Climate Transitions in Contested Forests: Justice and governance in digital times

Last changed: 28 September 2022

How are just and sustainable climate transitions possible in places where conflicts over forests are both complex and intractable? Putting people and local institutions at the heart of the project, this action-oriented project studies forest governance, climate transitions and digitalization through three cases that highlight different regional and biophysical conditions and forest contestations in Sweden: in relation to nature conservation, reindeer husbandry, mining and wind-power. To facilitate pathways towards just and sustainable future forests, we identify how citizens take action, how conceptions of time affect decision-making and what digital tools and supporting governance arrangements have potential for climate transitions.


Transitioning to a low carbon and democratic society is the foremost challenge for our times. Forests, especially in Sweden, are at the center of polarized conflicts on how a just, timely and sustainable transition might be achieved. There are those who claim that more intensive forestry is needed to meet the growing need for biofuels and renewable products. Others believe that it is best to let forests stand to sequester carbon. Climate interventions such as windparks, mines, reindeer husbandry, recreation, nature conservation and production forestry compete for space in the forest.

Going beyond bottlenecks at the international level as well as polarizations around policy instruments at the national level, we bring vital attention to the role of local forest and rural politics in enabling just and timely transitions across these levels.

The Study

In this transdisciplinary project, we study climate-related forest conflicts to identify mechanisms that allow for trade-offs and synergies in climate transitions in forest contexts, how different conceptions of time among different groups (e.g. over the speed of transitions) can influence conflicts as well as their resolution, and the role played by digitalization in these processes.

Three case studies highlight different regional and biophysical conditions and forest contestations in relation to climate transitions:

  • Gällivare municipality: a sustainable mining intervention in northern Sweden that promises energy needed for a green transition in the long term but that contends for forestland with reindeer herding.
  • Härjedalen: a climate intervention (windpark) that complicates already existing conflicts over forests between reindeer herders and forest owners.
  • Tiveden National park: where local inhabitants have called for a voice in forest decision-making and climate transitions in forests around their homes owned by a state-owned forest company.

We examine local forest and climate politics in relation to policies and laws, analyze intersecting dimensions of power in everyday, digitalized forest negotiations, and untangle contrasting timelines for forest transitions. Based on in-depth knowledge generated by the case studies, we will identify practical governance interventions that can facilitate sustainable and just co-management of forests between the state, indigenous groups and local communities.

A digital interactive platform will be created, and opportunities and obstacles with digital aids will be tested to help find possible common interests and opportunities that make it possible to use the forest for different purposes. Research participants will also be involved in the development of a mobile app that could involve more people in the management of the forest.


Project leader

Seema Arora-Jonsson, Professor, Division of Rural Development, SLU
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Project participants

Ida Wallin, Researcher and project coordinator
Telephone: +46 18 671958, +46 76 1353349
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Karin Beland Lindahl, Associate Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts, Luleå University of Technology
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Mike Hazas, Professor, Department of Information Technology, Division of Visual Information and Interaction, Uppsala University
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Henrik Josefsson, Associate professor of Environmental law and Senior lecturer in commercial law, Uppsala University
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Brian Kuns, Associate Senior Lecturer, Division of Rural Development, SLU
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Kajsa Kuoljok, Researcher
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Jonathan Rahn, PhD student
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Project time


External funding

Formas Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development

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