Resources for the Future: Transformation in Forest Use
The rationale of this Task Force is to understand the transformation of forest use that is occurring in response to the pressures of globalization, population growth, resource scarcity and ecological degradation (“the challenges"). Transformation involves a distinct change in our relationship with forests. This change occurs at different levels within forests, from forest planting and forest harvesting and operations, to forest use and forest products. In particular this Task Force will look in a focused way at changes in how we use and value forests, a direct result of the rapid economic, social and ecological change experienced globally. The focus will be on more advanced forms of forestry such as those practiced in developed countries on an industrial scale, and on industrial-scale forestry and plantations in developing countries. Changes in the subsistence use of forests, while of interest, will not be a major focus of the Task Force. Today, forests produce a complex array of products from forest ecosystem services to timber and bio-products. Increasingly, a market value is being attached to forest ecosystem services, and this is changing the value systems associated with forestry. Critics argue that quantifying the products coming from forests serves to commodify and diminish the value of forests (including spiritual and cultural values). However, without a price affixed to these values, they are at risk of being ignored by policy makers and industry.
The Task Force will aim to generate insights about the pathways that can be adopted to encourage a sustainable transformation in forest resource use, including:
(1) identification of the institutions, governance structures, policies and instruments that can help policy makers and stakeholders address problems and capitalise on opportunities brought about by rapid change;
(2) description of the potential benefits and implications from the development of these institutions, governance arrangements, policies and instruments, in terms of equity, effectiveness and efficiency; and
(3) development of recommendations for forest research institutions to build understanding for, and facilitate implementation of, these institutions, governance arrangements, policies and instruments that can support successful transformation in forest use.