should remain under its control. The focus on the administrative failings of TFAP has enabled FAO to side-step the more substantive criticisms of TFAP's underlying policies made by WRM, The Ecologistand many groups in the South. Indeed, in an eight-page response to TFAP's critics, FAO's Director-General Edouard Saouma ignored the broader issues entirely and confined himself to rebutting what he saw as attacks on FAO's capacity to administrate TFAP, rejecting the formation of an external steering committee and blaming past failure on a cash crisis within FAO.31
Meanwhile, the FAO Committee on Forestry argues that "TFAP must be revitalized in order to demonstrate its effectiveness and achieve tangible results" and that TFAP "should be extended to all developing countries where forest resources play, or can play, an important role for socioeconomic development and environmental stability."32 Indeed, within FAO, it is clear that few question the "rightness" of TFAP as presently constituted.
Institutionalized Deforestation FAO is now making a major play to draft and administer a global Forest Convention, to be signed at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil in 1992. An FAO draft proposal for the convention, leaked to The Ecologist, reveals that FAO has learned little from its TFAP critics: although the rhetoric has changed, the approach is still top-down, commercially-orientated, and, i f adopted, likely to exacerbate the deforestation crisis.33
The draft sets out three underlying "principles" on which forest policy should be based: sovereignty, stewardship and burden-sharing. The language used, however, opens the way for continued appropriation of local peoples' resources. "Stewardship", for example, is defined in terms of "ensuring the attainment and continued satisfaction of human needs for present and future generations" without specifying who is to determine these needs, this satisfaction and that attainment. Similarly, "sovereignty" of the "forest resource" is defined exclusively in terms of state sovereignty — this despite the role that governments continue to play in causing deforestation and the displacement of local peoples. The tendency to buttress state control of the forests is further encouraged by the proposal that "supreme authority" over the convention and its enforcement should be vested in a conference of governments. Worse, the relative power of member states is to be weighted according to "forest area, GNP or participation in international financial mechanisms" — a proposal that will disproportionately benefit the interests of the North.
Under a section headed "Main Obligations of Parties", the draft calls for governments to agree to an "optimal" forest land use pattern which reconciles "ecological, economic and social requirements". Beneath the rhetoric are two unsubstantiated assumptions. The first is that ecological and social requirements are compatible with the demands of the modern market. The second is that it is proper to leave to states decisions on the nature of this "optimal land use". The implications of the second assumption are made clear under a
section entitled "Integration of Forest Considerations into General Development Policy." The section stipulates that states should commit themselves to developing national policies "to achieve spatial patterns of settlement, economic activity and administrative services that will sustain investment in, and the productivity of, forest resources and provide the maintenance or establishment of a permanent forest base." In effect, decisions on where people are allowed to live must be subordinated to the requirements of companies who seek to invest in or produce goods from forests. The notion that this constitutes anything but an imprimateur for eviction and commercialization of the forests — and thus further deforestation — is fanciful in the extreme.
The draft explicitly promotes forestbased industrial development and assumes throughout its discussions that "sustainable" logging is both theoretically possible and politically achievable. While nothing is said about how to defend existing communities who are trying to protect their forests from logging or how to ensure land security, a page and a half, out of 15 pages, is devoted to laying down technical specifications for logging the forests on a "sustainable basis". This is despite overwhelming evidence that sustainable logging is little more than a myth (see Marcus Colchester, The ITTO and Rainforest Destruction', The Ecologist, Vol. 20, No. 5, 1990). In effect, i f implemented as drafted, the convention would give a worldwide go-ahead to further catastrophic and unsustainable timber mining.
Although the draft makes repeated calls for "vigorous" and "aggressive" reforesta-
Tropical Forestry Action Plan Campaign Resources
The Ecologist and the World Rainforest Movement have compiled a comprehensive 124 page dossier for activists campaigning against TFAP.
The dossier includes: • Critical reviews of key TFAP documents and a bibliography of TFAP literature;
• Reprints of articles from The Ecologist and other journals on the tropical timber industry and the adverse effects of plantations;
• A paper from a World Bank consultant questioning the very notion of sustainable logging;
• An open letter to the World Bank calling for a halt to funding for projects that would entail logging of tropical forest.
The TFAP Dossier costs £4.50/$9 to
activists and £9/$18 to institutions.
The second edition of the influential report, The Tropical Forestry Action Plan: What Progress? by Marcus Colchester and Larry Lohmann is available for £5/$10 to activists and £10/$20 to institutions.
Order both the dossier and the report and you receive a free copy of The Greenpeace Guide to Paper, a 56 page booklet on the environmental impact of the paper and pulp industries.
Payment by cheque or postal order to
WE C Books , Worthyvale Manor, Camelford, Cornwall, PL3 2 9TT, UK.
Pleas e add £1/$2 for p.& p.
The Ecologist, Vol. 21, No. 2, March/April 1991