Visiting the village of Urumarav in the Adelbert Mountain Range of Papua New Guinea's Madang Province; Kelly Basebas, Vice Chairman of the Almami Local Level Government Conservation Advisory Committee and TNC partner, uses a map to discuss the region with the villagers. The Nature Conservancy has developed strong relationships with local landowners, the Provincial Government and non-governmental organizations in the Adelbert Mountain area to secure lasting conservation of Papua New Guinea’s tropical forests.

Working Group:
Forest Sharing or Sparing?

Logging is part of the present and future of many of the world’s forests, and loggers are gatekeepers to much of the remaining intact forests. So what is the best way to achieve conservation and benefits for people in tropical timber production landscapes?  Should we encourage intensified timber production in order to reduce selective logging pressure on remaining native forests (sparing), or should we promote reduced impact selective logging to reduce deforestation for timber plantations, or some combination of the two? This working group seeks to provide science to illuminate answers for policy and industry.

Photo: Mark Godfrey © 2008 The Nature Conservancy | More Info
Carbon monitoring in forest one of the land use types that WAC (ICRAF (now World Agroforestry Centre or WAC) carbon measurement project) is using to determine the carbon load of the entire Berau District. This carbon monitoring project is the “ground-truthing” portion of the REDD project. The object of the carbon measurement project is to determine the carbon load of the 17 different land use types (teak plantation, palm oil and forest – all photographed, also coffee, cocoa, forest concessions (logged), industry forests (planted), etc…). Using GIS they select locations in Berau to represent the different land use types. They then select the site and by throwing a stick locate one corner of the 200 meter transect. After setting it up with a rope, they locate random areas around the transect and using 20 cm transect squares they determine the “wet” weight of the top 0-10 cm, 10-20 cm and 20-30 cm. They weigh the samples, then put them in a bag to take back to the lab. At the lab, they dry the material and weigh the “dry” weight. They will use the carbon load data, together with GPS data of land use types throughout the Berau District to determine the carbon load of the District and the changes over time. This data will be used by the Conservancy and partners in developing the REDD approach in the Berau District. The team includes; Harti Ningsih (only woman-- with scarf around head), Heri Surriyanto (baseball cap and brown T-shirt) Ekowidya Daryono (brown long sleeves) Dayat (white T-shirt) and Yosua Naibaho (glasses and black cap).
Photo: ©Bridget Besaw

Working Group Summary

Developing Science-based Tools to Guide Forest Management Decisions

Native tropical forests under selective logging timber production already cover more than twice the area of those under strict conservation protection. Meanwhile, a smaller but growing proportion of tropical forests are being converted to high-intensity timber plantations. The Forest Sharing/Sparing Working Group aims to develop an empirical, science-based framework to answer the question: How do people and countries achieve the greatest conservation and human well-being outcomes in landscapes with target levels of timber production?

Learn about the Challenge

A capuchin monkey eating fruit in the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, the second largest reserve in Peru, spanning over 5 million acres. Given its extent, location and high biological diversity, Pacaya is a priority conservation site for TNC. Working with several Peruvian conservation partners, the Conservancy has been working to protect and conserva Pacaya's terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity while guaranteeing the livelihoods of local populations. Habitat: Tropical moist lowland forest. Ecoregion: Ucayali moist forest.
Photo: © Ana Garcia/TNC

The Challenge

Achieving Lasting Conservation Outcomes in Tropical Forests Given Demands for Food, Fiber and Fuel

Humans now actively manage the majority of land on Earth, and our footprint is found in nearly all remaining natural landscapes. It is no surprise that a debate about how to mix people and nature has emerged — dubbed “land sharing vs. land sparing” — that asks the question: How do we achieve the greatest conservation outcomes in a landscape given demands for food, fiber and fuel? Should we intensify production in one part of the landscape so that we may strictly protect (“spare”) the remainder? Or is it better to integrate (“share”) production and conservation in the same areas?

Answering this question is especially complex in tropical timber production landscapes, where many countries have new forest climate emissions reductions policies and goals that appear to conflict with increasing timber production targets. Timber production also has tremendous implications for human well-being in the tropics — for instance, forestry jobs are major sources of high-risk employment, and timber harvest impacts flood risk and water quality. The ultimate outcomes for both nature and people of these activities vary greatly depending upon logging practices and production systems.

Conservation organizations, along with corporate and government partners, are investing in both “sharing” (e.g., low-impact logging in Mexico, Guatemala, and Borneo) as well as “sparing” approaches (e.g., intensification of cattle ranching in Brazil). Yet none of these initiatives seem to have considered the empirical basis for choosing one approach over the other.

The long-term sustainability of large-scale conservation efforts depends upon achieving not just carbon outcomes, but also human well-being and ecosystem service outcomes for local communities. The complexity of tropical timber production landscapes demands focused analysis. The urgency of this analysis is amplified by the advance of forest-carbon financing (e.g., the FCPF Climate Fund, now at ~$460 million) and processes (e.g., UNFCCC) that are driving policies in tropical countries to achieve forest conservation outcomes by 2020, in the midst of growing demand for tropical timber.

Read about this Inquiry

Harvest timber in a log yard. Using conventional logging methods, the P.T. Inhutani Timber company harvests timber in the Inhutani conventional logging concession situated in the tropical forest of East Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia.

The Inquiry

Maintaining Timber Production While Improving Outcomes for Carbon, Conservation and Water

The Working Group will synthesize a set of “best practices” across the range from low- to high- intensity timber production systems, and estimate carbon, water, biodiversity and human well-being benefits from the implementation of these practices. For these practices, the group will consider both (i) how to improve outcomes per hectare harvested, and (ii) whether an increase in harvest intensity paired with set asides that have high conservation value within a forestry management unit could improve conservation outcomes while maintaining timber production.

The Working Group will produce analyses, maps, extension reports, and peer-reviewed manuscripts that represent the best available knowledge to address the challenge of large-scale tropical forestry conservation planning, including:

  • A systematic review of the literature on the conservation and human well-being implications of sharing vs. sparing approaches in tropical timber production landscapes.
  • Analyses that model the conservation & human well-being benefits of improved design and distribution of timber production landscapes.
  • A synthesis of recommended best practices — including set asides and harvest intensity — across a range of timber production systems (native forests & plantations) that maintain timber production and improve outcomes for carbon, biodiversity and water.
  • Estimates of benefits from specific best practices. Reports will be the basis for meetings with government forestry agencies and certification bodies. These meetings will aim to integrate a new generation of best practices that achieve measurable conservation benefits into national and international policies and standards.

Results will be fed into landscape modeling analyses of “land sharing vs. sparing” scenarios. The group’s findings will be used to:

  • Test best practices with partnering land managers, integrate them into certification standards; and
  • Advocate for adjustments to forestry and climate policies to achieve an optimal balance of conservation, human well-being, and timber production outcomes.

Meet the Forest Sharing or Sparing? Team

Photo: ©Bridget Besaw | More Info

The Team

The Forest Sharing or Sparing? Team