Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) strategies aim for the sustainable use of forest resources maintaining forest-related ecosystem services for future generations. SFM is a central concept in international debates on forest governance. However, how the concept of SFM ‘travels’ from these international debates and governance arenas to its implementation on the ground involves various institutional translations that result in different outcomes per locality. This thesis focuses on investigating how SFM institutions – rules, norms, and beliefs – are translated from their conceptualisation in international policy arenas, to domestic and sub-national policy and governance frameworks, and further down to their implementation in a specific locality. For the purpose of this thesis, SFM institutional translations are defined as processes through which SFM institutions are reshaped by actors across different levels of governance and social-ecological settings until their implementation on the ground.
The thesis investigates how multiple actors from governmental and non-governmental organisations, including civil society and private industry and businesses, translate SFM institutions across different levels of governance, and explores how these translations occur specifically in Caatinga biome, in Brazil. Caatinga biome, a tropical dry forest, is often not the focus of research and policy efforts when discussing strategies to combat deforestation in Brazil, even though it represents one of the most biodiverse tropical dry forests in the world, and is home to the poorest population in Brazil. The main objective of this thesis is therefore to explore how SFM is translated within the global- local nexus of forest governance.
The overall findings of this thesis demonstrate that horizontal interactions in the global-local nexus, in addition to vertical dynamics across administrative levels, are highly relevant for understanding how SFM institutions are translated in the Brazilian forest governance context. Moreover, in a country such as Brazil, which is home to multiple biomes, the different values that are given to forest resources in various regions are key factors that shape SFM institutional translations. Therefore, studying the interactions amongst actors, resources use, and governance systems within these different social-ecological settings is essential to understanding how SFM institutions are translated differently across the country. Finally, the findings of this thesis demonstrate that different groups of local actors, isolated or together, reject, adapt, and/or integrate SFM institutions through their local practices in order to cope with SFM implementation challenges. As such, the global-local nexus of SFM embodies a complex set of vertical and horizontal interactions amongst actors, forest resources, and governance systems. Within that complexity, greater sensitivity to sustainable use on multiple levels of governance – not just the global or the local - will be needed to enhance the ‘guardian’ role of local communities in the conservation of forest resources.