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The Drama of the Commons
first and foremost a trade agreement in which producers (e.g., Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines) and consumers (e.g., Japan) of tropical timber endeavor to stabilize and regulate the world market in wood products harvested from tropical forests (Humphreys, 1996; Dauvergne, 1997b). What makes this regime interesting from an environmental point of view is the recognition that most harvesting of tropical timber in recent decades has taken the form of highly destructive practices best described as the “mining” of forests and that there is a need to restructure the industry to make it more sustainable.
The centerpiece of the 1994 agreement is a commitment on the part of member states to implement a system of guidelines intended to ensure that both natural and planted tropical forests are managed sustainably and that biological diversity is protected in these forests. To this end, regime members committed themselves to the Year 2000 Objective calling for all tropical timber entering international trade to be produced from tropical forests under sustainable management by the year 2000. Only a few countries succeeded in fulfilling this commitment. Are others likely to be able to meet the standard of the Year 2000 Objective during the near future? Part of the answer depends on the actions of NGOs concerned with this regime (e.g., the Forest Stewardship Council). But the essential key to this issue lies in the interplay between the international regime itself and the national political systems of member countries, such as Indonesia and Japan (Guppy, 1996). At this stage, the prognosis is not particularly encouraging. Given the economic and political turmoil occurring in Southeast Asia in recent years combined with the continuing grip of crony capitalism, the capacity of a country like Indonesia to meet the Year 2000 Objective is limited, and the sanctions associated with nonconformance are likely to prove ineffectual. For its part, the severity of the economic downturn that has plagued Japan in recent years, together with the political influence of the major companies involved in the tropical timber trade, creates a setting that is not conducive to bringing effective pressure to bear on domestic users of tropical timber.
A major goal of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS)— launched in 1991 but integrated since 1996 into the broader framework of the Arctic Council—is to promote the conservation of flora and fauna in the Circumpolar North (Huntington, 1997). To this end, the AEPS established a Working Group on the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) and provided it with a mandate to take the initiative in devising innovative means to achieve its general goal. Despite the relative weakness of CAFF in terms of formal authority, this initiative has generated a good deal of interest. CAFF has become a forum in which officials from government agencies and representatives of NGOs (e.g., the World Wildlife Fund) interact freely; it has succeeded in capturing and holding the attention of public agencies in a number of member states, and it has emerged as a mechanism for applying universal guidelines relating to biological diversity to the particular circumstances prevailing in the Circumpolar North.15 One of CAFF’s highest priorities has been to promote and oversee the creation of a Cir-