Rational Exploitations: Economic Criteria & Indicators for Sustainable Management of Tropical Forests

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"This paper has a very specific objective in mind: to develop economic criteria and indicators that relate to the sustainable management of tropical forests. In 1994, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) commenced a work program that would develop a comprehensive set of criteria and indicators (C&I); this set would help inform governments, producers and consumers about conditions in individual tropical forest stands. Work has already been completed in the areas of biodiversity indicators, social indicators, and planning and legal indicators, among others; CIFOR has itself field tested a slate of indicators that were selected from an 'experts' wish list of some 1100 indicators. This paper complements the current work program by covering the economic dimensions and issues associated with C&I design. The topics that must be covered to define economic indicators--especially those that are readily operationalized--are quite varied and broad. Existing C&I efforts, however, do not always reflect the breadth of experience that exists in the broader economic literature: much can still be learned from the more general economics literature. A key purpose of this paper, therefore, is to synthesize some of this non-literature, with a view to distilling some key lessons that are of relevance to C&I design within the forestry sector. In doing this, the paper covers topics ranging from economic history and the role that 'rationality' has played in economic decision-making, to modern procedures of resource valuation, to issues of uncertainty, taxation and wealth distribution. Findings in all of these areas, in the end, guide the selection of a recommended set of criteria and indicators."
forest management--tropics, sustainability--policy, CIFOR, economic development--policy, timber--tropics