Eco-certification protocols as mechanisms to foster sustainable environmental practices in telecoupled systems
Forest Policy and Economics, 2019
Ramon Felipe Bicudo da Silva, Mateus Batistella, Roberto Palmieri, Yue Dou and James D. A. Millington
The international trade of forestry and agricultural commodities leads distant regions across the globe to become connected through flows of products, information and capital. To deal with the sustainability and socioeconomic challenges of these interconnections, the ‘telecoupling’ conceptual framework has emerged. The telecoupling framework takes a coupled human-natural system approach to understand connections between different systems, classifying them as ‘sending’, ‘receiving’ and ‘spillover’ systems. This paper uses the telecoupling framework to investigate how distant systems are connected through flows of eco-certified forestry products and demonstrates how these connections drive environmental law compliance at the rural property level. We identify rural properties with eucalyptus plantations in Paraíba Valley, São Paulo State, Brazil as a sending system, and trace the outgoing flows of cellulose pulp to receiving systems. China and the European Union are the receiving systems, having been the major importers over the last 10 years. Using a multitemporal and spatial approach, we found that between 1995 and 2005 rural properties containing eucalyptus plantations with FSC certification had higher rates of native forest cover regeneration than properties without FSC certification. Native forest conservation and regrowth in rural properties in Paraíba Valley is an effect of the telecoupled system based on the international demand of eco-certified cellulose pulp from elsewhere. Additionally, we find that the telecoupled system also results in impacts on surrounding areas in the Atlantic forest landscapes, which we identify as an adjacent spillover system.