A duo of Stanford researchers have recently released a study in Global Sustainability that reveals the timing of policy implantation matters when it comes to successful efforts to curb deforestation. The study examines a set of case studies from multiple countries in Latin America, analyzing the interplay between different domains of actions. The researchers conclude that solutions will be state specific, but they generally begin well by having governments take the lead at the start with non-state actors following through in subsequent action. The development of such a framework for forest governance can help to “[reduce] tropical deforestation” and fight climate change.
Deforestation is the removal or destruction of forests, and it is one of the most note-worthy factors of climate change. This is not only because such destruction releases significant amounts of carbon into the air but also because it removes a natural and immensely beneficial carbon sink. As the study points out in its introduction, “forests offer a low-cost, natural climate solution to meet near-term emissions reduction targets until energy systems are decarbonized.” With such a valuable resource in forests, not to mention their wide-ranging benefits to biodiversity and human life, a strategy to protect them is paramount in discussions of sustainability and climate action.
The strategy developed in this study highlights the relationship between multiple relevant parties. Governments or state institutions lead the action by “initiating the national zero-deforestation agenda,” which then makes way for “a collection of transnational initiatives, nonstate actors, and public–private partnerships” to maintain and ramp up deforestation action. This framework also ensures continued action amid political changes by including both state and non-state parties.
In a world with growing concerns about deforestation, the framework provided by research like this is key to ensure the best possible methods are being used to restore and protect forests. In a healthy interaction of science and policy, such research can be used to inform political action and ensure a promising “system-wide transformation of forest governance.”