Rainforest regeneration in Indonesia slower than expected

May 31, 2012

Research conducted by Tyas Basuki at University of Twente’s Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) shows that felled tropical rainforest in Indonesia (of the Dipterocarp species) is growing back much slower than expected. Based on the available knowledge at the time, the Indonesian government stipulated that an area may be logged only once every 35 years. Basuki's research, however, shows that in order to guarantee genuine sustainable forest management, countries must adhere to a minimum logging cycle of 120 years. Basuki defended her PhD thesis on 24 May.

The Dipterocarp species is a type of tropical rainforest very common throughout Asia and is the most popular wood for logging in Southeast Asia. In order to promote sustainable , a certain amount of time needs to elapse between logging cycles to allow the forest time to regenerate (as a tree grows, it absorbs CO2 from the air, which it then converts into biomass; when a tree is felled, the CO2 returns to the atmosphere by means of a number of steps). In – a major timber-producing country – the government has set the minimum period between logging cycles at 35 years. This period was intended to ensure that wood could continue to be logged indefinitely without reducing the total volume of timber. It was expected that the same amount of carbon could be captured in 35 years (in the form of CO2) as was being lost during the logging process.

However, Tyas Basuki’s research findings show that although the trees grow back, the growth in total biomass – and the subsequent carbon storage – occurs at a much slower pace than previously thought. Basuki demonstrates that in order to guarantee genuine sustainable forest management, the logging cycle should be extended from 35 to 120 years. In conducting her research, she wanted to determine precisely how much aboveground biomass per unit area was present in the forest. Basuki was able to obtain this data by combining local measurements with a variety of measurements taken from satellites. The measurements were taken in the forest during the season in order to avoid felling any trees specifically for the purposes of her research. This method enabled her to measure the amount of biomass in the tropical forests 17 to 28 per cent more accurately than was hitherto possible.

Explore further: Seeing The Forest And The Trees

Related Stories

Seeing The Forest And The Trees

October 24, 2005

With human emissions of carbon dioxide on the rise, there is growing interest in maintaining the Earth's natural mechanisms that absorb and store carbon.

Measuring nectar from eucalypts

July 31, 2007

The effect of logging on canopy nectar production in tall forest trees has for the first time been investigated by NSW DPI researchers, with funding from the Honeybee Program of the Rural Industries Research and Development ...

Probing Question: Can logging be done sustainably?

April 3, 2008

In an era of ever-increasing environmental awareness, few industries receive more scrutiny than logging. For decades, environmental groups have claimed that commercial logging practices result in devastating consequences, ...

New method can aid rainforest, help loggers

November 18, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Reduced-impact logging (RIL) in an Amazon rainforest generated profits while emitting a small fraction of carbon compared with total forest clearing, a University at Albany study concludes.

Recommended for you

Explaining crocodiles in Wyoming

September 2, 2015

Fifty million years ago, the Cowboy State was crawling with crocodiles. Fossil records show that crocs lounged in the shade of palm trees from southwestern Wyoming to southern Canada during the Cretaceous and Eocene.  Exactly ...

How wind sculpted Earth's largest dust deposit

September 1, 2015

China's Loess Plateau was formed by wind alternately depositing dust or removing dust over the last 2.6 million years, according to a new report from University of Arizona geoscientists.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.