Making forest concessions in the tropics work to achieve the 2030 Agenda: Voluntary Guidelines

Heritage Stewardship – Forests, Livelihoods

Making forest concessions in the tropics work to achieve the 2030 Agenda: Voluntary Guidelines
FAO – 2018
Forestry Paper 180 :: 130 pages
Y.T. Tegegne, J., Van Brusselen, M. Cramm, T. Linhares-Juvenal, P. Pacheco, C. Sabogal
and D. Tuomasjukka
Executive summary
The importance of forests in helping to achieve global sustainable development has been largely acknowledged by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement. In order to ensure that forests deliver their socio-economic and environmental benefits, it is crucial to expand sustainable forest management (SFM) based on the best available practices. Although some progress towards SFM has been noted, the global proportion of land area covered by forests continues to decline. Loss of forests has mainly occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, while many countries in Asia and the Pacific are still sustaining significant deforestation and forest degradation.

The challenge of improving forest conservation and the expansion of SFM as stated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development demands that due consideration be given to forest production. Although often associated with deforestation and forest degradation, sustainable forest production can have a positive effect on biomass stocks, besides generating revenues that can increase the value of standing forests, eventually contributing to reduced deforestation. Furthermore, products generated from sustainable harvesting contribute to raising local and national incomes and increasing employment, while harvested wood products that store carbon reduce emissions in other economic sectors. In sum, sustainable forest production can contribute to enhanced rural livelihoods, rural development and low-carbon economies.

Forest concessions are not used uniformly across regions, or even across all tropical regions. In some countries, forest concessions overlap with land concessions and are used as land allocation or land management instruments, with objectives other than those of sustainable forest management. The proposed Voluntary Guidelines focus on promoting SFM in concessions of public natural production forests in tropical regions. They build on the ITTO Voluntary Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests, as well as other relevant guidance for good forest governance and SFM, providing practical guidance to new forest concession regimes, or existing ones. The concession guidelines stem from lessons learned in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. In combination with criteria and indicators (C&I) processes, these guidelines provide a framework for implementation and monitoring of concessions to deliver true SFM.

Given the widespread adoption of forest concessions in tropical regions, reviewing and framing them as appropriate forest policy instruments to deliver SFM offers opportunities for turning concessions into effective vehicles to address the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. The multidimensional nature of SFM results in a holistic contribution to the SDGs through interlinkages with other sectors and an intrinsic need for multistakeholder processes and partnerships. Sustainable forest concessions can make a direct contribution to achieving SDGs 1, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13 and 15.

The Voluntary Guidelines were developed around four dimensions of concessions
management: improved governance, economic feasibility, social inclusion and environmental
integrity. They were structured under eight principles that call for:
(1) coherence with forest and forest-related policies for sustainable landscapes;
(2) clear, credible and efficient legal and institutional frameworks;
(3) transparent and accountable planning, allocation, implementation and monitoring of forest concessions;
(4) technical capacity for management and operation of concession regimes at all levels;
(5) long-term economic and financial feasibility;
(6) clarity and security of tenure rights;
(7) community participation and benefits; and
(8) environmental integrity in forest concessions.

…The Voluntary Guidelines are part of FAO’s work to support sustainable forest production and unlock contributions to the SDGs and climate change. Application of these guidelines in specific local contexts should help to deliver socio-economic benefits to enhance local livelihoods, while supplying harvested wood products that will contribute to the transformational change needed in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda.


Press Release
Making forest concessions more transparent, accountable and pro-poor
First voluntary guidelines for forest concessions in the tropics launched
10 May 2018, Rome/New York – The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched today the first voluntary guidelines for forest concessions in the tropics to make concessions more transparent, accountable and inclusive – all for the benefit of some of the poorest and most isolated communities in the world.

Over 70 percent of forests in the tropics used for harvesting timber and other forest products are state-owned or public; most of the public forests are managed through concessions that governments give to private entities or local communities.

Forest concessions have existed in many of the world’s poorest nations for decades, but their contributions have not always been positive. While they have generated more jobs and better income for people in remote areas, in many cases, they have also left behind a trail of degraded forests and tenure conflicts, says the new Making forest concessions in the tropics work to achieve the 2030 Agenda: Voluntary Guidelines.

Forest concessions can be poorly managed due to a lack of adequate skills in tropical forest management; weak governance; over-complicated rules and expectations; focus on short-term benefits, leading to overharvesting; inadequate benefit sharing, infringement and lack of recognition of local people’s rights; no economic returns.

Most forest losses in the past two decades occurred in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, highlighting the need for a better management of public production forests in the tropics.

The new voluntary guidelines build on lessons learned to offer practical guidance for a more sustainable management of public production forests in the tropics through concessions…