A Law and Economics Analysis of Policy Instruments to Prevent Deforestation and Forest Degradation in the Tropics
Tropical forests are a crucial ecosystem to human's survival. It generates oxygen, regulates global carbon cycles and climate, and provides homes to the lives on earth. Tropical forests also provide more than 5000 kinds of traded commercial commodities around the world, encompassing pharmaceutical products, food, fuel, timber, cosmetics and clothing, etc. (SCBD, 2009). These forests are thus vital to the economic welfare and development of our society. However, these forests nowadays are threatened by deforestation and forest degradation across all tropical regions. Global deforestation and forest degradation continue across tropical regions at alarming rates, which imply significant repercussions for ecosystem processes, carbon balances, long-term sustainability and human well-being (Austin, González-Roglich, Schaffer-Smith, Schwantes, and Swenson, 2017). Deforestation is the removal/clearcutting of forest for agricultural use, mining or infrastructure development, etc. It results in a decrease in forest cover in a given area. Forest degradation on the other hand does not involve a decrease in forest area but a decrease in forest quality and its conditions. The causes of forest degradation can be selective timber harvesting, subsistence use, pest or fires, etc. A degraded forest is more likely lead to further deforestation. For a more detailed discussion, see Chapter 2, Sub-section 2.2. Throughout this thesis, most of the time forest degradation is not stated explicitly but is implied when mentioning deforestation. Between 2000 and 2012, there were approximately 230,000 kha of forest loss globally (M. C. Hansen et al., 2013) and more specifically, tropical deforestation is projected to accelerate due to growing demands for food, fuel, and fibre, etc. (Tilman, Balzer, Hill, and Befort, 2011).