Biodiversity conservation in certified forests
The loss and degradation of tropical forest have become issues of popular concern and political debate across the world. Logging was once seen as the root of the problem but over the last three decades that view has altered somewhat. Although the subject of logging remains contentious, and environmental NGOs are divided, there is some acceptance that even though timber production remains a threat to the long-term viability of tropical forest biodiversity, it may also make a positive contribution. The promotion of socially and ecologically sound forest management — through forest certification1 — has changed the narrative. Certification is now widely advocated as a strategy to conserve the world's forests and the biodiversity they contain. Some consumers will pay a premium for products that promise "biodiversity friendly" forest management and some markets are closing to non-certified forest products. Approximately 8% of global forest area has been certified under a variety of schemes (FAO 2009). One recent estimate suggests that approximately one quarter of global industrial roundwood now comes from certified forests (FAO 2009). Most of these advances have occurred outside the tropics: less than 2% of forest area in African, Asian and tropical American forests are certified. Most certified forests (82%) are large and managed by the private sector (ITTO 2008). Increasing the extent of certification in the tropics remains a goal for many organizations – including some international conservation NGOs. So far, so good, but many details remain uncertain.