Forest Transitions: A driver analysis based on the cases of Vietnam, Laos, Costa Rica and Nicaragua
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The following Thesis is a qualitative research on the state of forests and its importance for providing economic and environmental services in four selected countries: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Vietnam and Laos. As a theoretical framework the forest transition theory developed by Mather is used. The main aim is to assess the performance of the four countries in their transition from net deforestation to net reforestation. The first chapter presents the forest transition theory, the importance of forests on both local and global level as well as the design of assessment categories. The second chapter presents the methodological approach and the conceptual framework. In chapter 3 the forest sectors in the selected countries are presented. The last chapter gathers the results of the research based on the theoretical and conceptual frameworks. The leading method used in this research was the analysis of scientific articles, grey literature and governmental documents. In addition 22 interviews with key stakeholders from governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and think tanks were performed. It was found that particularly socio-economic drivers are of importance for a forest transition. These are: intensification and land specialisation, as well as the improvement of opportunities outside the farming sector. However, without an extensive and efficient institutional framework a transition is not likely to happen and the success of governmental efforts in combating deforestation will remain limited. Lastly, a strong conviction towards a change is needed by policymakers and the civil society. This was proved from the side of successful countries as from the unsuccessful ones. Costa Rica and Vietnam did experience a forest transition and Nicaragua and Laos did not.