SNAPP TEAM:Forest Sharing or Sparing?
How can conservation and human well-being outcomes be maximized while meeting timber demand in the tropics?

Tropical forests are widely celebrated for their biodiversity and carbon sequestration potential. What is less often acknowledged is that wood is the most sustainable building material. A complete ban on logging would exacerbate climate change by forcing builders to switch to less sustainable materials, such as cement and steel. It is therefore important to determine the best way to achieve complementary benefits to conservation and society in tropical timber production landscapes.


OUR APPROACH: The team investigated the impacts of intensified timber production (sparing) and selective logging (sharing). Through empirical analyses, they estimated carbon, water, biodiversity, and human well-being benefits from the implementation of different timber production systems. Their findings were synthesized into a set of best practices, which can help achieve lasting conservation outcomes in tropical forests that benefit nature and people.

Team Status: COMPLETED
Team Critical Challenges: Climate Resilience, Social Innovations

Selective Logging Conservation Outcomes

Many logging companies target and remove only the most valuable timber in the forest, a process known as selective logging. The team determined that low-intensity selective logging can offer either the best or worst conservation outcome while maintaining wood production, depending on both land tenure security and the use of certified reduced-impact logging methods. The best scenario for minimizing climate and biodiversity impacts occurred when: 1) timber producers employed certified reduced-impact logging methods, and 2) land tenure was secure. In cases where land tenure was secure, and particularly when logging operation practices are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, there is evidence that a company’s presence can act as a force against deforestation. These findings show there is a highly compelling conservation option to invest in land tenure security and to work with logging companies to improve practices.


RIL-C Methodology

The team worked with the Tropical Forest Foundation and TerraCarbon to develop a new “reduced impact logging practices that reduce carbon emissions” (RIL-C) methodology for the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), the world’s most widely used voluntary greenhouse gas program. Through a rigorous assessment process, VCS ensures the credibility of emission reduction projects used as carbon offsets within carbon markets. The RIL-C methodology also provides a robust third party mechanism for commercial loggers to verify that low impact logging practices are reducing carbon pollution. The Government of Indonesia is currently integrating RIL-C into national strategies to reduce emissions and meet their commitment to the United Nations Paris Agreements.



“Low impact logging practices could cut carbon pollution in half while improving local jobs, maintaining Orangutan habitat, improving water quality, and providing flood control.”

– Bronson Griscom, Project Co-Leader

Key Products
“Go-no go” map highlighting suggested land use in the Yucatan Peninsula

This interactive online tool helps users visualize different land use regimes in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Bioacoustics reveal how biodiversity changes across Borneo’s logged forests

This Cool Green Science post describes how the team’s researchers estimated animal biodiversity by analyzing the complexity of forest sounds.

Alianza México REDD+

This alliance of environmental NGOs, research groups, and government organizations convened as a result of this team’s research to address deforestation and sustainable development in Mexico.

Forest carbon flux data for Berau, Indonesia

This database supports a method for estimating the relevant historic forest carbon fluxes within the Regency of Berau in eastern Borneo, Indonesia.

Click here to see more products from this SNAPP Team
Bronson Griscom
The Nature Conservancy
Francis “Jack” Putz
University of Florida
Mark Ashton
Yale University
Tim Boucher
The Nature Conservancy
Zuzana Burivalova
Princeton University, The Nature Conservancy
Rane Cortez
The Nature Conservancy
Maria Martinez Murillo Cuervo
The Nature Conservancy
Eddie Ellis
Universidad Veracruzana
Peter Ellis
The Nature Conservancy
Edward Game
The Nature Conservancy
Sara Leavitt
The Nature Conservancy
Ruben Lubowski
Environmental Defense Fund
Delon Marthinus
The Nature Conservancy
Daniela Miteva
Ohio State University
The Nature Conservancy
Yves Paiz
The Nature Conservancy
Sebastien Palmas
University of Florida
Subhrendu Pattanayak
Duke University
John Poulsen
Duke University
Sébastien Proust
The Nature Conservancy
Saipul Rahman
The Nature Conservancy
Claudia Romero
University of Florida
Rebecca Runting
University of Queensland
University of Florida, The Nature Conservancy
Erin Sills
Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR); North Carolina State University
Oscar Venter
University of British Colombia
Bambang Wahyudi
The Nature Conservancy
Dawn Ward
Ward Consulting
Jessie Wells
University of Queensland
Mark Wishnie
The Nature Conservancy
Nick Wolff
The Nature Conservancy
Explore More Teams Like This