Reduced impact logging

A “logfisher” machine extracts a log in Peninsular Malaysia as part of an ITTO-funded training programme on RIL. ITTO supports its members to carefully plan and control timber-harvesting operations in the tropics. Photo: A. Khalim/Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia

Reduced impact logging (RIL) is the intensively planned and carefully controlled implementation of timber harvesting operations to minimize environmental impacts on forest stands and soils. It involves a number of practical measures, such as:
  • Pre-harvest forest inventories and the mapping of individual crop trees
  • The pre-harvest planning of roads, skid trails and landings to minimize soil disturbance and to protect streams and waterways with appropriate crossings
  • Pre-harvest vine-cutting in areas where heavy vines connect tree crowns
  • The construction of roads, landings and skid trails in accordance with environmentally friendly design principles
  • The use of appropriate felling and bucking techniques, such as directional felling, cutting stumps low to the ground to avoid waste, and the optimal crosscutting of tree stems into logs in ways that maximize the recovery of useful wood
  • The winching of logs to planned skid trails, ensuring that skidding machines remain on trails at all times
  • Where feasible, the use of yarding systems that protect soils and residual vegetation by suspending logs above the ground or by otherwise minimizing soil disturbance
  • Conducting post-harvest assessments to provide feedback to resource managers and logging crews and to evaluate the degree to which RIL guidelines have been applied.
In addition to the environmental benefits, RIL has been shown to reduce the percentage of “lost” logs (those trees felled in a forest but not extracted because they aren't seen during skidding or yarding operations), thereby reducing timber wastage and increasing revenue.
Through projects, ITTO builds local capacity in RIL, including by providing training and producing training manuals.

Related links