Developing sound, long-term forest policies for the region in the face of so many conflicting economic, social, and political interests is, at best, a difficult task. The following three priority recommendations, however, could help Venezuela to achieve a better balance between conservation and economic development.
1. Capture fully revenue from forest resources and ensure that benefits contribute to long-term forest conservation.
Options for policy makers. Currently, benefits from forest resources are not fully captured at either the national or local levels. Priority recommendations for policy-makers are:
- Remove subsidies on timber extraction and use this money to re-invest in conservation and monitoring activities. Subsidies now offered to logging concessionaires are not justified, in light of the environmental impact of their activities.
- Seek means of capturing more revenue from national parks, such as increasing entrance fees, setting fees for side services, and ensuring that fees paid on water services reflect the cost of managing the watershed. While raising park fees is generally unpopular, a combination of gradually increased entrance and ecosystem service fees could generate more revenue to pay for park management (See Capturing Benefits from Venezuela’s National Parks). Ensuring that water prices reflect the cost of managing watersheds could help generate funds for conservation of the Guayana region, especially as much of the region’s urban water and the nation’s hydroelectric power are protected by forests in Bolivar and Amazonas states. In addition, tax revenues can be re-directed to fund conservation in areas where the protection of resources is beneficial for maintaining specific ecosystem services. For example, the Brazilian state of Paran