HOW CANADA COMPARES. International Review of Forest Policy and Regulation

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1 International Review of Forest Policy and Regulation A summary of a study conducted by Professor Benjamin Cashore, Yale University July 2004

2 Introduction An independent study by Professor Benjamin Cashore, of Yale University s Center for Forestry has provided a ground breaking comparison of forest policy and regulations across 38 jurisdictions around the world. The results of the study will add a wealth of objective and relevant information to the global debate about where forest policy and regulation should go in the future. The study was sponsored by two Canadian organizations, the Forest Products Association of Canada and British Columbia s BC Market Outreach Network. The sponsors of the study welcome comment and feedback. They hope that the study will shed light and help guide the future course of debates about subjects such as original forest protection, and the role that different parts of the world can play in the effort to constantly improve forest management. This study was conducted by: Dr. Benjamin Cashore, associate professor of sustainable forest policy, and chair, Program on Forest Certification, at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT. Dr. Constance McDermott, research associate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT. Methodology The study set out to provide a perspective on how forest policy and regulation differs among the areas of the world that are most involved in the trade in forest products. The first step involved selecting the region to be included in the study. The criteria used were the size of forest cover and the level of involvement in forest products trade. In order to add further dimensions to the study, detailed analysis was included for four Canadian provinces and 14 US states. These selection criteria yielded the jurisdictions listed in Table 1. Table 1: Case Study Jurisdictions Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec) Mexico Germany Poland Indonesia China Australia Chile Portugal New Zealand United States (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas) Brazil Sweden Russia India Japan South Africa DR of Congo Finland The next stage in developing the methodology was to identify the policy subject areas that should be included in the comparisons. The following subjects were considered to be the most broadly relevant to the current and likely future discourse in this field: Table 2: Subject Areas Riparian Zones Clearcutting Biodiversity / Protected Areas Reforestation Roads Annual Allowable Cut Enforcement & Compliance Forest Certification Latvia Some caveats are important to note. The study looked at policy and regulations, not outcomes. Outcomes are obviously important, and could be the subject of future work. Also, the study authors recognize the important differences between jurisdictions that feature high levels of public versus private ownership. No attempt is made to infer from these comparisons that one model is superior to the other. Finally, one of the most important features of a policy or regulatory regime is its ability to ensure compliance. This study felt it necessary to consider compliance, and as a consequence reviewed extensive literature to help shape observations. At the same time, it is readily acknowledged that this is not a substitute for a definitive study of compliance methods and success rates. Page 2

3 % Change in Forest Cover Total Forest Area (million ha) in 2000 Findings Forest policy and regulation varies greatly from one jurisdiction to another. This makes the process of comparisons challenging, and means that interpretations must be made with great care. Nonetheless, the global community of customers of forest products are increasingly being asked to consider sourcing their fiber needs from places that have adequate forest policy and therefore, such comparisons are necessary. The following summaries of findings are observations either taken directly from the report, or abbreviated observations verified by the authors of the study as accurate and within context. Page 3

4 Compliance and Enforcement One of the most interesting findings in this study is that some countries with relatively low compliance rates have some of the most stringent rules to be found anywhere in the world. One possible explanation for this phenomenon is that pressures on poorer countries to address forest management problems cause some governments to enact laws that simply cannot be enforced, alleviating political pressure at relatively little cost. Written policies that are ignored by those whom they are meant to govern and/or those responsible for their enforcement, have little meaning for environmental protection. Comparing such policies with policies that are actively enforced is essentially comparing apples to oranges. Some of the case study countries have demonstrated very low rates of compliance to written regulations, due to diverse systemic problems such as political instability, rural poverty, corruption, foreign debt, and pressures from international lending institutions. Non-compliance with forest rules and regulations is a serious challenge facing many developing countries and countries in transition, due to problems of political instability, weak economies, corruption and rural poverty. In some countries, shrinking government budgets may also be a factor, discouraging investment in enforcement. The study notes that Canada, and in particular, British Columbia and Ontario, have among the most formally thorough procedures to monitor compliance, among the jurisdictions examined. Riparian Zones Riparian zones (the areas around waterways), are a central issue in many forest management debates. The generally accepted view among environmental activists is that mandatory riparian zones are a fundamental element of sustainable forestry, and that the larger the buffer zones the more complete the environmental protection. Acknowledging the need for care in making comparisons, it is nonetheless the case that Canada was found to have among the most stringent (meaning mandatory rather than discretionary, and substantively detailed) rules regarding riparian zones among all of the jurisdictions examined in this study. (In the course of the long running debate on softwood lumber trade between Canada and the US, some US stakeholders occasionally claim that few environmental protections exist in Canada, and that this represents a virtual subsidy for Canadian lumber producers. This study shows that in the case of riparian zones, as well as most other important protections, such an allegation is completely without merit. Canadian regulations are clearly more stringent than those in place in the American Southeast, and generally the equivalent or more stringent than those in other parts of the US.) Clearcutting Forest types and topography mean that cutting practices will logically differ substantially from country to country, and in many of the jurisdictions in this study. The Canadian provinces included in this study all have non-discretionary, substantive regulations that establish maximum clearcut sizes. Similar frameworks exist in Russia, and Chile. Nominally, limits are more restrictive in these developing countries than in Canada, however concerns have emerged about the ability of these states to ensure compliance with these regulations. In general, plantation forests, such as those in New Zealand, and the Southeastern US, do not set limits on clearcut size. The study found considerable diversity in practices in this area. Some of these differences are based on different topographical features. For example the buffer zones that apply to Amazon area rivers wider than 600 meters has no logical equivalent in many parts of the world. Page 4

5 Clearcutting Clearcut size limits in select transition countries and Canadian provinces (ha) None Clearcut size limits in selec OECD countries and Canadian provinces None Page 5

6 Roads The impact of logging roads on the forest environment has also been an important debate in recent years. The study used regulations regarding culvert size at stream crossings and rules governing road deactivation as relevant criteria to compare the regimes of different jurisdictions. These are easily measurable criteria with a clear and direct impact on on-the-ground practices. Canada applies stringent (non-discretionary, substantive) regulations in regard to both culvert specifications and road decommissioning. In terms of culvert rules, BC, Quebec and Alberta specify culvert sizes, while Ontario mandates that they must allow for fish passage. Minimum culvert sizes are also specified in the western US, and the Russian Republic. A lack of culvert specifications is noted in South Africa, Chile, Latvia, Poland, New Zealand plantations, and the US southeastern states included in this study. In terms of road decommissioning, the US western states and the US Forest Service lands have similar requirements to those of the four Canadian provinces. Among the other case study countries, only Indonesia appears to have taken the same approach. Table 3: Mandatory Road Deactivation Standards or Policies Alberta British Columbia Ontario Quebec Alaska California Idaho Oregon Washington Voluntary Road Deactivation Standards or Policies Arkansas Georgia Louisiana Mississippi Montana Texas Virginiav No Road Deactivation Standards or Policies Alabama North Carolina Quebec private Annual Allowable Cut Annual allowable cut is a useful criterion in that it measures the existence or lack thereof of a formal process to determine that harvest rates are sustainable over time. All four Canadian provinces specify harvest limits. In the US private lands, most study states do not specify allowable cut limits. The same is true in Sweden, Portugal, the Brazilian Amazon, private forests in Japan and Latvia, and plantation forests in Chile, South Africa, and New Zealand. Page 6

7 Reforestation Policies that prescribe required time frames for forest regeneration are found in many of the case study jurisdictions. All four Canadian provinces have stringent requirements of this sort. No such standards or policies exist in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, or in plantation forests in Chile and South Africa. Brazilian policies regarding the Amazon allow for some permanent deforestation. Table 5: Mandatory Standards or Policies With Timeframes Alaska With Stocking Levelts Alberta British Columbia California Chile China DRC Table 4: Voluntary Reforestation Standards or Policies Arkansas Georgia Louisiana Montana New Zealand plantation Portugal South Carolina No Reforestation Standards or Policies Aabama Brazilian Amazon 1 Chile plantation Mississippi New South Wales private lands North Carolina Texas South Africa - plantation 2 Finland Germany Idaho India Indonesia Latvia Mexico New South Wales public lands Jurisdictions with voluntary or no reforestation standards or policies. New Zealand indigenous forests 1 Brazilian Amazon has deforestation permits, however, (20-80% of private properties must be maintained as forest reserve, depending on property size) 2 South African plantations on non-forest lands are frequently deforested to restore water tables Ontario Oregon Poland state forests Poland private forests 3 Quebec Russia South Africa natural forests Virginia Washington Twenty-four of the case studies have mandatory reforestation standards policies, and some also have mandatory timeframes or stocking levels. 3 Poland private forests have voluntary stocking standards Page 7

8 Biodiversity Essentially all forest policies that affect on the ground forest practices impact on biodiversity in one manner or another. To help shed some light upon how different jurisdictions deal with this very complex subject, the study examined two indicators: protection of species at risk, and protected areas. In Canada, the federal government has recently enacted a Species at Risk law, and Ontario and Quebec have enacted their own laws as well. Outside of Canada, legislation is found in the US, Portugal, New South Wales, Japan, Russia, Mexico, and Indonesia. Protected areas are another key tool in biodiversity protection. While the study s authors note that the data in this area is somewhat dated (IUCN data compiled in 1997, GAP data compiled in 2000). The findings show that Canada is among the countries of the world with the largest protected areas, larger still than Brazil or Russia, which have larger forests. Within the North American context, British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta are all among the jurisdictions that have the highest percentage of forest protected, while Quebec is about at the mid-point among state and provincial jurisdictions examined. Total Frontier Forest ( 000 km 2 ) in 1997 Protected Areas: Wilderness & National Parks Page 8

9 Forest Certification Certification of sustainable forest practices has emerged in recent years as an important market based indicator of progressive forest management. Today, the vast majority of certified forest lies within Europe and North America, despite the fact that the concept originated as a means to halt tropical forest degradation in the southern hemisphere. Canada leads all other study countries in terms of the amount of forest land that is independently certified, and is fifth when the measurement is as a percentage of forest land under certification. The countries with larger forests than Canada, Brazil and Russia, have far less forest under certification at present. Amount of Forest Land Certified by Country, December 2003 Page 9

10 Conclusions Worldwide consumption of forest products has been growing in recent years, and is projected to continue to continue to grow rapidly in the years ahead. The debate about where customers and consumers should source paper and wood products from is growing in relevance. This study provides a ground breaking independent review of the characteristics of forest policy in various parts of the world that produce forest products. The study reveals: Those who have been buying or are considering buying forest products from Canada, should know that Canada has emerged in recent years as among the world s leaders in aggressively improving sustainability practices. For the most part, Canada employs non-discretionary, clearly spelled out regulations designed to limit the environmental impacts of forestry. When it comes to a range of measures including streamside management and reforestation policy, Canada is undeniably among the world s most environmentally progressive producers. And, in Canada, there are a wide number of mechanisms in place to ensure compliance with Canadian policy. Canada has also, like other leading countries, embraced the concept of providing customers with third party certification of sustainable forest practices. Today, Canada can offer customers more fibre from certified forests than any other country in the world. For the world s buyers of forest products, there is encouraging evidence that governments around the world are making increased efforts to set policy and practice in forest management. At the same time, there are reasons to be concerned about whether a lack of resources and infrastructure are preventing enforcement from keeping pace with policy advances in some parts of the world. The study demonstrates that there while there is room in all parts of the world for improvement in forest policy and process, the regime of forest management and conservation in Canada, is, in the aggregate, one of the most advanced in the world. Page 10

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