Political Economy of Tropical and Boreal Forests


"This paper outlines a framework and a set of research questions relating to the effects of institutions on human activities affecting boreal and tropical forests. The boreal forests of the Russian taiga, Fenno- Scandia, and the North American Subarctic and the tropical forests located around the equator in both the eastern and western hemispheres are among the planet's largest carbon sinks. The fate of these forests will constitute a major determinant of levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) resident in the Earth's atmosphere during the 21st century. These forests, especially the tropical forests are also major repositories of biological diversity, a fact that makes it easy to understand why countries like Brazil and Indonesia rank among the top ten in all assessments of biodiversity. At the same time, rapid deforestation is a fact of life in the tropical forests. Pressures that could lead to deforestation in the Russian taiga are also mounting steadily. In institutional terms, what makes this topic particularly interesting is the opportunity it affords to study not only the performance of forest management regimes (e.g. the regime articulated in Indonesia's Basic Forest Act of 1967 and implementing regulations/decrees) as such, but also the interplay between regimes dealing specifically with forest management and broader political and economic institutions (e.g. Indonesia's changing political system, the international plywood market, the World Trade Organization) which operate as underlying causes of deforestation and aforestation. For this flagship activity, biogeophysical conditions in the boreal and tropical forests constitute the key dependent variables. The research puzzle, then, centers on an exploration of the role of interactions between specific forest management regimes and broader economic and political institutions as determinants of biogeophysical conditions prevailing in the forests."



IASC, common pool resources, forest management--tropics, institutional analysis, greenhouse effect, deforestation--tropics