International forest policy research group

International Forest Policy

Most of today’s environmental policy problems such as deforestation and the existing inequities in rights and benefits from natural resources are deeply rooted in historical processes and patterns of global trade and investment within and beyond the forestry sector. Domestic and international agreements, policies and decisions affecting forests and people all over the world, and vice versa. In the recently established Chair of International Forest Policy we strive for a world in which forests are high on national and international agendas, and forest stewards’ rights are acknowledged. We believe that research can make a difference through the provision of sound evidence of what is and what can be without prescribing what should be.  Our aim is to provide critical analysis to better understand politics and power in highly contested domestic and international policy arenas, often beyond the forestry sector as such.  Our research agenda aims at : analyzing opportunities and obstacles for processes of transformational change, actors’ discourses and power relations within the wider institutional environment, and implications for the forestry sector (international and national, EU and Pan-EU); understanding new modes of forest governance and emerging actor coalitions across multiple levels of governance, including private sector activities and commitments (and the role of the State within these); and evaluating effectiveness, efficiency and equity outcomes of international forest policy instruments (public, private and hybrid instruments).

Here are the members of the research group:

Maria Brockhaus is Professor of International Forest Policy at the University of Helsinki, Finland, since November 2016. Her background is in forest and environmental policy and agricultural economy. In her research, she focusses on questions of political economy, policy change, and policy networks. A large part of her research is concerned with forests’ role in climate change mitigation and adaptation at the interfaces of research-development, and economics-policy in anglo- and francophone countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Before she joined the University of Helsinki, she was a Senior Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) where she had been leading the policy component in CIFOR's Global Comparative Study (GCS) on REDD+ since 2009. Understanding what enables (and hinders) transformational change in and beyond the forestry sector is truly fascinating to her - especially when dissecting politics and power in highly contested policy arenas.

Natalya Yakusheva is a postdoc in International Forest Policy. Natalya received her PhD in Environmental Science from Södertörn University, Sweden. In her thesis, she explored key challenges and opportunities of multi-level governance of nature conservation in a context of post-socialist legacies and Europeanization on the examples of two transboundary national parks in the Carpathian Mountains between Poland and Slovakia.

Natalya’s research will focus on various aspects related to the European Forest Policy and decision-making, as well as forest governance in Russia. She is particularly interested in understanding how different actors engage in multi-level forest governance, what their motivations are and how existing power asymmetries influence such governance networks. She will also look at agenda setting at the EU level, and explore how existing “mega” trends in global forest sector influence the EU policy-making and vice versa.  Finally, she is interested in how perceptions of equity shape (or not) the EU forest governance.   

Mawa Karambiri is a PhD student in Sustainable use of Renewable Natural Resources (AGFOREE) program in Helsinki University. Her previous studies in Sociology focused on gender and participation in community forestry in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Her current research related to multilevel governance, political decentralization and the issue of local democracy in the context of forest management projects in Burkina Faso.  Her doctoral thesis investigates the interactions between the forest governance levels and actors and the extent to which it enables adaptive governance. Through case studies of decentralization at work, the thesis also analyses democratic representation of local people’ needs and interests as well as the dynamic of citizenship in forestry. Finally, it examines incentives and the engagement of local people to crow in/out of forest management program.  She mainly uses qualitative research methods.

Maria Ojanen is a PhD student in the Doctoral Programme in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences (DENVI) at the University of Helsinki. Her PhD project relates to the role and influence of scientific information as evidence in international forest/environmental policy.  She is interested in how evidence is generated and how it gets picked up and used by different policy actors.  Her PhD thesis examines research methods popular in evidence-based policy making, such as systematic review, and assesses their capability to provide reliable, salient and legitimate information for policy-makers and practitioners. Furthermore, in order to understand what facilitates and limits the uptake of scientific information (‘evidence’) in international forest policy processes, her PhD research also addresses the role of policy networks and cognitive biases. Previously Maria worked with property rights and tenure research issues in the Center for International Forestry Research (Indonesia) and the inspiration for the PhD research comes partly through this experience.

Christopher Eichhorn is an Erasmus student in the Master program “International Forestry” at the University of Freiburg/Germany. In his previous studies, he focused on agroforestry systems in Panama, combining high value timber plantations with legume species. Furthermore, he gained working experience in several developing countries, working mainly on REDD+.

His current research for his master thesis is focused on the consequences of restoration policies and projects in Colombia on the reduction of deforestation, specifically on the aims of REDD+. He investigates the media discourse, national rules, actors and power relations, to see how restoration in Colombia has evolved and how it influences the protection of forests. This 4-dimensional analysis is also called “policy arrangements approach”, developed by Bas Arts in 2006. For the discourse analysis, he uses “Atlas.ti”, investigating the different ways restoration is being framed in the media. The results shall show the possible outcomes of current restoration initiatives on REDD+ in Colombia and whether REDD+ shall also support those initiatives to fulfill its aims.

Kaisa Korhonen-Kurki is an adjunct professor in environmental policy based in Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS). She also has a background as a tropical forester.  Kaisa’s research interests are in climate and forest policies, science-policy interface, policy experiments, sustainability transformation and multilevel governance. She has been working in the University of Helsinki for 15 years as well as being associated to Cifor’s climate and forest policy research for several years. She has published several peer-reviewed papers.

Jenniver Sehring is a Visiting Scientist at the University of Helsinki with the International Forest Policy Research group. As a Political Scientist she focusses on natural resources management, Central Asia and comparative research. After several years in academia, she has been working as an adviser and consultant in the field of international environmental politics for the OSCE, the Council of the European Union, the German Foreign Office, and the GIZ. While her focus is on water governance and cooperation, she has been involved in international forest policy research since 2011, mainly through her association to the Global Comparative Study on REDD+ and advising on comparative research methods.

Niina Pietarinen is an MSc student in the Forest bioeconomy and policy program at the University of Helsinki. Niina’s background is in international marketing and management, and she has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. She is doing her MSc thesis on sustainability discourses and framings in Finnish forestry and forest-related legislation, considering how the spirit and ideas of Rio 1992 got translated and retranslated (or lost in translation) into existing Finnish forest policies and strategies. In addition, her research investigates what are the implications of the identified dominant framings in forest policy with regard to the core aspects of sustainability.