The Forest Multiple

A symposium and workshop at the University of Cambridge, 27-28 October 2022.

The question of what is a forest runs through numerous environmental research and policy discussions. From international policy guidelines (FAO) to morphological classifications of tree density and height, as well as species variation, spatial extent, and carbon-storage capacity, many definitions of forests can be tied to their role as resources (Chazdon, 2016). Yet many other forests also surface as cultural, social, ecological, more-than-human, and cosmological relations and worlds, which further complicate the question of what is a forest. This symposium engages with the “forest multiple” (cf. Mol, 2002) to consider the pluralistic mobilizations and inhabitations of forests across varying contexts.

Given that forests are increasingly digitalized, whether through monitoring technologies, precision forestry, or supply chain tracking, this event and collection especially take stock of the forest epistemologies and ontologies that are reproduced and amplified within digital logics, and how they are also transformed through different mobilizations of digital technologies, whether through counter-actions or refusals to participate. At the same time, planetary crises and environmental change are contributing to the stress and loss of forests, while in other areas forests are expanding due to climate change. What are the social-political consequences of these multiple forests? How are some forests valued over others? And how might a more pluralistic engagement with forest worlds contribute to more just and equitable environmental research, practice and policy?


View the full program online and in PDF format.


Adeniyi Asiyanbi, Andrea Botero, Steffen Dalsgaard, Véra Ehrenstein, Lydia Gibson, Jenny Goldstein, Naomi R Millner, Priscila Santos da Costa, Esther Turnhout, Tone Walford, Common Knowledge, and the Smart Forests research group (Jennifer Gabrys, Kate Lewis Hood, Trishant Simlai, Michelle Westerlaken, and Yuti Ariani Fatimah), with responses and chairing from Chris Sandbrook, Sabina Leonelli, Alex Taylor, Liana Chua, and Tami Okamoto.

Event registration:

The event will take place in hybrid format.

Day 1 on 27 October 2022 includes an opening plenary and reception from 16:00 to 18:30. Event registration is available here.

Day 2 on 28 October 2022 includes a full day of symposium talks from 10:00 to 17:00. Event registration is available here.

Program design by Sarah Garcin for Smart Forests.