• Rachana Kadikar

Economic + Political Initiatives to Reduce Deforestation

The amount of deforestation is currently worsening due to increasing amounts of large-scale land acquisitions, especially by private investors. In addition, the deforestation by these foreign investors occurring in locations with a plentiful quantity of natural resources like Cambodia. Although these actions are justified with the purpose of increasing economic growth, ultimately, the access to natural resources and the quality of the environment diminishes greatly for local people as a result of these land acquisitions.

Some political and economic initiatives that have risen recently include the Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation program by the United Nations, also known as REDD, defensive environmentalist coalitions, and penalties for violating deforestation laws for landowners.

Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation

REDD is a program to associate an economic value for the carbon in the forests, which results in developing countries engaging in sustainable development (low or zero carbon emissions) and reducing the overall carbon emissions that occur during deforestation. Beyond just deforestation and preserving forests, REDD goes further to promote conserving and sustainably managing forests and their carbon supplies. However, this hasn't been very successful since not enough effective economic and political policies have been put into place to deter deforestation and large land acquisitions.

Defensive Environmental Coalitions

Defensive Environmental Coalitions can be made up of people of very diverse backgrounds, and these organizations can and have prevented many large-scale land acquisitions in resource-rich areas. However, the chances of success aren't high for these coalitions due to political advantages and preferential access for investors for the land grabs. In addition, it can be very dangerous to defend the environment, as around 200 people have been killed when protesting for maintaining the health of the environment.


Arguably the most effective way to address deforestation is to enforce regulation on land acquisitions and management. For example, enforcing a law for landowners to maintain a certain amount of forested land, and penalizing them if they aren't compliant would increase reluctance to engage in deforestation, and could have a significant impact on the scale of deforestation. This is illustrated by Brazil's policy on the Amazon to maintain 80% of their land as forest, and removing the subsidies needed to fund their agricultural operations if they aren't compliant with the rule. The regulations by Brazil on Amazonian land led to a 75% reduction rate of deforestation in five years.

Another source shows that about 90% of the deforestation in the Amazon is illegal, and continues to occur due to agricultural businesses, government corruption, and government passivity. Looking at these statistics, scientists are passionately advocating for immediate implementation of zero-deforestation policies in the Amazon to restore lost efficiency of these forests.