Selective logging is one of the main natural forest harvesting approaches worldwide and contributes nearly 15% of global timber needs. However, there are increasing concerns that ongoing selective logging practices have led to decreased forest product supply, increased forest degradation, and contributed to forest based carbon emissions. Taking cases of natural forest harvesting practices from the Tarai region of Nepal and Queensland Australia, this study assesses forest product recovery and associated carbon emissions along the timber production chain. Field measurements and product flow analysis of 127 commercially harvested trees up to the exit gate of sawmills and interaction with sawmill owners and forest managers reveal that: (1) Queensland selective logging has less volume recovery (52.8%) compared to Nepal (94.5%) leaving significant utilizable volume in the forest, (2) Stump volume represents 5.5% of total timber volume in Nepal and 3.9% in Queensland with an average stump height of 43.3 cm and 40.1 cm in Nepal and Queensland respectively, (3) Average sawn timber output from the harvested logs is 36.3% in Queensland against 61% in Nepal, (4) Nepal and Queensland leave 0.186 Mg C m−3
and 0.718 Mg C m−3
on the forest floor respectively, (5) Each harvested tree damages an average of five plant species in Nepal and four in Queensland predominantly seedlings in both sites, and (6) Overall logging related total emissions in Queensland are more than double (1.099 Mg C m−3
) those in Nepal (0.488 Mg C m−3
). We compared these results with past studies and speculated on possible reasons for and potential implications of these results for sustainable forest management and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
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