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New Publication exploring the human agency in forest transitions

By 28. May 2020No Comments

Why are current policies to combat deforestation doomed to failure?

While national and international efforts to reverse the trend of deforestation have multiplied in recent years, there is still no clear evidence to suggest these initiatives are actually working, according to a paper published in One Earth (Cell Press) this week. The international team behind the paper, led by Claude Garcia from CIRAD and ETH Zurich, and including Cornelia Krug, are calling for a radically new approach that focuses on how we understand individuals make their choices about forest and natural resource management.

The call comes from a collective of 23 researchers, consultants and NGO actors from 13 different countries in Europe and North America, and this paper marks their first but not last collaboration. Together, they argue that deforestation and reforestation policies need to reconsider how they take into account human decisions, and not their ambitions. They identify the way humans take decision to be a blind spot in policies and discourses over forest and landscape change. They put forward the need to make explicit the way decision makers think to negotiate forest management and the tangle of different stakeholders and interests that entails.

The collective says the assumption that everybody needs to work towards a common goal should be discarded. Instead, they propose a method that allows stakeholders and decision-makers to “align forces”, despite having different and sometimes even opposing values and worldviews. Specially designed board games are key tools in this process of introspection, learning and negotiation.


Garcia et al. (2020) The global forest transition as a human affair. One Earth.