Monday, March 31, 2008

Governance & Forest Conservation

In light of the potential for REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) credits to enter the post-2012 climate regime, it is important to remember that officially-sanctioned forest activities are only a portion of the problem. Governmental and nongovernmental assessments estimate that illegal logging accounts for over half of timber extracted from the tropical forests of some major timber-producing nations.

Perhaps suprisingly, the question of forest (and other resource) governance recently received popular attention, thanks to reporter Andrew C. Revkin’s New York Times blog, Dot Earth. The post focused on a recent murder in Peru, retribution for reporting illegal timber activities. The story behind the post received attention in the U.S. weeks after the killing, thanks to mongabay.com.

This attention is critical. The potential carbon, biodiversity and human health benefits of REDD credits (and the likelihood of their creation) will be seriously undermined by poor forest governance. Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are prime examples of countries that could reap significant human health and biodiversity benefits from REDD, but face extreme governance problems very likely to undermine efforts to secure them. Countries with somewhat better governance frameworks, therefore, will be in better positions to benefit from REDD.

Governance problems have repeatedly plagued efforts toward sustainable forestry, yet international attention to the issue in specific contexts can affect the resources devoted by national authorities to improving governance and the extent of international support for such efforts.

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