Governance Failures and the Fragmentation of Tropical Forests

Christopher Barr, Keith Barney, Sarah A. Laird

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Across the tropics, high rates of forest degradation and deforestation have resulted not only in the loss of large areas of natural forest cover but also in increasing fragmentation of the forests that remain. This chapter examines the underlying governance drivers of forest fragmentation through five key analytical approaches: (i) understanding of historically contested property rights over forests involving states, private-sector actors and communities; (ii) the widespread failure of selective logging timber concessions to achieve sustainability objectives in the tropics; (iii) related problems with weak law enforcement, corruption and patronage politics, and the dominance of commercial forestry by political and military elites; (iv) the conversion of forested areas to other land uses, often in response to market and governance failures; and (v) the globalization of resource commodity networks. Significantly, in considering how extra-sectoral land-use conversion influences forest management, we have found that forest fragmentation is often an intentional, yet typically understated, objective of government spatial planning processes. In some cases, forest fragmentation is even implicit in the approach of certain conservation mechanisms such as the designation of 'high-conservationvalue forests'. Forest fragmentation can also be understood not only in biophysical terms but as a socio-cultural phenomenon with profound implications for displaced indigenous groups and other communities living in and around forests. Continued forest fragmentation poses significant challenges for conservation, for the socio-cultural viability of forest-dependent communities and for market-based global forest governance initiatives such as REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationGlobal Forest Fragmentation
    Editors Kettle, C. J.; Koh, L. P.
    Place of PublicationUK
    PublisherCAB International
    ISBN (Print)9781780642031
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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