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Emissions and Potential Emissions Reductions from Logging Concessions of East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Bronson Griscom; Peter Ellis; Francis Putz; James Halperin


Over 20% of natural tropical moist forests are subject to logging. Likewise, in many tropical countries over 20% of forest greenhouse gas emissions are due to logging (Griscom et. al. 2009). Demand for timber is expected to significantly increase from 2010-2015 (Kirilenko and Sedjo, 2007). If the increasing demand for timber is not met, alternative materials such as steel and cement, with higher carbon footprints, would likely substitute for that demand resulting in yet higher greenhouse gas emissions (Lippke et. al. 2004, Perez-Garcia et. al. 2005). Thus, the likely expansion of industrial logging in the tropics presents a significant challenge for efforts to mitigate climate change by Reducing Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD).
A solution is improved methods of selective logging that can reduce emissions by 30-50% while maintaining timber production, as demonstrated by two case studies of individual logging concessions (Keller et. al. 2004, Pinard and Putz 1997). These studies offer strong results at the scale of the individual concessions where measurements were taken. However, we are not aware of prior studies that have measured these emissions reductions at larger scales as necessary to implement REDD+ for political jurisdictions.
While inexpensive medium resolution satellite data (e.g. Landsat) can be used to detect the occurrence of selective logging at political jurisdictions (Asner et. al. 2005, Souza et. al. 2005), it has not yet been demonstrated to reliably differentiate conventional vs. improved selective logging impacts. Further, we find here that to measure performance in logging emissions reductions, reliable data on the volume of timber extracted is needed, which requires independent field observations.
We report here on average emissions from conventional logging practices among logging concessions within the district of Berau, Indonesia. We also report results on potential emissions reductions by modeling the implementation of three improved logging practices. We use these results to propose a method for measuring performance in logging emissions reductions that is sensitive to background variability in timber stocking levels.
Finally, we discuss alternative practical methods for verifying emissions reductions at the scale of political jurisdictions. One approach is based on verifying practices which achieve known emissions reductions, while the other approach is based on direct monitoring of emissions reductions.