From Global Forest Governance To Privatised Social Forestry: Company-Community Partnerships In The Ecuadorian Choco

Date: Jun, 2004
ODID Working Paper No. 117
Author(s): Laura Rival (ODID)

Nearly 200 million hectares of topical forests were lost between 1980 and 1995, which led many conservationists to argue for a ban on all commercial logging and land conversion in tropical forest areas. Both logging companies and national governments were seen as sharing responsibility for the massive destruction of tropical rainforests, and various attempts were made to design new multilateral regimes, and new multipartite institutions for the global protection and sustainable management of key natural resources. In the 1990s, local partnerships were implemented to encourage private sector involvement in sustainable forest management and forest conservation. This paper describes a business partnership between a leading South American wood-processing group and a number of indigenous communities in one of the world's ten biodiversity 'hotspots.' It shows that the decentralisation of the development process, the recognition of local communities as legal entities in the management of natural resources, and the active involvement of profit-oriented firms in biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation, all contribute to the emergence of new alliances between government, the forestry sector, conservation and human rights organisations, and local forest communities. This case study highlights the role that private companies are able to play in changing environmentally damaging business practices, in fostering social development, and in reforming government policies. It also points to the dangers of uncritical reliance on market mechanisms to promote sustainability

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