Improving the framework for sustainable forest management
Poor governance, corruption and illegality in the forest sector put at risk forest-dependent populations who rely on timber and non-timber forest products for their livelihoods and survival, and undermine responsible forest enterprises by distorting timber markets. These failures result in a loss of revenue that could be invested in sustainable forest management or economic development. Often they are part of wider networks of corruption and environmental crime. The World Bank estimates the (global) annual market value of losses from illegal cutting of forests at over US$10 billion – more than eight times the total official developmental assistance (ODA) flows to the sustainable management of forests. Illegal and unsustainable logging also undermines ongoing efforts to curb deforestation and enhance carbon stocks to mitigate climate change.
Illegal logging can be poverty driven or associated with commercial exploitation of timber. The causes of illegal logging and other forest crimes are complex, and often lie outside the forestry sector. Therefore solutions will also differ. Weak governance, including unclear or nonexistent policies or legislation and their enforcement on the use of forest resources is a key issue. Weak institutional structures and inability to monitor and enforce regulations hamper progress in many countries. These weaknesses are difficult to address politically, since well-connected interest groups tend to benefit from the status quo and resist change.
However over the last decade, the World Bank, the European Union and other partners have made significant strides in opening the space for dialogue and reform by backing Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) processes in different parts of the world. The Program on Forests (PROFOR), hosted by the World Bank, has also made forest governance one of its priority issues, providing technical assistance to improve the monitoring of forest activities and helping create consensus and political will around priority reforms.