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Abstract: Based on theoretical underpinnings and an empirical review of forest laws and regulations of selected countries throughout the Americas, we examine key components of natural forest management and how they are addressed in the legal frameworks of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the U. We consider forest policy directives in terms of legislative, planning, operational,. Protection of at-risk species and riparian buffers are required in all countries and include specific prescriptions in most; forest management planning and secure, legal land title or tenancy are commonly required; and mandatory processes to protect soil and water quality are customary.
Less common requirements include forest monitoring and social and economic aspects, and, when in place, they are usually voluntary. Implications for improved policies to achieve sustainable forest management SFM are discussed.
At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, the vast majority of the world's nations agreed to international accords to protect biodiversity and mitigate climate change. However, they could not agree on a convention for forests, largely due to disputes over forest sovereignty and finance, as most developing countries asserted their autonomy over forests as sovereign resources that should be compensated for foregone development opportunities, while many developed nations contended that forests should be considered a global common but would not commit to financial support for their protection .
Even so, the Earth Summit solidified the precepts of sustainable development and sustainable forest management SFM as the widely accepted paradigms for natural resource management and protection . While the means to best achieve SFM remain moot, from biological, social, and environmental perspectives, governmental regulation of forest use through policy and law is considered one of many important tools for advancing forest sustainability.
Since , most countries in Latin America have significantly revised their forest laws, and in some cases the implementation of those laws, in order to better achieve SFM. However, not nearly enough research has been performed to examine the intended and actual effects of these laws and their implementation on forest sustainability or how the laws and their implementation compare among countries.
There have been a few compilations of forest laws, and one recent book analyzing forest laws in selected countries, but little else [3,4]. With the exception of McDermott et al. Consequently, based on theoretical underpinnings and an empirical review of forest laws and regulations, we assessed key components of natural forest management and how those components are addressed in the legal frameworks of nine countries throughout the Americas.
After a brief description of the background to this study, we describe the theoretical approach we employed to evaluate the legal framework for forests. Then we present the results and discuss the approach and rigor of forest. Finally, we draw conclusions about the strength of forest law in the Americas, the challenges of implementation, and the implications for achieving SFM.
Governmental regulation of forest use is often "instituted to protect the long-term external values that are not provided well by markets and may be required In related studies on governmental regulatory forest policy, Cashore and McDermott  and McDermott et al. The authors find a wide range of variation in forestry regulations across and within the 20 countries examined.
In particular, forest regulations in developing countries were significantly more "stringent" than those from developed countries e. Though policy implementation and enforcement were not systematically examined, the authors note that the developing country case studies frequently exhibited perverse land-use policies, inadequately funded government institutions, and a severe lack of enforcement capacity.
In general, despite long-term efforts to advance governmental regulation of tropical forest management, this policy approach is often criticized for failing to curtail continuing rates of forest degradation and deforestation [4,]. Regulatory failures typically are linked to poor enforcement, corruption, weak legal systems, and conflicting extra-sectoral policies and practices e. Moreover, not enough is known about the aspects of forest management that are addressed through governmental forest regulation in the tropics and elsewhere, making it difficult to discern if policy failures are due to weaknesses in implementation, or in part at least, to weaknesses in the regulatory policies themselves .
Ultimately, a thorough understanding of forest policy statements or directives is fundamental to the accurate assessment of potential and actual policy outcomes [4,]. Hence, we conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the legal frameworks for promoting or enhancing the sustainability of productive natural forest management in nine countries throughout the Americas. While an empirical examination of forest policy implementation and impact was not within the scope of this study, the results of this research provide essential and often overlooked information for regulatory forest policy impact evaluation.
We concentrate on the legal frameworks for productive natural forest management, as natural forests comprise by far the predominant forest area in the region, while we also recognize and briefly discuss planted and secondary forests as important components of the total forest estate. Additionally, other legal conservation and preservation measures are obviously important for retaining and protecting all forests, but sustainable timber management that provides benefits to natural forest owners and users is crucial, and the focus of this research.
To understand the intended and actual outcomes of public policy, not only is it important to understand the aspects of the public problem that the policy addresses, but also to understand the ways in which the policy intends to address or influence the problem [7,17,18]. Therefore, this analysis focuses on both policy content and policy structure. To evaluate policy content, first we reviewed international and regional frameworks of Criteria and Indicators for SFM at the forest management unit level and international and national standards for forest certification to determine a common suite of SFM indicators that address the environmental, social, and economic aspects of natural forest management .
These 23 SFM indicators were also found to be compatible with other global analyses of soft and hard law standards for forest management [20,21]. We used this suite of SFM indicators to evaluate the content of forest policies and laws in the selected countries.
Table 1 lists the SFM indicators for analyzing governmental forest regulations and identifies associated descriptive and quantitative aspects. To better understand the way in which these 23 SFM indicators are explicitly addressed in public policy, if at all, next we developed an analytical framework of policy structure that takes into account the level of obligation discretionary, non-discretionary and the approach prescriptive, process-based, performance-based represented by a particular policy directive Figure 1.
Discretionary policies are voluntary, while nondiscretionary policies are mandatory. A "prescriptive" policy identifies a preventive action or prescribes an approved technology to be used in a specific situation [18,22,23]. A "process-based" policy identifies a particular process or series of steps to be followed in pursuit of a management goal [18,22,24]. A "performance-based" policy specifies the management outcome or level of performance that must be met, but does not prescribe the measures for attainment [18,22,25].
Figure 1. D Forest boundaries—Is marking of forest boundaries required? Are specific measures required to protect. D Forest inventory—Are forest inventories required? If applicable, how often must FMPs be renewed? The minimum diameter cut? Are permanent sampling plots PSPs required? If applicable, what. If applicable, what is the limit on "clearcut" area? D BMPs—Are there mandatory or voluntary best management practices manuals or other management guidelines?
D At-risk species—Are there specific rules on at-risk species of flora and fauna and their conservation or protection?
If applicable, what are the limits around bodies of water? D Indigenous rights—Are there specific rules for dealing with indigenous groups? D Community involvement—Are there specific rules for involving or dealing with local communities? D Public consultation—Are there specific rules for consulting the public? D Public reporting—Are there specific rules on public reporting?
We used the SFM indicators Table 1 and the theoretical framework of policy structure Figure 1 to assess the policy directives related to natural forest management on private land among nine countries in the Americas—Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the United States. These countries represent a range in forest size and ownership types across the Americas, as well as a large share of the total forest land area.
We chose these countries based on their range in forest size, diversity, use and policy. The U. Therefore, we also examined sub-national laws from key states or provinces important to timber production Maine, North Carolina, and Wisconsin in the U.
In particular, the U. Instead, each state chooses to enact or not enact various levels of laws. However, the U. These distinctions are clarified in our analysis. For each jurisdiction i. Next, we classified and coded the recorded directives by policy structure, determining their level of obligation i. To increase inter-rater reliability of classification and coding, we exchanged early versions of country-level spreadsheets among two to three authors to ensure consistency in our assessments.
In cases where multiple policy directives existed that related to one indicator, more than one policy structure may have applied. For example, in Chile, rules on reforestation include the mandate that "any harvest of forest-use lands is obligated to reforest an area equal to or greater than the area harvested," which we categorized as a nondiscretionary outcome .
In our analysis, national and sub-national forest policies were considered increasingly rigorous as the use of prescriptive measures and conservative thresholds on permissible forest impacts increased Figure 2. In addition, forest policy was considered increasingly comprehensive as the inclusion of legislative, operational, ecological, economic, and social indicators that are addressed in laws, regulations and other policy directives increased. Finally, based on our assessment and comparative analysis of forest policy structure, rigor and comprehensiveness, and local knowledge of agency resources and reputations, we drew inferences about SFM policy implementation and effectiveness.
With these methods and approach, we selected a robust theoretical foundation to conduct an empirically-based comparative review of forest laws throughout the Americas. We selected countries across a broad range of forest, socioeconomic, and political contexts to better capture the span of legal frameworks on forests throughout the region.
While the results accurately assess the most current laws for SFM in these countries at the time of data collection and analysis , they do not account for ongoing changes in forest policy and law that take place beyond the timeframe of this study; nor can they be used to generalize to other countries in the region or across the globe. Additionally, while we accounted for subnational level differences in the legal frameworks on forests in countries with federal governments, a selection of more states or provinces would have given greater depth to the results.
Overall, the forest policy context in each of the countries we studied represents opportunities and challenges for the development, implementation, and ultimate outcomes of governmental policies on natural forest management. In terms of forest resources, total forest area ranges from less than two million ha in Uruguay to more than million ha in Brazil Table 2. The ownership of forests ranges widely across the case studies Table 2. Brazil demonstrates.
Notably, despite seemingly straightforward statistics, significant portions of indigenous, community, and other forest lands in the Latin American case study countries, excepting Uruguay, are under dispute or remain to be clearly demarcated or titled . The score given is from 0 to 1, O being the lowest level of human development, 1 the highest. The countries indexed also are ranked, 1 being the country with the highest HDI score, is the country with the lowest score.
Decline in forest cover is occurring in five countries, most significantly in terms of total forest loss in Brazil nearly 2.
In Uruguay, in particular, forest increase is largely due to an intensive reforestation and plantation forestry campaign. Population statistics vary significantly among the countries with the smallest populations i. This population pressure is likely a driver of Guatemala's high deforestation rate Yet, in Costa Rica, forests are increasing 0. Table 3 summarizes the results from our policy analysis, presenting the list of the 23 SFM indicators by country and state, indicating whether there was a relevant legal directive that regulated that activity in each country, and identifying the associated policy structure of the directive s.
Below, we discuss each indicator and when and how each is addressed in forest laws and other legal directives. Based on these policy summaries, we analyze similarities and differences in regulatory forest law throughout the Americas in terms of policy structure, approach and comprehensiveness related to 23 indicators of sustainability. Finally, we make observations about the relative coverage of key issues, discuss the potential opportunities and challenges for implementation, and speculate about the prospects for achieving SFM.
The security of forest resources and the legality of forest operations are fundamental to their long term sustainability . Illegal forest activities that are noncompliant with forest and other relevant legislation can have "far-reaching economic, social, and environmental impacts including ecological degradation, increased income inequality, and government revenue loss" .
The applicable legal framework, property rights or forest tenure, and secure forest boundaries are indicators that we considered in this analysis.
While legal compliance of managed forests is outside the scope of this study, we considered if and how forest laws, regulations, and other directives address forest relevant legislation at the national level. Within the legal framework on forest management, most countries and sub-national governments require "full compliance" with the law and refer to at least some rules and regulations specific to forest management that must be followed, though the verification of complete legal compliance is in question in many countries.
Libros Centroamericanos, Inc.
Guatemala : Indicators