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Symposium 2012

Proposal - Protecting and Restoring the World’s Forests

The Challenge

Forests are one of the world's major sources of ecosystem goods and services, including timber and water provision, carbon sequestration and biological diversity. Yet, destructive logging and increasi ...

Forests are one of the world's major sources of ecosystem goods and services, including timber and water provision, carbon sequestration and biological diversity. Yet, destructive logging and increasing global demand for agricultural area for food, feed and bioenergy production continue to put pressure on forests, leading to loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystem services. Without any action, this contributes to the development that future generations might inherit a planet with a much poorer life web and unstable climate than today, which turns the protection and restoration of World's forests into one of the prominent ethical issues of our time.

Solutions “Protecting and Restoring the World’s Forests”
Global forests have a lot to offer: clean water, fresh, climate change mitigation, food, medicine and important natural resources, such as timber and paper. In recognition of its essential role for the well-being of both local people and the global community and to preserve its ecosystem services for future generations, the following solutions can help to preserve and restore sustainably managed global forests:

Integrated Governance on different regional levels
Experiences from pilot projects on REDD+ and PES schemes show that a successful implementation can neither be solved on a global, nor on a national or local level only. Rather, an integrated approach is required that combines local knowledge and incentives with funding opportunities and regulations on a global scale. This requires that:
1) Financing has to be provided by developed countries and distribution mechanisms have to be established by the global community, since many developing countries lack of enough financial funds to address a decrease in forests and local ecosystem services.
2) The ecosystem services provided by forests and different uses of these services such as food production, hunting possibilities, fire wood and carbon sequestration need to be assessed on a local scale.
3) Institutional and social factors must be known and included into the design of a local scheme. For example, in many developing countries, forests are owned by the community and thus have no formalized secure tenure status. This aspect must be considered when implementing schemes as payments are mostly based on formal land titles.
As a consequence, the establishment of incentives and control mechanisms has to take place on different regional levels – the global, national and local level in an integrated way. Best practices and standards have to be developed from already established schemes that allow for an international coordination of locally established payment for ecosystem services schemes.

Avoidance of leakage
For PES or REDD+ schemes to have a net effect on forest protection, leakage effects must be avoided. A leakage effects materializes when an economic activity moves from the region with the implemented scheme to another region without protection efforts installed, causing the same destructive effect. Different measures can avoid or reduce such leakage effects:
1) The demand for the economic activity must be met with other efforts. This could be the planting of forest plantations or the investment in other energy sources to meet the energy needs of the local people.
2) To assure food security, the productivity on the existing cropland can be increased for example by providing extensions services or access to fertilizers and seeds.
3) Grasslands, which often have a higher biodiversity but lower carbon density than forests and are not covered by existing schemes such as REDD+, are predetermined for being affected by leakage effects. An official spatial planning that identifies high valuable areas in terms of ecosystem services which is then implemented into practice and binding for all agricultural and agroforestral activities can guide these activities into less valuable areas. However, for such a spatial planning to be effective, strong institutions, the fighting of corruption and an effective monitoring system is mandatory.

Establishment of sustainability policies of producers on a global level
1) On an international scale, producers of forest based products should establish a sustainability policy in order to guarantee a sustainable management of their forest resources. Producers of forest based products should establish a guarantee of origin policy that accounts for both environmental and social sustainability of their forest products. Schemes that offer such certification services are already well established, such as FSC which is globally valid and is no barrier to trade under the WTO.
2) To improve the incentive of responsible trade policies, it is the responsibility of the media and NGO´s to make violations of sustainability standards publicly visible. Consequently, a responsible practice provides producers with public and consumer recognition and therefore with protection for their brands and reputation and allows access to highly environmentally sensitive markets.
3) In addition financial institutions and watchdog organizations could use such guarantee of sustainable production as a criteria to offer their service.