Environment, Politics, News

Study: Companies and environmentalists working together can slow deforestation

According to a Stanford University study, collective efforts to reduce deforestation are more than twice as effective as “confrontational” programs implemented by either nongovernmental  organizations or industry. Various eco-certifications inform consumers of their impact on deforestation. However, there hasn’t been much research on their effectiveness up until now. The study finds that  these certifications have improved forest product sustainability to a great extent. According to “Impacts of Nonstate, Market-Driven Governance on Chilean forests” published in “Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences”, Market-driven attempts have reduced deforestation to a great extent, with multi-party collaborations having the greatest impact. “Our research shows that these market-based conservation efforts have reduced deforestation in Chile,” said lead author Robert Heilmayr, a recent graduate from Stanford’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, in the paper “Impacts of Nonstate, Market-Driven Governance on Chilean forests” published in “Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences” A comparison on the conservation outcomes between CERTFOR, a largely industry developed certification program, Joint Solutions Project (JSP), an NGO-instigated deforestation moratorium and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a cooporation between industry and nongovernmental organizations, has provided insight into this issue.


FSC was most successful in reducing deforestation. (Photo Courtesy : www.morguefile.com)

While CERTFOR had 16 percent reduction in deforestation on average, JSP-only participants experienced an average reductions of 20 percent. With 43% reduction in deforestation, FSC resulted in the greatest success. According to Heilmayr and co-author  Eric Lambin,the George and Setsuko Ishiyama Provostial Professor in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, the balance between strict environmental requirements with cost-effective solutions was responsible for FSC’s leading success. This balance creates a notion among participants that their interests have been protected and hence they follow through on requirements. The analysis also suggests in contrast to government policies, private and market-driven programs are better at lowering deforestation rates in places of high deforestation. “Traditional conservation policies like national parks often protect remote, pristine locations,” Heilmayr said. “Agreements between companies and environmentalists can reduce deforestation in more threatened forests.” “In the globalization era, deforestation is increasingly associated with consumption in distant, international markets,” said Lambin . “We need new approaches to environmental governance that regulate the impact of international actors.”