University of Saskatchewan

September 01, 2014   

New study chaired by U of S professor says global environmental pacts ignore primary causes of forest destruction

Jeremy Rayner, professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
January 25, 2011

A new study released by some of the world’s top experts on forest governance says global efforts are failing to stop rampant destruction of the world’s most vulnerable forests. The report, called Embracing Complexity: Meeting the Challenges of International Forest Governance, suggests that global initiatives have too often ignored local needs, while failing to address the most fundamental challenge to global forest management — that deforestation is usually caused by economic pressures imposed by drivers from outside forests.

“Our findings suggest that disregarding the impact on forests from sectors such as agriculture and energy will doom any new international efforts whose goal is to conserve forests and slow climate change,” said Jeremy Rayner, professor at the U of S Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, and chair of the Global Forests Expert Panel of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) that produced the study. “With this report, we can say with greater certainty that the success of current efforts to protect forests through a global climate change agreement will depend in part on whether negotiators integrate these findings into their policy proposals.”

The report was produced by 60 experts in political science, policy studies, law and international relations. It represents the most comprehensive scientific assessment to date on international forest governance. The detailed results of the expert panel will be presented in New York on Jan. 31, 2011 at the Ninth Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests as part of the launch of the International Year of Forests.

The study argues a need for a dramatic shift away from top-down international efforts to protect forests. The recommendation is that international initiatives – including Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation negotiated in December 2010 at the Cancun climate change conference – should focus more on supporting regional and national efforts to understand and control the drivers of deforestation. The report also says tropical forests remain particularly at risk, despite global initiatives to save them.

IUFRO is the only worldwide organization devoted to forest research and related sciences. Its members are research institutions, universities, and individual scientists as well as decision-making authorities and other stakeholders with a focus on forests and trees. For further information, please visit: www.iufro.org.

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To arrange an interview with Jeremy Rayner, please contact:

Erica Schindel, Communications & Marketing Specialist
Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
University of Saskatchewan
Ph: (306) 966-2663
Email: erica.schindel@usask.ca

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