Deforestation: An Overview Of Global Programs And Agreements

5257 words - 21 pages

Deforestation: An Overview of Global Programs and AgreementsSUMMARYIn recent years, global environmental concerns have figured prominently on the American political agenda. In particular, tropicaldeforestation and its implications for global climate change and biological diversity loss have prompted public outcry. Concerns have sincegrown to include other forest types as well. The Congress has considered a variety of legislation to stem the tide of increasing deforestationand the United States has supported a number of bilateral and multilateral initiatives to assist other countries in managing their forestresources.In addition, the issue of deforestation has garnered increasing attention in international arenas which has translated into a bewildering arrayof programs, principles, and policies regarding forests. This paper provides some background on four of the main multilateral avenues foraddressing 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 Conferenceon Environment and Development (UNCED), and the World Bank. Considered as a whole, these efforts represent attempts by theinternational community to address deforestation -- in the tropics, as well as in temperate and boreal forests. This review provides thehistory and structure of these programs, together with the critiques and arguments concerning their success or weakness, in order to providethe context for continuing congressional oversight of global forest issues and the consideration of legislation on appropriations for theseprograms.The TFAP has created a framework for bringing the nations of the North and South together. It has helped many countries to analyze theirforest resources more rigorously and has generated high-level attention on forest issues. The ITTO has become a vehicle for conservationconcerns and established targets and standards for sustainable tropical timber management. UNCED focused unprecedented attention onforest-related issues. The final documents relating to forests articulate the concept of sustainable development. And the World Bank's newforest policy requires environmental assessments and prohibits the financing of commercial logging in moist tropical forests under anycircumstances.These are notable achievements, but deforestation continues. Critics point to the need for refinements or improvements (and in some casemajor restructuring) in all of these international programs and policies. A closer look at the progress and pitfalls of these efforts indicatesthat international mechanisms for addressing deforestation require lengthy and often laborious negotiation, while the sense of urgencyconcerning continuing very rapid deforestation grows.INTRODUCTIONDespite years of public outcry, the world's tropical forests are being cut down at a rate 40 percent faster...

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