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2011-03-01 | News

Chacón to study mechanisms of compensation, certification and credit

The project provides a systematization of cases studies in Central America and Dominican Republic.

Adriana Chacón, Research Fellow at the EfD-CA Center in CATIE takes part of a project that examines the role of economic instruments in the protection, conservation and sustainable use of forest resources in Central America. The study describes from a theoretical point of view and based on empirical evidence, the main features of three selected instruments: programs of payments for environmental services (PES), certification and other financial mechanisms; its environmental effectiveness and social impacts commonly associated with its implementation. In addition, it looks at case studies focused on national experiences implementing those instruments in each Central American country. The German Technical Cooperation Agency (GIZ) provided the financial support under the Regional REDD Program of the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD) which is part of the Central American Integration System (SICA).

Among the overall results it is highlighted that PES is the instrument that recognizes the most ecosystem services while certification is located at the other end of the spectrum as it focuses exclusively on the production of wood under sustainability standards. In this scenario, other financial instruments as green credits are seen as complementary to certification as they might be used to grant credits for additional ecosystem services provided by forests and forest plantations, such as biodiversity conservation and carbon fixation. In relation to the required levels of governance, PES programs require the greatest government involvement at several levels while certification is the instrument that requires less state involvement due to its private character.

Each case study examined the historical and legal context in which forest conservation policies have been developed based on three main aspects: (i) land security; (ii) political context; and (iii) experience in the implementation of each of the three instruments. From this analysis it was concluded that the legal security of land is one of the most limiting aspects in sustainable forest management. With regards to the political context, in most countries, with the exception of El Salvador and Costa Rica, the adoption of specific laws for sustainable forestry is young as it started around the 2000s. Finally, it is concluded that the application of financial instruments in the management of the forest sector has been relatively limited in Central America. Three main aspects are highlighted (i) most countries have developed experiences in forest certification; (ii) there has been a limited use of other mechanisms, such as differentiated credits and tax exemptions; and, (iii) PES are emerging programs; in many cases they focus on the protection of water resources and not necessarily in the forestry sector as such.