Improvements in forest governance remain too slow to adequately support efforts to reduce deforestation. Forest governance is weakest in poorer countries, where institutions and the rule of law tend to be weak overall.
Many countries have strong laws on paper, particularly regarding access to information and justice, but these are often inadequately implemented. Most countries have laws requiring governments to provide access to information and opportunities to participate in forest-related decision-making, but these laws often contain significant restrictions that limit these rights in practice. Overall, the forest sector remains relatively opaque in many countries.
Illegality drives deforestation. Especially where commercial agriculture is causing significant forest loss, the risk that forest-related laws are violated in the production of commodities remains alarmingly high.
Several Asian countries have started to adopt measures to restrict market access for illegally harvested timber and agricultural commodities, complementing existing frameworks in the European Union, the United States, and Australia. The design of the new measures has, however, raised some concerns about how well they will be enforced.
Progress in recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples and other local communities to their lands and resources remains slow, and a significant share of community lands remains unrecognized. Even where communities do possess recognized land rights, these rights are often not secure in practice. Developed countries with high forest cover and large populations of indigenous peoples tend to provide less protection for the land and resource rights of those peoples than developing countries.
Weak recognition of rights, limited consultation of communities, and growing demand for land have led to an increase in land conflicts and growing dangers for communities defending their land rights, with the number of murders of community activists increasing every year since 2014.
Local organizations are leading innovations for community empowerment, such as installing financial vigilance mechanisms and focusing on women’s entrepreneurial training. While there is great potential for replication of these strategies and forest-linked development finance is getting through to some of them, much more needs to be done to bring them to scale.
The Forest Declaration Assessment and the Forest Declaration Platform have been supported over the years by the Climate and Land Use Alliance, the Good Energies Foundation, the Bezos Earth Fund, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) of Germany, and the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), which supported this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.
This project is supported by the Climate and Land Use Alliance and the Good Energies Foundation. Research that contributed to this project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.