Governing anthropogenic assets for nature’s contributions to people in forests: a policy document analysis

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Forests support human wellbeing by providing multiple nature’s contributions to people (NCP). These are derived from an interplay of both natural and anthropogenic assets, which is a process known as NCP co-production. Like forests and NCP, anthropogenic assets are subject to modes of governance operating across multiple levels, in which policies are a central tool for executing formal governance. Here, we conduct a policy document analysis to investigate how policies refer to both the anthropogenic assets involved in NCP co-production and the modes of governance affecting these, i.e., hierarchical, scientific-technical, (adaptive)-collaborative governance, and the governing of strategic behaviour. The policy document analysis focuses on forestry and biodiversity conservation policies spanning across multiple governance levels, from the local level – two Biosphere Reserves and one National Park in Germany – to the supra-national level of the European Union. We find that policies predominantly address material and regulating NCP and refer to hierarchical and scientific-technical governance. Based on a redundancy analysis, we identify six archetypes of governance of NCP and the anthropogenic assets underpinning their co-production: (1) the governing of strategic behaviour for regulating NCP, (2) governing habitat management for experiences in nature, (3) governing habitat management for pest control, (4) collaborative governance for timber, (5) local governance for experiences in nature, and (6) promoting knowledge for habitat protection. Our analysis thereby unveils how policies intend to govern anthropogenic capitals related to the co-production of specific forest NCP. The findings, including the six archetypes, can support policymakers in designing policies across governance levels.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103657
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2024

Bibliographical note

We thank the managers of the three Biodiversity Exploratories, Miriam Teuscher, Franca Marian, Anna Katharina Franke, Max Müller and Julia Bass and all former managers for their work in maintaining the plot and project infrastructure; Victoria Grießmeier for giving support through the central office, Andreas Ostrowski for managing the central database, and Markus Fischer, Eduard Linsenmair, Dominik Hessenmöller, Daniel Prati, Ingo Schöning, François Buscot, Ernst-Detlef Schulze, Wolfgang W. Weisser and the late Elisabeth Kalko for their role in setting up the Biodiversity Exploratories project. We thank the administration of the Hainich National Park, the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Schwäbische Alb, and the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Schorfheide-Chorin as well as all landowners for the excellent collaboration. The work has been (partly) funded by the DFG Priority Program 1374 “Biodiversity- Exploratories” (DFG-Refno. 43316337). Field work permits were issued by the responsible federal-state environmental offices of Baden-Württemberg, Thuringia, and Brandenburg.We would like to thank Lene Salia Däfler for her support with coding policy documents. RI would like to thank Annika R. Schmidt for her graphic design support for Fig. 2, Conceptualisation: BML, RI. Paper writing: RI, CS, BML, JH, JK. Policy coding: LSD, JH, JK, RI. Data analysis: BML, RI, No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd

    Research areas

  • Archetypes, Institutions, Anthropogenic assets, Coproduction, Ecosystem services, Multi-level governance
  • Ecosystems Research
  • Biology