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Doctoral thesis, 2015

Forests at the limits

Alarcón Ferrari, Cristián


This thesis is based on a comparative study of forest use and land use for forestry in Sweden and Chile. Processes of forestry development in the two countries are placed in relation to world forestry. Theoretically, the thesis draws insights and conceptualisations from historical materialism, critical theory and world systems theory to work with a framework combining political ecology and environmental communication. The thesis deals with forestry, forest use and land use in times where the importance of wood biomass is fundamental as climate change challenges are substantially defined by the use of forests and land. In this context, the changing meanings and materiality of forests, forestry and land use constitute a fundamental political process today at both national and global levels. One main focus in the research has been to explore current processes linking forestry and climate change politics and how they are materialized in two geographical areas; the study areas having been Ñuble province in Chile and Jämtland- Västernorrland in Sweden. The thesis analyses both contemporary and past events influencing the present situation of forestry in the two countries, uses incorporated comparison as a specific comparative approach and is methodologically informed by notions of dialectics. Analysis of discourses, observations, interviews and other methods have been put together along with theoretical reasoning on the constitution and transformation of historically specific social-ecological relations. The thesis empirically shows relations between social changes associated with forestry and theoretically draws from, and elaborates on, different forms of critical theory. An important finding of this thesis is the deep interconnection between forestry in Chile and forestry in Sweden. The study also shows that forestry development in Chile influences the overall situation of forestry in Sweden and vice versa. In this regard, forestry in the two countries has been shown to form and be formed through the historical development of world forestry. The thesis also shows how climate change has transformed discursive practices of forestry in the two countries. In addition, the thesis highlights labour questions, movement of resistance related to capitalist forestry development and specific discourses articulating forestry development in the two countries. A main conclusion of the thesis is that the conflictive nature of forestry in Chile and Sweden is greatly entangled with processes of environmental communication and political ecology relations; relations that are today formed to an important degree through use value and exchange value contradictions.


forestry; forests; forest land; tree plantations; political ecology; environmental communication; climate change; labour; capital

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2015, number: 2015:5
ISBN: 978-91-576-8228-4, eISBN: 978-91-576-8229-1
Publisher: Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Alarcón Ferrari, Cristián (Alarcon Ferrari, Cristian)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

UKÄ Subject classification

Public Administration Studies
Economic Geography
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

URI (permanent link to this page)