Research of FNP

The Forest and Nature Conservation Policy group’s framework for research is called the practice based approach. This framework for research is based on the idea that the interactions between people, forests and nature can best be understood as context specific practices. Research of FNP takes place in different locations all over the world and at different levels that range from the local to the global.

Our research themes fall into four categories:

Forest and nature conservation governance (national and global)

How forest and nature are valued, managed, and used increasingly depends on a broad range of ideas, knowledge’s, actors, organisations, policies, and institutions that – in turn - are part of larger societal trends. Commonly discussed as forest and nature governance, these processes include political struggles that often involve unequal power relations. This research theme addresses these ‘politics of governance’ and explores how biodiversity knowledge steers conservation actions; how local communities defy or adopt development interventions; and how global discourses lead to new domestic forest policies; amongst others. Thus, the theme explores how forest use and nature conservation concerns are integrated in global and day-to-day politics, and with what implications for people, forests and nature.

Human-nature interactions

We explore the ways in which humans enact their relationships with nature and the implications for the management of nature. This includes understanding people’s conceptualisations of, experiences in and values attributed to nature, individual and collective stewardship practices in urban and non-urban contexts and people’s motivations to participate in the stewardship of biocultural diversity. Topics range from social conflicts to social innovations, community-based conservation, digital conservation and co-creation practices in the fields of nature conservation, wildlife, rewilding and renaturing cities.

The role of power and knowledge in policymaking

Power can influence forest and nature policy both explicitly and implicitly. When for example deforestation becomes part of trade negotiations, the political power of international actors may decide on whether trees are left standing or weather wild animals need to make place for livestock. Power also works more implicitly, through the dominant values that are ascribed to natural processes, or the socio-ecological connections that exists between people and their land. Knowledge production and use plays a privileged role in such implicit power relations. The calculations of the economist perhaps differ as much from the categorisations of nature that a biologist uses as that the understanding of a landscape from a Western worldview does from an Indigenous cosmology. The theme questions how such intricate forms of power and knowledge affect and perform policymaking.

Management of forest value chains and markets

This theme focusses on the challenges of sustainably managing forest and (semi-)natural ecosystems and landscapes, and how to maintain and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services - now and in the future. This includes research on three fields: i) Management at stand, ecosystem and landscape level, ii) Structures guiding management (e.g. organisational structures, policies, markets, value chains) and iii) governance arrangements underlying these systems and structures.