Forestry Department of Sarawak endorses new Harmonised Reduced Impact Logging Guidelines


Sarawak, Malaysia

Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) is a comprehensive set of planning, monitoring and control practices regulating timber harvesting operations. RIL was first developed for the Sarawak Department in 1998; since then, several versions of the guidelines have been developed across the sector.

The guidelines are crucial because they support the implementation of sustainable forest management by minimizing forest damage and reduce adverse environmental and social impacts while promoting operational efficiency and economic viability. However, a lack of consistency across the different available RIL guidelines presented challenges for forest operators as well as certification bodies tasked with auditing concession holders in the state of Sarawak. To address this, the Forest Department of Sarawak (FDS) created the Harmonized RIL Guidelines for Sarawak in 2018.

Supporting participatory revisions of the Harmonised RIL Guidelines

The Harmonised RIL Guidelines for Sarawak is an important step towards standardised timber harvesting methods and regulation of the timber industry. FDS identified a need to ensure that the Guidelines met international standards and best practices. As such, the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (FLEGT) Programme partnered with the FDS to carry out a gap assessment and technical review of the Harmonized RIL Guidelines against international best practices. The project identified several gaps in the existing RIL framework and presented recommendations to address them. The guidelines were reviewed in consultation with over 60 stakeholders, and final guidelines and recommendations were shared with some 100 participants comprising government agencies, the private sector, civil society, and non-government organizations. Feedback from stakeholders was integrated into the final draft of the guidelines.

“The revised Harmonised RIL Guidelines follow international best practices, not just in terms of content, but also in terms of stakeholder involvement and participation in its revision”, stated FAO Forestry Officer Bruno Cammaert.

Facilitating compliance with the new Harmonised RIL Guidelines

Compliance with the new Harmonised RIL Guidelines has been incorporated into Sarawak’s Forest Ordinance and will become mandatory. RIL will also be incorporated into the standards used by the regulatory Sarawak Timber Legality Assurance System and the National Forest Certification Scheme for Malaysia. Compliance with RIL practices is expected to be further strengthened when the state government makes forest certification mandatory for all long-term forest timber licence areas by 2022.

To ensure that all operators are equipped with the understanding and knowledge to comply with the new RIL Guidelines, the FDS has produced a three-part educational video that outlines the requirements of RIL, as well as illustrative manuals and handbooks. In addition, FAO is supporting the distribution of printed copies of the guidelines to all concession holders in Sarawak.

“It is critical that forest operators fully understand the concept of RIL because successful RIL practice is at the heart of Sustainable Forest Management”, said Datu Hamden Haji Mohammad, Director of Forests, Sarawak.

Adhering to the new guidelines will be central to the certification of concession-holders across Sarawak and will ensure that forests continue to provide essential services and socio-economic development to those that depend on them well into the future.


Since 2016, the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme has supported two projects in Malaysia focusing on sustainable forest management and capacity building for customs officers, amounting to over USD 220 000.

The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations is a global demand-driven initiative that provides technical support and resources for activities that further the goals of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan. The Programme is funded by the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.

For more information:

Official Website of Forest Department Sarawak

FAO-EU FLEGT Programme | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations