The International Forest Policy Research Group consists of members with a wide range of research interests.

Read more about profiles of individual group members below.

Ayonghe Akonwi, Postdoc researcher


Ayonghe Akonwi is a postdoctoral researcher.

His research within the project GreenPole -project pursues interdisciplinary assessments of forest policy outcomes (climate, biodiversity, and wider societal impacts). GreenPole is conducted in consortium between Lund University, Copenhagen University and the University of Helsinki. The Post-doc task adds anthropological insights to evaluating Nordic Forest Policies: past, present, and future implications. It does so with a focus on the qualitative perspective - both from the stance of policy interventions in the past decades, and a comparative analysis between forest policies in Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.
Other areas of sharing interest include Co-management systems for the sustenance of natural resources; People-nature relations in the context of National Parks and other forms of protected areas; Anthropological inquiry and Qualitative methods in the Social Sciences; Use of Interdisciplinary theories on Power, Knowledge-integration, Agency, Socio-ecology, and Cultural Resilience.

Maria Brockhaus, Professor

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.

Hannah Ehrlichmann, Master student

Hannah Ehrlichmann is a Master student in the Programme Environmental Change and Global Sustainability (ECGS) at the University of Helsinki. She has a bachelor's degree in International Relations from the University of Leiden, specializing with a Minor in Economics and Sustainability from the University of Amsterdam. In her research, she investigates colonial legacies in the German and Cameroonian forest sector by analyzing economic flows between the two countries from 1884 until 2022. Further, she looks at the economic structures reproducing colonial relations through analysis of company structures and networks. She applies quantitative analysis and network analysis.

Felicity Goldsmith, Master Student

Felicity Goldsmith is a Master’s student studying Environmental Change and Global Sustainability at the University of Helsinki. Her disciplinary background is in Geography, with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Exeter.

Contributing to both the ForEqual Project and FairFrontiers Project, Felicity is currently carrying out an internship in association with the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN). Using British archival and online research, she is undertaking discursive analysis of British investments into forest lands and plantations in Cameroon during the colonial period. She has an interest in indigenous studies, focusing her research on the representations of indigenous and local communities, specifically within colonial business media.

Teemu Harrinkari, doctoral researcher

Teemu Harrinkari is a doctoral student in Sustainable use of Renewable Natural Resources (AGFOREE) program at the University of Helsinki. He holds a master's degree in forest economics (University of Helsinki) and has studied finance at the Aalto University School of Business.

His doctoral dissertation deals with the diffusion of international influences on national level, using Finland as a case study. His current research interests include the international and European forest policy domains, Finnish forest policy subsystem and the development of the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) and the Four pathways of international influences.

Félicien Kengoum Djiegni, doctoral researcher

Félicien Kengoum Djiegni is a doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki within the Doctoral Programme in Sustainable Use of Renewable Natural Resources (AGFOREE). He holds a master’s degree in international environmental law and a master’s degree in international business law.

His work falls within the scope of the Global Comparative Study on REDD (GCS-REDD) implemented by the Center for International forestry research (CIFOR). His research uses Policy Network analysis to look at the politics of forest and climate change, investigating in particular the outcomes of policy cooperation in the Global South, namely in the DRC. It also compares across multiple countries (Indonesia, Vietnam, and Brazil) engaged in reducing their emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) to understand what structural conditions of the policy domain enable desired policy change.

Kaisa Korhonen-Kurki, Adjunct professor

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.

Niina Pietarinen, Doctoral researcher

Niina Pietarinen is a doctoral researcher in the Sustainable use of Renewable Natural Resources (AGFOREE) program at the University of Helsinki.

She has a master's degree in Forest Bioeconomy and Policy from the University of Helsinki and a bachelor's degree in International Business, Marketing and Management from Karelia University of Applied Sciences. Her research focuses on Finnish and EU forest-related policies and the implications of those to sustainability framings and financialization of forest sector by applying a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods. She has also investigated REDD+ and other conflicting interests in forest domain in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as narratives put forward by scientific literature about the causes of deforestation in DRC and Cameroon.

She is a member of ForEqual, FairFrontiers, and GreenPole projects and has worked with the European Forest Institute (EFI) and Center of International Forestry Research (CIFOR). 

Hanna-Kaisa Sainio, Master student

Hanna-Kaisa Sainio is a student in the Master’s Programme in Area and Cultural Studies with regional focus on Latin America at the University of Helsinki. She holds a Bachelor of Latin American Studies and Portuguese from Stockholm University and a Bachelor of Business & Administration with a specialization in tourism from (Haaga-) Helia University of Applied Sciences, Porvoo. Her experience in Latin America is mainly from the Brazilian context, and her interests include e.g. environmental humanities and sustainability, indigenous studies, CSR and values in decision-making (her Bachelor’s thesis topic), inclusion and diversity. Framing and inclusion are also the main themes in her on-going Master’s thesis about sustainability in the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement.

Alizée Ville, Doctoral researcher


Alizée Ville is a doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki.

Within the ForEqual project, she is investigating the inequalities born from current and historical trade flows in the forestry sector of the Congo Basin - more specifically in Cameroon and DRC. She previously worked for the Stockholm Resilience Center (Sweden), where her work focused on the intersection between gender and forest policy in Sweden. She holds a Master’s degree of Development Studies with a focus on Agricultural development and Economic policies from the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne (France), where her thesis “Trade-offs between wood harvest and forest carbon stocks: The case of Japan” studied the economic and ecological benefits for Japan to harvest it’s own wood rather than importing it, in a changing global market.

Chenmei Li, Doctoral researcher


Chenmei Li is a doctoral researcher and she works as part of a research consortium "The forestry sector as an inequality machine? Agents, agreements and global politics of trade and investment in the Congo Basin", where she look at how China-Africa trade and investment relation in forest interacts with social inequalities. Previously, she worked at Peking University of China as project specialist on Chinese international engagement particularly with Africa and Central Asia. She obtained her master degree from International Institute of Social Science, Erasmus University Rotterdam for economic of development. 

Elina Savolainen, Master student


Elina Savolainen is a Master´s student at the University of Helsinki within the Master's program of Environmental Change and Global Sustainability (ECGS). She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Helsinki in forest science with a main focus on tropical forests. She is currently working on her thesis on assessing the effectiveness of REDD+ as a part of CIFOR´s Global Comparative Study on REDD (GCS-REDD). In her work, she applies a Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). More specifically, she examines various REDD+ countries' national political contexts over time, to better understand, under what conditions transformational change can occur and lead away from business-as-usual practices to reduced forest cover loss.

- Affiliated members -
Maria Ojanen, researcher

Maria Ojanen is a current visiting scholar and a former doctoral student in International Forest Policy Group. She defended her thesis ‘ How to generate and share evidence effectively? Comparing evidence syntheses and exploring scientists’ challenges in environmental science-policy interfaces ’ in 2022. The thesis focused on the ability of knowledge synthesis to provide credible, relevant and legitimate evidence in a contested natural resource governance topic, namely: what are the environmental impacts of different property rights regimes. Further, the thesis assessed the challenges and risks that scientists faced when seeking to inform policy-making in diverse forest related science-policy interfaces.

Maria currently works as a Senior Research Scientist at the Finnish Environmental Institute (SYKE). Her ongoing research projects build on transdisciplinary research, with the emphasis on assessing and experimenting with diverse knowledge co-production processes in contested policy topics. To find out more about her work, please visit Maria’s SYKE profile.

Simon Fleckenstein, Doctoral researcher

Simon Fleckenstein is a doctoral researcher at the department of Forest and Environmental Policy at the University of Freiburg in Germany and an affiliated member of the International Forest Policy research group of the University of Helsinki. He holds a MSc double-degree in Forestry and Agriculture from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Lleida in Spain.

His research interests lie in the politics of forest and related land-use sectors within the multi-level policy system of the European Union and beyond. Simon's current research is embedded in the Horizon 2020 SUPERB project, where he analyzes cross-sectoral policy trade-offs and synergies for transformative change toward forest restoration and adaptation across political levels and among different European Member States.

Previously he worked in departmental research for the Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture in Germany.

Mawa Karambiri, Postdoc

Dr. Mawa Karambiri has a background in Sociology. She is a visiting scholar in the Chair of International Forest Policy at the University of Helsinki where she participates in teaching activities and supervision of students. Since July 2021, she works for the World Agroforestry Centre (CIFOR-ICRAF) as policy and technical engagement specialist for the Sahel in the Regreening Africa project. She is currently based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Before joining CIFOR-ICRAF, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, where she also completed her PhD degree in Forest Sciences. Her research interests concern gender and inequality studies, forest governance, land restoration and local democracy.

Jenniver Sehring, Visiting scientist

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.

Natalya Yakusheva, Postdoc

Natalya Yakusheva was 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 (MLG) 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 focuses on various aspects related to the European Forest Policy and decision-making. 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 looks at various aspects of interests’ representation in the EU LULUCF negotiations, and how this links to accountability within the EU MLG.  Finally, she is interested in how perceptions of equity shape (or not) the EU forest governance.   

Sandrine Andong, visiting doctoral researcher

Sandrine Andong is a doctoral researcher at the Institute of International Relations of Cameroun of the University of Yaoundé 2 (IRIC-UY2) in Cameroon, within the ForEqual project. She investigates the North-South inequalities generated by the international forest policy instruments in the Congo basin. She is a Master degree holder in International Relations from IRIC-UY2. Her Master thesis was about the socio-anthropologic evaluation of the contribution of the VPA-FLEGT process to Cameroon’s strategy of forest sustainable management. Earlier, she studied fundamental private law at the University of Yaoundé 2. As a researcher, her field is on the North-South power relation within the forest governance field in the Congo basin.

- Former members -
Sabrina Rosa, Master student

Sabrina Rosa was a master’s student in the Forest Bioeconomy Business and Policy program at the University of Helsinki. Her background is in biology and she holds a Ph.D. in Life Sciences from the University of Brussels.

Her master’s thesis focuses on the characterization of private forest owners in the Italian Alps. More specifically, she is interested in understanding how they perceive forest management and their role as forest owners in the context of stewardship of natural resources, and what may be the implications for the design of policy instruments aiming for a more active management.

Dangui Li, Doctoral researcher

Dangui Li is a doctoral researcher in International Forest Policy. Dangui completed her Master degree in Sociology of Development at Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands. In her master thesis she explored  how the social life in rural China has evolved over years under the impact of processes of urbanization.

Christopher Eichhorn, MSc

Christopher Eichhorn  previously collaborated with International Forest Policy Group in the framework of his master thesis that focused on the consequences of restoration policies and projects in Colombia on the reduction of deforestation, specifically on the aims of REDD+.