Shaping forest safety nets with markets: Adaptation to climate change under changing roles of tropical forests in Congo Basin
While forests are regarded as safety nets in the climate change movement, emerging market systems that facilitate a shift to a more cash-based economy may reduce this traditional function. This paper contends that the size of trade in timber and non-timber forest products, overexploitation, and unsustainable practices threaten the integrity of forest ecosystems and the goods and services they provide. The disappearance of the traditional safety net, it is argued, may induce an enhanced vulnerability to climate change.
Using case studies from two provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the authors assert that much of the monetary gains derived from NTFP markets benefit wholesalers and retailers rather than local people. Inequitable flows of revenue to local communities do not appear to justify the development of NTFP markets as an adaptation measure, at least not currently in the Congo basin.
The key message of the paper is that market-based approaches, whether for forest products or for carbon, do not necessarily facilitate adaptation to climate change, and must be applied with caution to prevent creating new socio-economic issues.