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Speaker: Claudia Romero, CIFOR Research Associate & University of Florida
Forest management certification is a non-governmental, voluntary, market-based mechanism to promote sustainable use of forest resources. It recognizes responsible management through independently verified compliance with established principles, criteria, and indicators that describe the acceptable ecological, social, economic and policy impacts of forest management. As such, a credible label of certification renders visible the positive externalities of responsible forest management. As with many other conservation interventions (e.g., payments for environmental services or establishment of protected areas), there is as yet little empirical evidence for the impacts of certification. Indeed, many forest people and institutions now agree on the need to critically assess when, where, how, to what extent, why, at what cost to whom, and for how long certification changed the ways forests are managed.
During this talk Claudia will argue that to be credible, salient, and effective, an evaluation of certification needs to be participatory from the onset. Input from the full gamut of relevant people and institutions involved coupled with compilation of the salient biophysical and socioeconomic characteristics of certified and other FMUs needs to form the basis for designing various formal evaluations of this complex intervention. Also, emphasis should be given to formulating a theory-of-change for the intervention that captures contrasting views on certification.
The evaluation framework proposed aims to track variation in the quality of implementation of certification (i.e., process evaluation). Likewise, it integrates results of empirical research that tests hypotheses motivated by how specific contextual factors shape certification outcomes. This basic information needs to be organized into a typology of FMUs (e.g., concessions, private landowners, communities) that will serve to produce a better understanding of dynamics in the certification sector and the self-selection process of FMUs into and out of certification (or switches among certification schemes/bodies). In-depth, historical political economy appraisals of the forest and timber sectors are also needed to analyse contextual factors and other elements exogenous to the FMUs the influence forest management decisions. Finally, the authors argue that a diversity of people and institutions – from representatives of local and regional communities and governments, environmental and social NGOs to FMUs at all levels of decision-making – need to contribute to and to benefit from the knowledge gained from an evaluation of forest management certification.
Claudia is a Colombian-born biologist who worked as director of a remote protected area and then as coordinator of the Parks-in-Peril Program in Colombia for Fundacion Natura and USAID. Before leaving the country she was the assistant director of the Colombian National Park System. For her masters research in the Talamanca Mountains in Costa Rica she focused on the compatibility of commercial NTFP harvesting and selective logging. For her PhD, Claudia studied bark evolutionary ecology in Zimbabwe, Amazonian Bolivia and Florida evaluating tradeoffs in response to damage: from elephants in Zimbabwe and logging in Bolivia, to fire damage in Florida.
At UF she has taught graduate courses on economics for non-economists as well as several field interdisciplinary research courses in a range of countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa -always on the theme of tradeoffs between conservation and development. Currently she leads the REDD+ Working Group at the University of Florida and is a CIFOR’s senior research associate.