The topic of the international forest regime is a complex one. At the heart of regime are a number of international organizations with different mandates and capacities, all of whom are rightly proud of their achievements in raising awareness of the threats to the world’s forests and adopting instruments and programs designed to protect forest conditions and livelihoods. Nonetheless, there is an undeniable sense that the regime as a whole is failing. Rates of deforestation, though declining overall, show significant regional variations and remain “alarmingly high” according to the latest State of the Forests report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
Non-state actors are conspicuous by their absence in many of the key initiatives and have their own issue networks existing alongside the regime. Much is going on at local, national and regional levels that is not reflected in the regime’s outputs. In short, the effect of the international forest regime is rather less than the sum of its many parts.