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Special Issue "Forest Transitions to Sustainable Futures? Examining Qualitative Aspects of Forest Cover Increases"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2019

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Christian A. Kull

Institute for Geography and Sustainability, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: political ecology; human dimensions of environmental transformations; forest transitions; invasive species; fire
Guest Editor
Dr. Roland Cochard

Institute for Geography and Sustainability, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: tropical forest ecology; biodiversity and conservation; ecosystem dynamics and changes; management of natural risks; sustainability sciences

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleauges,

In academic discourse, a ‘forest transition’ (FT) describes a turnaround in a region’s longer-term trend of net deforestation to reforestation. FTs were initially described for historic (19th to early 20th century) examples of industrialising countries in temperate regions (Europe, North America, Japan). In these ‘classic’ studies FTs were typically seen as resulting from economic development under industrial modernization, as well as increased state interventions and policies. FTs have thereby often implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, been equated with transitions to sustainable forest management, mainly for two reasons. Firstly, the regrowing forests were (mostly) not fundamentally different from the types of forests that had existed before the deforestation crisis. Secondly, the modernizing economies meant that relatively few economic losers emerged in rural communities as a result of new regulations on forest uses.

More recently, FTs have also been described for a number of countries in tropical and more arid regions, especially in parts of the Neotropics and in Southern Asia. In terms of simple forest cover change, such ‘new’ FTs have undoubtedly occurred in some southern countries as a result of diverse processes, including economic development, state policies, globalisation, massive plantations, geographic displacement of logging, and others. When described as FT, these new FTs mostly still convey ideas of a ‘sustainability transition’, yet their implications in regards to wider development outcomes remain significantly understudied. Regrowth of ‘forest’ in tropical countries often occurs very slowly in a rather degraded ‘secondary’ form (if natural), or even as an entirely ‘novel forest ecosystem’ (if in exotic plantations). This evidently has various consequences on forest dependent people’s livelihoods as well as the forests’ functions and capacities to provide ecosystem services to communities and national economies. The new FTs not just relate to tree cover increases within forested landscapes, but more essentially to ‘transitions’ in bio-physical characteristics (e.g. forest tree species composition) and associated functionalities and changes in human-environment interactions. In addition to this it may be noted that many of the new FTs are driven by strong state interventions and policies; in many cases the national economies develop in disparate ways whereby rural people often remain critically dependent on resources derived from forestlands.

For this Special Issue of Forests we invite case studies which investigate and document ‘qualitative aspects’ (from ‘good’ to ‘bad’, from ‘further degradation’ to ‘pathways to sustainability’) of ‘new’ FTs.  The scale (country, province, specifically defined region) to which the FT refers should be noted. The studies can be in one or a combination of the following fields: 1.) ‘sustainable forestry’ and forest ecology (including aspects of biodiversity and ecosystem functions), 2.) changes in rural livelihoods and associated sustainability aspects (ranging from ‘food security’ to ethno-cultural heritage), and 3.) ecosystem functions and services, and associated aspects of economic development. While studies from temperate regions may be of interest, we particularly encourage the submission of case studies from southern countries (biodiverse forest ecoregions).

Prof. Dr. Christian A. Kull
Dr. Roland Cochard
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Forest transition
  • Tropical ecology
  • Land system change
  • Sustainability
  • Livelihoods

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
Forests EISSN 1999-4907 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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