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Forestry discourses and forest based development – an introduction to the Special Issue

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Forestry discourses and forest based development – an introduction to the Special Issue
   International Forestry Review Vol. 19 (S1), 2017 1  Forestry discourses and forest based development – an introduction to the Special Issue W. DE JONG a , G. GALLOWAY b , P. KATILA  c  and P. PACHECO d a Professor, Center for Southeast Asian and Integrated Area Studies, Kyoto University, 46 Shimoadachichou, Kyoto, Japan 606-8501 b Programme Director Master of Sustainable Development Practice, Center for Latin American Studies/Center for African Studies, University of Florida, 470 Grinter Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611-5560, USA c Scientist, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Latokartanonkaari 9, 00790 Helsinki, Finland  d  Principal Scientist, Center for International Forestry Research, Jalan CIFOR, Situ Gede, Sindang Barang, Bogor (Barat) 16115, Indonesia Email:,,, Keywords: development discourse, community forestry, sustainable development goals, forest and climate change, green economy INTRODUCTIONWith the first quarter of the 21th century well underway there are promising developments but also crucial concerns regard-ing the current state and future direction of planet earth. The global political community unanimously came together to approve the Paris Agreement in 2016, the successor to the Kyoto Protocol and is now taking tangible steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nation member countries adopted in that same year the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, manifested in the Sustainable Devel-opment Goals (SDGs) that are now being pursued in a concerted fashion by a large number of actors, and at multiple levels. Forests and trees outside forests hold an important potential to contribute to the achievement of these global commitments; they are crucial for curbing climate change and contribute to almost all of the SDGs (Bonan 2008, Katila et al . 2017).Significant progress has been made in many of the Millen-nium Development Goals, a precursor to the SDGs, particu-larly in economic and social aspects. Yet there are large gaps in others, for instance the goal that addressed protecting the integrity of the biosphere. The most recent report on the global environment paints a still disconcerting picture of the condition of the worlds’ natural resources. Deforestation, and land and forest degradation, while declining in recent years, still occur at rates that are worrisome, often as consequences of ruthless or inconsiderate exploitation driven by short-term expectations of profits within producer countries, but also as negative spillover effect of growing demand in consumer countries. Deforestation also continues to be caused by local investors and rural dwellers eking out a living. The latest global forest assessment (FAO 2015a) provides evidence that deforestation and forest degradation, while still common, have declined over time. An increasing number of countries, especially in Asia report a reversal of net defor-estation to net forest cover increase primarily due to reforesta-tion and plantation programs (de Jong et al . 2016). Persisting deforestation is concentrated in hotspots characterized by rapid, widespread expansion of commodity crops targeting both domestic and global agricultural markets (Henders et al . 2015).The interplay of multiple contemporary global processes such as population growth, rapid urbanization, migration, and changes in global production and trade patterns, have signifi-cant implications for the world’s forests. Societal demands on forests have evolved and diversified with economic growth and development. In many countries where forests have been viewed as a source for timber and non-timber forests products or land for agriculture, there is a growing understanding that forests provide ecosystem services, many of which are vital for human well-being. Even with these evolving percep-tions of forests, they continue to face powerful, conflicting demands from other economic sectors. Shifting societal demands and impacts on forests have led to new international, national and subnational governance arrangements and transnational policy regimes (e.g. around legal timber trade, climate change mitigation, and biodiver-sity protection) aimed at meeting demand, while mitigating negative impacts. Indeed, efforts to curb natural resource degradation while mobilizing their use to contribute to devel-opment goals, are at the center of international, regional and national resource governance and policy arenas. Evolving environmental demands and the desire to reconcile economic and environmental goals, while accommodating multiple stakeholders and following good governance principles are issues that are reflected in the current debates embraced by forest environmental scholars(e.g. Landsberg and Waring 2014, Sayer et al . 2013). One rather recent approach to under-standing forest policy and governance is by turning to the concept of discourse, discourse theory and discourse analysis. While discourse theories and analyses were developed by social scientists in the 1960s, it was not until the late 1990s that forestry social scientists began to embrace the discourse concept, theory and analysis, and apply it to the analysis of an array of forest and forestry related social processes (Leipold 2014).  2 W. de Jong et al. development’ in the 1980’s and more recently ‘capacity build-ing’, ‘human rights’, and ‘good governance’ in the 1990’s, and in recent years ‘poverty reduction’ (Leal 2010), ‘climate change’ and ‘transformational change’ (Di Gregorio et al.  2015). There is an overlap between shifts in development discourses and shifts in environmental discourses. Arts et al.  (2010), for instance, provide an overview of environmental meta-discourses, which they believe have shaped and been shaped by global forest issues. They distinguish modernity, limits to growth, ecological modernization and sustainable development discourses. A more recent bioeconomy dis-course (Pülzl et al.  2014) is described as a multi-source dis-course that includes elements from limits to growth and ecological modernization, with theoretical assumptions based on neo-liberal economics.Another layer of discourses of interest to this Special Issue corresponds to international discourses on forests and forestry that have been in the public debate and communication media since the 1960s. These discourses have evolved, linked to notions of industrial forests, wood fuel, forest decline, forest parks, deforestation, degradation, sustainable forest manage-ment, forest-related traditional knowledge, and biodiversity conservation (Arts et al.  2010), and have been instrumental in the process of building wider discourses and narratives with regard to sustainable development, and recently on climate change mitigation and adaptation.In a similar fashion, shifts in development and environ-mental discourses are reflected in changes in forest discourses and include the reframing of the problems and possible solu-tions related to forests and their relevance for societal needs, such as energy and food (FAO 2015b). In connection with the bioeconomy discourse, for example, the industrial forestry discourse has been reframed with the bioeconomy discourse, and the fuel wood crisis discourse with woody biomass production and its relevance to climate change mitigation (Pülzl et al . 2014) and renewable energy discourses. As far as the food security agenda is concerned, evolving narratives stress how forests and forest landscapes can contribute to meet the needs of an increasing demand for nutritious food (HLPE 2017). Forests entered the rural development domain in the 1970s, when development organizations such as FAO recog-nized the importance of trees and forests for firewood and other purposes, and how the provision of important products and services might be affected by deforestation and/or forest degradation (FAO, 2015b). Many regions of the world, often with low–income, rural populations, had already been impacted by deforestation due to forest conversion. The lack of trees on the landscape was seen to be a major environmen-tal problem with social and economic repercussions. Picking up on pioneering work by anthropologists that described indigenous forest use and management (e.g. Conklin 1957), anthropologists, geographers, ethnobotanists and scholars from other fields refocused attention to local forest manage-ment in the 1980s. This coincided with the transition from rural development as the main focus of development coopera-tion to sustainable management of natural resources as a win-win for poverty alleviation and conservation. This transition This Special Issue of the International Forestry Review brings together 12 papers that are published under the title: ‘Shifting global development discourses: Implications for forests and livelihoods’. Collectively, the papers reflect changes in societal demands on forests and forest landscapes, changes in how multiple constituencies compete for forest goods and services (forest ecosystem services), and how these changes are influencing forest governance and policies in multiple international, national, sub-national and local contexts. The Special Issue explores how shifting global discourses influence forest management and conservation with important repercussions for livelihoods. This editorial introduces the Special Issue and provides a conceptual and theoretical basis to position the papers in a common frame-work. In section 2, attention is focused on forest development and discourse theory in forest science. Then, in section 3, the 12 papers are situated in the common framework alluded to. Next, section 4 draws on the contributions of the papers to further develop ideas introduced in section 2. Finally, section 5 concludes.CHANGING FOREST DEVELOPMENT DISCOURSESThe concept and theory of discourse first entered forestry social science in the 1990s (Hajer and Versteeg 2005, Leipold 2014). Since then, scholars have utilized a variety of approaches with diverse theoretical underpinnings in their efforts to apply discourse analysis. In this growing body of work, definitions of discourse have ranged from linguistic perspectives to post-modern theories focusing on power rela-tionships in society as expressed through language and praxis. An often sited and useful definition for this Special Issue defines discourse as: “An ensemble of ideas, concepts and categories through which meaning is given to social and physical phenomena, and which is produced and reproduced through an identifiable set of practices” (Hajer and Versteeg 2005). Discourse, according to this definition, refers to a particular set of related ideas which are shared, debated and communicated using different formats, including academic writings, policy advocate communications, and public media. The term discourse is closely related to the concept of narra-tive. Among some discourse theorists, a discourse emphasizes the form and methods of communication of an ensemble of ideas, while a narrative emphasizes the content, i.e. meaning of the ideas of the discourse (e.g. Greenhalgh et al . 2012). Discourses can consist of an array of different elements presented as narratives or storylines (Hajer 1993). Depending on the social phenomena under interest, numerous successive or overlapping and parallel discourses can be identified at the same moment in time.Since development cooperation became part of interna-tional relations, the dominant focus of development discourse has undergone frequent changes. The post-colonial period gave way to ‘modernization’ during the Cold War era fol-lowed by an emphasis on ‘basic human needs’ and ‘integrated rural development’ in the 1970’s. Then discourse became associated with ‘sustainable development’ and ‘participatory   Forestry discourses and forest based development – an introduction to the Special Issue  3 was clearly evident in the outcomes of the 1992 Earth Summit, which advocated placing greater emphasis on local forest management and the use and commercialization of non-timber forest products as a promising path to achieve tropical forest conservation, while improving rural liveli-hoods. This approach was tested in the widespread implemen-tation of integrated conservation and development projects, particularly in the Global South, and often under the umbrella of community forestry, as defined by Charnley and Poe (2005): “ Forest management that has ecological sustainabil-ity and local community benefits as central goals with some degree of responsibility and authority for forest management  formally vested in the community .”The predominant global development perspective at that time, thus became anchored in ‘local based development’ and ‘decentralized management’, and community forestry can be seen as a narrow representation of it in the forest sector, frequently linked to the interests and demands of indigenous peoples. Community forestry became a process driven by projects involving forest community support activities largely initiated and carried forward by rural development activists representing development agencies, business-conservation partnerships and national non-governmental organizations and government agencies. Over time, these concerted efforts led to community forestry being integrated into national policies, legislation, and also into academic inquiry (Arts et al.  2017, Baynes et al . 2015, Charnley and Poe 2007, Katila et al . 2014, Pagdee et al.  2007, Pelletier et al.  2016).There is now an intersection between community forestry discourse and that focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation. It is also viewed as a promising option to progress towards goals related to livelihoods of forest communities and the simultaneous provision of forest ecosystem services for an array of different stakeholders. One prominent exam-ple, for instance, is to direct compensation for avoided forest carbon emissions to forest communities who protect forests from deforestation and degradation. Under multiple interna-tional REDD+ programs, communities, that over the past few decades have been granted rights over forestlands and forests in many parts of the world, are now meant to be compensated for avoided deforestation and thus avoided atmospheric carbon emissions. This approach is similar to integrated conservation and development projects that seek to increase livelihood benefits to communities that make concerted efforts to conserve forests and biodiversity. Compensation for carbon and biodiversity conservation are but two examples of the mechanism known as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES). Other ecosystem services involving forest communities have been analyzed for their potential to be subjected to PES schemes. More recently, the focus has shifted to the potential role of forests in adaptation strategies that increase community resilience to climate change by mitigating negative impacts on rural livelihoods (e.g. Locatelli et al.  2015, Saxena et al.  2016).Interestingly, evolving demands on forests by multiple actors is strongly associated with changes in the international and transboundary governance frameworks on forests, which not only look at forests in the contexts of sustainable forest management and legality, but also with regard to governance of ecosystem services, including carbon emissions. This has enhanced forest and biodiversity management and carbon monitoring know-how, and technology and practice at all levels and among all actors. Concomitantly, there have been changes in institutional architecture, policy frameworks, and regulatory measures that affect forests. As a result, forests are currently strongly embedded in multiple international conventions, for example, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention on Desertification, among others. In response, national governments have adopted national forest plans, national biodiversity strategies, and are implementing national REDD+ strategies. They are also adopting bioeconomy policies and developing national climate change adaptation strategies, that include special measures and considerations related to forests.The evolving and growing demands on forests and the hope that forests may contribute to rural development is reflected in multiple forums, international and national initia-tives, and platforms, leading to multi-stakeholder commit-ments on forest-related goals (e.g. legality, zero deforestation, and restoration). Forests are now linked to zero deforestation, bioeconomy and green growth strategies, and are seen as a key element in the emergence of a greener economy capable of balancing more sustainable production and consumption (e.g UNEP 2011). The zero deforestation initiatives, resulting from the New York Declaration on Forests (2014) has attracted increasing attention, mainly from consumer goods manufac-turers, retailers and traders, concerned about risks that deforestation poses to their corporate reputations. The zero deforestation movement has motivated several platforms, notably the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, to implement operational commitments to delink agricultural commodity supply and deforestation. Complementary, restoration initia-tives (e.g. the Bonn Challenge) are also enriching current dis-courses on the avenues to protect planetary environmental integrity. Finally, forests have also been shown to have considerable potential to contribute to the attainment of the sustainable development goals adopted in 2015 (e.g. IIED 2014).In summary, new forest development discourses have emerged associated with wider debates on planetary boundar-ies and the sustainable development goals, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and transitions to a greener bio-economy, which collectively are dominating international forestry debates. Others, in contrast, have moved to the background, while they have not entirely disappeared (Arts et al.  2010).BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE PAPERS OF THE SPECIAL ISSUEAll of the papers in this Special Issue can be linked to one or several forest development discourses, or to what Arts et al.  (2010) characterize as environmental meta-discourses. Three  4 W. de Jong et al. The remaining five papers discuss more specific forest development issues, also linked to forest development dis-courses. The paper by Chowdhary et al.  (2017) can be linked to the forest based climate change adaptation discourse. The paper reports on the development of an approach that in theory should make it possible to harness community forestry as a means to bolster climate change adaptation. The paper by Hiedanpää and Salo (2017), on the other hand, explores innovative approaches to forest ecosystem services entrepre-neurship. The paper’s basic argument is that innovative ideas are already being pursued to create economic opportunities for various actors with links to forests while complying with a new green economy normative. The paper refers to the con-cept of ecosystem service entrepreneurship as a discourse, and one can indeed recognize an ecosystem services global discourse that has emerged since the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA 2005). Ingram (2017) explores how governance arrangements adjust them-selves when forest product value chains emerge and trans-form. The paper analyses how changes in these arrangements create both opportunities and challenges to support more effective non-timber forest product value chain governance. Again, while the paper does not specifically focus on analyz-ing or positioning itself in a specific forest development dis-course, one can argue that it is part of both the non-timber forest product discourse and the forest governance discourse. The final two papers focus on forest development related topics. Katila (2017) reviews the evolution of Finland’s National Forest Programmes through a process of periodic revisions. The paper reviews how broader national problems that can be linked to forests are ‘framed’ in the country’s national forest programmes. The paper does adopt a discourse theory approach to find answers to its overarching question, noting that while the Finnish National Forest Programmes adopt narratives of broader ecological and social sustainabil-ity, the core of the national forest programmes continue to emphasize profitability and competitiveness of the forest sector. Finally, Toppinen et al . (2017) examine how Finnish companies that operate in China view plantations, and  juxtaposes these views with those held by village leaders. The paper argues that the analysis makes it possible to under-stand how companies that rely on plantation production can turn to an ‘ecosystem services of forest plantations discourse’ to obtain legitimacy and social acceptance for their operations in China, while also pointing out how different stakeholders understand to varying degrees the concept of ecosystem services. Table 1 lists the papers of the Special Issue and indicates the forest development discourse that most closely links with each paper.DRIVERS AND DYNAMICS OF FOREST DEVELOP-MENT AND DISCOURSESThis Special Issue aims to bring together two main ideas. Firstly, it explores dynamic, conceptual underpinnings of for-est development and how these play out in different contexts. papers engage in conceptual discussions on these meta-discourses. The Sconfienza (2017) paper specifically identi-fies and compares three environmental discourses and their embedded norms: ecological modernization, civic environ-mentalism, and radical environmentalism. This paper makes the link with a normativity that underpins the three discourses. The contrasting normativity results in quite different and possibly conflicting policy options for REDD+. The second paper in this group, Tomaselli et al.  (2017), also employs meta-discourse analysis to make its points. The paper distin-guishes between a conventional expansionist and unsustain-able worldview and an alternative ecological, i.e. sustainable, worldview. Both represent opposite economic development meta-discourses. The authors use this as a yardstick to assess UNEP’s (2011) conceptualization of the green economy, asserting that while UNEP uses an ecological narrative, the organization’s proposal to move forward towards a true green economy, including forestry, in reality remains situated within a conventional expansionists worldview.The paper by Gregerson et al.  (2017) focuses on the sustainable development discourse, a discourse that Arts et al.  (2010: 60) also identify as a meta-discourse. Essentially, the paper aims to place forestry within the sustainable develop-ment concept, but argues, that if this is done, the forest-based sustainable development narrative needs to be revised. Rather than a fixation on specific end goals and targets, the narrative should adopt a set of principles that guide praxis through a process subjected to inevitable shocks and disruptions over time, including changing societal demands. The next set of four papers specifically focus on analyzing forest-related discourses or an element of a forest-related discourse. They make a specific forest development discourse the topic of inquiry. Kleinschmit et al.  (2017), for instance, undertake an analysis of the bio-economy discourse, which the authors identify as a meta-discourse. The authors assess to what extent environmental narratives form a part of the bio-economy discourse, and how environment and environ-mental policies are ‘framed’ and integrated into what the authors emphasize is a political discourse. The paper under-takes both discourse analysis and policy integration analysis. The paper by Winkel et al.  (2017), on the other hand, explores illegal logging narratives in different contexts around the world. The paper illustrates how perceptions and discourse related to illegal logging vary among different countries, according to the underlying interests of different actors. In essence, Winkel et al.  (2017) analyze national manifestations of the global, illegal logging discourse. The other two papers in this second group by Pham et al.  (2017a and et al. 2017b) look at quite specific manifestations of global discourses. Pham et al.  (2017a) focus on the national REDD+ discourse in Vietnam, by exploring how REDD+ appears in public media. The authors are particularly interested in how the public media debate becomes a proxy for a national REDD+ policy debate, which because of the country’s authoritarian government, is highly constrained within other governance forums. Pham et al.  (2017b) examine narratives related to REDD+ in Indonesia and Vietnam, com-paring them to green growth, or green economy narratives in each of the two countries.   Forestry discourses and forest based development – an introduction to the Special Issue  5 By forest development, we refer to options or opportunities to undertake forest management to achieve both broad and narrower societal goals. Secondly, the papers in this Special Issue look at the dynamics of forest development from a discourse perspective. The focus on forest development from a discourse perspective leads to questions such as the following: What are the main forest development trends, how are they reflected in evolving discourses? What are the dynamics shaping shifts in forest development discourses, i.e. what are the drivers of changing forest discourses? How do these drivers relate to other environmental and development discourses, such as discourses on development, conservation or climate change? Do forestry or forest discourses reflect changes in global development discourses, and do forestry discourses affect the latter? A final question most relevant to forestry development outcomes is: To what extent do forest (development) dis-courses shape policy action and behaviors of different actors?The papers in this Special Issue provide mixed answers to these questions. They cover a continuum of discourses and narratives that accommodate quite contrasting forest develop-ment approaches. At one extreme, they focus on a radical ecological worldview, or radical environmentalism points of view, which argue for extreme restraint in the use of nature. At the other, they examine narratives that see economic growth as compatible with nature and forests (i.e. environ-mental sustainability). While Sconfienza (2017) and Tomaselli et al . (2017) indicate that while proponents of these contrasting environmental narratives do not easily find common ground, discussions in other papers suggest that some convergence and compatibility may be possible.For instance, while the radical ecological worldview (Tomaselli et al . 2017) contrasts sharply with an expansion-ists worldview, Hiedanpää and Salo (2017) suggest that ecological expansionism may be more than an oxymoron if ecosystem services entrepreneurship or green economy can lead to sustainable development options. In other words, ecological modernization might satisfy the basic tenets of radical environmentalism. Equally, one could argue that the Gregerson et al . (2017) paper sees a way out of the appar-ently incompatibility between contrasting narratives or views by focusing on process, rather than on fixed outcomes.Another question that begs answers relates to how forest development discourses emerge and enter communication channels through which they are transmitted and retransmit-ted. The papers in this Special Issue provide some insights into this, focusing attention on drivers that lead to the emergence of these discourses. Hiedanpää and Salo (2017), for instance, note that evolving societal awareness underlies the demand for new ecosystem services, resulting in the TABLE 1 Papers of the Special Issue and their associated discourses Forest development discourse Authors Title Forests and climate changeChowdary et al .Integrated climate change adaptation: towards a participatory community forestry-based approachForests and sustainable developmentGregerson et al .Forests for Sustainable Development: A process approach to forests contributing to the evolving UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable developmentForest in a green economyHiedanpaa and SaloEmerging forest ecosystem service entrepreneurship in Finland and PeruNon timber forest products and forest governance IngramChanging governance arrangements: NTFP value chains in the Congo BasinForests and sustainable developmentKatilaForestry development priorities in Finnish national forest programmesForest in a green economyKleinschmit et al .Striving towards sustainability: integrating environmental concerns into the political bioeconomy discourse?Forests and climate changeSconfienzaEnvironmental narratives and their normative presuppositions as heuristic devices to learn about forestry conflicts. The case of REDD+Forests and climate changePham et al .From REDD+ performance to Green growth: Synergies or discord in Vietnam and IndonesiaForest and climate changePham et al .REDD+ politics in the media: A case study from VietnamForests in a green economyTomasella et al .The problematic old roots of the new green economy narrative: How far can it take us in re-imagining sustainability in forestry?Ecosystem services of forest plantationsToppinenForest ecosystem services, corporate sustainability and local livelihoods in industrial plantations of China: building conceptual awareness on the interlinkagesIllegal logging and legality verificationWinkel et al .Narrating illegal logging across the globe: Between green protectionism and sustainable resource use
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