Good Governance, Corruption, and Forest Protection

Critical insights from environmental anthropology

Authored by: Pauline von Hellermann

Routledge Handbook of Environmental Anthropology

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138782877
eBook ISBN: 9781315768946
Adobe ISBN: 9781317667964


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Since the 1990s, the idea of ‘good governance’ has become one of the leading paradigms in tropical forest conservation, as in international development as a whole. ‘Bad’ governance – weak institutions, inefficiency, corruption, and illegal activities – is now widely regarded as a major cause of deforestation; ‘good’ governance – institutional reform, the combat of corruption and crime and the promotion of efficiency, rule of law, transparency, accountability, and participation – as the route towards forest protection. These principles have informed recent policy initiatives in tropical forest conservation in various ways. Advocated and supported by the World Bank, the United Nations (UN), and other donors, there has been a widespread shift towards decentralised and participatory forms of forest management, as greater participation is believed to reduce opportunities for mismanagement and corruption. In addition, a series of Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) initiatives, including the European Commission’s Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) have been established since 2001, with the aim to combat illegal logging and corruption in the forest sector through various measures, including licensing schemes (Brown et al. 2008). Greenpeace, too, responsible for one of the first investigations into illegal logging in the 1990s, campaigns for the setting up and improvement of verification schemes. The promotion of good governance is also a core component of the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD and REDD+), which aims to prevent deforestation by creating a financial value for the carbon stored in old-growth high forest. The activities and funding of REDD+, as well as those of the related Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, have so far focused on helping producer governments to demonstrate their ‘readiness’ to participate, through democratic governance, anti-corruption initiatives, and improving transparency.

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