Technology transfer in the forest sector provides a significant opportunity to help mitigate climate change and adapt to potential changes in the climate. Apart from reducing GHG emissions or enhancing the carbon sinks, technology transfer strategies in the forest sector have the potential to provide tangible socio-economic and local and global environmental benefits, contributing to sustainable development. However, existing financial and institutional mechanisms are inadequate and thus new policies, measures and institutions are required to promote technology transfer in the forest sector.
The forest sector includes a wide variety of environmentally sound technologies and practices such as genetically superior planting material, improved silvicultural practices, sustainable harvest and management practices, protected area management systems, substitution of fossil fuels with bioenergy, incorporation of indigenous knowledge in forest management, efficient processing and use of forest products, and monitoring of area and vegetation status of forests, particularly under afforestation and reforestation activities.
Forestry mitigation technologies often involve minimal technology transfer and are strongly linked to other environmental factors such as biodiversity. They also possess features which are unique to the forestry sector and need careful consideration in the planning of technology transfer. Such features include: long gestation periods, linkage to subsistence economy, vulnerability to natural calamities, variation with climate and location, and state control of forests.
In Annex-I countries, significant research and development (R & D) and technology transfer occurs in the private sector, for instance through increased participation of timber companies and industries (paper mills). In non-Annex-I countries a substantial part of technology transfer in the forest sector is driven by forest departments, local communities and NGOs. This is particularly true for forest conservation practices, agroforestry systems, and systems for harvesting of non-timber and other subsistence products. Currently, there is a marginal role for private sector or industry participation in technology transfer.
The existing institutional mechanisms are dominated by state forest departments, government ministries and multilateral institutions. . These institutions have several limitations to promote climate mitigation technologies, namely, limited resources and an absence of policies and institutions to process, evaluate and approve mitigation projects and activities.
Emerging technology transfer mechanisms
In the face of limitations of existing institutions, a number of climate mitigation related mechanisms have emerged in the forest sector for technology transfer, including the concept of joint implementation, GEF, Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ), and Clean Development Mechanism (if approved under the Kyoto protocol).
The generic barriers to the current and emerging pathways of technology transfer mechanisms are: limited financial resources, inadequate information on the costs and potential benefits, limited technical capacity, absence of policies and institutions to process, evaluate and clear mitigation projects, uncertain additionality of the mitigation and its sustainability and long gestation periods for several options. In addition, the forest sector faces land use regulation, unclear property rights, and other macro-economic policies which favour conversion of forest lands to other land uses such as agriculture and cattle ranching. Lack of methods and capability for monitoring and verification need to be overcome in order to gain the credibility needed to capture the potential benefits of forest sector response options, particularly in reducing deforestation.
Technology transfer within countries
Technology transfer within countries is crucial in the forest sector. The sources of technology and management practices for in-country technology transfer are the forest departments of local and national governments; research institutions and university laboratories; paper, pulp, timber logging and plantation industries; and indigenous communities. Th transfer can be stimulated through funding, regulations and awareness raising programmes.
Technology transfer within Annex-1 countries
For technology transfer within Annex-I countries, the policies in timber importing countries are critical to ensure environmentally sound technology transfer within timber exporting countries. Governments can play a role in timber certification or labelling, levying of import or customs duty on non-certified timber, provision of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) principles, investment in forestry R & D, preference for SFM-certified wood for public construction, recycling of paper through financial incentives and promotion of public awareness. NGOs can create awareness in consumers to promote the use of certified timber and recycled paper. The private sector in Annex-I countries could play a role in the development of criteria and indicators for SFM, development of certification schemes and their adaptation to the national/regional level.
Technology transfer within non Annex-1 countries
Within non-Annex-I countries, the government's role includes regulations on timber extraction companies, enforcement of forest conservation, removal of subsidies to deforestation, financial incentives for adopting SFM and creating technical capacity for monitoring of forest areas and promotion of research on causes of deforestation and their impacts. The important emerging role for the private sector includes linkages between industry and farmers for future technology transfer. The role of industry is crucial in facilitating technology transfer to a large number of small and dispersed farmers. Technology transfer could be facilitated as part of a package from industry to farmers including credit, technology and marketing arrangements. NGOs could create public awareness regarding forest conservation, SFM practices and recycling, and ensure compliance with legislation and policies by the government departments, industries and timber logging.
Technology transfer between Annex-I and non-Annex-I countries
For technology transfer between Annex-I and non-Annex-I countries, the government roles could include promoting the multilateral and bilateral agencies to (1) support funding of forest-sector mitigation projects and programmes through grants and low interest loans for SFM practices, industrial plantations, protected areas, and forest restoration programmes, (2) setting up forest monitoring and verification programmes in non-Annex-I countries, and (3) providing funding for institution and human capacity building. In the private sector, timber companies could import technologies and transfer them to farmers, co-operatives and forest departments. NGOs and dedicated international institutions could contribute to international verification and monitoring programmes on sustainable logging practices.
Technology transfer among the Annex-I and among non-Annex-I countries:
Technology transfer among the Annex-I countries is largely private sector driven. Mechanisms such as timber certification and financial incentives for sustainably logged timber could facilitate adoption of sustainable practices. So far the technology transfer among the non-Annex-I countries has been marginal. But it is important as there are ecological and socio-economic similarities among these mostly tropical countries. Currently the level of technology transfer among non-Annex 1 countries is increasing.
Countries where forest vegetation is likely to be adversely affected by climate change may have to set up institutions to assess the impacts of projected climate change in their region and to develop adaptation strategies as a first step towards developing strategies for increasing forest resilience. Any adverse impact of climate change will affect forest ecosystems and the local communities and economies, which depend on them. Thus, the major responsibility for developing and adopting technologies to minimise the adverse impacts and to increase forest resilience, will rest with the government. Multilateral institutions such as FAO, CGIAR institutions and World Bank will have to play a critical role in developing, transferring and implementing adaptation technologies, as the adaptation technologies may be similar for a given forest type, within the tropical or temperate forest regions.
The existing institutional mechanisms may be inadequate, and in many countries there are no significant incentives for the local governments and local communities to protect and manage forests as carbon sinks. Adoption of mechanisms to promote technology transfer in the forestry sector requires strengthening of existing institutions as well as the creation of new institutions. The majority of the new institutions are likely to be set-up in non-Annex-I countries. It is very important to establish internationally acceptable monitoring and verification procedures and institutions. The existing and emerging financial mechanisms may also have to be strengthened and reoriented to promote forestry mitigation projects. The role of the private sector is increasing in the forest sector technology transfer. Governments will have to create policy environments to facilitate private sector participation in technology transfer programmes, as in many countries forests are still largely controlled by the state forest departments.
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