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BRIEF

Our Work with Forests: Frequently Asked Questions

January 31, 2013

Q: Does the Bank finance commercial logging in ancient primary forests?

A: No. The Bank does not finance industrial logging in critical natural habitats and critical forest areas, such as ancient primary forests. We do not finance industrial logging in these areas, neither through Bank operations nor through climate investment funds such as the Forest Investment Program. The Bank’s forests operational policy (OP4.36) prohibits projects that “would involve significant conversion or degradation of critical forest areas or related critical natural habitats.” In its design document, the Forest Investment Program states that it “should safeguard natural forests and should not support the conversion, deforestation or degradation of such forests, inter alia, through industrial logging, conversion of natural forests to tree plantations or other large-scale agricultural conversion.”

Q: What is the Bank’s position on commercial logging in developing countries? 

A: Good forest management can contribute to rural livelihoods, improve national development outcomes, and reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The Bank supports good forest management at national and local levels. We do this primarily by financing measures such as institutional capacity building, forest sector reform, improving the rights of indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities, and tax reform. Under the right conditions, forest management can also be enhanced by harvesting to meet commercial timber demands, but this is only acceptable, and in a limited number of instances, when harvesting can be undertaken in a manner which meets clear environmental, social, and economic standards.

Q: How is the Bank combating illegal logging and forest sector corruption?

A: The Bank is a strong supporter of forest law enforcement and governance programs (FLEG), through its cooperation with client countries and support for regional FLEG programs. For example, the Bank is supporting the establishment of the Department of Forest Inspection in Lao PDR and supports tracking logs along the “chain of custody” in Liberia. It works with NGOs to support the inclusion of various stake-holders in consultative processes and bolsters efforts to monitor forest resources. The Bank also provides analytical and technical tools that support good governance and the fight against corruption in all sectors including forestry. In its own operations, the Bank ensures that projects are based on careful environmental and social assessments and that stakeholders are involved at all stages of planning and implementation.  Any instances of alleged corruption in Bank-financed interventions are reported to the Bank's anti-corruption unit for investigation and where appropriate, referral for criminal prosecution. 

Q: What is the Bank’s policy on Indigenous Peoples?

A: Under World Bank OP4.10, the development process must fully respect the dignity, human rights, economies and cultures of Indigenous Peoples. If it cannot be ascertained whether the affected Indigenous People’s communities provide their broad support for a proposed project, World Bank financing is not provided. The World Bank Group promotes greater recognition of the rights of local communities and indigenous groups and greater attention to land tenure, benefit-sharing and access to resources. It also provides guidance and tools for mainstreaming poverty issues into forest policy. This work includes supporting stakeholder participation in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs that foster community ownership and long-term sustainability of forest resources. In addition, the World Bank works through partnerships such as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the Forest Investment Program and the Growing Forest Partnerships to improve the consultation, voice and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in national and international climate programs.

Q: What is the relationship between the Bank and REDD+ initiatives?

A: The international community has been looking for ways to slow down forest-based greenhouse gas emissions. The concept of REDD + (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, plus conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks) is part of an emerging consensus regarding forest related global climate change efforts under the framework of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Through various partnership mechanisms and pilot activities, such as the BioCarbon Fund, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the Forest Investment Program and the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank is supporting international negotiations by demonstrating how REDD+ could be applied at the country level.

The World Bank serves as the Trustee and the Secretariat of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), a global partnership that is helping 37 countries draft REDD+ readiness proposals and which will provide carbon payments to a limited number of countries that meet certain targets. The World Bank is also one of the five multilateral development banks implementing the Forest Investment Program (FIP), a targeted program under the Climate Investment Funds that seeks to catalyze transformational change by piloting and scaling up effective forest management efforts that complement REDD+ strategies and that will contribute to reducing deforestation and degradation.

These two climate change programs, FCPF and FIP, have intensified cooperation with a third important initiative developed by the United Nations, the UN-REDD Programme. Together, these initiatives bring together more than 50 countries and organizations committed to addressing the causes of forest loss.

Q: Why does the Bank support REDD+?

A: REDD+ is a broad approach that seeks to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation but also invest in conservation, the sustainable management of forests and enhancing forest carbon stocks. We need to explore all avenues at the broader landscape level to make an impact. Simply putting up fences to conserve the last pristine forests and focusing solely on carbon will not work. Unless we restore degraded landscapes, promote sustainable practices, and rebuild forest stocks through reforestation efforts, the world’s remaining functioning ecosystems will be destroyed. An estimated 2 billion hectares of lost or degraded forest lands and rural landscapes could be restored and rehabilitated through targeted interventions.  If those areas were to be restored, they could help deliver a “triple win” by improving rural livelihoods, increasing food security, and contributing to climate change mitigation -- while taking pressure off pristine forests.