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Evolution of the International Forest Regulation

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In 2019, the World came face to face with the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the immediate global priority has become to tackle the global public health emergency, the long-term response must also address the underlying causes of such a pandemic. Degradation and loss of forests is one of such contributing factors disrupting nature’s balance and increasing the risk and exposure of people to zoonotic diseases. Worldwide deforestation and forest degradation are continuing at alarming rates. The underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation include the lack of good governance at both international and national levels, the undervaluation of forest products and ecosystem services and the inadequate crosssectoral policies (e.g. policies that encourage the conversion of forestland to other uses). In order to overcome these major obstacles in combating deforestation and forest degradation it is important to provide for forestrelated policy consistency and for effective policy coordination. Up until now, although in general the need for consistency and coordination has been recognized, the extent to which various environmental regimes interact concerning forest regulation and/or may be in conflict with one another remains underexploited. In order in a later step of the research to investigate the interactions and identify conflicts, gaps and synergies with regards to forest regulation, this current article sets the background and investigates the forest regulation under the international environmental law. The challenge for such investigation lies in the fragmentation of the international forest regulation: instead of a basis in a single convention or a protocol, provisions related to forests are scattered through the pieces of hard, soft and private international law. The objective of the current article is to grasp the overall scope of the international forestrelated instruments and their evolution under various environmental regimes. The main methodology employed throughout the research is desktop research and legal analysis. In a chronological order the article investigates the evolution of the international forest regulation and reveals its current highly fragmented state.

Following the introduction is the essential scientific background for the purpose of the legal research: a brief explanation of what constitutes “forests”, an overview of forests resources worldwide and of the current alarming rates of forests decline. In the following, the article looks at the evolution of the topic of forests in the international agenda from their first appearance up until today. For the purpose of the research three developmental stages in the evolution of the forest regulation at the international level are distinguished: the Foundational Period (i.e. before 1990) — when the scientific consensus about global deforestation and forest degradation developed and transformed from a scientific into a policy issue; the Fragmentation Period (from 1990 until 2011) — when forests entered the UN environmental agenda and gained attention as a stand-alone topic and the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) was established; and the Pre-Constitutional Period (from 2011 — onwards) — when negotiations on the Legally Binding Agreement (LBA) on forests in Europe are taking place. Finally, the conclusions bring the findings of the article together and provide the ground for subsequent legal research.

About the Author

E. M. Gordeeva
Vyatka State University; Associated researcher, Center for Government and Law, Law Faculty; Hasselt University; Catholic University of Louvain
Russian Federation

Elena M. Gordeeva - Assistant Professor in Public International Law; Associated researcher, Center for Government and Law, Law Faculty; Associated researcher, Seminar on Environmental and Urban Planning Law, Faculty of Law

Moskovskaya street, 36, Kirov 610000; Martelarenlaan 42, Hasselt 3500, Belgium; Place de l’Université 1, Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve 1348, Belgium


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For citation:

Gordeeva E.M. Evolution of the International Forest Regulation. Kutafin Law Review. 2021;8(2):155-198.

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