Look before you log

Publication - 15 April, 2002
This report explores the use of logging moratoria to support ancient forest conservation and sustainable use including a look at seven case studies from around the world.

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Executive summary: Moratoria on forest development provide a valuable policy instrument for governments to promote responsible forest management. Governments have used moratoria to help address forest degradation resulting from both planned and unplanned activities, and from both legal and illegal exploitation. Moratoria provide a break from ongoing activity during which government, civil society, scientists and industry can reassess the values and services of forests, and plan development that can best maintain those values and services.Experiences from the seven countries documented in this report show that the use of logging moratoria, applied to particular ancient forest areas or species, for between two and six years, can generate a range of regional and national benefits. The seven case studies are taken from both developed and developing countries. Events that triggered the use of moratoria ranged from the collapse of ecosystem functions, and the loss of habitat for endangered species, to widespread corruption and illegal activities in the forest sector, or the wish to better address the needs and aspirations of forest-dependent people and communities. During the period that the moratoria in this report were in place, governments studied the goods and services which ancient forests provide, and reviewed development plans in consultation with interested parties. In most cases, logging and industrial development resumed in parts of the forest after the moratoria ended, while some sections of ancient forest were put off limits to logging and large-scale development. During the ‘breathing space’ created by the logging moratoria, many parts of civil society were able to share their skills and resources in forest management. As a result, biodiversity values that were at risk were retained, and more diverse, forest based economies were created.Many people and agencies react negatively to the idea of moratoria on forest use. It is often assumed that moratoria are "anti-development" and hinder progress. In a time where businesses and governments strive for economic growth, moratoria can seem backwards. Nevertheless, moratoria are a widely used mechanism for regulating resource use, and as the following case studies show, they can help societies to achieve sustainable development goals.

Num. pages: 11