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“Land-Use and Democracy” Revisiting Aldo Leopold’s 1942 essay on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day

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Presented by Steven Lawry at Weston Roundtable Series at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on 15 October 2020

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“Land-Use and Democracy” Revisiting Aldo Leopold’s 1942 essay on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day

  1. 1. “Land-Use and Democracy” Revisiting Aldo Leopold’s 1942 essay on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day Steven Lawry Senior Associate Center for International Forestry Research The Weston Roundtable Lecture University of Wisconsin-Madison October 15, 2020
  2. 2. Aldo Leopold, “Land-Use and Democracy,” Audubon Magazine, 1942. Reproduced in Susan L. Flader and J. Baird Callicott, editors, “The River of the Mother of God and Other Essays by Aldo Leopold,” University of Wisconsin Press, 1991, pp. 295-300.
  3. 3. Regulation, Stewardship, Incentives • Leopold argues that the conservation movement of his time had become overly reliant on direct government regulation of land use to protect soils, water, forests and wildlife. • While recognizing the importance of regulation in certain contexts, there were serious limitations inherent to government action. • Government lacked the tools to manage directly, and over-relied on the few things it can do well, such as creating sanctuaries & refuges. • Moreover, farmers & communities have intimate knowledge of their land and landscapes, and with the growth of “private ethics” can individually & collectively provide better stewardship of land and resources than the state. For Leopold, stewardship is grounded ultimately in ethics. • And consumers educated about the performance, good or bad, of companies using natural resources could reward or punish company behavior through the choices they make in the market place. This is another expression of democratic action influencing land use practices & outcomes
  4. 4. The limits of policy and regulation • “[We] deal with bureaus, policies, laws, and programs, which are the symbols of our problem, instead of with resources, products, and land- users, which are the problem. Thus we assuage our ego without exposing ourselves to contact with reality.” p. 295
  5. 5. Incentives reward but can’t alone create good stewardship • “Economic incentives might reward good stewardship, primarily through differential property taxes (in the US). But good stewardship cannot be created solely by legislation and tax incentives. The private custodian’s values and attitudes must also change.” • “Conservation economics” was undoubtedly conceived as a companion to the “Land Conservation Ethic” and should be read in tandem with it.” Introduction, Flader and Callicott, 1991, p. 22
  6. 6. I. Consumer activism as direct democracy
  7. 7. “Why do we tell our government to reform Mr. X, instead of doing it ourselves?” • Feathered hats (egret, swan, eagle & hummingbird) were the height of fashion in the early 20th century, representing a threat to the survival of species. • The Audubon Society catalyzed a grass-roots consumer movement to kill the millinery feather trade in 1913 • Women consumers played key roles, putting pressure on their peers not to buy feathered hats, and establishing Audubon chapters as local centers of bird conservation activism. • The Migratory Bird Act of 1918 consolidated in law the achievements of the movement. • “The law was merely the symbol of a conviction in the mind of a minority…a conviction so strong and unequivocal that it was willing to risk direct action, danger and ridicule, and even danger of mistakes to achieve the common ground”
  8. 8. “Keeping Feathers Off Hats—And On Birds!” By Angela Serratore May 15, 2018
  9. 9. Power of the discerning consumer • “I do assert that the many products of land-abuse can be identified as such, and can be discriminated against, given the conviction that it is worth the trouble.” • Conversely, the products of good land-use can often be singled out and favored.” • Let’s consider how citizen activism in the market place envisaged by Leopold has taken shape in our time.
  10. 10. Consumer-driven, non-state resource governance arrangements have emerged globally The key elements of the architecture: • Consumer and market expectations that commodities be produced sustainably • NGO activism catalyzes consumer expectations through monitoring and advocacy campaigns • Investment sector translates consumer signals and NGO advocacy into reevaluations of risk and opportunity • Lower interest rates, less risk and higher returns increasingly associated with Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) investments.
  11. 11. Consumer and financial market drivers of corporate sustainability commitments Civil society campaigns target investor and producer practices Growing consumer expectations that commodities are sustainably produced Shifting business practices. Companies design more socially equitable, low-carbon business models, e.g. zero deforestation. Changes facilitated by multiple actors 1. Consumers: create strong market demand for sustainably produced products 3. Businesses: transition to more sustainable business models 4. NGOs: monitor private sector against sustainability criteria, and build capacity 5. Government: Regulatory framework on which businesses can build sustainability Changing calculus of investor risk and rewards. “Dirty” practices = reputational and market risk 2. Investors: create investment products that fund sustainable production
  12. 12. Large potential forest conservation gains from wider ESG adoption in tropical commodities sectors A study of drivers of forest loss in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea between 2000-2011 found that the production of ‘four analyzed commodities--beef, soy, palm oil, timber--was responsible for 40% of total tropical deforestation and resulting carbon losses.” Henders, et. al. (2015)
  13. 13. Table 1: Certified area for selected commodities, 2017 Commodity Area harvested based on minimum (hectares) Share of global total Change 2013– 2017 Bananas 340,196 6.0% 28.6% Cocoa 2,908,640 24.8% 114.7% Coffee 2,533,211 23.4% 8.7% Cotton 5,154,933 16.2% 172.4% Oil palm 2,537,424 11.9% 26.1% Soybeans 1,801,269 1.5% -5.9% Sugarcane 1,979,979 7.6% 80.2% Tea 668,768 16.4% 77.3% Note: The data in this table were not adjusted for multiple certifications, thus the minimum possible is reported. The total VSScompliant area corresponds to the standard with the largest compliant area operating within a given sector by country. Sources: FiBL-ITC-SSI survey, 2019: 4C Services, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; Better Cotton Initiative, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019; Bonsucro, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; Cotton made in Africa, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; Fairtrade International, 2017, 2018 and 2019; GLOBALG.A.P., 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; FiBL survey, 2019; ProTerra Foundation, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; Rainforest Alliance, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, 2019; Round Table on Responsible Soy, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; Textile Exchange 2013–2019; UTZ, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019
  14. 14. Figure 1: Selected products certified by sustainability standard (minimum possible), 2008–2017 Note: The products are sorted by area. For the purpose of the figure, it is assumed that a maximum amount of multiple certification is occurring within each commodity and the minimum possible VSS-compliant area is shown. This corresponds to the standards with the largest compliant area operating within a given sector. Sources: FiBL-ITC-SSI survey, 2019: 4C Services, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; Better Cotton Initiative, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019; Bonsucro, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; Cotton made in Africa, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; Fairtrade International, 2017, 2018 and 2019; GLOBALG.A.P., 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; FiBL survey, 2019; ProTerra Foundation, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; Rainforest Alliance, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, 2019; Round Table on Responsible Soy, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019; Textile Exchange 2013–2019; UTZ, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019.
  15. 15. ESG-mandated assets could make up half of all managed assets in the United States by 2025
  16. 16. The Brazil Soy Moratorium • An example of a successful private-sector led initiative to reduce deforestation at scale. • In 2006 major global soy traders including Cargill, ADM and Bunge required large- scale soy producers in Brazil to pledge to zero-deforestation in soy production as a condition for gaining access to the global supply chains they dominate. • Gibbs, et. al. (2015) found that there was less than 1% increase in deforestation in areas governed by the Moratorium between 2006 and 2012, while during the two years previous to the agreement nearly 30% of soy expansion in the same areas occurred through deforestation. • During the same period, soy operators that were not signatories to the Moratorium were five times more likely to violate the Brazil Forest Code than those that were.
  17. 17. II. Private ethics and land stewardship
  18. 18. “Husbandry is the heart of conservation” • “The first thing to grasp is that government, no matter how good it is, can only do certain things… • “Govt. can’t raise crops, maintain small scattered structures or administer small scattered areas… • Or bring to bear…that combination of solicitude, foresight, and skill we call husbandry.” • “Husbandry watches no clock, knows no season or cessation, and for the most part is paid for in love, not dollars” • “Husbandry of somebody else’s land is a contradiction in terms.”
  19. 19. Land stewardship “Aldo Leopold believed that land stewardship was not only rooted in conservation but also involved ethics, or the search for a higher meaning. He wrote that all ethics rest upon the single premise "...that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. Once we understand that humans are not separate from, but are part of and depend on the natural community, we will develop an ethic to care for the community as a whole.” Sargent, M.S and Carter, K.S., ed. 1999. Managing Michigan Wildlife: A Landowners Guide, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, East Lansing, MI
  20. 20. The Importance of Rights and Tenure Security Tenure security: “reflects a “landholder’s confidence or belief (real or perceived) that agreed-upon rights...will be enforced and upheld by society more broadly” (Robinson et al. 2017: 4). • Reduces the uncertainties associated with making investments • Increases the likelihood that rights holders will perceive that they will benefit from restoration
  21. 21. Types of devolution forest rights models by region Source: Based on Lawry and McLain, 2012:56. Devolution of Forest Rights and Sustainable Forest Management. Volume 1.
  22. 22. Baynes et al. (2015) evaluates community forest governance success factors Baynes et. al (2015) evaluated potential factors affecting success of community forestry in the Philippines, Nepal and Mexico 1. Socio-economic status and gender based (in)equality (Fair outcomes) 2. Secure tree & land property (Rights) 3. Community governance (Stewardship) 4. Government support (Appropriate regulation) 5. Material benefits to community members (Incentives)
  23. 23. Baynes et al. (2015), p. 232
  24. 24. Namibia community conservancies
  25. 25. Namibia community conservancies • 1996 law accorded ownership and management rights of wildlife to communities that establish conservancies and adopt management standards. (Nature Conservation Amendment Act, 1996) (Rights =[ Stewardship) • By 2015, 82 conservancies established; covering 162,000 sq. km (19.7% of land area); generating benefits for 227,000 people (9% of population) • 2014 principal sources of income: Joint-Venture Tourism (43.5%); Sustainable Wildlife Use (39.9%); Craft Enterprises (5.2%); Natural Plant Projects (5.2%) (Incentives)
  26. 26. Namibia: Benefits/Achievements • $10 million annual revenue generated by conservancies (Incentives) • Strong anti-poaching ethic among conservancy members (Stewardship) • 1,700 full-time & 4,000 part-time jobs created (including 532 game guards); income invested in local schools, clinics, water supplies; human/wildlife conflict mitigation; anti-poaching; greater perception of voice in governance of resources. • Growth in wildlife population attributed to conservancies (WWF): • Elephant: Almost tripled from 7,600 in 1995 to 20,000 in 2018 • Black rhino: 1980 near extinction; 2000 today (40% of Africa’s population) • Desert lion range increased ten-fold between 1995 & 2013; pop. Grew from 25 in 1995 to 150 today. • 10,000+ head of game moved to conservancies since 1999, including sable, giraffe, black rhino.
  27. 27. Namibia: Challenges/Problems to be addressed • Variable governance capacity among conservancies (Stewardship) • Concerns for decline of donor funding for the CBNRM Programme • Challenge of maintaining household-level benefits; competing land uses (Incentives) • A small number of conservancies generate most of the revenue, due to location near major roads, tourist routes, quantity of game, and competing land uses. • Less visited conservancies provide important wildlife habitat/environmental services but are under-compensated, raising concerns that farmers in those areas will lose interest in the conservancy approach.(Context matters)
  28. 28. Mayan Biosphere Reserve Credit: Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
  29. 29. Community Forestry Concessions in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve • Located in northern Guatemala, in the Department of El Petén • The MBR encompasses 2.1 million hectares of lowland tropical rainforest; Mayan forests of Mexico and Guatemala make up the largest contiguous tropical forest north of the Amazon. • Established by Congressional Legislative Decree 5-90 established the MBR in 1990; linked to the peace accord • Five objectives: conserve biodiversity; maintain the ecological equilibrium of the area; conserve cultural heritage; provide development alternatives consistent with resource conservation; promote active participation of society • Three zones: Core zone (national parks, protected biotopes, wildlife preserves) 36%; Multiple- use zone (40%); Buffer zone (24%) • 14 concessions granted in the MUZ since 1995 (12 community and 2 industrial concessions); 25-year concession term. • Concession sustainable management plans certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
  30. 30. Source: CONAP-CEMEC The Mayan Biosphere Reserve
  31. 31. Biophysical and socio-economic outcomes • Annual deforestation rate 2001-2009 0.5% compared to pre-concession (1991) rate of 1.5%. (2.0% per year in Peten outside of concessions.) • Recovery of badly degraded forests across the concession areas. Effective fire control. • Incomes in forested concessions higher than for those relying mainly on agriculture • Employment increased, incomes increased (due to employment and dividends), income sources diversified (hunting, collecting NTFPs, timber, agriculture, off-farm services) • Most timber sales are generated by mahogany (75%) and cedar (10%-15%), which are not in great supply & off-take carefully regulated per FSC-certified management plans. Difficult to commercialize non-traditional species (apart from Xade).
  32. 32. Guatemala: Challenges/problems to be addressed • Concerns about renewal or permanent extension of the 25- year leases, though renewals appear underway (Rights) • US private initiative seeking US Senate funding (S.B. 3131) that would turn Mayan sites overlapping some concessions into a privately-managed resort. (Political divisions) • Limited off-take of high-value mahogany & cedar species (Importance of diverse income sources)
  33. 33. Summary reflections • Reading Leopold might help us think about a “Regulation—Stewardship— Incentives” matrix, and relationships among these 3 levers of environmental policy and practice. • The rapid growth of ESG investing, driven in part by consumer expectations that companies don’t harm the environment or low-income farmers, suggests that values matter in the market place, with consequences at scale. Govt. regulation in comparison can seem inefficient and/or heavy-handed. • Market neo-liberalism has its own limitations. • Giving greater rein to land-user stewardship is perhaps least honored of the 3 levers. • Stewardship (applied ethics) can be rewarded, but not easily created. • The skills & habits of stewardship depend on rights & experience; take root slowly. • Many have few or weak rights to the resources they use & thus limited management authority or discretion. Many governments don’t want to let go. • Stewardship may remain at “the heart of conservation.”
  34. 34. CIFOR Jalan CIFOR Situ Gede, Sindang Barang Bogor (Barat) 16115 Indonesia World Agroforestry United Nations Avenue Gigiri, PO Box 30677 Nairobi 00100 Kenya