Brazil is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. What is less known is that the country is the fourth largest industrial roundwood (timber left as logs, not sawn into planks) and wood pulp producer and ninth largest paper producer in the world. Brazil’s forest sector contributed 5 percent to the national gross domestic product in 2012. Brazil’s forests are not only home to communities and a haven for biodiversity, they are also part of the country’s economic backbone.
Brazil’s government has made impressive progress towards balancing forest protection and production. In 2012, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon dropped to its lowest rate in more than two decades. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research has pioneered the use of satellite data to prevent illegal logging. And the forest sector uses the Forest Source Document system (Documento de Origem Florestal, DOF), a sophisticated electronic system to track the wood flow throughout the supply chain.
Despite these positive steps, illegal logging and associated trade in the Amazon continues. Beyond the negative social and environmental impacts, illegal logging poses a serious problem for businesses producing legal wood products. With a price difference of up to 40 percent, legal wood simply cannot compete with cheaper illegal wood.
To reduce illegal logging and support the legal actors in the forest sector, Brazil must strengthen its forest control systems and policies.
Fires were ablaze once more on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, reaching levels almost as high as those of June 2013, when neighboring Singapore and Malaysia were smothered by record-breaking smog and haze. NASA satellites registered a total of 734 high-confidence fire alerts in Sumatra’s provinces for the period August 22-27. Fire alert numbers declined significantly August 28-29.
Illegal logging in Central Africa results in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue each year, exacerbates poverty in forest-dependent communities, accelerates forest ecosystem degradation and undermines efforts to invest in long-term sustainable forest management. WRI, in collaboration with the International Conservation Union and the Inter-African Forest Industries Association, developed a set of legality standards that assesses if timber products produced and exported in Central Africa are legal. Those legality indicators are now being used by governments of forest-rich countries in Central Africa for establishing their own national standards, notably in view of satisfying European Union regulations which will soon require that all imported timber products come from legal sources. In addition, WRI works with those governments to map and monitor their logging concessions and protected areas.
Cette carte montre l'affectation des terres dans le domaine forestier national au Cameroun au 31 Mai 2006. Elle donne des informations sur les differentes categories d'occupation du sol dans les domaines forestiers permanent et non permanent sous toile de fond du couvert forestier.
Cette montre l'affectation des terres dans le domaine forestier au Cameroun en 30 Août 2004. Elle donne des informations sur les differentes categories d'occupation du sol dans les domaines forestiers permanent et non permanent, ainsi que des informations sur les infrastructures routières.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the world’s richest countries in terms of natural wealth, yet among the poorest in terms of GDP. Forests blanket 60% of the country.
Following decades of mismanagement and two civil wars, the DRC is taking steps to promote sustainable forest management. In 2005, with World Bank financing, the government launched a process to review and convert old logging titles into forest concessions aligned with the country’s new forest code.
Pierre Methot directed WRI's forestry work in Central Africa in 2009. He explains WRI’s role, “Acting as the international independent observer, alongside our Belgian partner AGRECO, we designed the review methodology, provided technical support, and ensured compliance with the law. We insisted the process and results be made publicly available and that local and indigenous populations be involved.”
Of 156 logging titles reviewed, only 65 were deemed legal for new concessions. The remaining titles – 12 million hectares of rainforest – were set for cancellation.
“Protecting hectares is important,” says Methot, “but more importantly, this process was transparent and involved multiple stakeholders – a first for the DRC. It sets the groundwork for an accountable approach to forest and natural resource management.”
See our current work on this topic: Congo Basin Forest Atalses
Forest loss and degradation are major contributors to global GHG emissions. Yet, the issue has not played a significant role in international efforts to combat climate change.
This is changing, explains Smita Nakhooda, a senior associate in WRI’s Institutions and Governance Program. “Several large-scale multinational initiatives have emerged to help developing countries reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. REDD is the shorthand for this objective, which will likely be part of any new global climate change agreement.”
Improving forest governance – the rules and practices that determine how decisions about forest resources are made – will be critical to the success of REDD efforts. How will governments balance the need to maintain forest cover and the need for other land uses? How will they ensure that the rights of forest dependent communities and indigenous peoples are respected?
WRI’s timely and sound analysis on forest governance has been pivotal in shaping new REDD initiatives at the UN and World Bank. “The battle against climate change cannot be won without protecting the world’s forests, and the communities that depend on them for their livelihoods,” says Nakhooda. “WRI is committed to ensuring REDD programs are as robust as possible.”
Cecelia Song, Kemen Austin, Andrew Leach, and other experts at WRI also contributed to this post.
Fires are flaring up once more on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Media reports in the region indicate that the resulting smog has already reached unhealthy levels over parts of Indonesia and Malaysia.