Archive | September, 2017

Community forestry can be a feasible strategy for reducing poverty and achieving environmental conservation

24 Sep

By David Holland

Forest products have sustained communities associated with forests for millennia, however, as these peoples have engaged in their regional economic system and the region has opened up to the world economic system, some groups have been left behind due to essential resources relied on by past generations lost due to a change because of war or unfair capitalist practices taking resource access away. (“State of the world’s Forests 2005” 2005)

Whatever the reason, we have people in poverty now attempting to find opportunities in the forest for survival and advancement in an economic world. This situation is a major cause of an over exploitation of forest resources.

In a crude argument we could say that the forests support the biosphere and the biosphere supports human live, therefore we all have a part to play in ensuring our future as a species and we collectively should take a role in the protection of the world’s forest resources.

So is there scope for the poorer communities of the world to help us all better manage the biosphere, and our forests?

The answer would be yes, provided that we, as the world, pay for the services these people can potentially provide. (Gilmour & Nurse 2004) But first we need to support them through education. Education on what forest resources could be sent to a market, and how to sustainably manage the forest and all its potential resources.

Unfortunately markets are not always good at providing the right incentives to produce these results. It will be up to national governments to carefully craft national environmental laws, and in addition for the United Nation to produce forward looking policies to encourage individual nations to support poorer nations to implement appropriate laws. (Wootliff 2010)

It is not about reducing poverty, as noble as it may be to do so, it is simply about maintaining and enhancing the underpinning ecological and biospherical mechanisms this globe has to support our existence and the existence of every living thing on this planet. (El-Lakany 2005)

We have a responsibility to future generations to share the cost of these measures across the globe. If the major cost of these measures can be achieved through a market then so be it, however if not, the governments of the world should consider their position.

The Paris climate change conference has embraced this principal through the compensation of low-lying countries subject to sea level rise. With the recent withdrawal of the US from the agreement it seems that the US is some how able to be immune from the effects that the rest of the world will suffer from climate change or deforestation.



El-Lakany M. Hosny  (2005), Forward – State of the world’s Forests 2005, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Rome, Retrieved from, May 2017.

Gilmour, D., Malla, Y & Nurse, M. (2004), Linkages between Community Forestry and Poverty, Regional Community Forestry Training Centre for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand, Retrieved from, May 2017.

“State of the world’s Forests 2005” (2005), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Rome, Retrieved from, June 2017.

Wootliff Jonathan (2010 March 30), Good forest governance is good for economy, environment, Jakarta Post, Retrieved from,


Discussions on the extent payments for environmental services (PES) might enhance the transition to sustainable agriculture

24 Sep

By David Holland

There has been some evidence that the extra cost to producing organically grown produce is not much more than producing non-organic produce. (Rukmana 2010) Over the years, consumers have realised that the food value of such produce is higher and tend to buy the produce for a higher price. (A short history of FAQ; Groves 2010) That said, there are many other environmental services that can be achieved through agricultural production. The preservation of clean water in a catchment system is one that has a great importance, particularly to downstream users of the resource. (“Catchment protection and improvement grants”)

But can paid environmental services go hand in hand with the production of food? At the margin, there often is some benefits for agriculture from conservation measures. The prevention of soil erosion through employing areas of native vegetation as wildlife refuges is one outstanding example. (Moll et al 2007; Rukmana 2010) However, historically farm incentives have been predominantly tied to production. Some have been aimed at building social structures, but few have worked to improve environmentally sustainable values. (Dogra 2010)

One reason is that sustainability is often difficult to understand and even harder to quantify.

Walter & Stutzel (2009b) have attempted to create a measure of sustainability that on the face of it is difficult. Rauscher & Momtaz (2014) have a much more simpler method by identifying sustainable indicators and subjectively scoring them from available data and aggregating the results from a score card.

However, policy makers have not succeeded in engaging in sustainability assessments and produce adequate policy to steer agricultural businesses to preserve the environment, except in the pursuit of economic gain, most of which would be in achieving more production or higher profits. (Dobbs & Pretty 2004)

Dobbs & Pretty (2004) also bring out an equity problem. If many farmers are already doing the sustainable practice and governments, in an effort to get more farmers to operate in a sustainable way introduce incentive, then those practicing should be paid. The problem may be that for the small amount of improvement in this one sustainability measurement, a lot of money could flow from a government’s budget. Also, incentive like this can alter business models and make the government’s money the reason for the business.  An example of this can be seen in the operation of some cattle stations in Australia, which are being paid to destock as part of the federal government’s carbon farming initiative scheme. (“About the Carbon Farming Initiative”)



“About the Carbon Farming Initiative”, Department of Environment and Energy, Australian Government, Retrieved from, May 2017.

“A short history of FAQ”, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United nations, FAQ,, Retrieved from, May 2017.

“Catchment protection and improvement grants”, NSW Water, Retrieved from, May 2017.

Dobbs, T., & Pretty J. N. (2004). Agri-environmental stewardship schemes and ‘multifunctionality’. Review of Agricultural Economics, 26(2), 220-237, Retrieved from, May 2017.

Dogra, B. (2010, March 29). Science is being forced to help commerce, The Statesman Asia News Network (Kolkata), Retrieved from Charles Sturt university library, May 2017.

Groves, Don (2010 May 14), A doco which could make you sick!, Food Inc., Retrieved from, May 2017.

Rauscher, Raymond Charles, Momtaz, Salim (2014), Sustainable Communities: A Framework for Planning – Case Study of an Australian Outer Sydney Growth Area, Retrieved from, May 2017.

Rukmana, N. (2010, March 27). Cirebon plans to develop organic farms. The Jakarta Post, Retrieved from Indoniesia Organics, May 2017.

Walter, C., & Stutzel, H. (2009b). A new method for assessing the sustainability of land-use systems: Evaluating impact indicators. Ecological Economics, 68(5), 1288-1300, Retrieved from, May 2017.

The strengths and limitations of a market-based approach to managing fresh water resources.

24 Sep

By David Holland

3.6% of the world’s GDP is consumed through price based management instruments. (Whitten et al (2004) This would indicate that market based management schemes can adequately manage natural resource allocation in the environment.

But in the Syr Darya basin there seems to be no system of management for the fresh water resource. With a range of competing needs for the water and the likelihood that climate change will change the dynamics of its supply, the Central Asian States need to act to secure the availability of the fresh water resource into the future. (Savoskul et al 2003)

With water use going to electricity generation through hydro schemes and cotton farming taking a sizable share, the resource is at risk today. This is because much of the water from the power industry is being diverted to a newly formed wetlands and as a result the Aral Sea has a drastically reduced water level. (Savoskul et al 2003

It seems that with the snow melts and present levels of precipitation there is just enough water to go around provided there was a water sharing plan in place and the profitable industries such as the power and cotton industries contributed toward the environmental cost of the use of the resource. (Savoskul et al 2003)

But what type of management should be imposed? A command and control (CAC) mechanism or a market based system.  A market makes users value the resource and a CAC raises funds to improve the management of the resource. The Republic of Korea uses both systems and as a result can collect funds to subsidise farmers for their livestock waste water costs. (Muchapondwa 2015)

Before applying any mechanism, it is important to understand the dynamics of the resource before designing a market or any other control. (McDonald2014) Managers must be careful to design a market that produces the required results, otherwise there could be little or no improvement to the environmental problem. (Whitten et al 2003)

Pannell (2010) has devised a framework to help ensure that schemes are scrutinised by criteria that tests the benefit of the initiative against the costs, whether a CAC or market based design, to get the best outcome for the least cost. Poor design of projects could result in poor environmental outcomes.

Similar schemes to the Korean initiative could also tackle poverty while providing an environmental benefit. In counties where poverty is common or employment is low, funds collected by the CAC scheme could be used for employing unskilled labour to remove invasive alien plants as is the case in one of the “Water for the World” projects as described by the UN Environment Program publication by Muchapondwa et al (2015).



Adamrah, M. (2010, March 29). Govt to build reservoirs in flood-prone areas. The Jakarta Post, Retrieved from

McDonald Dr Garry, Fairgray Dr Douglas (2014), Managing and Protecting our Freshwater Resources – Some Implications for Rural Communities , Market Economics Ltd, Takapuna, Auckland,  Retrieved from

Muchapondwa, Edwin; Stage, Jesper; Lee, Youngsoek; Chiramba, Thomas; Mungatana, Eric; Kumar, Pushpam (2015), Use of Market-based Incentives in Watershed Management: Driving the Green Economy through involving Communities & the Private Sector, Freshwater Ecosystems Unit, Division of Environmental Policy Implementation, United Nations Environment Programme , Retrieved from

Pannell, D. J., Roberts, A. M., Park, G., Curatolo, A., & Marsh, S. (2010). INFFER (Investment Framework For Environmental Resources): Practical and Theoretical Underpinnings, INFFER Working Paper 1001, University of Western Australia, Retrieved from

Savoskul, Oxana S. , Chevnina, Elena V. , Perziger, Felix I. , Vasilina, Ludmila Yu. , Baburin, Viacheslav L. , Danshin, Alexander I.  A.I., Matyakubov, Bahtiyar , Murakaev, Ruslan R. (2003). Water, Climate, Food, and Environment in the Syr Darya Basin, Contribution to the project ADAPT, Adaptation strategies to changing environments, Retrieved from

Whitten Stuart, Carter Marc and Stoneham Gary (Edited), (2004 Oct.) Market-based tools for environmental management , Proceedings of the 6th annual AARES national symposium 2003 , A report for the RIRDC/Land & Water Australia/FWPRDC/MDBC, Joint Venture Agroforestry Program , Retrieved from