Deforestation: An Overview of Global Programs and Agreements

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Deforestation: An Overview of Global Programs and Agreements


In recent years, global environmental concerns have figured prominently on the American political agenda. In particular, tropical

deforestation and its implications for global climate change and biological diversity loss have prompted public outcry. Concerns have since

grown to include other forest types as well. The Congress has considered a variety of legislation to stem the tide of increasing deforestation

and the United States has supported a number of bilateral and multilateral initiatives to assist other countries in managing their forest


In addition, the issue of deforestation has garnered increasing attention in international arenas which has translated into a bewildering array

of programs, principles, and policies regarding forests. This paper provides some background on four of the main multilateral avenues for

addressing deforestation and clarifies their roles and interrelationships. The organizations, processes, and negotiations covered here include:

the Tropical Forestry Action Programme (TFAP), the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the United Nations Conference

on Environment and Development (UNCED), and the World Bank.

Considered as a whole, these efforts represent attempts by the

international community to address deforestation -- in the tropics, as well as in temperate and boreal forests. This review provides the

history and structure of these programs, together with the critiques and arguments concerning their success or weakness, in order to provide

the context for continuing congressional oversight of global forest issues and the consideration of legislation on appropriations for these


The TFAP has created a framework for bringing the nations of the North and South together. It has helped many countries to analyze their

forest resources more rigorously and has generated high-level attention on forest issues. The ITTO has become a vehicle for conservation

concerns and established targets and standards for sustainable tropical timber management. UNCED focused...