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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Politics of forests and environmental data: Innovation from above, innovation from below, and conflicts over land use and property in Sweden

Alarcon, C.


This paper offers an exploratory analysis of the links between the politics of forest and struggles over environmental data in Sweden. The term politics of data is used to analyse data production orientated to productivity-oriented forestry and the use of digital technologies that allow ordinary citizens to produce data and knowledge on forests and biodiversity in Sweden. While both processes can be understood as innovation, they differ in terms of drivers and actors. The paper proposes to approach the former process as innovation from above, and the latter process will be understood as innovation from below. In this regard, the main argument to be developed in the paper is that these two forms of innovation reveal the key role of struggles on environmental data in the political interlinkages between contemporary land and property questions in forest and forestry in Sweden. By looking at data production from below, the paper attempts to bring a more dynamic understanding of the production, use and exchange of innovations for data production in environmental conflicts. The empirical analysis of the paper is based on cases where the role of data production in discussions on forestry in Sweden show contestation about the procedures to produce data and its use through digital transformations. These cases will serve to discuss the relations between political struggles over data and knowledge produced through digital tools, how land use and property are politically contested in the context of forestry, and how digital platforms for data production and management also become tools for incipient forms of democratization of knowledge production and innovation in decision making concerning forest and biodiversity.


biodiversity; conflicts; datafication; digitalization; forestry; land use; politics of data; politics of forest

Published in

Rivista di economia agraria
2023, Volume: 78, number: 2, pages: 39-52 Publisher: Firenze University Press