Title: Sustainability and forest communities: exploring the connections
Author: Thomas M. Beckley
Address: University of New Brunswick, Canada
Abstract: This paper is a conceptual review paper that explores the meaning of community, the meaning of sustainability and the links between these terms. The subject is located in the interdisciplinary space between sociology, forest management and the multidisciplinary literature on sustainability. The paper examines how the use of the term sustainability has led to confusion because it is variously used as a noun, verb and adjective. This paper argues that it is still a useful concept, provided we are clear about what it is, specifically, we wish to sustain. The specific subject of this paper is the sustainability of human forest communities. I advocate a process-based definition of sustainability, with an emphasis on stewardship, resilience and specific actions that contribute to the sustainability of human forest communities. The paper builds on the classic work by the Kaufmans, who in the 1940s defined a similar process-based definition of forest community sustainability predicated on identifying ''a good life'' and determining how our interactions with forests might contribute to that end. Ultimately I suggest that we re-vitalize the Kaufmans' notion of explicitly identifying the values we wish to sustain as local communities interact with forests to contribute to ''a good life''.
Keywords: sustainability; sustainable development; forest communities; sociology; forest management; stewardship; resilience; Kaufmans; local communities.
Interdisciplinary Environmental Review, 2008 Vol.10, No.1/2, pp.148 - 166
Available online: 13 May 2013