Policy Impacts on DeforestationLessons from Past Experiences to Inform New Initiatives
Agricultural expansion is the primary driver o deorestation within the tropics. When tropical orestsare cleared, they are almost always converted toagricultural crops, pasture, or plantations or timber,biouel, and ber. Tus the undamental drivers o deorestation are the benets rom the conversiono orest or production. Incentives to clear orestsarise rom local and global demand or commodities.Deorestation pressures are exacerbated by governmentpolicies in support o agricultural expansion, rangingrom road construction and maintenance to cheapcredit to easier access to ormal land titles whenorested lands have been cleared.Te lack o protable alternatives in sustainable orestmanagement is also a driver o deorestation. In thetropics, logging operations ofen remove only high- value native timber and then abandon the remainingorest, 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 aect the orest.Climate policies that provide unding or REDD couldchange these deaults, leading local actors to valueorest services and making it protable 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 deorestation 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 eciently addressed criticalunderlying drivers o deorestation. In some cases, thedrivers were not even targeted. In others, programsdid not exert substantial and sustained inuence onenorcement or on relevant economic conditions andrural development practices.
Specifc external policy experiences
Te amount o loans and develop-ment assistance contingent upon orestry reorm hasrisen in recent decades, with signicant sums spent tocreate and improve management o protected areas.Success in reducing deorestation, however, has beenmixed. Corruption has hampered implementation,while coordination with stakeholders both large andsmall who inuence land choices has ofen beeninsucient. ransorming the relevant local institutionsis complex and slow, particularly i external pressureor reorm is not met with internal support or changes.Many loan covenants overreach, asserting sweepingreorms without connecting all o the conditions inquestion to national or local development priorities.
Donor coordination has aimedto increase the eectiveness and eciency 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 eectiveness 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 deorestation drivers such as agricultural andinrastructural expansion. Tis may have resulted rominsucient participation in policy development by civilsociety and by the orest-dependent communities, agap that also lost the political support o those actors.
Governments’ debt to oreign countriesand international banks may also encourage tropicaldeorestation. 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 aect orests. Indebtedness may also restrictorest enorcement. 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 deorestation is dicult and evalu-ations o the impact o debt swaps on orest loss areew. A 2007 U.S. government evaluation o a debt-swapinitiative in El Salvador did not quantiy orest impactsbut suggested that results ell short o overambitioustargets.
Commodities rom “orest-unriendly” production such as destructive and ofenillegal logging are traded globally. Tis implies apotential role or global intervention on the demandside. Tere have been many eorts to lower demandor production that causes deorestation, such asboycotts based on the “hamburger connection” toclearing in Central America, as well as eorts to raise