Por Pierre Ibisch (Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Germany).
Policies across all scales of governance fail to prevent net loss of forest ecosystem functionality. A combination of several factors, including conflicting land use, policies promoting renewable energy, and overwhelming economic interests have contributed to weak forest legislation and policies, allowing for ongoing degradation, fragmentation and loss of forests. Impacts of climate change, which are unaddressed by forest policy further worsen the scenarios. The lack of fundamental scientific principles underscoring legislation and policy becomes manifest in the vague language used to frame management. Global reporting on the achievement of forest-related targets applies misleading metrics, e.g., related to simplistic parameters such as ‘forest area’ or ‘forests under certification’. Decision-makers delegate their responsibility for steering responsible consumption to market-based, voluntary certification systems. Ineffective certification regimes, often endorsed by major conservation NGOs, imply the risk of greenwashing unsustainable exploitation of forest ecosystems and associated loss of biodiversity. They could even act as a ‘societal narcotic’ that prevents a critical questioning of consumption patterns. The failure of regulations and the lack of effective voluntary schemes to conserve functional forest ecosystems prompt the call for an ecosystem-based advocacy for functional forests.