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Gabriela Bueno

PhD Candidate, University of Massachusetts Boston, Global Governance and Human Security

The Institutional Landscape of International Forest Protection: Understanding Institutional Complexity in International Forest Governance



International forest governance, that is, the set of international organizations (IOs), norms and rules related to forest protection, has expanded considerably since the 1980s. This expansion created a wide array of forest-focused and forest-related institutions. The literature on international forest governance warns against this expansion, arguing that “fragmentation” leads to incoherent norms and policies and ineffectiveness of the governance system in general. The purpose of this dissertation is to challenge this assumption and examine exactly what are the consequences of institutional complexity in international forest governance. Complexity usually leads to interactions among institutions that stem from overlap of specific issue areas. In order to understand these effects, I map out the institutional landscape and divide it into three dimensions: functional complexity, normative complexity and financing complexity. Using network and textual analysis, I examine specific cases where overlap has led to competition, division of labor, conflicting norms or non-interaction altogether. Understanding these effects may provide a more granular understanding of what institutional complexity looks like and what kinds of efforts might work best to improve synergy, reduce conflict between organizations and norms, and improve governance.