From deforestation to reforestation: how to harness drivers of change

By Paul Stapleton

A forum exploring drivers and regional differences in deforestation has highlighted a need to create clear definitions of forests and deforestation. While addressing the forum, Meine van Noordwijk of the World Agroforestry Centre identified seven different definitions that give seven different rates of deforestation, one which even shows that deforestation is going down. She argued that we will only be able to analyse regional differences in the drivers causing deforestation after we have established universal standards defining deforestation.

Despite these difficulties, the forum identified a number of drivers including agricultural policy, smallholder farmers, consumer-driven demand and community attitudes. Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre, highlighted the importation of consumer attitudes and demand from developed countries into developing countries as a particularly worrying driver, but saw hope in the burgeoning popular movement for sustainable products. He suggested that more needed to be done to harness people’s emotions: by helping build up people’s pride in their local forest areas, and then using this pride to shame governments into action.

The forum was part of Forest Day 6, held on 2 December 2012 in Doha, Qatar in conjunction with the UNFCC COP18. Along with Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day, Forest Day brought together over 600 scientists, delegates and other interested people under the title “Living Landscapes.”

Read the full report from the forum

Paul Stapleton is Head of Communications at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).