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Policy Impacts on Deforestation

Policy Impacts on Deforestation

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policy brief 
NI PB 09-04 | June 2009 | www.nicholas.duke.edu/institute
Policy Impacts on Deforestation
Lessons rom Past Experiences to Inorm New Initiatives
National and international eorts to reduce deoresta-tion during the last ew decades, while having someimpact, have ailed to substantially slow the loss o theworld’s tropical orests. ropical deorestation is wide-spread and accounts or about 17% o anthropogenicgreenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. New global concernabout climate change, together with the realization thatreducing emissions rom deorestation and degradation(REDD) can play a large role in climate change mitiga-tion, makes it critical to learn rom previous inuenceson rates o deorestation.Within the UN Framework Convention on ClimateChange (UNFCCC), international negotiators areconsidering whether to include incentives or REDDand other orest carbon activities in a post-2012climate treaty. On a parallel track, the U.S. Congress isdeveloping legislative proposals or a long-term GHGcap-and-trade program that includes REDD, possibly other international orest-carbon activities, and otherinternational GHG-mitigation actions.
Climate policies that target reduced deorestationmay mobilize new and sustained unding or orestconservation in developing countries. Climate-relatedincentives or orest conservation give U.S. policymak-ers and the international community a new way toinuence programs and policies that aect deoresta-tion. New programs are likely to be perormance-based,with a strong emphasis upon the monitoring, reporting,and verication o results. Tis emphasis, alongsidenancial incentives, could increase policy impacts ondeorestation rates.Lessons on the drivers o deorestation will help todesign new policies and programs that are eective,ecient, and equitable. It is in the interest o countriesand private entities interested in purchasing or nanc-ing any emission reductions, as well as the tropicalorest nations that would host reduction activities, tounderstand what has worked in reducing orest loss anddegradation and what has not, and the reasons or thesedierent outcomes. Investments and policies then canmore eectively embrace and extend what has workedwhile reducing the risk o urther ailures.Tis brie aims to inorm U.S. and internationalpolicymakers by analyzing the dominant inuences ondeorestation, be those orest policies, other policiesthat inuence the orest, or non-policy actors suchas trends in commodity prices. It provides exampleso previous policies and derives lessons rom theirsuccesses and ailures, then links these observations onthe past to key decisions that policymakers must soonmake with regard to climate policy deliberations.
1 Te American Clean Energy and Security Act o 2009 (H.R. 2454), passed by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on May 21(with consideration by the ull House pending), allows capped entities to oset part o their emissions with tropical deorestation reduction credits.It permits up to 1 billion tons o emissions compliance annually using international osets (including but not limited to reduced deorestationcredits), though use o international osets may rise to 1.5 billion tons i the supply o domestic osets is insucient. It also establishes a programto generate reductions beyond the cap by building government capacity to reduce deorestation, nancing subnational projects, and nancing“leakage prevention activities” to preserve carbon stocks in orests, orested wetlands, and orested peatlands. Tis would be nanced by a certainpercentage o allowance value.
Alexander Pa, Duke UniversityGregory S. Amacher, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityKathleen Lawlor, Nicholas Institute or Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke UniversityErin O. Sills, North Carolina State UniversityMichael J. Coren, Climate FocusCharlotte Streck, Climate Focus
Policy Impacts on DeforestationLessons from Past Experiences to Inform New Initiatives
Deforestation Drivers
Agricultural expansion is the primary driver o deorestation within the tropics. When tropical orestsare cleared, they are almost always converted toagricultural crops, pasture, or plantations or timber,biouel, and ber. Tus the undamental drivers o deorestation are the benets rom the conversiono orest or production. Incentives to clear orestsarise rom local and global demand or commodities.Deorestation pressures are exacerbated by governmentpolicies in support o agricultural expansion, rangingrom road construction and maintenance to cheapcredit to easier access to ormal land titles whenorested lands have been cleared.Te lack o protable alternatives in sustainable orestmanagement is also a driver o deorestation. In thetropics, logging operations ofen remove only high- value native timber and then abandon the remainingorest, leaving it degraded, accessible, and vulnerableto clearing. Te low timber prices that can be causedby unsustainable and ofen illegal logging practices,along with governments’ ailures to provide credit ortenure security or orest operations, all discouragelong-term orest management. Further, other servicesthat are provided by orests, such as species habitatand water quality, are ofen ignored and almost alwaysundervalued in land-use decisions that aect the orest.Climate policies that provide unding or REDD couldchange these deaults, leading local actors to valueorest services and making it protable to managethe orests or the many local and global goods they provide, including orest carbon.
Evidence on International Policies
Various multi- and bilateral initiatives have aimed toreduce deorestation and increase transparency andmonitoring in the orest sector. Yet with ew exceptions,their primary aim—substantially reducing rates o de-orestation in tropical nations—has not been achieved.Few initiatives have eciently addressed criticalunderlying drivers o deorestation. In some cases, thedrivers were not even targeted. In others, programsdid not exert substantial and sustained inuence onenorcement or on relevant economic conditions andrural development practices.
Specifc external policy experiences
Conditional Loans.
Te amount o loans and develop-ment assistance contingent upon orestry reorm hasrisen in recent decades, with signicant sums spent tocreate and improve management o protected areas.Success in reducing deorestation, however, has beenmixed. Corruption has hampered implementation,while coordination with stakeholders both large andsmall who inuence land choices has ofen beeninsucient. ransorming the relevant local institutionsis complex and slow, particularly i external pressureor reorm is not met with internal support or changes.Many loan covenants overreach, asserting sweepingreorms without connecting all o the conditions inquestion to national or local development priorities.
Donor Coordination.
Donor coordination has aimedto increase the eectiveness and eciency o develop-ment assistance. Te ropical Forestry Action Program(FAP), or instance, was ounded by UN agencies,the World Bank, and the World Resources Institute in1985 as an ambitious attempt at donor coordinationwithin the orestry sector. Its eectiveness appearsto have been limited. Te FAP increased orest aid,coordinated spending, and developed national orestmanagement plans. However by ocusing almostexclusively upon the orest sector, it neglected im-portant deorestation drivers such as agricultural andinrastructural expansion. Tis may have resulted rominsucient participation in policy development by civilsociety and by the orest-dependent communities, agap that also lost the political support o those actors.
Debt Relief.
Governments’ debt to oreign countriesand international banks may also encourage tropicaldeorestation. Many have suggested that debt leadstropical governments to raise revenues to service theirdebts, typically through timber royalties or taxes onagricultural exports. During the late 1990s, Indonesiawas pressed by international nancial institutions toincrease exports o timber, paper pulp, and palm oil, allo which aect orests. Indebtedness may also restrictorest enorcement. Under the 1998 ropical ForestConservation Act, the U.S. reduced the debts o twelveLatin American countries and Botswana by 2007, ineight cases with substantial contributions rom majorenvironmental organizations. But drawing a direct link between debt and deorestation is dicult and evalu-ations o the impact o debt swaps on orest loss areew. A 2007 U.S. government evaluation o a debt-swapinitiative in El Salvador did not quantiy orest impactsbut suggested that results ell short o overambitioustargets.
Demand Management.
Commodities rom “orest-unriendly” production such as destructive and ofenillegal logging are traded globally. Tis implies apotential role or global intervention on the demandside. Tere have been many eorts to lower demandor production that causes deorestation, such asboycotts based on the “hamburger connection” toclearing in Central America, as well as eorts to raise
Policy Impacts on DeforestationLessons from Past Experiences to Inform New Initiatives
the demand or “orest-riendly” commodities, such ascertied timber, nontimber orest products, ecotourismand “bird-riendly” coee or cacao. Such campaignshave rarely shifed global prices signicantly, givenlarge markets and the act that not all the buyers areconcerned enough to adjust their purchasing habits.However these interventions do seem to be capable o increasing the relative protability o sustainable orestmanagement by reducing the costs o marketing andlowering risks involved in selling orest-riendly goods.Another intervention is reciprocal trade controls—lawsin importing nations that provide a legal basis ormonitoring and seizing illicit trade. Such restrictionsmay complement exporting nations’ domestic laws aswell as international rules like those adopted under theConvention on International rade in Endangered Spe-cies (CIES). Indonesia’s listing o ramin as restrictedunder CIES is claimed to have reduced illegal trade,although some illegal exports continue. Blocking tradein this way is an eort to reduce payos rom activitiesthat degrade orests.Te European Union’s 2003 FLEG Action Plan aims toprevent illegal imports into the EU. Producer countriesenter into voluntary agreements with the EU. Evidenceo its eectiveness is still lacking, and may be case-specic, but studies suggest that voluntary bilateralagreements may be less eective than legally bindingcontrols upon imports o timber. A recent example o the latter is a 2008 amendment to the U.S. Lacey Actthat makes it illegal to import into the U.S. plants thatwere harvested or traded in violation o the suppliercountry’s laws. Tis ban applies not only to timberbut also to goods containing wood products, such asurniture. Importers are now required to declare thecountry o origin, quantity, and the plant species o their products. While the eects o this law have yet tobe seen, it is believed to be increasing the transparency o the supply chain or wood products in the privatesector. Such standards need to be adopted consistently by both exporters and importers i any such policy’s ullpotential is to be realized.
Evidence on Domestic Policies
Various national and subnational initiatives have aimedto conserve orests, including through legal protectionas well as compensation such as via payment orecosystem services. Teir primary aim—reducing de-orestation—has typically been only partially achieveddue to limitations in how deorestation drivers areaddressed. Many initiatives were implemented in areasacing relatively low deorestation threat. Tat ailsto address key drivers and, inevitably, limits impactson orest. Impact can be increased by: (1) targetingadditionality by locating eort where the orest wouldin act be cleared in the absence o policy; (2) limitingleakage (shifs in deorestation to alternative locations)by closing loopholes and expanding programs’ scopeto count all clearing; and (3) adjusting policies thatdo not explicitly concern conservation but are highly inuential, such as transport networks, agriculturalsubsidies, and land tenure regimes.
Domestic orest policies
Protected Areas.
Setting aside orest or permanentprotection is the most common explicit orest conser- vation policy. Analysis shows, however, that protectedareas tend to be on land with relatively low threat o deorestation. Tus, there may be little deorestation inareas that are protected but also little change relativeto what would happen without the protection and thusmuch less avoided deorestation than typically assumed(based on studies using global data and o Costa Rica,the Brazilian Amazon, and Mexico). Such analyses alsoindicate where impact could be high. I deorestationthreats are relatively high and enorcement is relatively strong, such as within the Chico Mendes ExtractiveReserve in the Brazilian Amazon near the InteroceanicHighway, then there can be signicant benets in termso avoided deorestation.
Payments or ecosystems services suchas water quality, species habitat, or carbon storagereward landowners or limiting use o their landand conserving ecosystems such as orests. Mostprograms are voluntary, however. Landowners ofenwill volunteer their least productive land, capturingpayments or retaining orest that might well haveremained without nancial reward. During the initialperiod o Costa Rica’s pioneering program, paymentswere not targeted and orest receiving payment waslargely non-additional to the status quo. However,as or protected areas, policy could explicitly aim ororest under threat. Costa Ricas payments still do notexplicitly ocus on such additionality but shifs in howthe payments are allocated have removed the biastowards orest under low threat, and as a result, impacthas risen.
 Local Engagement.
Te example o Brazil’s PPG7suggests that local engagement and stakeholder supportcan raise impact. Extractive reserves and indigenouslands were created with not only boundaries delimit-ing uses but also crucially a network o investedstakeholders. Teir involvement appears to have raisedmanagement eectiveness and with low amountso external unds. PPG7 also modernized scientic

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