Policy Options for the World’s Primary Forests in Multilateral Environmental Agreements

We identify policies that would provide a solid foundation in key international negotiations to ensure that primary forests persist into the 21st Century. A novel compilation of primary forest cover and other data revealed that protection of primary forests is a matter of global concern being equally distributed between developed and developing countries. Almost all (98%) of primary forest is found within 25 countries with around half in five developed ones (USA, Canada, Russia, Australia, and NZ). Only ∼22% of primary forest is found in IUCN Protected Areas Categories I–VI, which is approximately 5% of preagriculture natural forest cover. Rates of deforestation and forest degradation are rapid and extensive, and the long-term integrity of primary forest cannot be assumed. We recommend four new actions that could be included in climate change, biodiversity, and sustainable development negotiations: (1) recognize primary forests as a matter of global concern within international negotiations; (2) incorporate primary forests into environmental accounting; (3) prioritize the principle of avoided loss; and (4) universally accept the important role of indigenous and community conserved areas. In the absence of specific policies for primary forest protection, their unique biodiversity values and ecosystem services will continue to erode. Authors: Brendan Mackey, Dominick A. DellaSala, Cyril Kormos, David Lindenmayer, Noelle Kumpel, Barbara Zimmerman, Sonia Hugh, Virginia Young, Sean Foley, Kriton Arsenis, James E.M. Watson View entire Article Supplementary Information Link to Publishers...

Prospects for Sustainable Logging in Tropical Forests

A convincing body of evidence shows that as it is presently codified, sustainable forest-management (SFM) logging implemented at an industrial scale guarantees commercial and biological depletion of high-value timber species within three harvests in all three major tropical forest regions. The minimum technical standards necessary for approaching ecological sustainability directly contravene the prospects for financial profitability. Therefore, industrial-scale SFM is likely to lead to the degradation and devaluation of primary tropical forests as surely as widespread conventional unmanaged logging does today. Recent studies also show that logging in the tropics, even using SFM techniques, releases significant carbon dioxide and that carbon stocks once stored in logged timber and slash takes decades to rebuild. These results beg for a reevaluation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change proposals to apply a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation subsidy for the widespread implementation of SFM logging in tropical forests. However, encouraging models of the successful sustainable management of tropical forests for timber and nontimber products exist at local-community scales. Authors: Barbara L. Zimmerman and Cyril F. Kormos View entire Article Link to Publishers...