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Forests 2015, 6(4), 1301-1324; doi:10.3390/f6041301

From Public to Private Standards for Tropical Commodities: A Century of Global Discourse on Land Governance on the Forest Frontier

1
Independent Researcher, Washington, DC 20007, USA
2
Center on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
3
School of Management, Universidad de los Andes, Calle 21 No. 1-20, Bogota, 110311, Colombia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: George C. Schoneveld
Received: 11 September 2014 / Revised: 11 September 2014 / Accepted: 1 April 2015 / Published: 21 April 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Governing Forest Landscapes: Challenges and Ways Forward)
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Abstract

Globalization and commodity exports have a long history in affecting land use changes and land rights on the tropical forest frontier. This paper reviews a century of social and environmental discourse around land issues for four commodities grown in the humid tropics—rubber, cocoa, oil palm and bananas. States have exercised sovereign rights over land and forest resources and the outcomes for deforestation and land rights of existing users have been quite varied depending on local institutional contexts and political economy. In the current period of globalization, as land use changes associated with tropical commodities have accelerated, land issues are now at center stage in the global discourse. However, efforts to protect forests and the rights of local communities and indigenous groups continue to be ad hoc and codification of minimum standards and their implementation remains a work in progress. Given a widespread failure of state directed policies and institutions to curb deforestation and protect land rights, the private sector, with the exception of the rubber industry, is emphasizing voluntary standards to certify sustainability of their products. This is an important step but expectations that they will effectively address concerns about the impact of tropical commodities expansion might be too high, given their voluntary nature, demand constraints, and the challenge of including smallholders. It is also doubtful that private standards can more than partially compensate for long standing weaknesses in land governance and institutions on the forest frontier. View Full-Text
Keywords: commodities; globalization; land rights; tropical forests; bananas; cocoa; palm oil; rubber commodities; globalization; land rights; tropical forests; bananas; cocoa; palm oil; rubber
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Byerlee, D.; Rueda, X. From Public to Private Standards for Tropical Commodities: A Century of Global Discourse on Land Governance on the Forest Frontier. Forests 2015, 6, 1301-1324.

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