Peter Freer-Smith, Jean-Michel Carnus
AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 37 (4), 254-262, (1 June 2008) https://doi.org/10.1579/0044-7447(2008)37[254:TSMAPO]2.0.CO;2
The loss of forest area globally due to change of land use, the importance of forests in the conservation of biodiversity and in carbon and other biogeochemical cycles, together with the threat to forests from pollution and from the impacts of climate change, place forestry policy and practice at the center of global environmental and sustainability strategy. Forests provide important economic, environmental, social, and cultural benefits, so that in forestry, as in other areas of environmental policy and management, there are tensions between economic development and environmental protection. In this article we review the current information on global forest cover and condition, examine the international processes that relate to forest protection and to sustainable forest management, and look at the main forest certification schemes. We consider the link between the international processes and certification schemes and also their combined effectiveness. We conclude that in some regions of the world neither mechanism is achieving forest protection, while in others local or regional implementation is occurring and is having a significant impact. Choice of certification scheme and implementation of management standards are often influenced by a consideration of the associated costs, and there are some major issues over the monitoring of agreed actions and of the criteria and indicators of sustainability. There are currently a number of initiatives seeking to improve the operation of the international forestry framework (e.g., The Montreal Process, the Ministerial Convention of the Protection of Forests in Europe and European Union actions in Europe, the African Timber Organisation and International Tropical Timber Organisation initiative for African tropical forest, and the development of a worldwide voluntary agreement on forestry in the United Nations Forum on Forests). We suggest that there is a need to improve the connections between scientific understanding, policy development, and forestry practice, and also the cooperation between the various international initiatives and processes, so that the international framework is more effective and its influence is extended geographically.