Research project

The Human-Forest Relationship in Societal Change research project consists of three subprojects

1. Institutions, administration and decision makers / Jaana Laine, DSocSci, forester, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki

This subproject studies what kind of forest relationships are demonstrated by institutions and administrative organisations, and how forestry stakeholders see their peer groups’ forest relationships. Forest relationships are also assessed on the basis of what information about the forest is communicated and by which means, as well as what kind of decisions are made and how these are justified.

The focus is on key institutions and organisations the activities of which affect forests. Here, ‘institutions’ refer to legislation and forest-related guidelines as well as unwritten rules and practices. The organisations involved in the study include Metsähallitus, the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, forest industry companies, ministries (in particular, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of the Environment), the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK), political parties, environmental organisations and the EU’s forest policies.

The subproject produces interpretations of forest relationships and prospects at the societal level, thus forming a counterpart to Tuulikki Halla and Reetta Karhunkorva’s interpretations, which are based on individuals’ forest relationships.

2. Forest professionals / Tuulikki Halla, M.Soc.Sci, Forestry Engineer, Forests and Bioresources, University of Eastern Finland

This subproject studies forest professionals’ relationships with the forest and their role in forest-related conflicts.

This study explores how forest professionals’ relationships with the forest is formed; what kind of elements (values, experiences, meanings, knowledge, emotions, beliefs) they have; how these relationships determine their professional identity; and how their relationships with forests manifest themselves in forest-related conflicts. Human-forest relationships that have an impact on conflicts are viewed as silent signals of changes in values and attitudes and of potential growing megatrends.

3. Private forest owners’ relationships with the forest / Reetta Karhunkorva, MA, Cultural Studies, University of Eastern Finland

This subproject studies private forest owners’ relationships with forest; the intergenerational meanings of forest ownership; and the living heritage related to forest ownership. Here, the interest lies in narratives of forest ownership.

The research focuses on the contents and time perspective of forest ownership and societal interactive processes of change within forest relationships of forest owners and other forest users, related to the freedom to roam, for example. The key concepts are the human-forest relationship and the culturality of forests and forest ownership, intangible cultural heritage and intergenerationality.