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The Intangible Benefits of Forest Certification in Mexico: Fame, Discipline, and Hope

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Klooster, Dan
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1378
Sector: Forestry
Region: Central America & Caribbean
Subject(s): IASC
forest management
Abstract: "This paper presents the results of fieldwork with Mexican actors involved in forest certification during the summer of 2003. Interviews with government officials, NGO administrators, and members of certified forest operations reveal substantial intangible benefits from certification, including widespread social recognition, improvements to forest management plans, better forest management activities, and a reduction in the negative environmental impacts due to logging. Forest certification also generates benefits for government agencies and NGOs involved in environmental management and forest regulation, because it is a measurable indicator of the success of their programs. So far, certification has been advancing because of subsidies from NGO promoters and government regulators and because of the expectation of market benefits, not because of tangible economic benefits currently. "Increasingly, major retailers such as Home Depot and Ikea are making it a point to offer certified wood. Furthermore, they pledge to sell only certified wood in the future. These international buyers are active in Mexico, but they do not generally pay more than domestic clients. Although a few forest management operations have already detected improved market possibilities, this is by no means widespread or guaranteed. Meanwhile, certification advances much more rapidly in the Northern, temperate forests than in the Southern, tropical forests that are simultaneously the most endangered and the most biodiverse. Without improved market possibilities for Southern forests like those in Mexico, therefore, forest certification could evolve into a market barrier, a kind of non-governmental license that forest operators must pay in order to enter markets. Instead of rewarding forest operations that conserve biodiversity and other environmental services for which there is no market currently, forest certification could become a mechanism which forces them to pay for the privilege of demonstrating that they conserve environmental services, which they continue to give away for free."

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