Introducing: European Network INTEGRATE

The European network INTEGRATE is currently comprised of 16 European member states and involves 50 representatives of policy and research related to forest and environment as well as the European commission. Its main objective is to encourage the international exchange of success stories on integrated forest management, which implies the integration of nature conservation into sustainable forest management.

The network was initially brought into life by German federal minister Christian Schmidt and his Czech colleague Marian Jurêcka, and subsequently supported by the European Commission’s Standing Forestry Committee. Forest management challenges related to nature conservation are rather similar across Europe. States within and outside the EU already plan on being actively involved in the network. INTEGRATE member states will provide forest areas on which their successful management strategies can be exemplified.

Palm oil plantation (photo by Tim Cadman)

Governing the forests: how fiscal instruments can act as a (dis)incentive to reducing emissions

In recent years, the concept of ‘governance’ rather than ‘government’ has become a popular term for describing the interactions between stakeholders in the sustainable development policy arena. In this context, especially in the arena of forest management, it is used to describe the structures and processes that steer, or co-ordinate the relations between multi-stakeholders (government, business, civil society). Usually, governance refers to human actors, but there are other forces that exercise influence over how forests are managed. One of the most important of all these, is that most essential resource: money. This brief report outlines the role that public finance, and most importantly the fiscal instruments developed by governments, can have a considerable influence over the fate of the world’s forests.

Research undertaken by the author in 2016-2017 investigated the extent to which fiscal incentives encouraged, or discouraged, private sector involvement in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) initiative known as REDD+ (“Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries”).

In Indonesia, REDD+ has been recognized as a potentially significant source of revenue, while at the same time providing an important incentive to contribute to reductions in global deforestation. However, in a series of interviews and surveys, forest-based business stakeholders identified a number of issues impacting on their ability to undertake activities that would lead to reducing deforestation and forest degradation, and emissions.