This is published under the terms of CC-BY.
In the Congo Basin where nearly 20 million ha of concessions are exploited according to management plans, improved forest management (IFM) has become a strategy of prime importance when setting up the REDD+ mechanism. For logging companies, REDD+ projects provide the opportunity to compensate a voluntary reduction of the logging intensity by valuing the associated carbon gain. We explored, from the perspective of a logging company, a range of scenarios for reducing logging intensity so as to assess the possibilities for emissions reductions and to evaluate the financial feasibility of such projects. On the basis of Monte Carlo simulations for a typical export-oriented forest concession, we calculated intervals of break-even prices of permanent carbon credits. We show that logging intensity reduction is an attractive option when there is a complete cessation of logging, and for little exploited and low-profit forests. The most feasible IFM projects would be those that require a major reduction of logging intensity. Our work suggests that—instead of improving forest logging techniques—IFM projects based on a voluntary reduction of logging intensity would rather lead the exclusive choice of carbon or timber valuation. Carbon market prices are too low to be an incentive to change logging practices toward more climate-smart forest management, and a change of paradigm to change actors’ behaviors would be needed.