|Challenges and opportunities: policy options for the forestry sector in the Asia-Pacific region. (1997)|
It is extremely difficult to summarize the major policy issues, opportunities and challenges across such a vast and populous region, from Pakistan to the International Dateline, from Mongolia, China and Japan in the North to the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand in the South. This region includes almost half the people of the world, and their per capita incomes and living standards range from amongst the highest in the world, to some of the lowest. Yet we believe that there are some general themes that recur throughout all the Asia-Pacific countries. Even within regional groupings like ASEAN, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the South Pacific Forum, member countries have different pasts, presents and future prospects.
We will attempt to understand why this is so, and what can be learnt from others experience. This paper is a broad-brush tour of the policy landscape in which the forestry sector is embedded, and aims to identify major changes on the horizon, and consider how these might affect forests and people whose incomes and lifestyles depend on forests.
As a global independent scientific research institute applying the best of science to resolving the problems of tropical forests and the people who depend on them, CIFOR hopes to present an innovative and slightly different view of the processes and future options. It is our hope that this will be useful to those directly and intimately involved in policy formulation and implementation.
Commenting on a policy inevitably reveals something about the author - the questions one considers important, the priorities, whether we focus on institutions, laws, processes or people. This paper focuses on economic behaviour of people, industry and government, rather than on legal or technical/silvicultural issues or the options for technological change. This is not to imply those are unimportant - rather it reflects our expertise and interests, and where we believe the greatest potential gains may be found at present.
Whether or not an agenda for policy reform or policy research emerges from these Outlook Studies for the Asia Pacific Forestry Commission, we suggest that there could be great benefit from impartial critical evaluation of forestry policies and policies which affect forests, even if that means questioning some long-held presumptions about Forestry.
This paper is primarily based on current CIFOR research across the region, and prior analyses and experience of CIFOR staff. It has also drawn on Country Papers presented in 1996 at Asia Pacific Forestry Commission and FAOs Committee on Forestry (COFO) as well as other FAO studies, especially FAO Forestry Paper #115 published in 1993.