Forest and conservation policy in Southeast Asia is now at yet another crossroads. Despite decades of efforts, the challenges ahead remain formidable. These challenges include: (i) continued deforestation and degradation of forest; (ii) limited recognition of forests in climate change policy; (iii) increased impacts from a demand for bioenergy and biofuels; (iv) tenure and access conflicts; and, (v) continued loss of forest biodiversity. Overlaying these challenges are broader societal challenges of human population growth, poverty, changing patterns of consumption and the perceived need to continually grow economies.
The success in conserving and managing forests depends upon effective governance mechanisms that are transparent, participatory and accountable. It also requires tools that allow different policy actors to evaluate effectiveness at multiple scales: local, regional, national and international. Actions at one scale alone, whether global or local, are insufficient. The forests and its people need to find the energy and will to address the key forest problems we face in the 21st century with a new approach to policy and a new suite of tools to measure progress.