Segmented forest realities: The ontological politics of biodiversity mapping
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionEnvironmental Science and Policy. 2022, 137 120-127. 10.1016/j.envsci.2022.08.015
Since the late 1990 s, biodiversity mapping has been a key instrument for preventing loss of species and habitats in Norwegian productive forests. Having major implications for the abilities of actors to pursue their interests in practical forest management, the methodologies of biodiversity mapping have been highly controversial and contested. We identify two different forest ontologies, or realities, that were enacted by the two main competing methodologies for such mapping. The methodologies, SiS and EiF, were supported by what we term the environmental and the forestry segments, respectively. Whereas a mapping approach associated with the environmental segment enacted a varied and complex forest ontology, a mapping approach related to the forestry segment enacted a comprehensible and more standardized forest ontology. In analyzing the two ontologies, we explore the links between the configuration of the mapping methodologies and 1) the forest realities they enact, 2) the scientific ideals they advocate, and 3) the relationship between mapping and management decisions. In particular, we argue that the ontologies have different political implications, generally favoring the actors that support them. On a more general level, we show that ontological politics is performed in the enactment of different ontologies related to different political segments, associated with different sectors.