Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/219979
Title: A REVIEW OF THE HIGH CARBON STOCK (HCS) APPROACH IN REDUCING DEFORESTATION IN THE TROPICS
Authors: LAI LEE YEE WENDY
Keywords: Montefrio Marvin Joseph Fonac
Environmental Management
MEM
Master (Environmental Management)
Study Report (MEM)
2019/2020 EnvM
Issue Date: 16-Jul-2020
Citation: LAI LEE YEE WENDY (2020-07-16). A REVIEW OF THE HIGH CARBON STOCK (HCS) APPROACH IN REDUCING DEFORESTATION IN THE TROPICS. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Forests are important in climate regulation and in providing vital environmental services. Despite concerted efforts to address deforestation, they continue to be felled at alarming rates. It is estimated that in 2017, the tropics lost 15.8 million hectares of forests, equivalent to the size of Bangladesh (Weisse & Goldman, 2018). The conversion of forests for agriculture is a major driver of deforestation, with commercial operations accounting for 40 to 70 percent of agriculture-driven deforestation in developing countries (WRI 2018; Mallet et al, 2016). Over the last few decades, a variety of non-state market driven (NSMD) certification systems have sprung up in response to halting deforestation, and the concomitant loss of biodiversity and displacement of local and indigenous communities. Although global NSMD certification uptake has seen an exponential increase, it is largely limited to the Global North and has limited bearing on tropical forest cover. Bucking under consumer and investor pressure, and against the backdrop of global imperatives pushing for a shared ambition, including the Consumer Goods Forum1 (CGF), Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 and the New York Declaration on Forests, many companies with deforestation risks have committed to eliminating deforestation from their supply chains by 2020, using a combination of NSMD certification schemes, industry standards and more recently, corporate commitments. Despite this, little progress has been made towards the collective 2020 net zero deforestation targets. As a case in point, between 2000 and 2014, Indonesia lost 1.3 million hectares of forest annually with almost 40 percent of loss in primary forests, making it one of the world’s deforestation hotpots, behind Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Weisse & Goldman, 2018). The production of palm oil, concentrated in Indonesia and Malaysia, is a key driver of forest loss in Southeast Asia. In response to the high forest loss driven by palm oil, the High Carbon Stock (HCS) approach was launched in 2014 by a multi-stakeholder group of non-profit conservation organisations and agribusiness companies with risks of deforestation. Plugging the gaps in the two most widely used NSMD certification schemes, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the HCS Approach provides standardisation in the definition of forests, and aims to help companies, primarily those in the palm oil sector, achieve their ‘no-deforestation’ commitments through scientifically-rigorous, concrete steps in land-use planning. Through a comparative analysis of these NSMD certification schemes, the findings suggest that technical lacunae in the FSC and RSPO have permitted companies to continue felling forests under the guise of a ‘sustainable’ or ‘green’ label, at times fueled by antagonistic national policies. Drawing on these insights, the HCS Approach closes the gaps in three areas. Firstly, it plugs the technical gaps of both NSMD schemes (which includes standardising the definition of ‘forests’) and by so doing, it vastly reduces or even eliminates inconsistencies in land use planning. Secondly, by stimulating market demand primarily through the CGF, it creates a sustained pipeline for responsibly-sourced, deforestation-free palm oil. Thirdly, the emphasis on engaging governments to harmonise forest policies to advance landscape implementation is crucial in stemming forest conversion. This paper also highlights the role of legislation and markets in driving accountability in forest governance and argues that zero deforestation in the tropics may therefore find promise in the new HCS Approach. Finally, although there is a large body of information on deforestation and NSMD certification systems, very little on the HCS Approach is available. This paper thus contributes to a new pool of knowledge where extant discourse on the HCS Approach and its impact is limited.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/219979
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