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Future Policy Award 2011 – Factsheet of Winning Policies: Rwanda, Gambia and U.S.A.

Future Policy Award 2011 – Factsheet of Winning Policies

Rwanda: National Forest Policy, initiated in 2004

Rwanda’s environment suffered tremendous pressure after the genocide and breakdown of law and order in 1994 due to sky-rocketing demand for wood to reconstruct the country. But despite continuing population and land pressures, Rwanda is one of only three countries in Central and Western Africa to achieve a major reversal in the trend of declining forest cover. A new National Forest Policy, aiming to make forestry one of the bedrocks of the economy and of the national ecological balance, was initiated in 2004 and Law N° 57/2008 introduced a ban on plastic bags. Massive reforestation and planting activities that promoted indigenous species and involved the local population were undertaken, and new measures such as agro-forestry and education about forest management were implemented with a variety of ecological, social and economic benefits. As a result Rwanda is on course to reach its goal of increasing forest cover to 30% of total land area by 2020.

The Gambia: Community Forest Policy, initiated in 1995

The Gambian model of community forest management is an innovative success. It aims to achieve sustainable forest management and poverty alleviation by handing control of forests to the communities that use them. Despite being one of the world’s poorest countries with a rapidly growing population, Gambia has managed to buck a strong deforestation trend in the Western and Central African region by showing a net increase in forest cover of 8.5 percent over the last two decades. Using a phased approach, the policy includes a far reaching tenure transition of forest land from state ownership to permanent ownership by communities (which currently stands at 12 percent of forest lands). The policy has also achieved a reduction in illegal logging and the incidence of forest fires in community forest areas as well as contributing to the development of new markets for branch wood and other forest products which benefit women and rural populations economically.

USA: The Lacey Act with its amendment of 2008

Illegal logging and the international trade in illegal timber has been recognised as a major global problem causing environmental damage, costing producer countries billions of dollars in lost revenue, promoting corruption, undermining the rule of law and good governance and funding armed conflict. The United States have become the first country in the world to place an outright, criminally enforceable ban on the import of illegally harvested timber. The issue is addressed both nationally and internationally from the demand side by requiring that importers of wood products and subsequent handlers in the supply chain exercise due care to ensure that wood in their possession is of legal origin. The Lacey Act amendments have forced importers to take responsibility for their wood products and have already produced positive results in increasing due diligence assessments and demand for certified wood products. The Act also has the potential to significantly reduce illegal logging by withdrawing the huge rewards received by illegal loggers from the international market.

Background information on the Future Policy Award

20 forest policies from 16 countries were nominated for the Future Policy Award. International organisations, including the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) members such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as well as others including the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) submitted the nominations.
The jury is composed of experts on sustainability and forests from all five continents and includes

  • Jan McAlpine, Director, United Nations Forum on Forests,
  • Professor Marie Claire Cordonier Segger, Director, Center for International Sustainable Development Law,
  • Jakob von Uexkull, Chair, World Future Council and Right Livelihood Award,
  • Tewolde Berhan Egziabher, Director General, Environmental Protection Authority, Ethiopia,
  • Simone Lovera, Executive Director, Global Forest Coalition
  • and

  • Pauline Tangiora, Maori elder from the Rongomaiwahine tribe.

In the International Year on Biodiversity the Future Policy Award 2010 went to Costa Rica’s Biodiversity Law of 1998.



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