Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 14, pp 3543–3560 | Cite as

Discourse practices in environmental governance: social and ecological safeguards of REDD

  • Christoph Aicher
Original Paper


REDD and the ecological and social REDD safeguards are emerging phenomena. They have technical but also environmental governance dimensions. The complexity of forest governance demands multi-level and trans-disciplinary approaches. Drawing on concepts of science and technology studies (STS) and discourse analysis the article examines REDD and the ecological and social REDD safeguards from the perspective of environmental governance. The article looks at the ordering and disciplining effects of governance and the power relationships behind. It tries to explore to what extent social and ecological REDD safeguards serve to sustain biodiversity and functioning ecosystems as well as respect and reflect cultural settings, capabilities and categories of forest dependent communities and indigenous peoples. These local peculiarities are understood to be central for the conservation of diverse social-ecological systems. REDD tends to simplify views on forest and consequently is likely to have negative effects on ecological and cultural diversities. The ecological and social REDD safeguards have the potential to balance this. This possible effect will, however, depend to a great extent upon the ability of western scientific knowledge production systems to reflect hegemonic claims for truth on the one hand, and the capacity of local communities and especially indigenous peoples to develop alternative strategies and standards based on their knowledge systems on the other hand.


Tropical forest Deforestation International standards Indigenous peoples Knowledge systems 



I want to express my gratitude to the members of Tebtebba and its partners from the Global Indigenous Peoples Partnership on Climate Change, Forests and Sustainable Development for sharing their ideas, concerns and aspirations with me on REDD, safeguards, dialogues between science and traditional knowledge and much more.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department Environmental PoliticsHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZLeipzigGermany

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