Deforestation, Forest Management and Governance


The world's forests are a major source of material and fuel, a vast reservoir of biodiversity and they also provide valuable ecological services such as hydrological cycling and carbon sequestration. They play an important role in carbon accounting schemes under the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). As such, the impacts of global deforestation are of critical social, ecological and political significance. The primary causes of deforestation are well understood and will likely be exacerbated as new demands for forest products develop. Innovative governance arrangements, such as third party certification schemes and co‐management, have increasingly sought a role in alleviating deforestation alongside governmental forest policy‐making. Continued decreases in deforestation rates will depend on changes in how forests are valued and managed through multi‐level governance arrangements.

Key Concepts:

  • Energy production account for more than 50% of all wood uses.

  • There is concern that woodfuel use is one of the drivers of deforestation, but it is often difficult with available statistics to understand just how important this driver is.

  • Deforestation is mainly caused by economic forces, governance failures and politico‐ethical failures.

  • Given the rapid global loss of biodiversity, mainly due to deforestation in tropical areas, primary and selectively logged forests are of critical importance in tropical forest conservation.

  • Forest carbon sequestration is explicitly allowed in the Kyoto Protocol as a tool to meet emission reduction targets.

  • Without stricter governance oversight, carbon emissions mitigation initiatives such as the UN Programme on REDD can enable the usurpation of land and resource rights from indigenous communities in developing countries.

  • Decreasing the rate of deforestation requires the participation not just of governments but of local communities, indigenous peoples and citizens for decision‐making and monitoring in forest policy and management.

Keywords: deforestation; biodiversity; forests; biofuels; forest governance, carbon accounting


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Further Reading

Bäckstrand K, Khan J, Kronsell A and Lövbrand (eds) (2010) Environmental Politics and Deliberative Democracy: Examining the Promise of New Modes of Governance. Massachussetts: Edward Elgar Publishing.

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United Nations Environmental Programme (2010) Global Biodiversity Outlook 3. 94 pp. Stevenage. Hertfordshire, England: Earthprint.

Williams M (2003) Deforesting the Earth. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Lisa Klenk, Nicole, Mabee, Warren, Gong, Yazhen, and Bull, Gary Q(Sep 2012) Deforestation, Forest Management and Governance. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0003293.pub2]