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What is RIL ?

Defining RIL

Reduced-Impact Logging (RIL) consists of technologies and practices that are designed to minimize environmental impacts associated with industrial timber harvesting operations. Here the focus is on operations in tropical forests where logging is typically done on a diameter limit basis.

TFF-international has developed a generic Standard for RIL which can be used to develop country-specific criteria and indicators. An Indonesia specific criteria and indicator definition based on the generic Standard has now been in use by TFF-Indonesia for approximately 15 years.

TFF’s initial formulation of a definition of RIL concept, included the following elements or steps. Rationale for these steps is based on years of experience and field demonstrations and is rooted in the forest regulations issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

A major precondition for the successful transformation of a concession’s management to comply with RIL standards, is a clearly articulated company policy which is expressed in the formal adoption of company standard operating procedures (SOP) and/or guidelines and the adequate staffing and designation of operational responsibility to carry out the following functions.

 1.   Pre-harvest inventory and mapping of individual crop trees.
 2.   Preparation of accurate, operational scale contour maps. Operational scale should not be bigger than 1:5,000. Forest concessions typically prepare inventory maps at 1:2000 or 1:1000. Accuracy is essential. Contour information enlarged from 1:50,000 satellite maps do not provide the required accuracy for RIL planning.
3.   Pre-harvest planning of roads, skid trails, and landings to provide access to the harvest area and to the individual trees scheduled for harvest while minimizing soil disturbance and protecting streams and waterways with properly engineered crossings.
4.   The development of written environmental and operational standards to guide planning and operational activities and the integration of these standards into the company structure.
5.   The development of written felling and bucking standards to minimize logging waste and to maximize volume and value recovery.
6.   Construction of roads and landings so that they adhere to engineering and environmental design guidelines while minimizing soil disturbance and risk of erosion.
7.   Marking skid trail locations on the ground so the skidder operators can find them easily. Opening skid trails prior to felling. Minimize soil disturbance during the construction and utilization of skid trails through the application of simple guidelines and adequate supervision
 8.   The use of controlled felling and bucking techniques including directional felling. Winching logs to planned skid trails and ensuring that skidding machines remain on the planned skid trails at all times.
9.   On sloping topography, deactivation of skid trails after the operation has been completed (e.g., by cross-ditching) to minimize erosion.
 10.   Conducting post-harvest assessments to provide feedback to the timber concession holder and the logging crews, and to evaluate the degree to which RIL guidelines were applied successfully.

TFF has developed a Criteria & Indicators evaluation tool which provides a weighted scoring system for evaluating the degree of adoption of the RIL guidelines. A series of five ‘Procedures Manuals’ has also been developed. These manuals are used as a basis for RIL training modules delivered directly to working forest concessions. They can also be used as reference material to guide the implementation of RIL practices.

For these practices to be applied in a cost-effective and environmentally sound manner, the following conditions should be in place:

  • The concession holder and logging operator must be able to provide legal documentation showing that they are legally entitled to harvest the timber within the operational area and that the operation is being conducted in adherence to all applicable laws and regulations.
  • A detailed set of operational and environmental standards must exist to which the logging operation will conform, and the managerial, planning, and logging crews must all be thoroughly familiar with these standards (see step 4 above).
  • The planning and logging crews must be trained in their respective functions, and they must understand not only what is to be done and how to do it, but also why it is important.
  • Crews must be provided with proper safety equipment and must be trained in its use and maintenance.
  • Knowledgeable, well-trained supervisors must be present in the field to oversee the work, to maintain prescribed standards for the operation, and to ensure that the schedule of activities is followed.
  • Where lodging in a field camp is required, the camp must adhere to sanitary and dietary standards applicable to the jurisdiction in which it is located and according to national and provincial regulations and requirements.
  • Logging equipment must be suited to the operating conditions and must be maintained in good working condition.
  • Planning and operational activities must be thoroughly integrated in order to ensure that the plans are properly implemented. This may require adjustments to the company's structural and procedural arrangements.
  • A management and control system must be in place that will provide timely operating information to the concession holder, the logging manager, and external auditors. Such a system includes detailed job descriptions, staffing information, equipment inventories, standard operating procedures, and similar information (see step 10 above).