Situating forest policy and governance issues through digital methods

T4.7 Digital transformation in forest governance – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Rina Tsubaki1, Liliana Bounegru2, Jonathan Gray2
1 European Forest Institute
2 King's College London



The web and social media platforms are increasingly becoming sites of knowing, reporting on and interacting with forest and nature conservation. This can bring opportunities for researchers to repurpose online materials to explore forest-related issues, practices, experiences and perspectives in different contexts. Yet, studying social media poses a number of challenges for researchers. For example, researchers need to adapt to changes made by social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit limiting API access). At the same time, social media platforms have specific features, practices and cultures that researchers must attend to and account for. How can research questions and methods be adjusted in order to study the online mediation of forest cultures and issues?

Drawing on multiple collaborative research projects with the European Forest Institute, the Public Data Lab and King’s College London, this work explores the use of digital methods (Rogers, 2013, 2019) to study online engagement around forests and forest issues - and how these may enrich research on forest governance, policy and practice. Through the study of issue networks, actors and media practices, it suggests what can be learned about how forests are articulated, activated and recomposed in online spaces - and the implications of this for forest research.