Because of the pace and magnitude of land cover change, terrestrial ecosystems across the globe are under unprecedented pressure. Industrial production of wood in large-scale tree plantations is one of the drivers of this change. The development of funds of natural capital on private lands for marketable commodities, however, often comes at the expense of other non-marketable benefits that people derive from ecosystems. The disturbances to existing ecosystems and social systems caused by the establishment of plantations can be drastic. Identifying factors that foster and impede actors and institutions to solve problems and address injustices thus becomes crucial for advancing sustainability through changes in policies and practices.

This dissertation synthesises findings from four articles. It takes on the task of filling two gaps in the previous scholarly literature: the first concerning the human impacts of large-scale tree plantations (articles I and II); the second concerning the different institutions that shape their governance (articles III and IV). It also brings these contributions together under a framework for empirical analysis, which combines and structures key concepts of environmental social sciences ranging from systems ecology to sociology. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods have been used in the four articles.

Article I presents the findings from a systematic review of the impacts of large-scale tree plantations for local communities. The review shows that impacts are frequently grounded in the process of land acquisition for plantations and the subsequent loss of livelihoods. Plantations have often caused more losses of livelihoods than created jobs. Article I also identifies gaps in the evidence base. Article II applies the concept of resilience and qualitative content analysis to analyse the Uruguayan beekeepers’ experiences of and responses to land cover change to plantations. The results show that the community faces this change as multiple interlinked challenges (e.g., lower honey yields and higher costs), to which they generally have a limited capacity to adapt.

Both articles III and IV use data from the domain of South African tree plantation policy. Based on an analysis of policy beliefs, the former identifies two competing coalitions: a dominant business-as-usual coalition, of which ideas a minority justice and change coalition challenges. Article III also clarifies the role that beliefs concerning specific policy instruments play in coalition formation. Article IV focuses on policy learning – the acquisition and dissemination of information between actors with diverse knowledge. It tests hypotheses concerning actors’ information exchange behaviour and finds that actors tend to exchange information and build trust with those who think alike. However, its findings support the idea that co-participation in policy forums enables policy learning.

Large-scale tree plantations have often caused negative impacts for local communities. The unfolding of impacts, however, also depends on the context (e.g., land use rights). The impacts are in many ways rooted in the governance of plantations, the dynamics of which can be better understood through coalition formation and policy learning.
Tilldelande institution
  • Helsingfors universitet
  • Toppinen, Anne, Handledare
  • Kanninen, Markku, Handledare
  • Korhonen-Kurki, Kaisa, Handledare
Tilldelningsdatum11 dec 2019
Tryckta ISBN978-951-51-5578-8
Elektroniska ISBN978-951-51-5579-5
StatusPublicerad - 11 dec 2019
MoE-publikationstypG5 Doktorsavhandling (artikel)


  • 4112 Skogsvetenskap

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