SHtateg t cof I
An Overview of Global
Programs and Agreements
Presidential Management Intern, U.S. Forest Service
Susan R. Fletcher
Specialist in International Environmental Policy
Environment and Natural Resources Policy Division
October 21, 1992
DEFORESTATION: AN OVERVIEW OF
GLOBAL PROGRAMS AND AGREEMENTS
In recent years, global environmental concerns have figured prominently on
the American political agenda. In particular, tropical deforestation and its
implications for global climate change and biological diversity loss have
prompted public outcry. Concerns have since grown to include other forest
types as well. The Congress has considered a variety of legislation to stem the
tide of increasing deforestation and the United States has supported a number
of bilateral and multilateral initiatives to assist other countries in managing
their forest resources.
In addition, the issue of deforestation has garnered increasing attention in
international arenas which has translated into a bewildering array of programs,
principles, and policies regarding forests. This paper provides some background
on four of the main multilateral avenues for addressing deforestation and
clarifies their roles and interrelationships. The organizations, processes, and
negotiations covered here include: the Tropical Forestry Action Programme
(TFAP), the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the United
Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), and the World
Bank. Considered as a whole, these efforts represent attempts by the
international community to address deforestation -- in the tropics, as well as in
temperate and boreal forests. This review provides the history and structure of
these programs, together with the critiques and arguments concerning their
success or weakness, in order to provide the context for continuing congressional
oversight of global forest issues and the consideration of legislation on
appropriations for these programs.
The TFAP has created a framework for bringing the nations of the North
and South together. It has helped many countries to analyze their forest
resources more rigorously and has generated high-level attention on forest
issues. The ITTO has become a vehicle for conservation concerns and
established targets and standards for sustainable tropical timber management.
UNCED focused unprecedented attention on forest-related issues. The final
documents relating to forests articulate the concept of sustainable development.
And the World Bank's new forest policy requires environmental assessments and
prohibits the financing of commercial logging in moist tropical forests under any
These are notable achievements, but deforestation continues. Critics point
to the need for refinements or improvements (and in some case major
restructuring) in all of these international programs and policies. A closer look
at the progress and pitfalls of these efforts indicates that international
mechanisms for addressing deforestation require lengthy and often laborious
negotiation, while the sense of urgency concerning continuing very rapid
INTRODUCTION ............................................ 1
THE TROPICAL FORESTRY ACTION PROGRAMME ............... 4
Critique and Review
Current Status ...
THE INTERNATIONAL TROPICAL TIMBER ORGANIZATION ......
Origins of the ITTA .................
Objectives of the ITTO ...............
Membership and Voting ..............
The Council .......................
Progress to Date .......................
Target 2000 .......................
Guidelines for Sustainable Management of
Natural Tropical Forests ..........
Projects and Studies .................
Sarawak Mission ............. .....
Renegotiating the ITTA ..................
Possibilities for Reform ..................
The Relationship Between the ITTO and the TFAP .............
THE U.N. CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT:
Forest Principles, Agenda 21, and U.S. Forests for the Future Initiative
U .S. Participation .......................................
The Forest Principles ....................................
Negotiation of the Principles/Key Issues ..................
The U.S. Proposal for Forest Principles ....................
The Outcome of the Forest Principles Negotiations ..........
R actions ..........................................
Agenda 21 ........................................ ...
UNCED and the TFAP ...................................
The Future: A Global Forest Agreement? .....................
The New ITTA and Prospects for a Global Forest Agreement 41
The Forests for the Future Initiative ........................ 43
The Theory Behind the Initiative ........................ 43
Arguments in Support of the Initiative ................... 44
Arguments Against the Initiative ........................ 45
Im plem entation ..................................... 46
Suggestions ........................................ 47
THE WORLD BANK ........................................ 48
OED Review ........................................... 49
The New Forest Policy ................................... 50
Criticism of the Policy ................................ 53
International Cooperation ................................. 54
The Global Environment Facility ........................ 55
The Brazil Rainforest Pilot Program ..................... 55
Conclusion .............................................. 56
CONCLUSION ............................................. 56
STATUS OF TFAP EXERCISES ............................... 59
REVISED GOALS AND OBJECTIVES FOR THE TFAP ............. 63
ITTO GUIDELINES FOR THE SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT
OF NATURAL TROPICAL FORESTS ........................... 65
U.S. PRINCIPLES FOR A GLOBAL FOREST AGREEMENT ......... 71
UNCED FOREST PRINCIPLES ................................ 75
AN OVERVIEW OF GLOBAL PROGRAMS AND AGREEMENTS
Despite years of public outcry, the world's tropical forests are being cut
down at a rate 40 percent faster today than they were 10 years ago, according
to a report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
(FAO) released in Paris last September.' In what is considered to be the most
authoritative assessment to date, the FAO reported that approximately 17
million hectares of tropical forest were cleared in 1990, an area about the size
of Washington State, or more than an acre every second. In 1981, by contrast,
about 11 million hectares of tropical forest were lost in a single year. (One
hectare equals 2.47 acres.)
The figures generated by the FAO are based on satellite images of forest
cover, reports from participating governments, and spot-checks on the ground
by FAO workers or their consultants. The study, which surveyed 87 tropical
countries, generated the following regional data of forest cover and annual rates
Forest Area Forest Area Annual
(1980) (1990) (1981-1990)
Total (hectares) 1,884,100,000 1,714,800,000 16,900,000
Latin America 923,000,000 839,900,000 8,300,000
Asia 310,800,000 274,900,000 3,600,000
Africa 650,300,000 600,100,000 5,000,000
Source: World Resources Institute. World Resources 1992-93. p. 119.
The rapid deforestation currently occurring in developing countries recalls
an earlier epoch in the history of industrialized nations, when much of the
world's temperate forests were cleared for agriculture, construction materials,
and fuelwood. Net deforestation has stabilized in most of the North, and for
temperate areas as a whole, forest area is increasing. FAO figures indicate that
Forest Resources Assessment 1990 Project, Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations. "Second Interim Report on the State of
Tropical Forests." Paper presented at the 10th World Forestry Congress. Paris,
September 1991 (rev. October 15, 1991).
these forest areas increased by about five percent in the period from 1980 to
The causes of deforestation in the moist tropics are complex, and the
amounts of forest loss attributable to each cau3e are not precisely known.
One common misconception about responsibility for deforestation was, until
recently, the perception that tropical timber extraction for export was mainly to
blame. In fact, timber extraction, especially for export, is much less common
than the clearing of forest for other purposes. The spread of agriculture,
including crop and livestock production, is the single greatest factor in forest
destruction, accounting for roughly 60 percent of annual clearing.3 Its effects
dwarf the total impact of wood and timber extraction on tropical forests.
However, the indirect effects of logging multiply its impact several times.
When logging companies build roads into the forests, landless farmers use them
to reach the once inaccessible forest, where they cut and burn the remaining
trees to clear the land for agriculture. In many cases, tropical forest soils are
poor and can support crops for only a few years. After the soil is depleted, the
land is often abandoned or turned over to ranching.
The underlying causes of deforestation in developing countries are poverty,
skewed land distribution (due to historical patterns of land settlement and
commercial agriculture development), and low agricultural productivity. These
factors, combined with rapid population growth, have led to increasingly severe
pressure on forest lands.
In many cases, government policies have accentuated the pressures on
tropical forests. Developing countries frequently have forestry policies, such as
direct subsidies and lenient forest concession terms, that foster unsustainable
use of forest resources. Similarly, agriculture, land settlement, and other non-
forestry policies often lead to encroachment on forests.
Developed countries also contribute to deforestation in developing
countries. Developed country demand for tropical timber has been rising
steadily. For many developing countries desperate to earn foreign exchange to
ease their international debt problems, forests represent a ready source of
income. A related problem is the generally low price paid for tropical timber.
When prices are too low to fully reflect the growing and replacement costs for
forests, there is little incentive to manage the resource for the long term.
Forests are not just a source of timber. They perform a wide range of social
and ecological functions. They provide a livelihood and cultural integrity for
2 World Resources Institute. World Resources 1992-93. Oxford University
Press. New York, 1992. p. 118.
3 World Bank. World Development Report 1992. Oxford University Press.
New York, 1992. p. 58.
forest dwellers and a habitat for plants and animals. They protect and enrich
soils, provide natural regulation of the hydrologic cycle, affect local and regional
climate through evaporation, influence watershed flows of surface and
groundwater, and help to stabilize the global climate by sequestering carbon as
Public recognition of the scale and implications of deforestation gradually
took hold in the 1970s. In 1980, the "Global 2000" report to President Carter
identified tropical deforestation as the most serious environmental problem that
the world would face over the next two decades.4 In recent years, foreign
assistance priorities have also shifted. Total international funding for forests
in developing countries doubled in the past decade to more than $1 billion.5 6
Substantial tropical forest management expertise is deployed through
bilateral aid programs as well, and resources to this sector have recently been
significantly increased. One of the largest single sources of grant and soft-loan
funding for environmentally oriented development activities in tropical forest
areas is the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
It should be noted that assistance to the forest sector in both bilateral and
multilateral programs historically has been focused on forest industry
development operations, or agroforestry (use of trees in agriculture). Only a
very small proportion of that assistance has gone toward forest preservation or
management of "old growth" forests.
Congressional concern over effective measures to reduce deforestation often
has centered on oversight hearings and legislation on bilateral and multilateral
assistance to developing countries where deforestation is most rapid. A range
of multilateral aid channels are currently being employed to address rapid
deforestation. This report focuses on some of the main international
institutions and initiatives in this area: the Tropical Forestry Action
Programme, the International Tropical Timber Organization, the United
Nations Conference on Environment and Development Forest Principles and
Agenda 21 chapter on forests, the U.S. Forests for the Future Initiative, and the
World Bank. While some of these programs are strictly concerned with tropical
SSee: United States Interagency Task Force on Tropical Forests. The
World's Tropical Forests: A Policy, Strategy, and Program for the United States.
Department of State Publication 9117. U.S. Government Printing Office.
Washington, DC, May 1980.
6 Development assistance for forestry expanded from $400-500 million per
year in the 1975 to 1985 period to $1093 million per year in 1988. An
increasing proportion of that aid is going toward conservation activities.
6 Committee on Forest Development in the Tropics, Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations. Review of International Cooperation in
Tropical Forestry. Prepared for the Ninth Session of the Committee on Forest
Development in the Tropics. Rome, July 1989.
deforestation, others encompass temperate and boreal forests as well.
Consequently, relatively recent events, like discussions surrounding the U.N.
Conference on Environment and Development and the formulation of the World
Bank's new forest policy, are broadly framed to address all forest types --
tropical, temperate, and boreal. The pages that follow briefly describe these
schemes for addressing deforestation and their interrelationships.
THE TROPICAL FORESTRY ACTION PROGRAMME
The Tropical Forestry Action Programme (TFAP) was launched as the
Tropical Forestry Action Plan in June 1985 with the aim of slowing tropical
deforestation and helping countries formulate blueprints for environmentally
sustainable forest management at the national, regional, and global levels.' It
emerged from a collaboration among the World Resources Institute (WRI), the
World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and work
by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Plan provides a
forum for development assistance agencies to coordinate their forestry programs
and a process for tropical countries to formulate forestry plans that are then
likely to be funded by the development agencies. To date, 90 developing
countries are participating -- 38 African countries, 20 in Asia and the Pacific,
and 32 in Latin America and the Caribbean.8 More than 40 aid agencies, which
together account for virtually all of the official development assistance provided
to the forestry sector, have joined in supporting the TFAP.9
The TFAP has created a framework for bringing the nations of the North
and South together to begin dealing with tropical deforestation. In the process,
it has generated national-level attention to forestry issues and helped many
countries analyze their forest resources in a more disciplined fashion. However,
widely held criticisms have emerged concerning the program's objectives,
structure, and impact. These have cast a cloud over its future. New goals and
objectives have been developed, but consideration of needed changes in the
management of the TFAP has been subsumed into the complex and contentious
global debate on the stewardship of forest resources. At this point, the TFAP's
future seems to hinge on whether improvements can be implemented effectively,
and especially on whether an independent Consultative Forum to guide the
program can be instituted.
7 Note that, in 1991, the name of the TFAP was changed from the Tropical
Forestry Action Plan to the Tropical Forestry Action Programme to reflect a
8 TFAP Coordinating Unit, Forestry Department, Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations. TFAP Update No. 26. Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome, August 1992. p. 22.
9 Winterbottom, Robert. Taking Stock: The Tropical Forestry Action Plan
After Five Years. World Resources Institute. Washington, DC, 1990. p. 10.
An understanding of the TFAP's history, its problems, and current reform
efforts is important to consideration of U.S. bilateral assistance connected to the
program. Also, the issues that have emerged through the TFAP experience are
directly relevant to ongoing discussions taking place in the International
Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and other multilateral development
agencies and especially through discussions that have taken place as a part of
the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)
debate on forests.
In response to rapid deforestation in the tropics, an international task force
set up by World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Bank, and the UNDP
published Tropical Forests: A Call for Action in 1985, based on a six-month
study nf the extent and magnitude of tropical deforestation, actions needed to
control the crisis, and "successes" in numerous priority program areas.10 At the
same time, the FAO published the Tropical Forestry Action Plan." In July of
1987, the FAO, WRI, the World Bank, and the UNDP convened a high-level
meeting in Bellagio, Italy. That meeting brought the two parallel initiatives
together, and a summary document was produced under the title The Tropical
Forestry Action Plan.'2
A major premise of the document was that tropical deforestation could be
reduced through the use of a new, coordinated approach to managing tropical
forest resources. The TFAP is comprised of a series of strategies and action
areas that could be the basis for the formulation of individual country
evaluations and for the plans to facilitate tropical forest management and to
coordinate foreign assistance in tropical forestry.
The Plan identified five priority areas for forest plans by tropical countries.
As defined by the 1987 TFAP, they were as follows:
10 See: Report of an International Task Force convened by the World
Resources Institute, The World Bank, and the United Nations Development
Programme. Tropical Forests: A Call for Action. World Resources Institute.
Washington, DC, October 1985.
See: Committee on Forest Development in the Tropics, Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Tropical Forestry Action Plan.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome, 1985.
12 See: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, World
Resources Institute, World Bank, United Nations Development Programme. The
Tropical Forestry Action Plan. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations. Rome, 1987.
Forestry in Land Use. Action in this area is at the interface between
forestry and agriculture and would aim at integrating forestry into
agricultural systems in order to conserve the resource base for
agriculture, and, in general, achieve a more rational use of the land.
Forest-based Industrial Development. Planning in this area would
promote appropriate forest-based industries for timber and timber
products for export by intensifying resource management and
development, promote appropriate raw material harvesting, establish
and manage appropriate forest industries, reduce waste, and develop
the marketing of forest industry products.
Fuelwood and Energy. Action in this area would aim at restoring
fuelwood supplies in the countries affected by shortages through
foreign assistance and support for national fuelwood and wood energy
programs, development of wood-based energy systems for rural and
industrial development, regional training and demonstration, and
intensification of research and development.
Conservation of Tropical Forest Ecosystems. Actions planned in this
area would aim at conserving, managing and utilizing tropical plants
and wild animal genetic resources through the development of national
networks of protected areas, the planning, management and
development of individual protected areas, and research into the
management of tropical forests for sustainable production.
Institutions. Goals would be actions to remove the institutional
constraints impeding the conservation and wise use of tropical forest
resources by strengthening public forest administrations and related
government agencies, to integrate forestry concerns into development
planning, providing institutional support for private and local
organizations developing professional, technical and vocational
training, and to improve extension and research.
The priority of the Plan is to' assist developing countries in deciding
national priorities, usually in each of the five areas listed above, in adapting
their current policy framework, in preparing proposals for programs and projects
at the country level, and in securing the financial support needed to put plans
The FAO, the lead U.N. agency for forestry, is responsible for promoting
and coordinating implementation of the TFAP. Day to day administration of the
TFAP is carried out by the TFAP Coordinating Unit, a small secretariat within
the FAO Forestry Division. The work is subject to the control of two inter-
governmental bodies which oversee the FAO's Forestry Department, namely the
Committee on Forestry Development in the Tropics (CFDT) and the Committee
on Forestry (COFO), with overall supervision by the CFDT. The TFAP
Coordinating Unit of the FAO regularly reports to the national delegations of
these statutory bodies regarding the status and progress of the TFAP. These
bodies, in turn, adopt resolutions regarding the FAO's continued role in the
TFAP, and recommend actions related to the implementation of the TFAP. The
FAO Forestry Department itself, other U.N. agencies, and representatives of
multilateral and bilateral aid agencies have been directly involved as
"participating agencies" in the planning and implementation of the TFAP.
Governments of donor countries have been represented most often by the chief
forestry advisor of their development assistance agencies. Developing country
governments have been involved primarily through their national Forestry
Departments, as well as through other government agencies that negotiate
Coordinating work is done through the TFAP Forestry Advisors Group,
which works to promote information sharing and collaboration among the
various aid agencies, national government agencies, and other organizations
involved in implementing the TFAP. The Advisors Group, which is made up of
representatives from donor countries, development banks, non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), and developing country observers, provides a forum for
planning and organizing national sector review missions, reviewing the results
of such missions, and coordinating follow-up. The Advisors Group meetings,
which take place twice a year, also provide an opportunity for dialogue between
the TFAP's funding agencies and a number of NGOs with an interest in the
TFAP. However, the Advisors Group has no institutional stature or authority
to insure compliance with the TFAP guidelines or to otherwise influence TFAP
planning at the national level.
The TFAP is a process of reviewing and evaluating a country's forest
resources, developing a forestry strategy including the identification of specific
forestry projects for implementation, and adopting the strategy as official policy
by the host country government.
In general, the TFAP has been implemented at the national level by
following the sector review mission approach used by the World Bank. Thus,
a TFAP country exercise involves all or some of the following five elements,
depending on the national circumstances, as identified in the TFAP:
a forestry sector review;
preparation of a long-term (20-year) forestry strategy or plan;
preparation of a medium term (5-year) action program in the context
of a long-term plan;
organization of national seminars/round table conferences;
the implementation of the resulting TFAP program and projects.
In practice, tropical forest countries commence their involvement with the
TFAP by expressing an interest in participating in the TFAP process. Ideally,
they then proceed through six further stages.
The FAO or another lead agency chosen from among the donor
agencies -- such as the World Bank -- carries out a reconnaissance
mission to the host country to discuss priorities with government
officials (this is sometimes referred to as 'Roundtable 1'). An 'issues
paper' outlining problems and priorities is then developed that
summarizes critical needs and options which is then circulated to all
A forestry review mission is then arranged. This usually incorporates
foreign consultants, sometimes including representatives of developed
country NGOs, local government officials and staff from the lead
In the "Sector Review" phase, the mission carries out a 'forestry sector
review', over two or three months, in which participants analyze issues
in the forestry sector and generate a list of potential projects for
In the "Planning" stage, the team's findings are then shared and
discussed with government officials ('Roundtable 2') and then written
up as a 'National Forestry Action Plan'. The document is then
circulated to the main funding agencies.
Interested aid agencies pledge financial support for specific projects at
a national planning seminar of government officials and funding
In the final phase, the plan is actually implemented.
Few countries have strictly adhered to this idealized sequence. The
involvement of NGOs varies considerably from country to country. According
to the FAO guidelines for implementing the TFAP, the host country government
is responsible for arranging the involvement of national NGOs and the private
sector. Where there has been such involvement, it is usually confined to the
final phases of the TFAP process.
To date, 29 countries have completed the Planning Phase of the TFAP.
Eight countries have completed a Sector Review, 40 have a Sector Review
underway, and 13 have requested a TFAP exercise.'" (See Appendix A: Status
of TFAP Exercises).
18 TFAP Coordinating Unit, Forestry Department, FAO. Op. Cit., pp. 21-22.
The TFAP's Task Force envisioned spending $8 billion of public and private
investment in forestry over five years (from 1987 to 1991). This sum was to be
divided among the five designated priority areas (forestry in land use; forest-
based industrial development; fuelwood and energy; conservation and tropical
forest ecosystems; and institutions).
Information on proposed and actual investments in the TFAP is difficult
to obtain. A review of 11 national TFAPs for which detailed information is
available indicates that investment levels of about $28 million per country per
year are being proposed. If all countries now preparing and implementing
national TFAPs require this same amount on average, roughly double the
current levels of development assistance in the forestry sector will be needed to
In general, forestry in land use and forest industries together account for
more than half the proposed investment in 12 national TFAPs studied by WRI,
while forest conservation and fuelwood programs only amount to 20 percent of
total investment." However, these global averages obscure comparatively
larger shares earmarked for forest conservation or land use in some countries.
In addition, sketchy data indicate that national TFAPs are receiving
different levels of funding. At the high end is Nepal, which has received 65
percent of what it has requested from interested donor countries. At the other
extreme are Peru, Colombia, Panama, and Argentina, which received only a
small proportion (less than 10 percent) of the total funding outlined in their
TFAP investment plan.
Since its inception, the TFAP has been heavily criticized, especially by
environmental and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Among the
main criticisms of the plan is that it is too focused on the forest sector alone and
that it places undue emphasis on financing classical forestry projects, such as
logging, road-building, and the establishment of plantations, to develop
commercial forestry and industrial forest-based enterprises. Critics claim that
in some cases, this emphasis on timber production has led to the formulation of
national plans that would increase deforestation by facilitating timber harvests
in new and more extensive areas.
Critics have also targeted the plan for being both unrealistic in its approach
to forest problems and dictatorial in its formulation and implementation.
Frequent criticisms of individual country plans include the following:
4 Winterbottom, Robert. Op. Cit., pp. 10, 13.
16 Ibid., p. 13.
that they are developed in isolation from local peoples, with minimal
consultation with NGOs and with the provision of only limited
information to the general public;
that they are "top-down" prescriptions that give little attention to the
needs and rights of forest dwellers and forest-dependent people;
that they fail to address the root causes of deforestation -- such as
poverty and overpopulation -- instead blaming the poor, who clear
forests for subsistence agriculture, as the main cause of forest
that they fail to address the policy issues -- such as tax incentives,
credit subsidies and agricultural price supports -- that underlie
mismanagement of natural resources; and
that they direct too little attention and money to conservation schemes
and protected area management.
In addition, some more general criticisms of the TFAP as a whole are these:
that it has been donor-driven and project-oriented rather than
country-driven and process-oriented, placing too much emphasis on the
internal requirements and objectives of the aid agencies at the expense
of a sense of national ownership in the process;
that the planning process usually involves little input from other
sectors which impact forests such as agriculture, transportation, and
that the TFAP process is very time-consuming. (At present, the
planning phase takes a minimum of four years and even after approval
by donor agencies, projects can take fifteen to eighteen months to
Critique and Review
In 1990, concern over the problems associated with the TFAP began to
coalesce. Several NGOs published critiques of the Plan. The World Rain Forest
Movement, for example, claimed that timber extraction and rates of
deforestation would probably increase as a result of the implementation of
National Forestry Action Plans in six out of nine countries for which plans had
been prepared,16 often because forestry assistance would involve roads or other
measures to open new areas to timber harvest. In April 1990, over 50
16 See: Colchester, Marcus and Larry Lohmann. The Tropical Forestry
Action Plan: What Progress? World Rainforest Movement. Penang, Malaysia,
environmental NGOs called for a moratorium on international funding for the
TFAP in its current form.
The World Resources Institute released its report, Taking Stock: The
Tropical Forestry Action Plan After Five Years in June 1990, concluding that
while the TFAP has had some positive results, seri-"s problems remain: "The
most important conclusion of this assessment is that, despite some successes, the
TFAP as currently implemented is not achieving many of the plan's original
As a result of the widespread criticism of the TFAP, the FAO authorized
an independent review of the initiative. The review team, headed by
Ambassador Ola Ullsten, ex-Prime Minister of Sweden, also identified a number
of areas where the TFAP had fallen short of its goals in May 1990.'8 It found
that most national plans simply justify increased investment in the forestry
sector -- a focus too narrow to adequately address the root causes of
deforestation much less to affect them significantly.
A principal recommendation of the FAO independent review team was that
the TFAP process should shift from a donor-led, project-oriented approach to
one of long-term partnership between developed and developing countries -- a
country-led, process-oriented approach. This was to be accomplished by building
up the institutional and human capacity of tropical countries to conserve and
manage their forests. The team emphasized the need to establish a policy-
making process that would lead to sustainable forest management. This
capacity building and planning process would then generate projects which
donors could support.
The FAO independent review team also identified the need for a more
dynamic coordinating and monitoring mechanism. The reviewers suggested that
the TFAP be restructured by designating it a "program" rather than a "plan" and
by separating the TFAP from the FAO's Forestry Department. Under this
proposal, the TFAP would become a distinct administrative unit under the
FAO's umbrella. This was proposed by Ullsten to "avoid bureaucratic
suffocation and encourage effective leadership." The Ullsten team recommended
that the TFAP Coordinating Unit be removed from the Forestry Division of
FAO in order to encourage a more multidisciplinary approach and that the co-
founders appoint a steering group to oversee the TFAP process and provide it
with needed leadership and direction.
17 Winterbottom, Robert. Op. Cit., p. 1.
'8 See: Ullsten, Ola et al. Tropical Forestry Action Plan: Report of the
Independent Review. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May, 1990.
To consider the recommendations of the review team, the TFAP co-founders
-- the FAO, WRI, the World Bank, and the UNDP -- convened a "high level"
meeting in Geneva in April 1991. Participants in the meeting included
representatives from tropical countries, donor agencies and NGOs from both the
North and the South. The conclusion of the meeting was that a free standing
Consultative Forum, made up of more diverse interests than the current TFAP
Coordinating Unit housed at the FAO in Rome, was needed to provide
international leadership and quality control to the TFAP process. This
Consultative Forum would be chaired by a World Bank vice president and would
be composed of 28 to 37 members. A small secretariat, possibly based in the
UNDP, would provide logistical support to the Consultative Forum. The
composition of the group would be similar to that of the high-level Geneva
Another result of the Geneva meeting was a revised and strengthened
statement of the goals and objectives of the TFAP, stressing the need for a
country-driven TFAP process and one which follows a set of general principles
like the importance of a policy-oriented, multi-sectoral process. The new and
highly ambitious goal recommended for the TFAP places a strong emphasis on
curbing deforestation and departs considerably from the previously defined goal
of promoting partnerships. In order to achieve this revised goal, the TFAP
Forestry Advisors Group explicitly stated its intention to look to the UNCED
process to provide an improved and politically and financially more secure
framework for the TFAP process. This revised statement of goals and objectives
is significant because it reflects an international consensus on how to approach
tropical forest utilization and conservation and on the appropriate mandate of
the TFAP. (See Appendix B: Revised Goals and Objectives for the TFAP.)
Questions regarding the TFAP's future remain unresolved. Since the
Geneva meeting, the reform process has stalled over the issue of the composition
and function of the proposed steering group or Consultative Forum. Although
some consensus has been reached regarding its functions, other issues remain
unresolved, such as the relationship between the Consultative Forum and the
FAO. Some country representatives are wary of structures which they perceive
as possibly infringing upon national sovereignty, state control of forests or
development objectives. A few -- such as India and Malaysia -- even question the
need for a Consultative Forum. Other tropical countries take a more moderate
approach, recognizing that a Consultative Forum is probably politically
necessary for continued donor support of the TFAP.
In addition, the debate surrounding the establishment of the Consultative
Forum is being fueled by rivalries between the agencies that wish to cash in on
the global concern for tropical forests. For example, Japan has not supported
the TFAP, preferring to see the Yokohama-based ITTO expand to be a world
center for forestry. However, the FAO would like to see an international forest
treaty that would provide for a permanent umbrella body for the TFAP within
the FAO's own bureaucracy in Rome. Critics charge that the FAO has sought
to control the TFAP in a way that is contrary to the consensus positions
hammered out with developing country governments, donors, NGOs, and other
relevant organizations in Geneva, and that the FAO has forfeited its leadership
role where the TFAP is concerned. Such observers see FAO support for a global
forest agreement as a means of allowing the FAO to carry on business as usual
during the many years that it would take to get a meaningful convention
Since the Geneva meeting, the FAO has formed an Ad Hoc group to further
discuss the substantive issues of TFAP reform. So far, the group is still
struggling with these questions. As of its last effort, in May 1992, at its Second
meeting in Rome, the Ad Hoc group was still unable to obtain a consensus. The
only agreement reached was to create a small follow-up group of four or five
countries plus the chair to study the options for institutional arrangements for
the TFAP and to hold another meeting after UNCED in September.
Though criticism of the TFAP has been widespread, the Plan also has its
positive aspects. The TFAP has offered a framework to bring rich nations
together with developing countries to address the threat of tropical
deforestation. It has provided a basis for determining investment priorities and
funding requirements to lay the foundations for longer-term solutions. And it
has offered an opportunity to improve aid coordination and to stimulate
institutional reforms and new initiatives for a concerted global effort.
Furthermore, the TFAP process has been successful in prompting a re-
examination of forest policy in several countries and in increasing awareness of
forest issues both in developing and developed countries. In many countries, the
TFAP has generated national-level attention to forest issues and has often
brought them to the attention of decision makers at high levels.
The TFAP may also have been successful in promoting an increase in
international aid to forestry and in changing the nature of that aid. The past
decade has been a period of enormous growth in public awareness of
deforestation problems. It is difficult to say what changes might have happened
without the TFAP, but the TFAP may well have been an important factor.
The following are examples of positive improvements brought about by the
Nepal. The National Forestry Action Plan was linked to the National
Conservation Action Plan to incorporate a broad agenda of activities
and assured attention to deforestation;
Colombia. The development of a national plan prompted a dialogue
with sectors not previously considered in forestry planning;
Jamaica. The Jamaican national plan acknowledged the need to
implement national land-use strategies and to resolve land-tenure
problems. It also recommended that environmental impact
assessments be conducted before any major land-use changes were
allowed to take place;
Tanzania. The national planning exercise improved inter-agency
coordination and policy integration;
Dominican Republic. "Tree tenure" certificates were authorized which
give harvesting rights for tree planters and create incentives not to cut
Papua New Guinea, Zaire and Sierra Leone. National plans in these
countries questioned existing high wood production goals that have
contributed to deforestation.
The TFAP provides a model for country-based planning, though it has not
yet met its primary objectives, namely, an observable impact on arresting
deforestation and moving toward sustainable management of forest resources.
Yet, the TFAP could be viewed as a relative success, especially compared to some
other major initiatives such as the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification.
Certainly at the country level, it can be argued that more good has been
accomplished than is sometimes acknowledged. In particular, many countries
have analyzed their forest resources in a more disciplined way than ever before
and more donors are seeking ways to support countries' efforts to arrest
deforestation and promote sustainable management of forest lands. In addition,
the TFAP experience has prompted many major international organizations to
pay closer attention to the complexities surrounding tropical deforestation.
In the past year a number of major steps have been taken and consensus
positions reached. Most important is the revised and greatly strengthened
statement of goals and objectives, one which stresses the need for a country-
driven TFAP process and which follows a set of general principles like the
importance of a policy-oriented, multi-sectoral process. But the final step from
the Geneva meeting remains to be taken: the creation of a Consultative Forum,
composed of representatives from all of the major TFAP actors, to provide
guidance to the TFAP process and to remind developing countries and their
donors of the revised goals and objectives of the TFAP.
If the reform process is allowed to stall over the issues of the composition
and function of the Consultative Forum, the TFAP may lose the support of its
donors, becoming merely a set of country-specific exercises, informed by some
generally established principles, but lacking international commitment and
leadership. Some observers assert that if the Consultative Forum is not
established and full reform is not instituted, the TFAP should be terminated
without delay so that something new and more hopeful can be created at the
international level in its stead. However, it is unclear how a new mechanism to
facilitate country-based planning would differ from the TFAP "model" or how it
would achieve more positive results given the present context.
At this point, the future of the TFAP is unclear. For now, this
international initiative for forest conservation in the tropics remains at a critical
THE INTERNATIONAL TROPICAL TIMBER ORGANIZATION
The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) was not originally
designed to address deforestation per se. Rather, the organization was designed
to facilitate trade in tropical timber. Yet timber extraction, especially for export,
is much less of a factor in deforestation than the clearing of forest for other
purposes -- such as ranching, food crops, and development projects such as
hydropower. Moreover, only a small proportion of timber extracted is actually
traded. Most is consumed domestically, often as firewood or charcoal. In fact,
the volume of tropical timber exported represents only about five percent of all
trees removed from tropical forests.'" Thus, as a mechanism for addressing
tropical deforestation, the sphere of influence of the ITTO, relative to some
other global mechanisms, is fairly limited.
Yet the International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA) -- which
established the ITTO -- is the only commodity agreement dealing with the
conservation and management of tropical forests; and, pending a global forest
agreement, it remains the only binding international agreement concentrating
on this subject. As such, the ITTO provides a unique forum for forest
management policy discussion between producer and consumer countries, and
has become a vehicle for project activities, especially those geared toward
reforestation and conservation. Environmental NGOs in several countries have
exerted extensive pressure, with considerable success, on the ITTO to focus on
environmentally sustainable forest manageme-t and conservation.
These policy discussions have resulted in the adoption of the year 2000
target, by which time all timber traded internationally should come from
sustainably managed sources, and the development of guidelines for natural
forest management by the ITTO. However, concern about the ITTO's
shortcomings is growing. Critics note a lack of evidence that the organization
has generated improvements in forest management practices on the ground, and
point out that social and environmental issues continue to be neglected by
loggers and forest departments as well as by the ITTO itself.
The ITTA entered into force as of April 1985, with a duration of five years.
It was extended twice, in 1990 and in 1992, for periods of two years each. It
9 Johnson, Brian. Responding to Deforestation: An Eruption of Crises An
Array of Solutions. World Wildlife Fund and The Conservation Foundation.
Washington, DC, 1991. p. 10.
cannot be extended again, however, and by March 1994, the ITTA must be
renegotiated or it will terminate.
The ITTA was completed in 1983 and signed hy both tropical timber
producing and consuming nations. The ITTA, which sets out the purposes and
constitution of the ITTO, is unique in several respects. The most recent
commodity agreement to be negotiated at the United Nations Conference on
Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the ITTA, like preceding agreements on
coffee, sugar, cocoa and jute, aims to promote not only tropical timber trade, but,
more importantly, to increase the producer-countries' share of the benefits.
In practice this means a strong emphasis on both expanding the volume and
value of the trade in tropical timber, and ensuring that a greater share of the
value is retained by the producers as earnings, profits, and government
revenues. However, another dimension of the agreement makes it unique: a
long-term concern is explicitly stated for the conservation of both the forest
resource and the forest environment.
The ITTA established the ITTO, an intergovernmental organization set up
in 1985 to implement the agreement by improving information about tropical
timber trade and encouraging better management and use of tropical forests.
The organization is intended mainly to facilitate trade in tropical timber.
Unlike other intergovernmental commodity organizations, however, it does not
intervene in international markets to ensure stable prices and supplies or
otherwise function as a cartel. Neither does the ITTO have an operational
capability. Rather, it relies on other existing organizations to implement
research and development activities that it endorses.
Origins of the ITTA
The initial impetus behind ITTA's negotiation was not environmental but
Western -- mainly Japanese -- concern for the threat posed by deforestation to
sources of tropical timber supply. When the Japanese, the world's largest
importer of tropical timber in terms of volume, originally proposed a resolution
at UNCTAD to create an ITTO in 1977, they had in mind a commodity
agreement of the sort adopted for jute and rubber, which would be strictly
confined to trade considerations.
However, in discussions, it soon became clear that tropical timber could not
be treated in such a narrowly defined manner. Since tropical timber comes from
a wide variety of tree species growing over a vast area of the world's forests, it
cannot be dealt with as a single commodity.2 For this reason, the
20 Hpay, Terence. The International Tropical Timber Agreement: Its
Prospects for Tropical Timber Trade, Development and Forest Management.
IUCN/IIED Tropical Forest Policy Paper -- No. 3. International Union for the
Conservation of Nature. Cambridge, 1986. p. 2.
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) forcefully
argued that the agreement could not be limited to the technical and commercial
concerns of timber extraction and trade, but must also provide for the ecological
and genetic services provided by forests. As a result, in the final stages of
several years of negotiations of the ITTA, the environmental role of tropical
forests came to feature prominently and the final wording of the agreement
included "sustainable utilization and conservation of tropical forests and their
resources, and maintaining the ecological balance in the regions concerned"
among the objectives of the ITTO.21
The ITTA, signed in November 1983 after six years of protracted
negotiations, thus emerged as a unique trade agreement. Environmental NGOs
welcomed the ITTO, perceiving that it offered an opportunity to enforce
sustainable forest management. To the surprise of many governments,
therefore, the ITTO became the principal focal point for debate between
conservationists and timber-exporting countries over the management (or lack
thereof) of their natural forests.
As soon as the ITTA had been signed, but before it entered into effect on
April 1, 1985, a further political battle ensued regarding who should gain the
influential role of Executive Director of the ITTO and where the Secretariat was
to be seated. Regional groupings emerged in the negotiations, the two blocks
of North and South themselves splitting, to a substantial extent, between East
and West. Divided in this way, no group was able to secure the required two-
thirds majority of votes to allow a definitive solution. Instead, the ITTO limped
from one meeting place to another and the prospect of the ITTO actually getting
down to work became increasingly remote.
The uncertainty ended in 1986 when the Japanese Government offered
several million dollars to fund the ITTO, as well as free office space and support
services, and, in addition, undertook to underwrite the costs of bi-annual
Council meetings both in Yokohama and overseas. In exchange, the Japanese
agreed to promote the appointment of a Malaysian forester to the post of
Executive Director. On July 29, 1986, more than two and a half years after the
adoption of the ITTA, and about one and a quarter years after it came into
force, the Council accepted Yokohama, Japan as the Headquarters of the ITTO,
and Dr. Freezailah bin Che Yeom, Deputy Director-General of the Forestry
Department of Malaysia, as the first Executive Director.
As a result of its troubled beginnings, the case could be made that the ITTA
has never really pleased either its consumer or producer parties. When it was
drafted, the consumer countries were mainly looking for a policy to protect
future timber supplies. The producers were more interested in a conduit for
funding projects that would increase the benefits received from exporting timber.
Inevitably, these would largely consist of adding value to timber exports by
increasing the quality and the quantity of the producer countries' timber
21 International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1983. United Nations. New
York, 1984. p. 8.
processing. This would, of course, subsidize competition for tropical timber
processors in consumer countries. The result was a dual-function organization:
a forum to debate policies (to be implemented nationally); and funding for
projects. Producer-countries' presence at the table was always conditional on
the ITTO being both a project processing and funding organization. Additional
concern emerged in the mid-1980s when environmental organizations, mainly
in industrialized consumer countries (excluding Japan) began major lobbying
efforts for protection of tropical forests. They focused on the ITTO and began
to urge trade-related incentives to halt deforestation and unsustainable timber
Objectives of the ITTO
The primary stated mission of the ITTO, in carrying out its mandate as
described by the ITTA, is to strike a balance between the needs of conservation
and development and to secure more sustainable use of tropical forests and the
resources they contain. Specifically, the ITTA is intended to promote
cooperation, coordinate statistical data, and support research and development
on marketing, utilization, reforestation, and management of tropical forests. As
stated in the ITTA, the principal objectives of the organization are:
to provide an effective framework for cooperation between tropical
timber producing and consuming member nations;
to promote the expansion and diversification of international trade in
tropical timber and the improvement of structural conditions in the
tropical timber market;
to promote and support research and development to improve forest
management and wood utilization;
to improve market intelligence with a view to ensuring greater
transparency in the international tropical timber market;
to encourage increased and further processing of tropical timber in
producing member countries in order to increase their export earnings;
to encourage members to support and develop industrial tropical
timber reforestation and forest management activities;
to improve marketing and distribution of tropical timber exports of the
producing members; and
to encourage the development of national policies aimed at the
sustainable utilization and conservation of tropical forests and their
genetic resources, and at maintaining the ecological balance in the
22 International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1983. Op. Cit., p. 8.
Although the objectives focus primarily on promoting and improving timber
trade, the inclusion of conservation and management goals reflects the dual
importance of tropical timber as both a commodity and a natural resource as
well as the need to establish a pragmatic balance between conservation and
utilization of tropical forests.23 This concern is expressed clearly in the last
objective cited above as well as in the Preamble to the agreement in which,
among the other priorities identified, the parties recognized "...the importance
of, and the need for, proper and effective conservation and development of
tropical timber forests with the view to ensuring their optimum utilization while
maintaining the ecological balance of regions concerned and of the
The institutional structure of the ITTO is based on four main areas of
work: (a) market intelligence; (b) reforestation and forest management; (c)
increased and further processing in developing countries; and (d) research and
development. It consists of a Council which establishes policy, three permanent
technical Committees which operate as the Council's working arms, and a
Secretariat. The Council is the highest authority of the organization and it is
made up of representatives from all the Member States. The Permanent
Committees of the organization and the Executive Director, who is the chief
administrative officer of the organization as well as the head of its Secretariat,
fall under the direction of the Council.
Membership and Voting
The agreement created two categories of membership in the ITTO:
producing members and consuming members. A producing member is defined
as any country with tropical forest resources and/or a net exporter of tropical
timber. Consuming members include all other countries which wish to belong
to the organization. The two categories of members are equally important in
the organization; each category has 1,000 votes distributed among the members.
Votes among producing members are determined by a combination of (1) equal
regional shares, (2) tropical timber resources in the country, and (3) the value
of tropical timber exports in the past three years. Each consuming member
receives 10 votes, with the remainder distributed in proportion to the net
volume of tropical timber imports in the past three years. (For more
information, see CRS Report 87-795 ENR: Tropical Deforestation: The
International Tropical Timber Agreement, p. 4.)
Membership in the ITTO currently includes 23 producing countries, which
account for about 75 percent of the world's tropical forest resources; and 27
consuming countries (plus the European Economic Community), which account
for 95 percent of the international trade in tropical wood products. Among
2 Hpay, Terence. Op. Cit., p. 2.
24 International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1983. Op. Cit., p. 8.
producing members, Indonesia, Brazil, and Malaysia hold the largest number of
votes, with each having about 13 percent of the 1,000 producing member votes.
Japan is the largest consumer of tropical timber, and holds nearly a third of the
consuming member votes. The United States holds about eight percent of
consuming member votes, followed by France and Korea.
The ITTA is implemented by the International Tropical Timber Council,
which consists of a representative of each member of the organization. The
Council operates at the political level, setting policy and receiving and dealing
with the recommendations of the Permanent Committees. Its function also
includes coordinating the work of the Permanent Committees and carrying out
the provisions of the agreement. The functions of the Permanent Committees,
on the other hand, are generally at the technical level.
The ITTA establishes three Permanent Committees as the technical
working arms of the Council for evaluating project proposals.
The Committee on Economic Information and Market Intelligence is
to focus on projects for coordinating, compiling, and disseminating
statistical data on international tropical timber trade.
The Committee on Reforestation and Forest Management is to
encourage technical assistance for reforestation and forest
management projects, identify funding sources for such projects,
anticipate the future needs of international trade in tropical timber,
facilitate the transfer of knowledge in the field of reforestation and
forest management with the assistance of other development agencies,
and coordinate these activities with those being pursued by other
organizations such as the FAO and ti, World Bank.
The Committee on Forest Industry is to emphasize projects for
technology transfer and product standardization and to encourage
increased and further processing in developing countries.
Research and development is not addressed by a separate Permanent
Committee since it is a common component of the activities of all three
Participation in each of the Permanent Committees is open to all Member
States. Members of the Permanent Committees are also members of the
Council, the deciding authority. Some observers have pointed to
representational problems within the ITTO, claiming that representatives have
not been familiar with the issues or empowered by their national capitals to
develop institutional momentum. In fact, many countries have sent delegations
from the commodities division of their departments of trade to the ITTO Council
meetings, but most have relied on locally posted Foreign Ministry
representation. Until recently, delegations including forestry and development
expertise have been rare.
In turn, ill-equipped or non-expert representation may have partially
contributed to a resistance to fund an adequate Secretariat and the rejection of
a proactive one. Critics claim that decisions over project proposals, often made
without prior consideration or in-house evaluation, are based on political rather
than technical grounds, that they duplicate the work of other organizations, and
that they could be more economically funded and executed under other auspices.
Likewise, since project proposals are submitted to the organization by
members, representational problems could result in serious inadequacies in
project preparation and evaluation. Such a case would allow delegates the
excuse they need not to contribute to project funds unless they suit their own
The ITTA has five categories for research and development projects: (1)
wood utilization; (2) natural forest development; (3) reforestation development;
(4) harvesting, logging infrastructure, or training of technical personnel; and (5)
institutional framework and national planning. The proposals are reviewed,
using criteria specified in the agreement, by one of the Permanent Committees,
to determine if they are relevant, beneficial, and profitable to tropical timber
trade. The Committees also consider whether proposals duplicate ongoing
efforts. The reviewing Committee submits its recommendation to the Council,
which then votes to approve or reject project financing. So far, the majority of
ITTO projects (about 70 percent) have been in the area of reforestation and
conservation a reflection of the priorities of donor nations.26
The Council has two financial accounts to carry out its mandate. The
Administrative Account pays the expenses of administering the agreement.
Members contribute to the Administrative Account in proportion to their votes.
The Special Account pays for projects approved by the Council and for certain
pre-project activities. Members are not required to contribute any funds to the
Special Account. The funds come from the U.N. and the voluntary contributions
of its members. The Council also assists in arranging private financing for
26 Dr. Freezailah bin Che Yeom, Executive Director, ITTO. Remarks
regarding "Upcoming Negotiations for the International Tropical Timber
Agreement." Rosslyn, VA, September 23, 1992.
The biggest contributor to the ITTO is Japan. With a contribution of $27
million for projects in 1990, ten times more than the second largest, the
Japanese have been inhibited from larger-scale funding by the risk of exposure
to charges of 'buying' the organization. In fact, many countries feel that Japan
already has undue influence on the ITTO, due to the weighted voting structure
of the agreement.
The knowledge that Japan holds such political power may have discouraged
some major contributors, but this situation may be changing as donor nations
gradually increase their contributions to the ITTO. The ITTO's total project
budget for 1992 is $60 million. Of that sum, the U.S. contributed $1,000,000.
Approximately $550,000 of this amount was earmarked for projects in all three
main producing regions at the May 5-14, 1992 Council session in Cameroon.
(The remainder of the funding was retained for earmarking at a future session.)
Progress to Date
As described in the Preamble of the ITTA, the first objective of the ITTO
is to provide a framework for cooperation and consultation between producing
and consuming members. The ITTO has achieved this aim; however, due to its
troubled beginnings, the ITTO has moved slowly. On the whole, the ITTO's
progress in addressing deforestation is a story of mixed success. Some of the
most significant work of the ITTO is highlighted here.
At its Eighth Session, held in Bali in May 1990, the Council took a step
toward achieving its goal of sustainable logging by announcing 'Target 2000'
which establishes the year 2000 as the date when all trade in tropical timber is
to be supplied from sustainably managed sources, though the ITTO has yet to
agree on a definition of sustainability.
Many critics question the feasibility of reaching this goal since the ITTO's
own studies indicate that sustained yield logging is practically nonexistent in the
tropics. In addition, some observers note that the use of trade measures
necessary to achieve this objective is at best inhibited and at worst ruled out
under the terms of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).26
At the Tenth Session -- held in Quito, Ecuador in June 1991 -- the ITTO
adopted a strategy to facilitate achieving Target 2000 through international
collaboration and national policies and programs. Pursuant to the strategy, the
Council encourages national plans to include the following elements:
S forest conservation and management;
26 See: Arden-Clarke, Charles. Conservation and Sustainable Management
of Tropical Forests: The Role of ITTO and GATT. World Wildlife Fund
Discussion Paper. World Wildlife Fund. Washington, DC, November 1990.
appropriate economic forest and timber policies (full cost forest
accounting, resources pricing regimes, etc.);
incentives for sustainable forest management;
investment of forest revenues into sustainable forest management,
regeneration, and expansion of the forestry estate through plantation
enhancement of the ability of local communities within or near the
forest to obtain appropriate returns and other benefits from
sustainably managed forests.
In addition, the strategy recommends a major review of progress toward Target
2000 for 1995.
Guidelines for Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests
Also at the 1990 session in Bali, the ITTO adopted non-binding guidelines
for the sustainable management of natural tropical forests.27 Initially,
attempts were made to agree upon binding guidelines for 'best practice', but
producer governments rejected this idea as a violation of their national
sovereignty. (See: Appendix C: ITTO Guidelines for the Sustainable
Management of Natural Tropical Forests.)
The sustainable management guidelines are a compilation of principles and
'possible actions' ranging from general policy to forestry operations issues.
Forest policy, national forest inventory, permanent forest estate, forest
ownership, and national forest services are treated under the heading of Policy
and Legislation in the ITTO Guidelines. The Forest Management section
addresses planning, harvesting, protection, legal arrangements, and monitoring
and research; while relations with local populations, economics, incentives, and
taxation are treated under the rubric of Socioeconomic and Financial Aspects.
For example, the first principle, which relates to forest policy, establishes that
"A strong and continued political commitment at the highest level is
indispensable for sustainable forest management to succeed." Possible action
number one, which corresponds to that principle, states that: "A national land
use policy aiming at the sustainable use of all natural resources, including the
establishment of a permanent forest base, should be developed and adopted."2
The guidelines also include examples of elements for possible inclusion in
national and operational guidelines in its appendices.
See: ITTO Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural
Tropical Forests. ITTO Technical Series 5. ITTO. Yokohama, Japan, December
2 ITTO Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical
Forests. Op. Cit., p. 1.
As a checklist of environmental management aspects, these guidelines may
be especially useful to consumer-country timber importers in identifying
sustainable sources of tropical timber, since plans to introduce timber source
labelling are often impractical and susceptible to abuse. With the ITTO's
document, importers can seek assurances that the recommended 'possible
actions' are being undertaken at the local level, and make use of the document's
appendices on categories of forest land, forest inventory, roads, harvesting, and
concession legislation for timber extraction.
Projects and Studies
Beyond its target- and standard-setting activities, the ITTO has undertaken
several pilot and study projects. Some pilot schemes initiated by the ITTO, such
as multipurpose forest management, or studying the potential of lesser-known
species, have yielded fruitful and replicable results.
The ITTO's greatest potential may lie in some of the policy studies it has
initiated, especially those that respond to its sustainable forest utilization
mandate. For example, in 1988, the ITTO commissioned a worldwide survey of
how much forest was being sustainably managed. The survey found only a
negligible amount of forest being managed for sustainable, long-term timber
production (0.08 percent). The resulting report, No Timber Without Trees,
unquestionably alerted many in the media, trade, government, and public to the
virtual absence of any natural forest management and to the urgent need for
measures to introduce it.2 Study projects of this kind can have an immense
impact. There is little doubt that this study did much to lay the groundwork for
stimulating the Council to endorse Target 2000.
A fourth significant area of work for the ITTO is its monitoring function.
An example of ITTO activity in this area was an official investigative mission,
led by England's Lord Cr&nbrook, to investigate the conflict between loggers and
native peoples in Sarawak, Malaysia. At the May 1989 meeting in Cote d'Ivoire,
the ITTO resolved to send the mission with the aim of assessing "the sustainable
utilization and conservation of tropical forests and their genetic resources, as
well as the maintenance of the ecological balance in Sarawak...with a view to
ensuring their optimum utilization."3
The study mission, which reported to the Council the following May, is an
example of the Council's quick response to international environmental
pressure. The report recommended greater emphasis on biological diversity
9 See: Poore, Duncan. No Timber Without Trees: Sustainability in the
Tropical Forest. Earthscan Publications. London, 1989.
0 ITTO. The Promotion of Sustainable Forest Management: A Case Study
in Sarawak, Malaysia. Report Submitted to the International Tropical Timber
Council. ITTC (VIII)/7, May 7, 1990. p. 2.
conservation, increases in protected forest area, and a reduction in the timber
harvest from existing levels of 13 million cubic meters to 9.3 million cubic
meters per year. However the mission's view was restricted by its inability to
review land rights questions, mainly due to the absence of legal expertise on the
Thus, the 'Cranbrook mission' report was a disappointment to some,
because it failed to spell out mechanisms to resolve the issue of land rights.
Other features of the report also appeared to conservationists as a step
backwards, such as the report's limited reference to non-timber forest products
or the environmental services of the forest.
The failure of the Governments of Sarawak and Malaysia to address the
mission's criticisms of the timber extractors has been an additional
disappointment to some. Official reports indicate that rather than a reduction,
Sarawak's Forestry Department has undertaken major increases in annual
extraction rates -- estimated to have reached 18 million cubic meters in 1990.
Such increases may be perceived by critics to reflect an inability of the ITTO to
affect positive change.
Renegotiating the ITTA
Under the terms of the ITTA, the ITTO is an independent organization,
controlled by the Council, that had a set term of authority of five years. The
Council was empowered to extend its term twice, by up to two years each time.
The Council is already in its second extension, so its authority will lapse in
1994. By that time, the ITTA must either be renegotiated or the ITTO will be
The negotiation of a successor agreement to the ITTA will begin with a
Preparatory Committee meeting (PrepCom) on November 11, 1992 and will
continue through the first half of 1993. To prepare for the PrepCom, a small,
informal advance meeting will be held by a group of ITTO members, including
the United States, in late September. The September preparation date means
that the U.S. government will have to be prepared to discuss the issues with
other governments at least at an informal level as early as September 1992. In
preparation for the negotiations, the State Department and the Office of the
U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) have solicited the views of various groups
active in timber trade and forest preservation.
Due to the March 1994 deadline, it seems likely that ITTO meetings in
1993 and 1994 will be largely focused on renegotiating the ITTA, leaving little
room for further substantive progress, though the ITTA negotiations may
include a substantive focus.
Possibilities for Reform
Opinions regarding the ITTO vary widely. In general, industry
representatives have been pleased with its growing role. On the other hand,
environmentalists, in particular, have begun to express growing dissatisfaction
with the ITTO's halting progress. Although no organization has yet taken a
strong position on the issue of renegotiation, there seem to be two emerging
schools of thought in the environmental community: 1) The ITTO should cease
to exist, since it is ineffective and its continued existence obstructs legitimate
efforts to achieve sustainability in forest utilization; and 2) The ITTO should
continue to exist regardless of the outcome of the renegotiation because it has
become an important international forum which would be difficult to recreate.
Among the environmental community, however, there is widespread
agreement that the ITTO has failed in its mission to promote trade based on
sustainably managed timber resources. Most NGOs are hoping that
renegotiation of the ITTA will transform the organization into one that can be
effective on the ground. Ideas for reform include:31
the mandate of the ITTA should be expanded to include all forest
the ITTA should reform project funding and administration directives,
encouraging the formation of partnerships with other institutions and
downgrading the focus on project funding;
the ITTA should commit the signatory nations to avoiding logging in
the territories of indigenous peoples;
the ITTA should oblige countries to preserve "substantial stands of
primary/old growth forests" or "representational forest ecosystems";
the ITTA should endorse a commitment to halt or curb deforestation;
the ITTA should require that all countries develop national plans,
describing how they intend to make a transition to the year 2000 goal,
ard conforming to the relevant principles of the reformed TFAP;
the ITTA should require all countries to develop national and/or
regional guidelines for sustainable management based on the ITTO
Guidelines for Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests;
31 These ideas were synthesized by the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature (IUCN) based on meetings in July 1992 with the
following organizations: the Audubon Society, the Bank Information Center,
the Energy and Environmental Studies Institute (EESI), the Environmental
Defense Fund (EDF), Friends of the Earth (FoE), GLOBE, Greenpeace, the
International Society of Tropical Foresters (ISTF), the National Wildlife
Federation (NWF), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Nature
-Conservancy (TNC), the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), the Rainforest
Alliance, the Sierra Club, the World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World
Wildlife Fund (WWF).
the ITTA mandate should be expanded to include non-timber forest
the ITTO should concentrate on promoting policy reforms necessary
for achieving sustainability;
the ITTO should use its powers of enforcement and regulation to
develop specific mechanisms to promote the transition to sustainability
(e.g. labeling, certification, trade sanctions, or trade restrictions);
the ITTO should institute a program to monitor progress towards the
year 2000 goal;
the ITTO should establish a network of demonstration projects -- a
major goal that has so far been undermined by an unfocused project
the ITTO should promote reforestation and rehabilitation of degraded
the public should be given full access to all relevant information
regarding state-sponsored forest management plans.
Other interests have not yet compiled a comparable array of suggestions
regarding the renegotiation of the ITTA.
The Relationship Between the ITTO and the TFAP
National representatives on the FAO's Committee on Forest Development
in the Tropics (CFDT) initiated the TFAP at the same time that it became clear
that negotiations over the ITTA were going to succeed in producing a new
international agency concerned with tropical forestry. It is unclear whether this
move to "elaborate proposals for action programs for tropical forest development"
simply reflected the rising tide of international concern over tropical forest
destruction, or whether it was the result of a belated tactical maneuver to avoid
a usurping of responsibilities by a new and rival agency. Nonetheless, it is
significant that a rivalry of sorts has existed from the start between the two
As 'mechanisms', ITTO and TFAP are not comparable. The TFAP is a
process, rather than an organization, designed to promote action on forestry at
a national level. It is essentially a device to mobilize countries to produce
national plans for their forests, and then involve aid agencies to fund more
forestry projects to implement those plans. The ITTO, on the other hand, is a
'free standing' organization, focused on a specific commodity. Its membership
of developed and developing countries is constitutionally balanced by weighted
voting to reflect national interests in the tropical timber trade.
From their inception, the ITTO and the TFAP tended to draw support from
different groups in the international trade, development, and environment
communities. As the implementing organization for the ITTA, the ITTO had its
origins in a relatively narrow range of concerns over the economic viability of
the timber trade. Yet as it evolved, the ITTO has increasingly focused on
conservation aspects of the management of the natural tropical rainforests. By
contrast, the TFAP was established under the sponsorship of foresters, who had
a mandated concern, not only with optimizing timber production from forests,
but also with conserving the other attributes and resources that forests provide,
such as environmental services provided by watersheds, plant species, and
wildlife. Nevertheless, the TFAP has focused largely on timber production and
the fostering of timber-related industries.
Thus, the TFAP, with its more general forest mandate, became focused on
industrial wood production, while the ITTO, an organization devoted to logging
and timber trade promotion, acquired the conservation management of all the
natural forest's resources as an objective.
In some ways, the TFAP's lack of emphasis on natural forest management
for productive purposes contributed to the development of the ITTO's
'sustainability' mandate. But it is questionable whether the ITTO's
conservation mandate has made the two initiatives complementary. The level
of effort and funding that goes into development of industrial forestry via the
TFAP far outweighs the resources devoted to the ITTO's work in sustainable
natural forest management and probably overwhelms its effects.
THE U.N. CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT:
Forest Principles, Agenda 21, and U.S. Forests for the Future Initiative
Preparations for the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development (UNCED) in Brazil in June drove activities concerning
international environmental affairs at a frantic pace in the 1990s. The "Earth
Summit", as it was dubbed, concluded with the signing of an unprecedented
number of treaties and documents by leaders of over 100 nations. Treaties were
signed to control global warming and biodiversity loss and non-binding
agreements were reached on a statement of forest conservation principles, the
Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and Agenda 21, a book-sized
document intended to lay out a course of action on environment and
development through the 21st Century.
The meeting created increased public awareness concerning environmental
protection and its importance in economic development. It also brought over
9000 NGOs together to focus on UNCED issues. However, it was criticized by
many as falling short of its objectives. Maurice Strong, the chief organizer, said
the outcome was "agreement without sufficient commitment," suggesting that
the wealthy nations did not adequately commit to transfer technology and funds
to help the developing nations.
The Earth Summit also helped to concentrate the attention of all
governments on the 28 percent of developing countries' and 33 percent of
developed countries' land areas that are officially classified as forested.32 Many
of the tensions between the North and the South were played out in the debate
over a set of Forest Principles and the Agenda 21 section on forests. Questions
surrounding additional financial resources proved to be among the most
contentious. Though many industrialized countries consider their
environmental well-being dependent upon changes in natural resource
management in other countries, many of the less developed countries are
unwilling to forgo the types of development practiced by the developed countries
without compensation or economic incentives.
Though agreement was eventually reached on the non-binding Forest
Principles and Agenda 21 chapter on forests, some observers of the negotiations
in both areas have expressed concern that little of the negotiated text delineates
actions that would actually reduce deforestation. While there was extensive
agreement on the need for "sustainable management", many argue that what
this means in practice, and how these ideals will be implemented, remains
The results of UNCED left open the possibility of negotiating a global
convention on forests, but even if one is pursued, it is highly unlikely that such
an agreement will be negotiated quickly. For the foreseeable future, the two
documents on forests signed at UNCED will be the "baseline" for international
An additional factor in the UNCED scenario was a U.S. initiative on forests
put forth shortly before the beginning of the Conference. The Forests for the
Future Initiative may have partially responded to the calls of the developing
nations for additional financial transfers as it proposed a doubling of current
international forest conservation assistance including a U.S. contribution of an
additional $150 million in bilateral assistance in the next year. Most of the
details remain to be defined.
Established by U.N. General Assembly Resolution 44/228 (adopted
December 22, 1989) UNCED took place from June 3-15, 1992 in Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil. The event was timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 1972
Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment which brought significant
international attention to the environment. Designed to address the full
spectrum of environment and development issues and their interconnections, the
Resolution identified the "protection and management of land resources,
including combating deforestation, desertification, and drought" among a
number of specific issues to be considered at UNCED.
32 World Resources Institute. World Resources 1990-91. Oxford University
Press. New York, 1990. pp. 268-269.
Among the most significant outcomes of the UNCED meeting was Agenda
21, a non-binding action plan to implement the vision outlined in the Rio .-.
Declaration, including a chapter on forests. In addition, the United States, other
G-7 countries, and some other nations expressed a strong interest in having a
global forest convention ready for signing at UNCED. It was thought that
UNCED preparatory negotiations might serve as a forum for formulating such
a convention, but many nations, especially several developing countries, strongly
resisted rapid negotiation of a binding forest treaty. Instead, a closely watched
outcome of UNCED was a "non-legally binding authoritative statement of
principles for a global consensus on the management, conservation, and
sustainable development of all types of forests."
The 1992 U.N. General Assembly meeting in the fall will have the decision-
making role in terms of establishing the institutional follow-up. The Agenda 21
chapter on institutions suggests the establishment of a Commission on
Sustainable Development that would report to the General Assembly for policy
and to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) concerning coordination of
U.N. agencies. It is expected that this Commission will have a key role in
tracking implementation of all the agreements and decisions made at UNCED.
The United States was an active participant in the UNCED Preparatory
Committee meetings (PrepComs). U.S. participation was coordinated by the
State Department under Curtis Bohlen, Assistant Secretary for Oceans and
International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES). A U.S. coordinating
office within OES was established, and coordinated input from a wide variety
of U.S. agencies on key issues, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the USDA
Forest Service, and USAID, among others.
Forest management and conservation was an issue of highest priority for
the United States in the UNCED negotiations.
The Forest Principles
In July of 1989, the Group of Seven (the "club" of seven major
industrialized countries known as the "G-7" -- the United States, Canada,
Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain, and Japan) met in Paris for the fifteenth
annual Economic Summit of industrialized nations. The statement that came
of that meeting identified "the urgent need to safeguard the environment for
future generations" among the three main challenges to the world economic
situation. Specifically regarding deforestation, the 1989 G-7 statement declared:
We call for the adoption of sustainable forest management
practices, with a view to preserving the scale of world forests....
Preserving the tropical forests is an urgent need for the world as
a whole. While recognizing the sovereign rights of developing.
countries to make use of their natural resources, we encourage,
through a [sic] sustainable use of tropical forests, the protection of all
the species therein and the traditional rights to land and other
resources of local communities. We welcome the German initiative in
this field as a basis for progress.
To this end, we give strong support to rapid implementation of
the Tropical Forest Action Plan which was adopted in 1986 in the
framework of the Food and Agricultural Organization. We appeal to
both consumer and producer countries, which are united in the
International Tropical Timber Organization, to join their efforts to
ensure better conservation of the forests. We express our readiness to
assist the efforts of nations with tropical forests through financial and
technical cooperation, and in international organizations."
Partially in response to a perceived need to add some substance to this
declaration, President Bush proposed that negotiations begin on an
international convention on forests at the next summit opportunity in July 1990
in Houston. As a result, the Houston Statement of the G-7 called for
negotiations "to begin expeditiously and be completed by 1992, on a global forest
convention or agreement to curb deforestation, protect biodiversity, stimulate
positive forestry actions and address threats to the world's forests.""
A striking feature of the Houston Statement was that it addressed forests
in general temperate and boreal as well as tropical. For the first time, the
political necessity of dealing with both tropical and temperate forests was to be
addressed in a global policy framework. Whatever the future course of
international negotiations regarding forests, the need to relate forest policy to
both temperate and tropical forest areas is likely to remain on the international
agenda. Further, by calling for a convention or agreement by 1992, the Houston
Statement clearly referred to UNCED, raising the profile and importance of the
conference for forests and expectations as to what it might achieve.
Negotiation of the PrincipleslKey Issues
The United States and other G-7 countries originally considered the
negotiation of a global convention on forests a major goal of UNCED. However,
a number of factors combined to preclude this.
Most developing nations were unwilling to rush negotiations along to meet
the June 1992 deadline on an agreement that could have profound effects on
their development. In addition, the call for a global convention on forests came
amidst great difficulty in reaching agreement among the G-7 on actions to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, many tropical countries viewed
3 "Economic Declaration." Summit of the Arch. Paris, July 16, 1989.
4 The Office of the Press Secretary, The White House. "Proposed Global
Forests Convention." Washington, DC, July 11, 1990. (press release)
the idea of a convention on world forests as an effort by northern countries to
control deforestation in the name of the global environment while sidestepping
the issue of their own responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions. They
expressed considerable resentment that the G-7 should expect them to take
difficult actions if they could not manage to agree on equally difficult steps for
themselves. Further, most developing nations viewed T S. enthusiasm for a
global forest agreement with some skepticism since the Bush Administration's
position was deliberately vague on the subject of primary (old-growth) forests
in the United States.
Perhaps equally important, many developing countries were unwilling to
negotiate an agreement that might lead to dramatic reductions in timber
harvests and a loss of foreign currency without some form of compensation. In
particular, developing countries with major timber resources demanded new and
additional funding from industrialized countries to pay for any requirements
imposed by a convention, while the industrialized nations argued for more
specific assurances about what developing countries would do in exchange for
At the second UNCED preparatory meeting in the spring of 1991,
developing countries strongly opposed the idea of a convention on forests,
effectively derailing U.S. hopes for a world forest convention that would be
ready in time for Rio. Instead, consensus developed for a "non-legally binding
statement of principles." Although the United States accepted that objective for
UNCED, it continued to push for a later treaty, presumably basing negotiations
on the Principles formulated at UNCED.
The decision to consider a non-binding statement of principles, rather than
something more authoritative, such as a forest convention, reflected the view
that there was relatively little consensus about the substance of a convention
and insufficient time to reach a consensus before the 1992 meeting. This was
substantiated by the fact that the negotiation of even the non-binding Principles
encountered major difficulties.
Developing countries objected to any statement of "global interest" in
forests. Blocking agreement on several drafts, developing countries, often led
by Malaysia and India, objected to language that they claimed "intruded on their
autonomy," asserting that forests, like oil, are not a global asset -- as industrial
countries view them -- and that each country has the sovereign right to
determine how best to manage them. In addition, they insisted that the
document recognize the patterns of overconsumption in the developed countries
and the need for greater development in the South. The developed countries
countered with a demand that the Principles acknowledge the importance of
forests to the interests of the world community.
Another sticking point was language calling for a global convention on
forests. Developing countries were opposed to any agreement on a global forest
treaty as a later objective though the North viewed the Principles as an
important starting point for negotiating a forest convention after UNCED.
Other sources of discontent that affected negotiations regarding forests
included a consistently hard U.S. line on the key G-77 issues of sovereignty, the
"right to develop", equity, the special responsibility of developed countries in
"greening the world", U.S. reluctance to entertain the prospect of providing
additional financial resources for environmental protection in other countries,
and the U.S. position on climate change, which the G-77 held up as an example
of poor U.S. credibility on global environmental matters, and an excuse to
proceed with caution on the Forest Principles.
As a result of these disagreements, the. forest negotiations closed on a
hostile, uncooperative note at the final UNCED preparatory meeting in March
1992. Nearly half of the paragraphs in the Principles remained in brackets
when the text was forwarded to the meeting in Rio. Unresolved paragraphs
addressed (a) cross-cutting issues such as finance, technology cooperation and
trade, (b) issues being debated in the climate change or biodiversity convention
negotiations, or (c) other basic issues such as the right to develop, which were
under consideration in the Rio Declaration. Agreement on Forest Principles in
Rio was expected to ultimately depend on resolution of cross-cutting issues,
particularly finance and technology cooperation, and U.S. action on climate
The U.S. Proposal for Forest Principles
After the second preparatory meeting in March/April 1991, when it was
clear that a non-binding statement of forest principles was to usurp a global
forest agreement as a main objective regarding forests at UNCED, the United
States formulated its own Principles and related actions to form the basis for its
position on the elements of a global convention on forests. The proposal
identified seven "general principles" to define the nature and structure of a
forest agreement and eleven "specific principles" targeting areas of forest policy
and management. (See Appendix D: U.S. Principles for a Global Forest
Agreement.) In addition, the proposal identified general and specific actions
that could be used to implement the principles, including sustainable
management, conservation of forest diversity, reforestation and rehabilitation,
inventory and research, education and training, and others.
Going into the fourth and final preparatory meeting in March 1992, the
bracketed text on Forest Principles contained language generally consistent with
the thrust of the U.S. proposal, with some notable exceptions.
U.S. negotiators would have liked to delete or largely modify most
paragraphs addressing the following financial, technology cooperation, trade,
and other issues:
the principle of equitable sharing of costs;
* the principle of new and additional resources;
the link between deforestation and indebtedness, the net transfer of
resources from the south to the north, and the need to eliminate
the principle of compensation to developing countries for undertaking
forest conservation and sustainable management;
the right to biotechnology transfer and profit sharing from
pharmaceutical and other products derived from tropical forests;
the concessional and preferential transfer of technology;
guaranteed minimum timber prices;
the introduction of international and national regulation to avoid
foreign and national exploitation which might undermine non-
discriminatory access to forest resources;
sweeping statements calling for the removal of all forms of unilateral
action to restrict the trade in and use of forest products;
the right of countries to economic development; and
criticisms of the industrialized countries for their unsustainable and
In addition, the United States would have preferred to strengthen language
regarding the role of market forces, international cooperation, and global
stewardship, including reinforcing or adding the following-
the concepts of market-based mechanisms and appropriate economic
the importance of removing harmful subsidies;
the concept that countries should be encouraged to cooperate with one
another in order to identify areas for efficient joint implementation
and realize shared forest management goals; and
the concepts of cooperative stewardship, global benefits, and the global
responsibility of beneficiary countries.
However, the United States was ultimately forced to retreat from a firm
stand on the content of the Principles due to domestic political constraints that
surfaced mainly as a result of contentious issues surrounding the old-growth
forests of the Pacific Northwest.
The Outcome of the Forest Principles Negotiations
In eleventh-hour negotiations, delegates to the Earth Summit in Rio de
Janeiro agreed upon a set of voluntary Forest Principles.6 The final
statement found a middle ground, declaring that states have the sovereign right
to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies and
the inalienable right to utilize, manage and develop their forests in accordance
with their development needs, "on a sustainable basis." In addition, Principles
of particular relevance to U.S. concerns include the following:
the full incremental cost of achieving benefits associated with forest
conservation and sustainable development requires increased
international cooperation and should be equitably shared by the
new and additional financial resources should be provided to enable
developing countries to sustainably manage, conserve, and develop
their forest resources;
the efforts of developing countries to strengthen the management,
conservation and sustainable development of their forest resources
should be supported by the international community, taking into
account the importance of redressing external indebtedness,
particularly where aggravated by the net transfer of resources to
efforts should be made to promote a supportive international economic
climate, including the promotion of sustainable patterns of production
and consumption, the eradication of poverty, and the promotion of
to enhance developing country capacity to better manage, conserve and
develop their forest resources, the access to and transfer of
environmentally sound technologies on favorable terms, including
concessional or preferential terms, should be promoted, facilitated, and
trade in forest products should be based on non-discriminatory and
multilaterally agreed rules and procedures consistent with
international trade law and practices. In this context, open and free
international trade in forest products should be facilitated;
3 See: "Adoption of Agreements on Environment and Development: Non-
Legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus
on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of All Types
of Forests." A/CONF.151/6/Rev.1. United Nations Conference on Environment
and Development. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 13, 1992.
reduction or removal of tariff barriers and impediments to the
provision of better market access and better prices for higher value- "
added forest products and their local processing should be encouraged
to enable producer countries to better conserve and manage their
renewable forest resources;
incorporation of environmental costs and benefits into market forces
and mechanisms, in order to achieve forest conservation and
sustainable development, should be encouraged both domestically and
unilateral measures to restrict and/or ban international trade in
timber or other forest products should be removed or avoided.
Though it does not explicitly call for one, the statement of Principles does
not exclude the possibility of a future convention. It was suggested that the
proposed new Sustainable Development Commission, established to review Earth
Summit commitments, bring the issue up at a later date. (See Appendix E:
UNCED Forest Principles.)
Environmentalists are generally unhappy with final statement of Forest
Principles. They claim that though the Principles include many positive
elements, the statement is inadequate and unlikely to create a suitable
framework for future negotiations. In fact, some see the Principles as a step
backward from measures already taken, asserting that they are actually weaker
than the revised TFAP "Goals and Objectives" statement, the existing World
Bank forest policy which prohibits financing logging in tropical moist forests,
and the ITTO Target 2000 which aims to limit all trade in tropical timber to
that originating from sustainably managed sources.
Critics also charge that the Forest Principles fail to address such
fundamental goals as halting global deforestation, ensuring that trade in forest
products is based on environmentally sustainable sources, and committing to the
preparation, adoption and implementation of a comprehensive world forest
strategy. In addition, they fault the document for only partially protecting
existing natural forests, confronting the underlying causes of forest destruction
such as clearing for agricultural land, guaranteeing the rights of indigenous
peoples and local communities, and ensuring that forest management policies
are based on a strong scientific foundation.
On the other hand, the Forest Principles are viewed by some -- including
many who were active in the negotiating process -- as an important consensus
statement and starting point for future negotiations. The concept of sustainable
development is at least clearly articulated in the Forest Principles, they say,
though it may not be completely clear what the Principles mean in practice.
In addition to the Forest Principles, an entire chapter of Agenda 21 on
"Combatting Deforestation" was negotiated at UNCED. Agenda 21 is the most
comprehensive product of the Earth Summit. It is an environment and
development agenda for the remainder of this century, providing the framework
and institutional modifications to be accomplished over the next decade. It
affects all sectors of society and establishes strategies to coordinate efforts
regionally and globally by identifying the policies necessary to create the
required environment-development linkages, recommending new environmental
laws to preserve the ecological balance of the planet and setting out a specific
action plan for drought and desertification, and defining new ways and means
of integrating environment and economy and identifying ways of providing new
financial resources. Each Agenda 21 chapter identifies a basis for action,
objectives, activities, and means of implementation for each program. A
voluntary program of action, it addresses a wide range of issues, including a
chapter on combatting deforestation.
The United States, along with other countries, submitted proposals for
Agenda 21 to be taken up in the fourth and final UNCED preparatory meeting.
For the forests chapter, the United States suggested a global objective to
"achieve conservation and sustainable management of all forests to meet present
and future needs for economic and ecological services." The United States also
proposed five program areas:
Greening the world through the pursuit of national goals and
objectives. Specific actions could include: rehabilitation and
restoration of degraded lands, reforestation and afforestation,
controlling deforestation, designating protected areas, and improved
management of natural forests;
Negotiate a free-standing convention on forests to build world vision
and commitment using the guiding Principles on forests as a basis.
Specific actions could include: commitment to begin negotiations
within an agreed time after UNCED, and designating or establishing
a negotiating forum;
Harnessing market forces to help meet national interests to improve
the long-term health and productivity of forest resources for the
production of employment, income, forest products, services, recreation
and habitat. Specific actions could include: improving economic and
social accounting, freeing trade, and improving accounting for
environmental costs and benefits;
Achieving common interests by improving coordination and
cooperation among institutions and better integrating programs based
on the statement of Principles on forests. Specific actions could
include coordinating and cooperating among UN organizations and
programs, bilateral organizations and programs, local and indigenous
communities, NGOs and activities, etc;
Measuring global progress through inventories of key variables.
Specific actions could include inventory and assessment of forest
health, biological diversity, deforestation rates and patterns, ecological
More substantial agreement was in evidence in the negotiation of this text
than in discussions surrounding the Forest Principles. After a slow start,
negotiations on the forests chapter proceeded in a generally positive atmosphere.
By the end of the final PrepCom, agreement was reached on Agenda 21 for
forests in all significant areas except for a legal instrument on forests.
The final Agenda 21 section on forests is a very general document. It
outlines a broad and comprehensive agenda in four program areas:
Sustaining the Multiple Roles and Functions of Forests: objectives
include strengthening institutions, skills, expertise, and capabilities;
Protecting, Conserving, and Sustainablv Managing Forests: objectives
include maintaining and expanding forests; devising national forestry
action programs; conserving and sustainably managing forests;
maintaining and increasing the biological, socio-cultural, ecological,
climatic, and economic contributions of forests; and implementing the
Promoting Efficient Utilization and Assessment: objectives include
recognizing the social, economic, and ecological values of forests; using
forest resources efficiently, rationally, and sustainably; developing
efficient and sustainable fuelwood and energy supplies; and
encouraging ecotourism; and
Planning, Assessment, and Periodical Evaluations: objectives include
devising systems for assessment and periodical evaluations, and
providing information to officials and communities.
In addition, the chapter includes a long list of initiatives to achieve these
objectives, including strengthening forestry laws, plans, education, and research;
beginning a massive global effort to expand the area under forest cover;
improving techniques to sustainably manage forests; creating a system to assess
and monitor the state of forest resources; and expanding mechanisms for
regional and international cooperation on forestry.6
SSee: "Combatting Deforestation," Agenda 21, (Chapter 11, Advance Copy).
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil, June 14, 1992.
Though the United States failed to achieve a commitment to negotiate a
free-standing convention on forests, U.S. concerns for "greening the world" and
measuring global progress as expressed in the Agenda 21 proposal are well
represented in the final chapter on forests. "Greening of the world" is also
explicitly stated as a Forest Principle. Other U.S. objectives of harnessing
market forces and achieving common interests are not so apparently represented
in the final Agenda 21 document. These goals are more clearly stated in the
Agenda 21 discusses future international cooperation on forests and leaves
the possibility open for the negotiation of a future convention on the subject,
but fails to explicitly call for a global forest agreement.
Notably, section 11.14(a) the Agenda 21 chapter on forests regards
implementation of the Forest Principles, calling for the nations of the world to:
Facilitate and support effective implementation of the non-legally
binding authoritative statement of principles for a global consensus on
the management, conservation, and sustainable development of all
types of forests, adopted by UNCED, and on the basis of
implementation of these principles to consider the need for and the
feasibility of all kinds of appropriate internationally agreed
arrangements to promote international cooperation on forest
management, conservation, and sustainable development of all types
of forests, including afforestation, reforestation, and rehabilitation.37
UNCED and the TFAP
The Earth Summit may have helped to revitalize current efforts to combat
deforestation by stimulating new interest in international forestry. However,
the Agenda 21 chapter on forests' mention of the TFAP is a general one. While
it specifically recognizes the role that the TFAP is playing at the national level
-- a suggestion of the TFAP Advisor's Group -- the final document does not
provide specific guidance regarding management and implementation procedures
for the TFAP.
In fact, the TFAP Advisors had criticized a draft of the chapter for falling
short in several crucial respects. According to them:
It lacked vision and appeal, was unlikely to attract imagination and
support, and was likely to compare unfavorably with more substantive
Agenda 21 proposals in other areas;
7 "Combatting Deforestation," Agenda 21 (Chapter 11, Advance Copy).
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil, June 14, 1992. p. 8.
The draft comprised a shopping list encompassing practically all issues
related to forests. There was a lack of priority ranking of proposals,
which were presented without conviction or a sense of urgency;
Too little emphasis was placed on improving cooperation and
effectiveness in existing international institutions which were
manifestly not able to work in concert to solve global problems;
Greater emphasis should be placed on strengthening national
capacities to respond to local and regional needs and to enable better
cooperation with international institutions and initiatives;
There was insufficient attention to a participatory approach designed
to take advantage of local technical knowledge and to address the
needs of the rural poor.
Neither the Forest Principles nor Agenda 21 conflict with TFAP activities.
On the contrary, TFAP actions could complement the achievement of UNCED
objectives. Indeed, there is an emerging sense in many quarters that limited
gains are to be achieved from international discussions on forest conservation
and that, instead, efforts should be concentrated on utilizing existing
institutions such as bilateral agreements, National Forestry Action Plans, and
national conservation strategies and action plans, which can receive
international support as appropriate.
So far, the institutional relationship between the TFAP and UNCED
follow-up activities remains fairly nebulous. The Consultative Forum process
of the TFAP could be closely linked with post-UNCED forest discussions if they
result in the formation of a group to discuss a global forest agreement or policy.
The possible elevation of the Forum's profile could be regarded as reinforcing
the need for an effective, sustained and unified international program to support
national programs on forest resources.
The Future: A Global Forest Agreement?
The likelihood that the nations of the world will produce an international 6
convention on forests anytime in the near future is extremely slim. There is
little momentum in the developing countries for such an agreement, since the
producer nations in general, led by Malaysia, see little need for one and consider
that they could pay a heavy price for such an agreement." In addition,
developing countries are unlikely to undertake any further negotiations until
they see what the northern nations do to implement the Forest Principles and
Agenda 21 chapter on forests and to limit carbon dioxide emissions.
Considerable political will and an international forum for negotiation would
be necessary to further the debate on a global forest agreement. Moreover,
8 Malaysia, in particular, resents the criticism it has faced for its own timber
countries like the United States will have to have the will to take actions
domestically on difficult issues such as preserving more old-growth forests.
If these conditions were met, however, some of the elements of a convention
on forests could include the following:
providing for nationally prepared forest land use plans to define the
forest estate and set production and conservation targets to serve as
a basis for development assistance and economic policy reforms;
establishing a centralized monitoring system for forests worldwide to
provide agreed upon data, including rates of loss;
requiring forest conservation commitments in developed nations for
their own forests;
recognizing the interests of forest-dwelling peoples and providing for
direct local participation in decision-making processes;
requesting countries to designate Forest Areas of Special Importance
for heightened protection and international recognition; and
considering the creation of an international program for tracing and
authenticating sustainably-produced timber in domestic and
In general, if the nations of the world do attempt to negotiate an
international convention on forests, developing countries can be expected to be
highly protective of their sovereignty over their own natural resources, to be
reluctant to accept any obligations that might be considered harmful to their
long-term economic development, to be skeptical of any proposal that appears
to put most of the blame for deforestation on them, and to seek new financing
to compensate them for lost revenue.
On the other hand, in the future -- as in the past -- the industrialized
countries may try to persuade tropical governments to initiate policy reforms
while avoiding making significant new financial obligations or quid pro quo
agreements that might have negative economic impacts at home (such as
banning logging in all old-growth forests). As long as developing nations
perceive the United States as increasing its energy consumption without
conservation, it will probably be significantly more difficult to convince
developing countries such as Brazil and Indonesia to reduce timber production
and increase conservation efforts as part of their shared global responsibility.
The New ITTA and Prospects for a Global Forest Agreement
Any substantive work on a global forest agreement is now relegated to the
indefinite future. If this proves to be the near future, negotiations might
overlap with the renegotiation of the ITTA. At this time, it is unclear how the
new ITTA would relate to a global agreement on forests. The negotiating paths
of the ITTA and the global forest convention could converge towards a 1994 -
agreement on a single international legal instrument on forests. On the other
hand, the new ITTA could be designed to have a relatively narrow focus; as in
the past, it could serve mainly as a commodity agreement.
Several ITTO member countries and some NGO observers advocate
expanding the role of the ITTA in the future. In response to the Houston
Declaration, the international community could focus its efforts to negotiate a
global agreement on forests on renewing the ITTA, expanding the mandate of
a successor agreement to cover forests in general, and obscuring the relatively
narrow focus of the ITTO on the international timber trade. Some of those who
would like to broaden the mandate of the ITTO favor this course of action
because they recognize that the successful negotiation of a global forest
agreement would probably take a minimum of five years and an expanded ITTA
could be a valuable tool to use in the interim. In addition, they point out that
an ITTA that responds to a perceived need for a global agreement on forests
would not be inconsistent with decisions made at Rio. However, it should be
remembered that, at present, the ITTO is entirely concerned with trade, which
causes only a very small proportion of global deforestation. Insofar as the ITTO
can encourage the development of sustainable logging techniques and the
sustainable management of forests, it can contribute to reducing deforestation.
But the main causes of deforestation -- clearing land for subsistence or other
agriculture -- could only be addressed by a much broader general mandate, far
beyond the commodity and timber trade focus of the ITTO.
Though the idea of expanding the mandate of the ITTA to become a global
agreement on forests is supported by some environmentalists, and is likely to get
additional sympathy from producer countries, U.S. Government officials resist
the thought of having the new ITTA take the place of a global convention on
forests because they consider the ITTO an inappropriate organization to assume
such a role. They also worry that too many additional responsibilities would
overburden this fledgling organization.
Others, including some industry representatives, caution that dramatic
changes in the ITTA would be more difficult to negotiate and less likely to be
achieved. They identify protecting of the current framework for cooperation as
a top priority.
Whatever course is pursued, the UNCED experience indicates that
developing countries will surely demand compensation in return for the
concessions they make in renegotiating the ITTA. For this reason, the chances
of successfully negotiating some of the more controversial suggestions for ITTA
reform recommended by environmental interest groups (e.g., that the new ITTO
should regulate trade to promote the transition to sustainability) are very slim.
As they did in the UNCED process, international negotiations regarding the
ITTA will likely proceed slowly and the negotiation of sensitive subjects will be
The Forests for the Future Initiative
On June 1, 1992, two days before the opening of the Earth Summit,
President Bush announced a new initiative to conserve the world's forests in an
address in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Forests for the Future Initiative proposed
to help halt deforestation and accelerate progress toward a global forest
As part of the initiative, the President proposed a goal of doubling current
international forest conservation assistance from $1.35 billion to $2.7 billion
next year, calling on other countries to contribute their fair share to the total.
As a "downpayment" on the initiative, the United States committed to
contributing an additional $150 million in bilateral forestry assistance for fiscal
year 1994, more than doubling the $120 million in the bilateral forestry
assistance in the President's 1993 budget.39 This increase has been included
in the President's budget for fiscal year 1994.40 The President further pledged
to continue and, as appropriate, expand this commitment in the future if other
countries join in the initiative. The potential for leveraging limited U.S. dollars
for forest conservation and development is a noteworthy aspect of this initiative.
The initiative was put together quickly, apparently in an effort to respond
to calls for greater financial commitment at UNCED and in pursuit of U.S.
objectives regarding forests. The idea is not yet clearly delineated, but sketchy
details indicate that under the initiative, all nations would be invited to engage
in a cooperative approach in which interested recipient nations would propose
forest conservation programs and work together in "Forest Partnerships" with
donors. In the partnership arrangement, potential recipients would compete for
funding for the forest conservation programs they propose. This process would,
in theory, ensure that the most effective and efficient programs receive financial
support. To stimulate further developments, White House officials have
proposed to convene a "Forest Partnership Forum" by the end of this year to
bring together potential investors and recipients and to share ideas on forest
The Theory Behind the Initiative
The idea underlying the Forests for the Future concept, according to Roger
Sedjo of Resources for the Future, is as follows: Forests generate important
global environmental and ecological benefits that extend far beyond the
boundaries of the countries in which they are located (e.g., protection of
biodiversity and carbon sequestration.) At present, since the benefits of forest
resources are global, but the costs of protecting them are incurred locally, no
9 Office of the Press Secretary, The White House. "Forests for the Future
Initiative: Fact Sheet." Washington, DC, June 1, 1992. pp. 1, 2. (press release)
40 This increase will bring U.S. funds available for international forestry
assistance to more than $485 million.
individual country has the economic incentive structure to adequately address
deforestation issues. The Forests for the Future Initiative is predicated on this
notion that existing markets and individual government actions are inadequate
mechanisms for internalizing the ecological costs and/or benefits involved in
forest conservation and/or development.
According to C. Boyden Gray, Counsel to the President, the Forests for the
Future Initiative would create an international "marketplace" for forest
conservation investments. Potential aid recipients would compete for funding
by making their best proposals for conserving and sustainably using their
forests. For example, such proposals could include creating institutes to survey
forest resources or offering to revise subsidies and ownership rules that
encourage forest clearing. Donor nations would likewise compete to "invest" in
the best opportunities by offering funding packages for projects with the
greatest potential benefits to themselves. This approach would foster "forest
partnerships" between developing countries with forests and investors or
lenders. Exactly how market forces could be harnessed to make forest
conservation economically attractive to donor countries is an integral detail of
the theory behind the initiative that has not yet been clearly delineated.
According to the plan, reliance on such cooperative arrangements would
ensure that the most effective and efficient programs are funded, that the
sovereignty of all nations is respected, and that programs match the needs and
circumstances of recipient countries. In this way, the initiative would maximize
the cost effectiveness of conservation efforts and preserve the sovereignty of
Arguments in Support of the Initiative
Some view this initiative as an outgrowth of the G-7 Houston Declaration
of July 1990, which called for negotiations "to begin expeditiously and to be
completed by 1992 on a global forest convention or agreement to curb
deforestation, protect biodiversity, stimulate positive forestry actions, and
address threats to the world's forests" and a significant step in efforts to
conserve the world's forests. Others consider the initiative a feeble last minute
attempt to gain credibility with the environmental community and an effort to
blunt criticism of the United States at UNCED for refusing to make larger
financial commitments, for watering down the Global Climate Change
Convention, and for refusing to sign the Biodiversity Convention.
Supporters claim that although it has not yet attracted much attention,
this initiative may turn out to be a significant step in efforts to conserve the
world's forests. According to proponents, the Bush proposal has the potential
to set a process in motion that could ultimately result in a significant set of
financial commitments to support world forest conservation by the industrialized
world. Though the initiative consists simply of a commitment to provide $150
million in forest assistance in the next year, together with a commitment to
continue and perhaps expand that assistance in the future, when viewed in the
context of the G-7 declaration at Houston, the initiative can also be seen as
intended to be a catalyst for financial commitments from the G-7 and other
The Forests for the Future Initiative was also designed to accelerate
international progress toward a global forest agreement by encouraging globally
shared investment. Though concrete actions have yet to be identified, if this
scheme were able to create market incentives to make forest conservation
economically attractive for both investors and recipients, it would save countries
with forest resources from bearing the entire burden of preserving them -- a big
plus, since efforts to advance a global forest agreement have moved so slowly
due to fears that the burden of curbing deforestation would fall
disproportionately on poorer countries.
Furthermore, supporters of the idea point out that the Bush initiative
,avoids both the difficulties of gaining signatories to agreements, which bind
countries to undertaking specific domestic actions, and also of non-binding
declarations of principles such as those made in Rio, which are unenforceable.
Instead, the initiative envisions voluntary partnerships in which countries would
be free to participate or not as they chose, much as in the case of the ongoing
debt-for-nature swaps. The availability of monies for forested countries which
propose acceptable programs for forest management, development, protection,
conservation, and restoration would provide enough incentive for participation.
Another plus, proponents argue, is that no new international bureaucracy
would have to be created: the additional resources would be mobilized through
existing bilateral and multilateral avenues. At a time when many are
questioning the value of international bureaucracies, which have a reputation
of being inefficient, this fact could be viewed as an asset.
Finally, proponents argue that preserving and enhancing forest resources
would reduce net CO2 emissions at a relatively low cost, and in fact, do more to
reduce greenhouse emissions than the European proposal to stabilize industrial
country CO2 emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000. Their assertion, so far
without supporting analysis, states that halting net tropical forest loss by the
turn of the century would reduce total CO2 emissions by more than twice the
effect of the European CO2 stabilization plan -- and at a fraction of the cost.41
Arguments Against the Initiative
To some, President Bush's offer of funds seemed to answer the long-
standing demand of developing countries that any commitment on their part to
conserve forests be accompanied by. an increase in development assistance to
cover the additional costs of conservation. However, critics view the initiative
as an exercise in polishing the President's environmental image in the face of
strong criticism regarding the U.S. posture at the Earth Summit. If this
41 Office of the Press Secretary, The White House. "Forests for the Future
Initiative: Fact Sheet." June 1, 1992. p. 1.
initiative had been proposed apart from the Rio Summit, they suggest, it might
have been regarded as a sincere attempt to address deforestation.
Furthermore, to some, though a new international forest initiative may
seem an attractive option for domestic political reasons, the prospects are dim
for a successful outcome anytime soon. In fact, some say the Forest Partnership
Forum of this initiative could be perceived by others as a U.S. attempt to
circumvent discussions at the FAO regarding the TFAP. This may be one
reason why the plan has been viewed with suspicion and hostility. Furthermore,
critics suggest that the problematic international discussions relating to the
TFAP speak to the difficulties of such undertakings and that the highly
contentious UNCED negotiations relating to forests indicates the likely
rancorous tenor of future discussions on the theme.
Moreover, some observers suggest that the United States should scale back
its expectations for a global "Forest Partnership Forum" since attempts to
convene such a forum may run afoul of similar discussions being organized by
the FAO. Calls for such a meeting would likely be perceived by G-77 countries
to be an attempt by the United States to circumvent processes already
The initiative's detractors also point out that the President's $150 million
pledge for the world's forests is a relatively small commitment compared to the
size of the problem to be tackled and compared to the pledges of some other
nations. They note that other donors have already greatly increased their
funding for forest conservation. For example, they cite the Brazil Rainforest
Pilot Project for which Germany committed $146 million while the United
States only managed to find $5 million in new funds.
In addition, critics charge that, though doubling the U.S. contribution to
international forestry is a positive step, this initiative puts inordinate emphasis
on funding. Along with the commitment of meaningful financial support from
industrial countries, they say, halting deforestation vill require a combination
of policy reforms, long-term planning for the stabilization of forests, and
Finally, though stopping deforestation would prevent some greenhouse gas
emissions, some observers point out that greater emphasis on promoting energy
efficiency, developing non-polluting, renewable energy sources, and addressing
CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions in industrialized nations would be far
more effective in confronting the climate change challenge.
Few of the particulars regarding the implementation of this initiative have
been provided. The outlines of the initiative are vague enough that most of the
details are still undefined. An interagency task force has been created to oversee
the initiative and to define the process for identifying funding priorities and
dispersing monies.42 The only particulars yet established are these:
The funds committed will consist of "new" money. The Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) has not yet identified where the
funds will come from and is working out the details;
The money will probably be committed through existing bilateral
channels, at least for the first year. Funding through the World
Bank's Global Environment Facility (GEF) or other multilateral
avenues may be possible in the future;
Conservation-oriented projects will be favored;
Temperate and boreal forests are included in the initiative. Russia
and China have been mentioned as possible recipients of aid.
Since the announcement of the initiative, observers have offered a variety
of suggestions concerning its implementation. These include the following:
The United States should focus its efforts on countries with which it
already has strong bilateral programs;
The United States should consider committing a specific amount of
money to selected countries for forest conservation and then working
within the country to identify funding priorities, rather than working
with outside AID consultants who prepare project proposals;
The United States should use existing planning mechanisms (e.g.
Environmental Action Plans, National TF-.P exercises, etc.) wherever
possible, taking care to avoid derailing other donor initiatives or
duplicating national planning processes;
Implementation of the initiative should help to develop the capacities
of government agencies;
The initiative should make investments which enhance national self-
sufficiency by helping to mobilize the capacity to pay for conservation
from national budgets;
The initiative should be used to contribute to the country capacity
project of the UNDP which reflects the ideas that have emerged from
several TFAP Forest Advisor's Group meetings. (The UNDP proposal
suggests a method for developing in-country capacity to undertake
42 The task force includes representatives from the State Department,
USAID, the USDA Forest Service, and the EPA, among others.
multi-sectoral planning exercises and implement projects, shifting the
decision making process into tropical countries. U.S. support could
help leverage additional donor contributions.);
The United States should consider tagging on to already scheduled
international meetings, such as discussions beii, organized by the
FAO in conjunction with the TFAP, to discuss financing mechanisms
for forest conservation;
The initiative should include a quick disbursement "grant" window for
supporting promising local initiatives both governmental and non-
The future of the Bush initiative is uncertain. The announcement came as
a surprise to most countries and few had time to articulate a response by the
time world leaders met in Rio de Janeiro.
The fundamental question that will need to be resolved is how to spend
large amounts of international aid to promote conservation. This is the same
basic question being addressed by the GEF. In addition, the initiative is roughly
modelled on the TFAP experience. These experiences should be useful in
considering how to implement the Forests for the Future Initiative.
THE WORLD BANK
The World Bank is the major international organization focused on funding
economic development. Its total lending was $22.7 billion in fiscal year 1991.
As such, it has had a highly visible role in forest use and deforestation in
Since its inception, the Bank has financed 94 projects in the forest sector,
with total commitments of nearly $2.5 billion.43 Lending for forestry has
grown since the publication of the Bank's first policy paper on forestry in 1978,
and has included greater emphasis on social forestry and, lately, on
environmental issues. Before fiscal year 1978, total commitments had been only
$199 million for 17 projects. Since then an additional $2.3 billion has been
committed for 77 free-standing forestry projects."4 However, lending for some
projects, particularly for tree crops, agricultural settlements, and infrastructure
such as roads, has caused or facilitated extensive deforestation and other
undesirable impacts on forest resources.
44 Ibid., p. 59.
43 World Bank. The Forest Sector: A World Bank Policy Paper.
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Washington, DC,
1991. p. 18.
In 1987-88, a major environmental policy review took place in the World
Bank. As a result, the World Bank has a new set of environmental policies and
declared priorities. International cooperation is an explicitly stated principle of
Bank involvement in the forestry sector according to the new policy.
In 1990, the Operations Evaluation Department (OED) of the World Bank
undertook an assessment of Bank lending and policy in the forestry sector from
1949 to 1990. The study, "Forestry Development: A Review of Bank
Experience," reviewed forestry projects and their components, analyzed
development implementation issues, and evaluated sector work. The report
sought to put the economic and social significance of forest development into
perspective, to provide feedback to guide future policy, procedures, and practice,
and to complement recent analyses of Bank involvement in pertinent sectors
such as agriculture and rural development, energy, and land management. The
report also recommended changes to be made in forest sector policies and new
proposals for Bank forestry lending.
According to this recent review of World Bank experience, the Bank should
strengthen its forest sector work and link it more strongly to other country
economic and sector work, improve the technical performance of projects, and
design social forestry projects with a better understanding of local social
dynamics and the motivations of different social actors in tree planting and
In particular, the OED report highlights the following:
Forestry projects need to be more carefully prepared and processed,
and longer time frames should be considered for some types of forestry
Broader involvement of people in planting trees on and off farms is
necessary and feasible, in innovative social ways;
If cooperation and coordination among many line agencies are required
in the planning and implementation of a project, an effective
mechanism for coordination is crucial;
Monitoring and evaluation need to be improved considerably to
facilitate supervision and final evaluation;
Land tenure and potential land use conflicts should be thoroughly
investigated during project formulation;
Market analysis and market programs should be an integral part of
Pricing policies should adequately reflect the environmental benefits
obtained from forests;
The development of buffer zones around remaining natural forests
should be a national priority.
Based on its finding that the scope of forestry problems faced by developing
countries has changed dramatically and that understanding of their causes and
implications has improved, the OED report recommended that the Bank's forest
policy be reformulated.
The New Forest Policy
In response to the OED recommendations, the Bank's new Forest Policy
paper states that the Bank intends to move vigorously to promote the
conservation of natural forests and the sustainable development of managed
forestry resources.4" Its objectives include support for international efforts and
legal instruments to promote forest conservation; assistance to governments in
policy reform and institutional strengthening; creation of additional forest
resources; and support for initiatives that preserve intact forest areas.
According to the policy, the Bank will employ a multisectoral approach to
its development assistance for forestry, as recommended by the OED review. In
so doing, it will continue to support population policies, agricultural
intensification, the alleviation of poverty, and the creation of employment
opportunities in other land-using projects to relieve the fundamental pressures
on forests for the long term. More specifically, the Bank plans to assist
countries in implementing policy and institutional changes and investment
strategies and to support the following:
conservation of forests through sustainable management for multiple
expansion of protected areas for the preservation of diverse forest
ecosystems through global efforts;
augmentation of forest resources through afforestation to meet
demand for forest products and to provide environmental services and
establishment of preconditions -- including policy and institutional
frameworks, research, and human capital development -- for
sustainable use of forest resources;
46 See: World Bank, The Forest Sector: A World Bank Policy Paper.
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Washington, DC,
development of programs for intensifying agriculture and promoting
rural development, especially in densely populated areas adjacent to
promotion of international cooperation in support of a common
mission for conservation and development of forest resources.
In its efforts directly related to the forest sector -- aid coordination, country
dialogue, sector work, and lending -- the new policy stipulates that the Bank will
focus on several priority areas.
International Cooperation. The Bank supports the adoption of
international legal instruments conducive to sustainable forest
development and conservation. The Bank will encourage international
initiatives for the transfer of concessional resources to assist projects
that protect globally important biological diversity. It will continue to
explore the feasibility of using global financial assistance and transfers
to protect forests for their carbon sequestration.
Policy Reform and Institutional Strengthening. The Bank will assist
governments to identify and rectify market and policy failures that
encourage deforestation and inhibit sustainable land use. The Bank
will assist governments in completing resource inventories and
establishing systems for continuous resource assessment. Efforts will
be made to improve the technical performance of government forestry
institutions. Pilot projects designed to gain insights into the merits
of alternative approaches will be undertaken.
Resource Expansion and Intensification. The Bank will increase its
efforts to finance the creation of additional forest resources and the
expansion and intensification of management of areas suitable for
sustainable production of forest products. In addition, the Bank will
promote a continued reorientation of forestry toward participation by
rural people in tree planting and conservation of indigenous
woodlands. Greater emphasis will be given to farm family and farm
group forestry, including women's groups. Where the scope for
plantations outside areas of intact forests is sound from a social,
environmental, and economic perspective, the Bank will assist in the
establishment of plantations to reduce pressure on the existing forest
resource base and to ease the transition to sustained-yield forest
management. The primary target areas for new plantings will be
potentially productive degraded forests, wastelands, forest fallows,
shrublands, and abandoned farmlands. The interests of communities
that depend on such areas will have to be considered in setting target
Preservation of Intact Forest Areas. The Bank will support initiatives
to expand forest areas designated as parks and reserves and to
institute effective management and enforcement in new and existing
areas. In tropical moist forests the Bank will adopt, and will
encourage governments to adopt, a precautionary policy toward .
utilization. Specifically, the Bank Group will not under any
circumstances finance commercial logging in primary tropical moist
forests. Financing of infrastructural projects (such as roads, dams,
and mines) that may lead to loss of tropical moist forests will be
subject to rigorous environmental assessment as mandated by the
Bank for projects that raise diverse and significant environmental and
resettlement issues. A careful assessment of the social issues involved
will also be required. The Bank will continue to place more emphasis
on support to programs that involve institutional development, forest
protection measures, and income-generating projects not dependent on
forest resources and that have as their primary objective the
preservation of tropical moist forests. In implementing this strategy,
the Bank will pay special attention to the twenty countries
(accounting for 85 percent of tropical moist forests) whose forests are
seriously threatened by encroachment and destruction.46 In these
countries special efforts will be made to support economic development
in poor, densely populated areas around the forests or in the origin
areas of forest encroachers.
According to the new policy, in all countries, and for all types of forests,
lending operations in the forestry sector will distinguish between projects that
are clearly environmentally protective or which are oriented toward small
farmers and all other forestry operations. The first two types will be considered
on the basis of their own social, economic, and environmental merits. Other
lending operations in the forest sector will be conditional on government
commitment to sustainable, conservation-oriented forestry. As identified by the
Bank, such a commitment entails:
adopting policies and an institutional framework to ensure
conservation and sustainable use of existing forests and to promote
more active participation of local people -ad the private sector (with
proper incentives) in the long-term management of natural forests;
adopting a comprehensive and environmentally sound forestry
conservation and development plan that contains a clear definition of
the roles and rights of the government, the private sector, and local
people (including forest dwellers);
undertaking social, economic, and environmental assessments of the
forests being considered for commercial utilization;
46 According to the Bank, the 20 countries, which collectively account for 85
percent of the remaining tropical moist forest, whose forest resources are
seriously threatened are: Bolivia, Brazil, Burma (Myanmar), Cameroon, Central
African Republic, Columbia, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Gabon, India,
Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Papua-New Guinea, Philippines,
Venezuela, and Zaire.
setting aside adequate compensatory preservation forests to maintain
biodiversity and safeguard the interests of forest dwellers, specifically
their rights of access to designated forest areas; and
establishing the institutional capacity to implement and enforce the
If these policies and conditions are present, projects will be judged on their
individual merits, the new policy states. If they are absent, Bank support in the
forest sector will be restricted to operations that directly help countries to
achieve them. Such operations will be appropriately limited in scope, sequenced,
and specifically targeted at helping countries meet the stated conditions.
Criticism of the Policy
Tihe World Bank invited the views of a variety of NGO representatives,
concerned individuals, and others regarding a draft of its new forest policy in
April 1991. Critics of the Forest Policy paper acknowledged that the document
contained many of the concepts required for satisfactory reform of forest sector
and non-forest sector lending. There was a strong consensus, however, that it
was unclear how the World Bank planned to translate these good intentions into
effective operational guidelines. The document was also criticized for being
vague and ambiguous. In addition, many interpreted the paper as being
excessively oriented toward industrial concerns.
The section regarding Bank-funded logging in primary forests particularly
generated discussion. The draft executive summary stated that "the Bank will
avoid financing of commercial logging in primary tropical moist forests." Some
NGO representatives worried that "primary forests" might be so narrowly
defined that Bank-financed logging would not effectively be restricted. More
importantly, many observers pointed out that the Bank might presumably
finance logging indirectly by supporting the institutions responsible for forest
utilization or through other means. As a result, this wording was substantially
revised. In the final document, the World Bank has pledged that "it will not
under any circumstances finance commercial logging in primary tropical moist
forests."47 The new Bank policy requires rigorous environmental assessments
prior to financing any road, dam or other infrastructural development projects.
A more general concern, and an important recurring theme, articulated by
various members of the NGO community, is a sense of skepticism about the
viability of sustainable forest management for timber in the tropics. The
efficacy of the concept of sustainable timber management is perhaps the most
important philosophical underpinning of the Bank's reformed forest policy.
While a range of opinion exists on this issue, a growing number of observers
weigh on the side of skepticism, doubting whether timber management in the
tropics could ever approach sustainability.
7 World Bank. Op. Cit., p. 65.
In addition, many environmentalists fear that Bank lending may actually
accelerate deforestation rather than arrest it. Loans made to the forest sector
with the expectation that they will be paid off from productive investments
made within the sector (i.e. logging and processing) may lead to aggressive
logging activities as countries labor to recoup investments, critics speculate.
This could conceivably be a relatively benign process if all the necessary policy
reforms are in place. However, corrupt or inefficient governments could fail to
implement the necessary policy changes or renege on commitments to implement
agreed upon reforms. In this case, World Bank loans would support destructive
Another major concern revolves around issues of social justice and
participation. While the policy statement contains positive language regarding
the participation of local peoples and consideration of indigenous peoples, some
have questioned the Bank's institutional capacity to address these issues. They
point out that the Bank's partners in development projects are usually
government agencies that are often unconcerned with forest-dependent peoples'
rights and needs.
In the context of reviewing the Bank's forest policy, representatives of
various NGOs have repeated a frequent demand that the Bank's decision-
making process should be as open, transparent, and participatory as possible.
They acknowledge that consultation regarding the draft policy was a step in the
right direction, but have complained that the process still left much to be
desired. According to critics, NGO input should be solicited in a more timely
fashion and NGO consultation should be a vital, institutionalized component of
any future Bank policy reform initiatives.
International cooperation is an explicitly stated principle of Bank
involvement in the forestry sector, according to its new forest policy.
Specifically, the new policy states that the emergence of an international treaty
or legal agreement on the conservation and development of forests would clearly
influence the role of the Bank in the forest sector. For this reason, the Bank
plans for its forest program to evolve in ways that are complementary to and
mutually supportive of parallel initiatives that currently exist or may emerge
over time. To this end, the Bank intends to maintain and improve its regular
consultations on forest issues with the regional development banks, as well as
with the FAO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the ITTO,
and NGOs. In addition, the World Bank has been active in efforts to revise the
TFAP and will continue to collaborate with other interested parties in
reformulating national and international processes under the TFAP to make
them a more effective means of addressing the problems of the use and
conservation of forests. Through involvement in activities such as the GEF,
according to the new policy, the Bank will encourage the transfer of concessional
resources from developed countries to those developing countries that are taking
effective measures to safeguard world biodiversity, particularly in tropical moist
The Global Environment Facility
The GEF is a three-year pilot program, established in November 1990, to
provide grants for investment projects, technical assistance, and -- to a lesser
extent -- research aimed at protecting the global environment and transferring
environmentally benign technologies. The Facility's work falls into four main
areas: reducing global warming, protecting international waters, preserving
biological diversity, and preventing further depletion of the stratospheric ozone
layer. Projects to address deforestation may be supported by the GEF due to
the role of forests in sequestering carbon and providing habitat for biodiversity.
Responsibility for implementing the GEF is shared between the UNDP,
UNEP, and the World Bank. The World Bank administers the GEF, acts as the
repository of the Trust Fund, and is responsible for investment projects. The
UNDP is responsible for technical assistance activities. UNEP provides
environmental guidance to the GEF process. GEF funds totalled about $1.3
billion at the end of 1991.
The aim of the GEF is to select an assortment of projects over its three-
year-pilot phase which address the global environmental problems outlined
above. All countries with a UNDP program in place and a per capital income of
$4,000 or less are eligible for GEF funds. Projects are identified and selected by
developing country governments and reviewed by the GEF's oversight group,
made up of participating governments. The appraisal and approval of projects
is left to the relevant implementing agency -- the World Bank or the UNDP.
Some 50 projects were reviewed by participating governments during 1991
and are currently part of the GEF work program. Proposals relating to forests
include one to preserve tropical rainforests in the Congo and the Brazil
Rainforest Pilot Program, described below.
The Brazil Rainforest Pilot Program
In December 1991, a number of industrial countries, led by the G-7, agreed
to provide $250 million to finance the first phase of a pilot program to preserve
the rainforest in Brazil. The World Bank has taken charge of the project under
the auspices of the GEF.
The program is the product of two distinct developments. First, over the
past few years the Brazilian government has embarked on extensive policy and
institutional changes to improve environmental management. For the Amazon,
this involves trying to improve the standard of living of local people while
protecting the resources in the rainforest. Second, in July 1990, the G-7
requested the World Bank and the EC Commission to cooperate with the
Brazilian government in drawing up a pilot program and to coordinate funding
-- hopefully a quick and effective way to mobilize help for conservation.
The Brazil Rainforest Pilot Program is to be the start of a comprehensive
effort to maximize the environmental benefits of Brazil's rainforests consistent
with Brazil's development goals. The objectives of the pilot program are:
to conserve biological diversity and indigenous areas;
to consolidate policy changes and strengthen implementing
to develop scientific knowledge and applied technologies for
environmentally benign development in the Amazon and build support
for their adoption.
Components of the project include preparing land-use plans to expand protected
areas and extractive reserves and to set aside appropriate lands for forestry and
conversion to agriculture and infrastructure development.
The Brazil Rainforest Pilot Program may be a good indicator of the future
of international cooperation and of the political will of governments to support
global forest issues. It could also be a model for other tropical forest regions.
The formulation of the plan brought together several federal agencies, the nine
state governments of the Amazon region, and numerous local and national
On the one hand, a great strength of the Bank is that it has the political
influence to leverage the policy reforms that are necessary to achieve
conservation objectives. On the other hand, it is hampered in addressing
environmental concerns by its nature as a lending institution. In the past, the
World Bank has been harshly criticized for promoting development projects that
have led to the destruction of tropical forests. But the Bank's influence on
developing nations gives it the potential to be a major force in any international
No single operating mechanism is sufficient to adequately address
deforestation but each initiative described here has a role to play in the larger
picture of confronting the challenge of deforestation. For this reason, it is
useful to consider these activities as a whole.
The TFAP, for example, cannot address all concerns relating to tropical
forest conservation alone. The FAO's Ullsten Review explicitly acknowledged
that such issues as that of national sovereignty over resources of global value
are beyond its scope. This concern may be better addressed by an international
legal instrument such as a Forest Convention, or other international initiatives,
like the Biodiversity Convention, the Global Climate Change Convention, or the
GEF (e.g., the Global Climate Convention could deal with the role of tropical
forests in sequestering carbon; the GEF, and eventually the Biodiversity
Convention, could be used to generate international pressures and money for
conservation to safeguard those tropical forest areas of universal significance for
biological diversity.) However, a thoroughly revamped, country-based TFAP,
that is open to broad political debate and that minimizes international
bureaucracy, could be the best mechanism to stimulate quick action on the
ground. For this reason, many observers assert that the main challenge facing
the TFAP is to move the tropical forest debate out of the international
conference circuit and into the tropical countries themselves, where misguided
policies and weak forestry institutions are the real obstacles to halting forest
On the other hand, many take the view that the ITTO should concentrate
on its role as a forum for hammering out agreements on improving working
practices in the tropical timber trade so that the trade causes less damage to the
natural forest as timber is removed and wastes less in its industrial processing
of the timber that is cut. In carrying out its mandate to cooperate with
competent international organizations in the field of reforestation and forest
management and tropical forest development generally, most people agree that
the ITTO's work program should be fully coordinated with the activities of the
TFAP; not only should the ITTO harmonize its activities with those under the
TFAP, it should consider sponsoring some of the TFAP investment profiles that
fall broadly within its objectives, in particular those relating to forest-based
industrial development and the conservation of forest ecosystems, two out of the
five priority areas identified by the TFAP. However, whether the ITTO should
be used as a separate channel for funding tropical forestry projects is
questionable. Its chronic lack of resources seems to indicate that tropical-
timber-consuming country governments are not enthusiastic about this idea.
Critics have seriously questioned the ability of either the TFAP or the
ITTO to deal effectively with the sharply deteriorating tropical forest situation
of the past few years, let alone with the worsening prospects for the next
decade. They point to the TFAP and the ITTO as examples of the international
response to the threats facing the world's forest resources that are limited in
scope to tropical forests and that have marginal prospects for slowing
deforestation -- the result of mandates that neither clearly identified forest
conservation as a central objective nor sought to address the root causes of
forest loss outside the forestry sector. Such observers claim that there remains,
therefore, an urgent need to go beyond existing initiatives, ideally to launch a
comprehensive instrument on forests that will state a clear set of objectives for
protection and restoration of the global forest estate; that will lead to fair and
consistent policies across boreal and temperate as well as tropical forests; and
that will act as a catalyst for addressing underlying equitable issues of
international debt, land tenure, and other macroeconomic reforms.
Though the prospect of a global forest convention figured prominently on
the agenda of UNCED, negotiators at the PrepComs quickly discovered that the
issues of sovereignty and compensation require extremely careful examination.
Discussions in Rio left the door open for the negotiation of a global forest
convention in the future, yet this process may take several years to conclude.
While some would like to expand the mandate of the ITTO, others are
apprehensive about broadening the responsibilities of an organization they
consider to be weak and ineffectual. At a minimum, the new ITTA will need to
be consistent with decisions made at UNCED and to anticipate how it will fit
into the framework of a global forest agreement, in case one evolves.
Meanwhile deforestation continues and the question remains as to whether
the world can afford to wait for an international agreement that is unlikely to
be operational before the end of the century. By placing hopes on a convention,
efforts may be diverted from other initiatives which may have greater potential
for achieving rapid results. The reality may be that most of the problems
confronting global forest resources will have to be solved under existing
mechanisms or they may not be solved at all.
STATUS OF TFAP EXERCISES48 49
(as of August 31, 1992)
A. Planning Phase Completed (29 countries)
Costa Rica (Netherlands)
Dominican Republic (UNDP/FAO)
Central America (USAID)
Sierra Leone (UNDP/FAO)
Papua New Guinea (WB)
Sri Lanka (WB)
8 See: TFAP Coordinating Unit, Forestry Department, FAO. Op. Cit., pp.
49 Sub-regional exercises are indicated in italics and are counted separately
from countries (except for the CARICOM, which is at the same time a sub-
regional and multi-country exercise, where individual country issues are treated
also at the national level). The international core support agency is indicated
B. Forestry Sector Review Completed (8 countries)
C. Forestry Sector Review Under Way (40 countries)
El Salvador (National)
Antigua and Barbuda
St. Christopher and Nevis
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Amazon Pact (FAO)
Burkina Faso (GTZ)
Cape Verde (Belgium)
Central African Republic (WB)
Cote d'Ivoire (FAO/WB)
Guinea Bissau (WB/EEC)
D. TFAP Exercise Requested (13 countries)
E. Preliminary Contacts and Inquiries (2 countries)
REVISED GOALS AND OBJECTIVES FOR THE TFAP50
The goal of the Tropical Forestry Action Programme is to:
curb tropical forest loss by promoting the sustainable use of
tropical forest resources to meet local and national needs.
Since many of the primary causes of deforestation reside outside the
forestry sector, the resolution of conflicting demands upon forest resources is
sought through emphasis on interdisciplinary and consultative approaches. This
will be achieved by fostering local, national and international partnerships.
The approach of each [National Forestry Action Plan] is dependent upon
the individual country, its stage of development, its political system and its
forest resource situation. Whatever the country context is, the TFAP will seek
to strengthen national capacity, both governmental and non-governmental, to
develop and implement both plans for long-term strategies and immediate
action. This will include supporting the countries in establishing:
policies and programmes to curb irrational deforestation and achieve
sustainable forest use;
processes to ensure broad participation of forest users in decision-
verifiable goals and targets against which success may be assessed;
an improved information base: monitoring, management, research and
training capacity; and the other infrastructure needed to ensure the
wise use of forest lands.
These strategies and action plans will give special consideration to urgent
ensure that forest resources contribute to the sustainable social and
economic development of the nation, for example, through
promote effective coordination of policy and planning among all
sectors whose activities have an impact on forest land use, particularly
agriculture, livestock, forestry, mining, energy, with a particular
emphasis on policies needed to secure the lands and livelihoods of
0 See: TFAP Operational Principles: Executive Summary. Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome, November 1991. pp. 4-
* foster policies, practices, incentives and investments which counter
deforestation and unsustainable use, and which promote alternative ."
* minimize the loss of forests;
* ensure that adequate areas of forest are preserved to protect biological
diversity, conserve unique ecological systems and maintain the
environmental services provided by forests and trees, especially by
* reclaim and restore areas of degraded land, recognizing that such areas
may be suitable for the establishment of plantations which can meet
national and local needs in ways that will reduce pressure on
remaining indigenous forests, and that the use of indigenous species
in such plantations can sometimes serve to reconcile conservation and
* develop national forestry and agroforestry institutions and human
resources at all levels;
* recognize, adjust and clarify the legal status of the rights and
responsibilities of forest dwellers and other whose livelihoods depend
on forest and land resources;
* ensure the participation through information, consultation and
incentives, at local, national and international levels, of rural
communities in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of
plans of action, especially indigenous, tribal and other forest-
dependent peoples, and with particular attention to the participation
* support and build upon traditional uses of the forests by local people,
including the use of non-timber forest products; and
* ensure the availability of information on national and international
TFAP processes to all parties having a legitimate interest in the use
of forest resources.
ITTO GUIDELINES FOR THE SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT
OF NATURAL TROPICAL FORESTS5'
Policy and Legislation
Principle 1. A strong and continued political commitment at the highest level
is indispensable for sustainable forest management to succeed.
Principle 2. An agreed forest policy should be supported by appropriate
legislation which should, in turn, be in harmony with laws concerning related
Principle 3. There should be a mechanism for regular revision of policy in the
light of new circumstances and/or availability of new information.
National Forest Inventory
Principle 4. A national forest inventory should establish the importance of all
forests, independent of their ownership status.
Principle 5. There should be flexible provisions for such inventories to be
broadened to include information not previously covered, if and when the need
and opportunity for such additional information arises.
Permanent Forest Estate
Principle 6. Certain categories of land, whether public or private, need to be
kept under permanent forest cover to secure their optimal contribution to
Principle 7. The different categories of land to be kept under permanent forest
are: land to be protected; land for nature conservation; land for production of
timber and other forest products; land intended to fulfill combinations of these
Principle 8. Land destined for conversion to other uses (agriculture, mines,
etc.), and any land for which the final use is uncertain, should be kept under
managed forest until the need for clearing arises.
61 See: ITTO Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural
Tropical Forests. Op. Cit., pp. 1-10.
Principle 9. The principles and recommendations for implementation of these
guidelines apply equally strictly to national forests and privately owned or
customarily held forests.
National Forest Service
Principle 10. There should be a national agency capable of managing the
government forest estate, and assisting in the management of private and
customarily held forests, according to the objectives laid down in the national
Principle 11. Forests set aside for timber production are able to fulfill other
important objectives, such as environmental protection and, to varying extent,
conservation of species and ecosystems. These multiple uses should be
safeguarded by the application of the environmental standards, spelled out
below, to all forest operations.
Principle 12. Proper planning, at national, forest management unit and
operational levels reduces economic and environmental costs and is therefore an
essential component of long-term sustainable forest management.
Principle 13. The forests set aside for timber production should be the subject
of a more detailed inventory to allow for planning of forest management and
timber harvesting operations. The question of type and quantity of data to be
gathered should be the subject of cost-benefit analysis.
Principle 14. Management objectives should be set rationally for each forest
management unit. Formulation of objectives should allow the forest manager
to respond flexibly to present and future variations in physical, biological and
socioeconomic circumstances, keeping in mind the overall objectives of
Principle 15. The size of each production forest management unit should
preferably be a function of felling cycle, the average harvested volume per ha
and annual timber outturn target of the operating agency (state forest
enterprise, concessionaire, etc.)
Principle 16. The choice of silvicultural concept should be aimed at sustained
yield at minimum cost, enabling harvesting now and in the future, while
respecting recognized secondary objectives.
Principle 17. In order to ensure a sustained production of timber from each
forest management unit, a reliable method for controlling timber yield should
Principle 18. A management inventory supported by a detailed map is
indispensable to the preparation of working plans for each forest management
Principle 19. Working Plans should guarantee the respect of environmental
standards in field operations.
Principle 20. Forest management operations can have important positive or
negative environmental consequences, both in the forest itself and outside
(transboundary effects). These consequences should be assessed in advance of
operations to ensure overall sustainability.
Principle 21. Harvesting operations should fit into the silvicultural concept, and
may, if they are well planned and executed, help to provide conditions for
increased increment and for successful regeneration. Efficiency and
sustainability of forest management depend to a large extent on the quality of
harvesting operations. Inadequately executed harvesting operations can have
far-reaching negative impacts on the environment, such as erosion, pollution,
habitat disruption and reduction of biological diversity, and may jeopardize the
implementation of the silvicultural concept.
Principle 22. Pre-harvest prescriptions are important to minimize logging
damage to the residual stand, to reduce health risks for logging personnel and
to attune harvesting with the silvicultural concept.
Principle 23. Planning, location, design, and construction of roads, bridges,
causeways and fords should be done so as to minimize environmental damage.
Principle 24. Extraction frequently involves the use of heavy machinery and,
therefore, precautions must be taken to avoid damage.
Principle 25. Post-harvest operations are necessary to assess logging damage,
the state of forest regeneration, the need for releasing and other silvicultural
operations to assure the future timber crop.
Principle 26. Permanent production forest should be protected from activities
that are incompatible with sustainable timber production, such as the
encroachment by shifting cultivators often associated with the opening up of the
Principle 27. Fire is a serious threat to future productivity and environmental
quality of the forest. Increased fire risk in areas being logged, and even more
so in areas which have been logged, demands stringent safety measures.
Principle 28. Chemicals, such as the ones used in silvicultural treatment,
constitute risks both in terms of personnel safety and environmental pollution.
Principle 29. There should be incentives to support long term sustainable forest
management for all parties involved. Concessionaires should have the long term
viability of their concession provided for (mainly by government controlling
access to the forest); local populations should benefit from forest management;
government should receive sufficient revenue to continue its forest management
Principle 30. For private or customarily held forests the basic approach to
sustainability is the same as for government forests.
Principle 31. The national forest service should provide assistance to customary
rights holders and private forest owners to manage the forests sustainably.
Principle 32. Timber from forest land to be converted to other uses, and from
forests damaged by hurricanes and other disasters, should be optimally utilized.
At the same time, disruption of management of the permanent production forest
should be prevented.
Monitoring and Research
Principle 33. Monitoring and research should provide feedback about the
compatibility of forest management operations with the objectives of sustainable
timber production and other forest uses.
Socioeconomic and Financial Aspects
Principle 34. Sustained timber production depends on an equitable distribution
of the incentives, costs and benefits, associated with forest management,
between the principal participants, namely the forest authority, forest owners,
concessionaires and local communities.
Relations with Local Populations
Principle 35. The success of forest management for sustained timber production
depends to a considerable degree on its compatibility with the interests of local
Principle 36. Timber permits for areas inhabited by indigenous peoples should
take into consideration the conditions recommended by the World Bank and the
ILO for work in such areas inter alia.
Economics, Incentives, Taxation
Principle 37. Management for timber production can only be sustained on the
long-term if it is economically viable, (taking full account in the economic value
of all relevant costs and benefits from the conservation of the forest and its
ecological and environmental influences).
Principle 38. A share of the financial benefits accruing from timber harvesting
should be considered and used as funds for maintaining the productive capacity
of the forest resource.
Principle 39. Forest fees and taxes should be considered as incentives to
encourage more rational and less wasteful forest utilization and the
establishment of an efficient processing industry, and to discourage high-grading
and logging of forests which are marginal for timber production. They should
be and remain directly related to the real cost of forest management. Taxation
procedures should be as simple as possible and clear to all parties involved.
Principle 40. In order to achieve the main principle of good and sustainable
management, forest fees and taxes may need to be revised at relatively short
notice, due to circumstances outside the control of loggers and the forest agency
(e.g. fluctuations in the international timber market and currency). The
national forest agency should be granted the authority to carry out such
Principle 41. Continuity of operations is essential for sustainable forest
U.S. PRINCIPLES FOR A GLOBAL FOREST AGREEMENT62
1) Global Stewardship. Countries have a responsibility to engage in
cooperative stewardship to improve global environmental quality for mutual
benefit. They also have a sovereign right to manage their domestic natural
resources pursuant to their domestic policies. Global stewardship and
sustainable development depend upon the integration of healthy environmental
quality and robust economic growth.
2) Global Participation. Improvements in the management of forest
resources will have global benefits. All countries share an interest in promoting
such benefits, and all should share in efforts to achieve them.
3) International Cooperation. Countries should be encouraged to realize
their shared forestry goals through cooperative international arrangements.
Such arrangements to improve forest resource management could include
provision of education and training, research and monitoring, forest
management planning expertise, and financial and technical assistance.
4) Comprehensive Coverage. All types or forests -- boreal, temperate, and
tropical -- and all types of global forest benefits, including economic,
environmental, social, and cultural -- should be addressed in an agreement. This
includes attention to the sustainable use of forests for, inter alia, forest
products, biodiversity, greenhouse gas sequestration, and indigenous peoples.
5) Flexible, Performance-Based Approach. Progress on forestry should be
measured by the results obtained, to allow maximum scope for creative, diverse,
innovative, and cost-effective policies that contribute to global forest benefits.
Policies and practices should be flexible and able to respond to changing
circumstances and new information. Countries should be able to pursue results
through their own choices of specific forest management practices, both to
respect the autonomy of sovereign states and to enhance the cost-effectiveness
and dynamism of policies by allowing them to match local needs and
6) Use ofMarket Mechanisms. To enhance flexibility and effectiveness, the
use of market forces and mechanisms to achieve forestry goals should be
encouraged, both domestically and internationally.
7) Integration on Policies. Policies should comport with forestry objectives
in such areas as economics and trade (including taxes, subsidies and tariffs),
financial and technical assistance, and property rights and land tenure.
62 See: "U.S. Proposal on Forest Principles." U.S. State Department.
Washington, DC, May 1991.
Specific Principles Relating to Particular Forest Concerns
8) Sustainable Management. Promote sustainable management and
stewardship of forests to meet present and future human needs for economic
and ecological services. Act cooperatively for sustainable development combining
healthy environmental quality and robust economic growth. Reduce adverse
effects on forests by improving the efficiency of using land resources to meet
9) Conservation of Forest Diversity. Endeavor to conserve, maintain,
restore, and enhance the biological diversity of forested ecosystems, including
genetic, species, ecosystems, and landscape diversity.
10) Reforestation and Rehabilitation. Strive to maintain and increase the
total quantity and quality of forests to the extent economically and
environmentally justified and appropriate.
11) Climate Change. Seek to expand the use of forests as sinks and
reservoirs for greenhouse gases, and to endeavor to help forests adapt to
potential climate change and changing atmospheric composition.
12) Air Pollution. Seek appropriate actions to address the adverse effects of
air pollution on forest growth and productivity wherever economically and
13) Indigenous Peoples and Established Local Communities. Respect the
needs of indigenous peoples who use forests as the basis for their livelihood,
social organization or cultural identity. Recognize the need of established local
communities which depend upon forest resources to have an economic stake in
sustainable forest use. Raise local community awareness of the effects of their
actions on forests and promote compatibility of their actions with attainment of
forest management objectives.
14) Fuelwood and Energy. Find means to meet the demands for fuel for
cooking, heating and other energy while avoiding deforestation and degradation
15) Economics and Trade. Integrate sustainable forest use objectives and
policies with economic and trade policies. Harness market forces to achieve
national, regional and international forest management goals. Foster use of
debt-for-nature swaps and other innovative means.
16) Research and Inventory. Expand forestry research, inventory and
monitoring of the biological, physical, social, economic and other key variables
that affect or are components of forest resources, forest ecosystems, and forest
use to meet multiple objectives.
17) Education and Training. Strengthen institutional capabilities, improve
education in the science, technology and economics of forests and forest
management, and ensure full public access to information and public input to
the decision-making processes related to forest management.
18) Financial and Technical Assistance. Use financial and technical
assistance resources fully and efficiently to help countries implement national,
regional and international forestry programs aimed at the conservation and
sustainable use of forests. Ensure that development assistance is consistent
with sound forest use and stewardship.
UNCED FOREST PRINCIPLES63
1. (a) States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and
the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own
resources pursuant to their own environmental policies and have the
responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not
cause damage to the environment of other states or of areas beyond the limits
of national jurisdiction.
(b) The agreed full incremental cost of achieving benefits associated with
forest conservation and sustainable development requires increased international
cooperation and should be equitably shared by the international community.
2. (a) States have the sovereign and inalienable right to utilize, manage and
develop their forests in accordance with their development needs and level of
socioeconomic development and on the basis of national policies consistent with
sustainable development and legislation, including the conversion of such areas
for other uses within the overall socioeconomic development plan and based on
rational land-use policies.
(b) Forest resources and forest lands should be sustainably managed to
meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual human needs of
present and future generations. These needs are for forest products and
services, such as wood and wood products, water, food, fodder, medicine, fuel,
shelter, employment, recreation, habitats for wildlife, landscape diversity, carbon
sinks and reservoirs, and for other forest products. Appropriate measures
should be taken to protect forests against harmful effects of pollution, including
air-borne pollution, fires, pests and diseases in order to maintain their full
(c) The provision of timely, reliable and accurate information on forests
and forest ecosystems is essential for public understanding and informed
decision-making and should be ensured.
(d) Governments should promote and provide opportunities for the
participation of interested parties, including local communities and indigenous
people, industries, labour, non-governmental organizations and individuals,
forest dwellers and women, in the development, implementation and planning
of national forest policies.
3. (a) National policies and strategies should provide a framework for
increased efforts, including the development and strengthening of institutions
See: "Adoption of Agreements on Environment and Development: Non-
Legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus
on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of All Types
of Forests." Op. Cit.
and programmes for the management, conservation and sustainable development
of forests and forest lands.
(b) International institutional arrangements, building on those
organizations and mechanisms already in existence, as appropriate, should
facilitate international cooperation in the field of forests.
(c) All aspects of environmental protection and social and economic
development as they relate to forests and forest lands should be integrated and
4. The vital role of all types of forests in maintaining the ecological processes
and balance at the local, national, regional and global levels through, inter alia,
their role in protecting fragile ecosystems, watersheds and freshwater resources
and as rich storehouses of biodiversity and biological resources and sources of
genetic material for biotechnology products, as well as photosynthesis, should
5. (a) National forest policies should recognize and duly support the identity,
culture and the rights of indigenous people, their communities and other
communities and forest dwellers. Appropriate conditions should be promoted
for these groups to enable them to have an economic stake in forest use,
perform economic activities, and achieve and maintain cultural identity and
social organization, as well as adequate levels of livelihood and well-being,
through, inter alia, those land tenure arrangements which serve as incentives
for the sustainable management of forests.
(b) The full participation of women in all aspects of the management,
conservation and sustainable development of forests should be actively
6. (a) All types of forests play an important role in meeting energy
requirements through the provision of a renewable source of bio-energy,
particularly in developing countries, and the demands for fuelwood for
household and industrial needs should be met through sustainable forest
management, afforestation and reforestation. To this end, the potential
contribution of plantations of both indigenous and introduced species for the
provision of both fuel and industrial wood should be recognized.
(b) National policies and programmes should take into account the
relationship, where it exists, between the conservation, management and
sustainable development of forests and all aspects related to the production,
consumption, recycling and/or final disposal of forest products.
(c) Decisions taken on the management, conservation and sustainable
development of forest resources should benefit, to the extent practicable, from
a comprehensive assessment of economic and non-economic values of. forest
goods and services and of the environmental costs and benefits. The
development and improvement of methodologies for such evaluations should be
(d) The role of planted forests and permanent agricultural crops as
sustainable and environmentally sound sources of renewable energy and
industrial raw material should be recognized, enhanced and promoted. Their
contribution to the maintenance of ecological processes, to offsetting pressure
on primary/old-growth forest and to providing regional employment and
development with the adequate involvement of local inhabitants should be
recognized and enhanced.
(e) Natural forests also constitute a source of goods and services, and their
conservation, sustainable management and use should be promoted.
7. (a) Efforts should be made to promote a supportive international economic
climate conducive to sustained and environmentally sound development of
forests in all countries, which include, inter alia, the promotion of sustainable
patterns of production and consumption, the eradication of poverty and the
promotion of food security.
(b) Specific financial resources should be provided to developing countries
with significant forest areas which establish programmes for the conservation
of forests including protected natural forest areas. These resources should be
directed notably to economic sectors which would stimulate economic and social
8. (a) Efforts should be undertaken towards the greening of the world. All
countries, notably developed countries, should take positive and transparent
action towards reforestation, afforestation and forest conservation, as
(b) Efforts to maintain and increase forest cover and forest productivity
should be undertaken in ecologically, economically and socially sound ways
through the rehabilitation, reforestation and re-establishment of trees and
forests on unproductive, degraded and deforested lands, as well as through the
management of existing forest resources.
(c) The implementation of national policies and programmes aimed at
forest management, conservation and sustainable development, particularly in
developing countries, should be supported by international financial and
technical cooperation, including through the private sector, where appropriate.
(d) Sustainable forest management and use should be carried out in
accordance with national development policies and priorities and on the basis
of environmentally sound national guidelines. In the formulation of such
guidelines, account should be taken, as appropriate and if applicable, of relevant
internationally agreed methodologies and criteria.
(e) Forest management should be integrated with management of adjacent
areas so as to maintain ecological balance and sustainable productivity.
(f) National policies and/or legislation aimed at management, conservation
and sustainable development of forests should include the protection of
ecologically viable representative or unique examples of forests, including
primary/old-growth forests, cultural, spiritual, historical, religious and other
unique and valued forests of national importance.
(g) Access to biological resources, including genetic material, shall be with
due regard to the sovereign rights of the countries where the forests are located
and to the sharing on mutually agreed terms of technology and profits from
biotechnology products that are derived from these resources.
(h) National policies should ensure that environmental impact assessments
should be carried out where actions are likely to have significant adverse
impacts on important forest resources, and where such actions are subject to a
decision of a competent national authority.
9. (a) The efforts of developing countries to strengthen the management,
conservation and sustainable development of their forest resources should be
supported by the international community, taking into account the importance
of redressing external indebtedness, particularly where aggravated by the net
transfer of resources to developed countries, as well as the problem of achieving
at least the replacement value of forests through improved market access for
forest products, especially processed products. In this respect, special attention
should also be given to the countries undergoing the process of transition to
(b) The problems that hinder efforts to attain the conservation and
sustainable use of forest resources and that stem from the lack of alternative
options available to local communities, in particular the urban poor and poor
rural populations who are economically and socially dependent on forests and
forest resources, should be addressed by Governments and the international
(c) National policy formulation with respect to all types of forests should
take account of the pressures and demands imposed on forest ecosystems and
resources from influencing factors outside the forest sector, and intersectoral
means of dealing with these pressures and demands should be sought.
10. New and additional financial resources should be provided to developing
countries to enable them to sustainably manage, conserve and develop their
forest resources, including through afforestation, reforestation and combating
deforestation and forest and land degradation.
11. In order to enable, in particular, developing countries to enhance their
endogenous capacity and to better manage, conserve and develop their forest
resources, the access to and transfer of environmentally sound technologies and
corresponding know-how on favourable terms, including on concessional and
preferential terms, as mutually agreed, in accordance with the relevant
provisions of Agenda 21, should be promoted, facilitated and financed, as
12. (a) Scientific research, forest inventories and assessments carried out by
national institutions which take into account, where relevant, biological,
physical, social and economic variables, as well as technological development and
its application in the field of sustainable forest management, conservation and
development, should be strengthened through effective modalities, including
international cooperation. In this context, attention should be given to research
and development of sustainably harvested non-wood products.
(b) National and, where appropriate, regional and international
institutional capabilities in education, training, science, technology, economics,
anthropology and social aspects of forests and forest management are essential
to the conservation and sustainable development of forests and should be
(c) International exchange of information on the results of forest and
forest management research and development should be enhanced and
broadened, as appropriate, making full use of education and training
institutions, including those in the private sector.
(d) Appropriate indigenous capacity and local knowledge regarding the
conservation and sustainable development of forests should, through
institutional and financial support, and in collaboration with the people in local
communities concerned, be recognized, respected, recorded, developed and, as
appropriate, introduced in the implementation of programmes. Benefits arising
from the utilization of indigenous knowledge should therefore be equitably
shared with such people.
13. (a) Trade in forest products should h- based on non-discriminatory and
multilaterally agreed rules and procedures consistent with international trade
law and practices. In this context, open and free international trade in forest
products should be facilitated.
(b) Reduction or removal of tariff barriers and impediments to the
provision of better market access and better prices for higher value-added forest
products and their local processing should be encouraged to enable producer
countries to better conserve and manage their renewable forest resources.
(c) Incorporation of environmental costs and benefits into market forces
and mechanisms, in order to achieve forest conservation and sustainable
development, should be encouraged both domestically and internationally.
(d) Forest conservation and sustainable development policies should be
integrated with economic, trade and other relevant policies.
(e) Fiscal, trade, industrial, transportation and other policies and practices .
that may lead to forest degradation should be avoided. Adequate policies, aimed
at management, conservation and sustainable development of forests, including
where appropriate, incentives, should be encouraged.
14. Unilateral measures, incompatible with int-:national obligations or
agreements, to restrict and/or ban international trade in timber or other forest
products should be removed or avoided, in order to attain long-term sustainable
15. Pollutants, particularly air-borne pollutants, including those responsible for
acidic deposition, that are harmful to the health of forest ecosystems at the
local, national, regional and global levels should be controlled.