Forests are an invaluable natural resource with multiple conflicting uses. When left to stand, forests help conserve biodiversity, stabilize the environment and control erosion; when logged, they provide building materials, fuel and agricultural land for human use. The challenge is to find an equilibrium between these uses: in other words, to make the transition toward sustainable forestry management.
Unfortunately, poverty has driven people in developing countries to clear-cut large tracts of land, while instability and corruption have rendered developing country governments powerless to stop illegal logging and trade in illegal forest products. The results have been staggering. The World Resources Institute recently reported that tropical regions have been deforested at an alarming rate of 1% annually since 1985; in some countries, the rate has spiraled to over 7% per year (1). Much of this deforestation is linked to the illegal trade in forest products. Greenpeace estimates that up to 80% of all logs cut in the Brazilian Amazon are extracted illegally; the estimate is 70% for Indonesia (2).
In order to fight the problem of illegal logging and trade, I propose the following package of policy actions. First, to change US government procurement policy to prefer timber from sustainably managed forests; second, to provide technical assistance to help developing countries with forestry management; and third, to promote a national eco-certification system for sustainably managed forestry products.
FIRST, the US government shall adapt its timber procurement policy to give preferential treatment to forest products certified to meet sustainable management criteria. In t...
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(6) ISO 14001, 14061: http://www.iso.ch
(7) "ISF Smartwood Certification," http://www.isf-sw.org/cert.htm
(8) Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Protection Division. "The Power to Make a Difference." 1999 Annual Report on EnergyStar. http://www.epa.gov/appdstar/pdf/cpd99brief.pdf
(9) American Forest and Paper Association. "U.S. Forest Products Industry Competitive Challenges in a Global Marketplace." http://www.afandpa.org/legislation/legislation.html
(10) Rotherham, Tom. "Selling Sustainable Development: Environmental Labeling and Certification Programs." In "Environmentally Sound Trade Expansion in the Americas," University of Miami, 2000.
(11) WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade
(12) Dawkins, Kristen. "Eco-Labelling: Consumers' Right to Know or Restrictive Business Practice?" Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, 1996.
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