Operational Landscapes of Forestry
A Global Survey
This project aims to unpack the shifting geographies of the world ecological surplus focusing on global patterns of deforestation over the past two decades. Building upon significant theoretical contributions from world systems ecology, it examines how shifts in the operationalization of forests reflect tensions in the appropriation of extra-human work: Forests can be broadly conceived as extra-human agents, contributing free work in the form of growing biomass, which is eventually extracted, in the form of logging. The exploitation of forests leads to the exhaustion of their regenerative capacity and thus to the tendency of the ecological surplus to fall, leading from processing of appropriation to capital intense commodification of the reproduction of forests (through plantations etc). This project aims to monitor these transitions, complementing this conceptual framework with systematic geospatial analysis. Moreover, it aspires to connect processes of deforestation (and commodified forest regeneration), with shifts in the global trade of timber commodities, as well as with shifts in urbanization processes, including the pressures for the expansion of agricultural land into forest zones. As a result, the scope of this contribution is twofold: Explore historically how processes of exploitation and appropriation of human and extra-human work are connected with the organization of agglomeration and operational landscapes; and link this investigation with the establishment of a geospatial basis, developed through a critical investigation of global geospatial datasets on urbanization, forestry and agricultural development.