The contemporary forest concessions in West and Central Africa: chronicle of a foretold decline?
Deforestation is still occurring at an alarming rate worldwide, in spite of a recent slowdown attributable essentially to the improvement of the situation in the Brazilian Amazon over the last 8- 10 years and the fact that accessible lowland forests in Sumatra and Borneo have almost all been converted. Losses of natural forests not only degrade the livelihoods of forest-dependent people, but also entail irreversible destruction of biodiversity and contribute to the aggravation of global warming, since land-use changes represent between 10 to 15% of anthropogenic carbon emissions worldwide. Given this context, industrial forest concessions are seen by some as an indirect driver of deforestation (and a direct driver of degradation), but other analysts emphasize the absence of association between selective logging and deforestation, and consider that well-managed concessions may represent an asset against pressures for forest land conversion, either by agribusiness companies or by smallholders. The forest concession concept gained traction in the last decade, being introduced in highly forested countries such as Brazil and Russia, where governments intend to use this regime to avoid leaving large tracts of forests under uncertain tenure situation which favours appropriation through illegal (but often tolerated) deforestation.