Category 2: Governance, policy and sociology of forests – Københavns Universitet

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Category 2: Governance, policy and sociology of forest

CATEGORY 2 RESEARCH TOPICS:
2.1     
The political economy of REDD+

2.2     Whose knowledge counts? How different forms of knowledge are used in power struggles over forest resources

2.3     Women, community forestry, and citizenship

2.4     The new role of forests and forestry in regions with decreasing population

2.5     Actors and policies in global forest governance

2.6     Environmental sustainability and social-ecological resilience in community-based forest management

2.7     Assessment of forest governance capacity and institutional changes in the forest sector at global, national and local level: the theory and the practice 

2.1 The political economy of REDD+
Efforts at reducing CO2 emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) are underway in many parts of the developing world. A host of pilot projects have been launched on the ground, accompanied by proclaimed changes in national policies and legislation in favour of REDD+. The current enthusiasm, however, seems to disregard the many attempts at similar reforms in the past three-four decades. These past reforms have met with resistance from various actors within and outside the developing world with economic and other interests in deforestation and forest degradation to realize timber values or to use forested land for competing land-uses, such as large-scale commercial agriculture or mining or simply subsistence agriculture. The question is to which extent, and under what conditions, REDD+ can change this historical trajectory. The underlying reasons for the failures of past reforms are poorly understood. This proposal calls for research that scrutinizes forest resources exploitation, (the lack of) reforms and possible role of REDD+ through political economy lenses with an aim to outline the various actors economic and other interests in the exploitation and, thereby, the underlying reasons for the observed outcomes. The research should focus at all levels from the community to the international level.
Principal supervisor at University of Copenhagen
Co-supervisor at University of Padova

2.2 Whose knowledge counts? How different forms of knowledge are used in power struggles over forest resources
State forest administrations are the dominant forest management institutions in both the developed and the developing world. Usually, state administered forest management is based, at least in theory, on scientific information such as estimates of forest stock and growth based on standardized forest inventories that are fed into a management plan. The need to plan, perform and, not least, pay for such standardized forest inventories and management plans is invoked as a justification for the state retaining control over forests. Knowledge held by communities and traditional forest management practices and institutions are often not seen as valid in such negotiations. This raises several pertinent research questions. First, are forest management plans, generally, based on rigorous standardized forest inventories? Second, what forms of knowledge are used in the day-to-day forest management by state forest administrations and local communities, respectively? And, finally, what forms of knowledge are recognized in negotiations of rights and responsibilities over forest resources? This proposal calls for empirical research that engages one or more of these questions. The research would involve field work in one or more case studies. This could include cases in developed and/or developing countries.
Principal supervisor at University of Copenhagen
Co-supervisor at Bangor University

2.3 Women, community forestry, and citizenship
There is widespread need for womens empowerment in many developing countries, including in ensuring their access to natural resources. Forest governance is one domain where little consideration is paid to how womens roles, needs and priorities differ from mens. Yet women in rural areas are often as dependent on forest resources as men, or even more. In recent years, women increasingly have become involved in community forestry ranging from sitting in to actively exercising influence. But it is not well understood what factors promote whether women can realize their influence, nor what are the outcomes. Addressing these issues is further complicated by the varying roles and powers that women may already have and exercise. The purpose of the project will be to uncover the formal as well as the informal ways women are able to influence forest governance, and to assess the effects of their participation on their citizenship in general and their access to/management of forest resources in particular. Applied methods will be qualitative and to some degree quantitative. The project will take place within a context where formal laws allow and possibly encourage womens participation in forest governance, for example Nepal or India.
Principal supervisor at University of Copenhagen
Co-supervisor at University of Padova

2.4 The new role of forests and forestry in regions with decreasing population
Since 2009, for the first time in history more than half of the worlds population is living in cities while many rural areas are increasingly facing a change or even decline in living conditions for the remaining people. New issues, e.g. demolition of infrastructure, natural succession, establishment of wilderness areas, resettlement of animals like wolf, bear etc. are coming into the focus. In this context, forests and forestry are supposed to play new roles in the future. A comparative analysis of selected case studies in two countries is intended to scrutinize the following key research questions: 1. What are the political framework conditions for forests and forested landscapes in the respective rural areas? 2. Which role forests can play to keep the site economically attractive for the remaining population? 3. How can forests and forested landscapes in rural areas be transformed into attractive destinations for tourism and recreation? 4. Should depopulated regions mainly be used for biomass production or biodiversity conservation? 5. Which special problems are increasing/or increasing along the urban-rural gradient? Depending on the candidates scientific profile, the research should be focussed on the macro-perspective (questions 1, 4, 5) or the micro perspective (questions 2 and 3), respectively.
Principal supervisor Dresden University of TechnologyCo-supervisor at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

2.5 Actors and policies in global forest governance
Forests are subject to a growing number of international agreements, conventions and regimes. Global climate policy and its REDD+ initiative, but also international biodiversity, trade, human rights and forest management policies are becoming relevant for forests and have more or less concrete forest mandates. This architecture of global forest governance can be a challenge for some issues and actors, while at the same time it can also be a chance for others. Under this topic proposals are invited which aim at analyzing either the formulation of selected international forest-relevant policies or the implementation of such policies in selected countries or regions. The proposals should ask research questions regarding e.g. the role of states and their administrations, international organizations and NGOs as well as public and private institutions such as international regimes or certification schemes.
Principal supervisor at University of GöttingenCo-supervisor at University of Copenhagen

2.6 Environmental sustainability and social-ecological resilience in community-based forest management
Over the last two decades the key-role of community-based institutions in sustainable forest management has been increasingly recognised. However, the rapid and profound socio-economic, cultural and institutional changes now shaking the forestry world, with the newly-emerging demands and global policy arenas, are challenging also the role of these well-rooted traditional institutions. Therefore there is a need of understanding how and to what extent forest communities can today adapt to socio-economic and ecological changes while still retaining high levels of sustainable forest management. By making reference to the concept of social-ecological resilience, the PhD should assess the ability of community-based forests institutions to adapt to the changes, especially exploring internal (self-organisation) and external (learning from adaptation) governance processes. The following research questions might guide this research: 1) Why, when and how do community members decide for changes in rules/strategies/procedures related to forest management? 2) What determines the decision-making processes? 3) What is the time frame of adaptation processes? 4) What are the outcomes and the impacts of this adaptation process in terms of forest conservation? This PhD will use a combination of literature-based analysis and field work in selected case studies in different European and non-European countries.
Principal supervisor at University of PadovaCo-supervisor at University of Copenhagen

2.7 Assessment of forest governance capacity and institutional changes in the forest sector at global, national and local level: the theory and the practice
Assessment, monitoring and reporting of new modes of forest governance and related institutional changes within the forest sector are increasingly recognized as key-instruments for decision-making processes related to forest resources protection and management. Results of assessment and monitoring of forest governance can be functional to the analysis and implementation of forest policy reforms and institutional changes, both at the higher institutional levels (international, regional or national levels, where policy is formulated and approved) and at operational levels (where policy is implemented by households, companies and other local actors). But assessing, monitoring and reporting governance capacity of forest administrations and other actors remains challenging. Theoretical, methodological and practical problems in targeting the assessment and monitoring results, developing evaluation criteria and indicators, collecting related data and reporting them, setting proper toolkits for practitioners and policy-makers are unresolved. This PhD will use a combination of literature-based analysis and field work in selected case studies to investigate whether and how: 1) the various governance levels can be linked each other (multi-level governance analysis, problems and potentials in downscaling/upscaling assessment tools, identification of cause-effect relationships between governance performances and forest resources management outcomes); 2) forest governance capacity of public administrations and other institutions can be assessed and monitored, especially at local level.
Principal supervisor at University of Padova
Co-supervisor at Dresden University of Technology