Glocal woodlands – The rescaling of forest governance in Scotland

Kavita Sharma, Gretchen Walters, Marc J. Metzger, Jaboury Ghazoul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

As a response to global crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, the UN has called for restoring a billion hectares of land. In recognition, both governments and the private sector have pledged to restore landscapes through planting millions of hectares of forests. Private sector investment is to play a critical role in meeting these goals, through instruments such as biodiversity offsetting, philanthropy, voluntary carbon markets, sustainability funds, and climate bonds. Such instruments allow for the value of place-based ecosystems, such as standing forests, to be circulated globally. No longer are forests horizontal (in terms of their extent on a map); they are also vertical, in terms of their entanglements with institutions, and actors, operating at various scales. An overarching emphasis on the private sector however obscures the role of state institutions in engaging these multi-scalar institutions and actors. Bringing the dimension of scale to tree planting, we examine the ways in which woodland creation, a ‘national’ policy priority for the Scottish government, brings together actors, both ‘local’ and ‘global’, in an unequal context. Our analysis uncovers that in retreating from directly creating and managing woodlands to playing a supportive regulatory role, Scottish Government’s forest policies increasingly rescale forest and landscape governance to private and non-profit sectors, and to individual landowners and communities. These actors, who are differently endowed in terms of resources, participate in forestry developments on an uneven playing field. Moreover, questions around power and distribution of benefits arise as woodland expansion increasingly becomes part of green investment portfolios, environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) commitments, offsetting, and individual philanthropy. A relational view of scale that examines prevailing relations of power and resources in given socio-political contexts can both animate and inform current discourses and policies on tree planting for climate change mitigation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106524
JournalLand Use Policy
Early online date28 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


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