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Doctoral thesis, 2015

Governing forests in a changing climate

Holmgren, Sara


This thesis explores how the climate change-forest policy intersection is constituted in different contexts. Bringing together discourse analysis, feminist political theory and Governmentality studies, the thesis employs a critical governance approach and thus sheds light on indirect and subtle forms of governing. Embedded in the intergovernmental context of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Swedish national forest policy context, the analytical focus is on problematisations of climate change and forests, on (gendered) identity formations and how these overlap and differ in the two contexts. The thesis confirms how climate change entails a narrow conception of forests as carbon sinks, and demonstrates an ongoing categorisation of forests and forestry based on spatial locations that imply conservation of tropical forests, and intensive management of forests in countries like Sweden. In both contexts there is a rural-urban dichotomy that entails an implied difference between distant and immediate forest dependence that approaches a civilised/uncivilised differentiation. The associated steering techniques entail a focus on activating individuals such as female forest owners, on enabling poor forest dependent communities, or establishing global forest carbon trading, which distorts the contestable role of forests in climate change strategies. In the Swedish context, the analysis further demonstrates how climate change has become a forest production issue, how forests are abstracted from local contexts and an important part of the formation of a Swedish national identity. The image of consensus around Swedish forestry distorts domestic conflicts around forests. Finally, by drawing on feminist political theory this thesis bring attention to gendering practices in Swedish forest policy, and reveals deep rooted values in Swedish forest governance that continue to favor intensive forest production and economic revenues above publically defined goals connected to social and environmental concerns.


forest policy; climate change; governance; discourse; Sweden

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2015, number: 2015:61
ISBN: 978-91-576-8320-5, eISBN: 978-91-576-8321-2
Publisher: Department of Forest Products, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Products

Associated SLU-program

Future Forests (until Jan 2017)
SLU Future Forests

UKÄ Subject classification

Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Forest Science

URI (permanent link to this page)