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Fraud and free riding in tropical forests – on the potential for certification to enforce sustainable resource use indirectly

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  • Lippert, Christian

Abstract

Certification schemes for forest products are understood by many as a way to promote sustainable resource use when it is impossible to rely on direct enforcement of process standards. Based on the concept of ‘Self-Enforcing Contracts’, this study develops a market model that simulates the simultaneous partial equilibrium for both certified wood units and physically identical units that are produced without observing certain ecological standards. By illustrating the interplay of supply and demand in a world characterised by incomplete information, opportunistic behaviour and free riding, the model simulations, along with some empirical evidence from tropical forestry, indicate that certification will very likely fall short of preventing degradation of tropical forests. This is especially true in politically and economically unstable situations. Consequently, institutions other than markets are needed to govern the way natural resources are used. The problem of tropical forest degradation must be resolved primarily through forest legislation and improved governance structures and not through eco-labelling. Zertifizierungssysteme für Forstprodukte werden häufig als ein Weg gesehen, eine nachhaltige Ressourcennutzung auch dann zu befördern, wenn eine direkte Durchsetzung von Prozessstandards unmöglich erscheint. Ausgehend vom Konzept ‘sich selbst durchsetzender Vereinbarungen’ wird in diesem Beitrag ein Model entwickelt, um das simultane partielle Marktgleichgewicht sowohl für zertifiziertes als auch für physisch identisches Holz, das ohne Beachtung bestimmter Umweltstandards produziert wird, darzustellen. Dabei wird das Zusammenspiel von Angebot und Nachfrage in einer Welt, die durch unvollständige Information, opportunistisches Verhalten und das Auftreten von Trittbrettfahrern gekennzeichnet ist, simuliert. Die Modellsimulationen sowie einige empirische Anhaltspunkte aus dem Bereich der tropischen Forstwirtschaft legen nahe, dass die Zertifizierung alleine sehr wahrscheinlich nicht ausreichen wird, die weitere Degradation tropischer Wälder zu verhindern. Dies gilt vor allem für politisch und ökonomisch instabile Länder. Folglich bedarf es neben Märkten anderer Institutionen, um die Art und Weise, wie natürliche Ressourcen genutzt werden, zu steuern. Dem Problem der Tropenwaldzerstörung ist in erster Linie durch Forstgesetze sowie verbesserte Institutionen und nicht durch Umweltsiegel zu begegnen.

Suggested Citation

  • Lippert, Christian, 2009. "Fraud and free riding in tropical forests – on the potential for certification to enforce sustainable resource use indirectly," German Journal of Agricultural Economics, Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin, Department for Agricultural Economics, vol. 58(3).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:gjagec:134178
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    References listed on IDEAS

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