Prelude to Practice: Introducing a Practice Based Approach to Forest and Nature Governance

  • Bas Arts
  • Jelle Behagel
  • Séverine van Bommel
  • Jessica de Koning
  • Esther Turnhout
Part of the World Forests book series (WFSE, volume 14)


‘Forest and nature governance’ is a field that has recently emerged from forestry sciences. It analyses the governance of a diverse set of issues, including deforestation, biodiversity loss and illegal logging, producing insights useful for science and policy. Its main theoretical base consists of two mainstream social theories: rational choice and neo-institutionalism. However, since these models rest upon problematic conceptualisations of ‘the social’, this chapter proposes a practice based approach, which offers a comprehensive understanding of the social dynamics related to trees, forests and biodiversity. It goes beyond some of the old dualisms in social theory, such as subject and object, and agency and structure. Three sensitising concepts—situated agency, logic of practice and performativity—will be introduced. In addition, the chapter identifies a number of methodological guidelines for the practice based approach, based on a short review of the practice literature. These concepts and guidelines not only define the practice based approach, but also bind together the individual chapters. Finally, this chapter introduces the book’s contents.


Practice Rational choice Institutionalism Forestry Forest policy Biodiversity Situated agency Logic of practice Performativity 



The editors would like to thank Joy Burrough-Boenisch for language editing the chapters in this volume.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bas Arts
    • 1
  • Jelle Behagel
    • 1
  • Séverine van Bommel
    • 2
  • Jessica de Koning
    • 1
  • Esther Turnhout
    • 1
  1. 1.Forest and Nature Conservation Policy GroupWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Communication Strategies GroupWageningenThe Netherlands

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