Indonesian natural forest timber concessions (HPHs) occupy over 20 million hectares of forest area and therefore represent important partners in advancing sustainable forest management. Well-managed forest concessions that apply modern best practices can sustain high conservation value forest, preserve wildlife habitat, and produce long-term economic benefits. However, due to a lack of capacity, most HPHs operate simple logging practices without detailed harvesting plans and mitigation procedures. In addition to lower levels of productivity, this results in avoidable forest degradation, significant greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity loss.
To meet this challenge, USAID LESTARI implements trainings in Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) for 9 partner HPHs covering a total area of 618,000 hectares in the Provinces of Central Kalimantan and Papua. RIL is a set of modern forest harvesting techniques that result in greater efficiency and lower levels of damage to trees, soil, and water. Some key RIL techniques include: (1) directional tree felling; (2) establishing watershed protection areas; (3) using improved technologies to reduce soil damage; and (4) minimizing road development. The implementation of RIL can reduce damage to tree stands by 32%, timber waste by 12%, and emissions up to 40% when compared to conventional logging. In addition to the environmental benefits, RIL has been shown to improve productivity by up to 33%.
The RIL trainings are implemented by two experienced partners: The Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF) and Lembaga Wana Aksara (LWA). As of March 2018, they have deli- vered about 70% of the training modules. Once complete, LESTARI will work with
HPH management so that the practice of RIL is adopted into company Standard Opera- ting Procedure (SOP) and its implementation is regularly monitored. This will ensure that the RIL trainings translate into real, long-term commitments for improving the way that forests are managed on the ground. Meanwhile, the HPHs will benefit from cost savings, steps towards FSC certification, and eventual access to premium markets.
Most significantly, LESTARI has been able to demonstrate the value of this initiative to Indonesian government partners and catalyze nationwide impact. LESTARI has worked with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and other stakeholders to develop guidelines that will make RIL mandatory for every HPH operating within Indonesia. This groundbreaking Ministerial Regulation is currently under finalization and expected to be issued around May 2018.