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Jägerborg, Maria, 2022. Forest damage in the eyes of scientists : framing damage perspectives in Swedish forestry. Second cycle, A2E. Alnarp: SLU, Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre



Forest damage is a complex concept. Damaging agents appear naturally in ecological systems, but
forest management also impacts their quantities. Damage can also be viewed from its interactions
with a social system, where it appears and is understood. How we pre-empt forest damage is crucial,
since it predefines the extent to which forests can contribute to the fulfilment of humans’
contradictory needs. Forest researchers in different scientific fields face the complexity of forest
damage in their work, they are thus both impacted and impacting how the concept is understood and
represented. This project explores the conceptualization of ‘forest damage’ in scientific practice by
exploring the frames of damage problems. The analytical framework of the study combines the
concepts of frames, narratives and discourses to guide versatile qualitative exploration of forest
damage as perceived by forest scientists. The ‘frames’ of informants’ perceptions of damage are
linked to wider environmental discourses, finally producing a chronological narrative. The study
builds on qualitative interviews with 12 researchers from Swedish universities representing three
scientific fields, namely silviculture, ecology and damage agent specialists. The analyses of
interview data were supported by literature studies.
The results show that, in a ‘mainstream’ interpretation, forest damage has been a traditional
silvicultural concept defined by a utilitarian perspective on forests. The increasing societal
recognition of diverse forest functions contributes to the expansion of the concept from a pure
production-focus to an incorporation of damage caused to ecosystem services and biodiversity.
Frame analysis revealed three perspectives in damage management labelled silviculture-, industryand
system perspective. The framing of damage problems by ‘calculated-risk taking’ i.e. willingness
to accept ‘reasonable’ and cost-efficient risk of damage, is found to constitute the ideological core
for how damage is approached in Swedish forestry. This framing impacts the interest in damage
research and the conditions for finding research solutions to damage problems. The ‘calculated risktaking’
frame mainly captures the interests of industrial owners rather than of small non-industrial
private forest owners. Environmental concerns also impact priorities in damage management and
they require pollution-free management solutions. ‘Ecological modernization’ and ‘neo-liberalism’
are underlying discourses found to be structuring the industry perspective. During the last five
decades the traditional silvicultural perspective has been challenged first by the industry perspective
and recently by the system perspective. Most researchers in this study ask for a more holistic and
adaptive perspective of forest damage. They suggest to spread risks through diversifying the
management. Results of this project can be used to improve dialogue about priorities in damage
research and management.

Main title:Forest damage in the eyes of scientists
Subtitle:framing damage perspectives in Swedish forestry
Authors:Jägerborg, Maria
Supervisor:Brukas, Vilis
Examiner:Trubins, Renats
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2022
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:SY001 Forest Science - Master's Programme 300 HEC
Supervising department:(S) > Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Keywords:forest damage, frame analysis, discourses, scientists, qualitative interviews
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Forestry - General aspects
Forest injuries and protection
Deposited On:16 Feb 2022 09:01
Metadata Last Modified:17 Feb 2022 02:00

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