of the national codes of practice and the application of RIL (Annex 3). Currently, these institutions, to some extent, deliver training for senior and middle-level managers. However, specific forest management principles, logging standards, RIL guidelines and operational procedures need to be more specific and incorporated in training material and curricula throughout the ASEAN region. The greatest challenge is to increase the number of staff with suitable training skills especially for training at the operational level. Overall, the number of people that have benefited from any of the capacity-strengthening programmes is still very low and training in most countries tends to be sporadic rather than systematically organized. There continues to be considerable room for improvement.

Research and development

Research and development with regard to forest harvesting and RIL in ASEAN Member Countries has been ongoing for more than 20 years. Since the 1990s, research on improving harvesting techniques has intensified throughout the region, particularly in commercially rich dipterocarp forests of Indonesia and Malaysia (Table 2).

Table 2. Research and Development on RIL in Indonesia and Malaysia

Location and reference


RIL research and development activities


Indonesia, Provinces of

The U.K. Department for International Development (DFID)


Analysis improved forest harvesting and management practices. -

It was found that through proper planning and operational control, RIL resulted in a 46 percent reduction of top-soil compaction on the skid trails, compared to conventional logging.

- Central Kalimantan - Most of the work focused on developing methodologies and demonstrating the environmental benefits of improved practices and RIL. - RIL promises significant cost reductions due to reduced damage and more efficient use of machinery.
- Jambi
- Riau 
Published by ITTO and MoF (1999)

Province of East Kalimantan
Published by SFMP-GTZand
MoF, Jakarta.
SFMP Document No.10a

PT. Limbang Ganesa and The Sustainable Forest Management Project (SFMP-GTZ)

RIL and conventional logging comparative study.

RIL showed a slight improvement in felling productivity.

Indonesia, Province of East Kalimantan Published by BFMP-EU and MoF, Jakarta. BFMPCD ROM 1996-2002



Studies on skidding productivity and costs with two RIL options. The first option used a bulldozer but following the elements of RIL. The second option used a wheeled skidder to study the effect on overall productivity.


The study showed that well planned and implemented RIL can reduce skidding costs by as much as 33 percent.

Indonesia, Province of East Kalimantan CIFOR(2000)



RIL and conventional logging comparative study.


Study results indicate higher productivity and significant cost reduction through RIL.
- Two caterpillar D7Gs were used to extract the logs in according to current practices, while two caterpillar 527 tracked skidders were used in the RIL study area.

Indonesia, Province of Central Kalimantan Published by NRMP, Report No. 70 Jakarta (1 996)

PT. Sari Bumi Kusuma and Natural Resources Management Project (NRMP)


The RIL study was carried out by a company operating under normal conditions, but following RIL manual guidance (use of contour and tree-position maps).


RIL improves productivity, cost efficiency and wood utilisation.
Indonesia, Province of East Kalimantan FAO (1998) PT. Sumalindo Lestari Jaya IV and Faculty of Forestry, Bogor Agricultural University - Comparative study of RIL vs. conventional logging. - RIL resulted in 50 percent lower damage to the residual stand.
- The study integrated the Indonesian Selective Cutting and Planting System (TPTI) and the Indonesian Strip Cutting and - Enhanced productivity and cost efficiency through RIL.
Malaysia, Sabah Tay ef a/. (2002) Innoprise Corporation and the New England Power Company - The study purpose was to improve forest-harvesting practices. - The study found a significant reduction in logging damage, compared to conventional logging.
- The study consisted of three main components: adapting existing research results to develop logging guidelines for forest conditions in Sabah; training staff in various aspects and techniques; and establishing a system for independent verification of compliance and logging damage assessment. - The size of log landings and the length and width of roads and skid trails were considerably reduced. Tree damage was nearly halved.
- In the hilly terrain of Sabah, RIL is less profitable compared to CL because nearly half of the forest area needed to be excluded from logging.
Malaysia, Sarawak Dagang et al. (2002) Forest Department of Sarawak and GTZ Cooperation Project - A pilot project for a forest management unit covering an area of 169 000 ha. - The financial analysis for a 40-year period revealed that both management options are viable at a discount rate often percent.
- A comparison of RIL and conventional logging was carried out. - The net present value indicates that conventional logging is financially more profitable than RIL. In contrast, the economic analysis demonstrates that, from the point of view of the broader society, RIL is preferable.
- Short-and long-term economic and financial analysis of RIL implementation. - A payment system that considers the quality of work and rewards workers for good practices is preferable.
Malaysia, Sarawak ITTO and Sarawak Forest Department, Malaysia (2000) Sarawak Forestry Department and ITTO Project PD 14/95 REV. 2(F) - To develop a variety of measures to encourage efforts towards SFM. - Path logging, RIL logging and helicopter logging cause less damage to the residual stand than conventional logging.
- Comparative studies of path logging, RIL logging, helicopter logging and conventional logging. - Path logging is preferable under Malaysia's forest conditions.
Malaysia, Peninsular FRIM (2000) and Shukri Wan Ahmad (2003) FRIM and JIRCAS - To develop alternative RIL techniques. - The Ecologically Friendly Logging System (ECOLOG) and Mobile Tower Yarder (MTY) are less damaging to the forest and environment, compared to the current ground skidding with bulldozers.

Based on research results and practical experiences, numerous guidelines for reduced impact logging in natural production forests have been published, including:

These guidelines highlight the seven essential components of RIL, which are crucial for supporting implementation of the national codes. As a result of research on RIL, Malaysia has introduced two prototypes of extraction equipment called "Log Fisher" and "Rimbaka".

Aside from research projects, various demonstration forests have been established. They serve as demonstration and training sites for national code of practice implementation and enable long-term, multi-faceted observations and research. Demonstration forests are particularly well suited to explore biodiversity and ecosystem changes, socio-economic dynamics, along with the more complex technical implications of RIL. Details of demonstration forests in selected ASEAN Member Countries are shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Selected Demonstration Forests in ASEAN Member Countries


Organisations involved

Year established

Research and training activities


Eu-funded Berau Forest Management Project and INHUTANI I, East Kalimantan


Forest zoning, RIL, social and community forestry, RIL training, low impact forest road construction training

CIFOR Bulungan Forest Research and INHUTANI II, East Kalimantan


Social and community forestry, wildlife management, biodiversity conservation, RIL, RIL training

PT. Sari Bumi Kusuma, Central Kalimantan


Selective cutting and strip planting system, RIL, biodiversity


DoF and FAO Project GCP/RAS/192/JPNat Naphakeo Production Forest in Mahaxay District, Khammouane Province


Training and demonstration forest, and testing of the applicability of the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Lao PDR


Sarawak Department of Forestry, GTZ and Samling Cooperation, Northeast Sarawak


RIL using ground skidder, RIL using helicopter, training in RIL methods

Sabah Forestry Department and GTZ, Deramakot Forest Reserve, Sandakan, Sabah

1989/90 1990

Capacity building for research Development of the Deramakot SFM Model


Forest Department, MoF and Pauk Khaung Model Forest Project in Nawin and Pauk Khaung, Bago Yoma region


Implementation of the National Code of Forest Harvesting Practice in Myanmar and RIL

MoF and FAO Project GCP/RAS/192/JPN, in West Swa Reserved Forest in Bago Yoma


Training and demonstration forest, and research on environmental impacts

Impacts of national codes on forest harvesting and forest management practices

National codes of practice and RIL are meant to advance, and contribute to, SFM, which is a much broader endeavour. The review indicates that national codes and RIL prove very valuable for promoting SFM. Designing and implementing national codes adds fresh momentum to forest policy and institutional reforms. National codes provide a much needed impetus for capacity-building and training programmes. National codes and RIL guidelines and other initiatives in pursuit of SFM (e.g. development of baseline information for SFM, forest zoning and improved silvicultural prescriptions) promise a wide range of synergies and mutual benefits. In these respects, the development of national codes has had an observable (if not quantifiable) positive impact on efforts to promote SFM. Table 4 highlights this interdependency of national codes and promotion of SFM in a wider sense.

Table 4. Current Implementation Status of Key Elements of SFM in ASEAN Member Countries

Key Elements

Brunei Darussalam








Viet Nam


National Forest Policy


National Code of Forest Harvesting Practice


* -


RIL Guidelines - + - - -

Silvicultural Systems Prescription**

Forest Zoning + + + +

RIL Demonstration Forests

- +
Code and RlL Traning - - - +

Code and RlL Awareness Raising

+ + + + - - +

Monitoring and Auditing Systems

+ - - - - +

Research to Support Code and RIL Implementation

- + - - - - +
√ : Implemented, +: Developing,  -: 


* For Community-Based Forest Management Areas (finalised in late 2004, the Philippine Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Community-Based Forest ManagementAreas has yet to be endorsed and published)

** Most of the silvicultural systems are operated according to a uniform silvicultural prescription, such as uniform minimum diameter cutting limits, which do not prescribe site-specific silvicultural treatments and are not based on forest types

Progress towards achieving SFM may also be gauged by the number of FMUs that have been certified (e.g. according to Indonesian Eco-labelling Institute [LEI] and the Malaysian Timber Certification Council [MTCC] forest certification schemes) over the past five years (LEI and MTCC came into being in September 1999 and in October 2001, respectively). By early 2005, 8 FMUs, covering 1,024 million ha, had passed the LEI scheme (Figure 4); 9 FMUs, covering 4,741 million ha, had passed the MTCC scheme (Figure 5).

Taking Stock: Assessing Progress in developing and implementing codes of Practice for forest harvesting in ASEAN member countries

Figure 4:
Cumulative forest area in Indonesia certified under Principles & Criteria of LEI as of february 2005

Taking Stock: Assessing Progress in developing and implementing codes of Practice for forest harvesting in ASEAN member countries

Figure 5:
Cumulative natural forest area in Malaysia certified under Principles & Criteria of MTCC as of february 2005

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