Spiritual values and sustainable forest management

The main objective of this project is to clarify how spiritual values are operationalised in forest management planning and practice. This question is explored in the Netherlands and in other countries or regions to be selected. Masters students are invited to take up one or more sub-themes for their thesis.

Spiritual values feature in all major global forest strategies and principles, but are seldom operationalized in on-the-ground forest management practice. An exception is the upcoming domain of Indigenous Forest Management in the Americas and Australia and, to some degree, Social and Community Forestry arrangements worldwide. In the Western world increasing public interest in spirituality converges with increased public involvement in forest governance and management. Dutch forest and nature managing organisations are responding by incorporating spirituality in their governance arrangements. However, little is known about the variation, extent and impact of these processes. Insight is lacking into whether and how spiritual values underlie and inform forest management practices in different areas of spiritual tradition worldwide; and whether articulating spiritual values in forest management is useful and effective for the forest managers, the forest, and other stakeholders.
The research aims to explore how and to what extent spiritual values are articulated in forest management strategies and plans as well as on-the-ground practices. It also aims to analyse how these three levels are related and what possible diversity and patterns can be identified. This study will be done in the Netherlands (or the West) as well as in other regions of the world. The selection of countries or regions will be based on diversity in management systems, spiritual, cultural, and social settings, geographical spreading, and ecology. In principle three countries or regions will be selected: the Netherlands, another country/region in Europe, and a country/region outside Europe. The study design will consist of a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods.