Seeing the Forest

Linden, Eugene; Lovejoy, Thomas; Phillips, J. Daniel
July 2004
Foreign Affairs;Jul/Aug2004, Vol. 83 Issue 4, p8
The article provides information on various efforts to address tropical deforestation. Conservationists must find ways to preserve the vitality of the systems that protect a forest, not just the forest itself. Moreover, the pace of deforestation is such that conservationists will have to implement large-scale measures without perfect knowledge of what it is they are trying to save. What is needed, then, is a plan that is comprehensive enough to provide wall-to-wall coverage of an entire rainforest system. The most ambitious prior effort to address tropical deforestation is the Tropical Forest Action Plan, sponsored by the World Bank and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The plan became mired in bureaucratic haggling and actually intensified deforestation in Cameroon. Participants in the Kyoto Protocol, meanwhile still cannot decide whether to include a particular carbon sink provision that would allow industries to offset their greenhouse gas emissions by paying forest owners to keep trees standing. A successful conservation plan should include several basic provisions. First, it should involve every country that is home to a portion of the forest. Second, it should attract outside funding. Third, it should be grand enough to draw a new cohort of donors at a time when past failures and the sheer number of competing projects and international tensions have produced donor fatigue. Fourth, it should be simple and transparent, both to reduce the possibility for misunderstanding in host countries and to minimize the potential for endless negotiation and inertia. Finally, it should be deployed rapidly.


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