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Formafantasma on their GEO-Design master’s programme, and designers thinking big

The Italian design duo – and Designer of the Year in the 2021 Wallpaper* Design Awards – are among our featured visionaries in ‘5x5’, Wallpaper's 25th anniversary project. They discuss their first year heading the GEO-Design master’s programme at Design Academy Eindhoven, educating students for a changing world, and their pick of five creative leaders of the future who are expanding the practice of design

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Portraits of Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi of Formafantasma

Formafantasma , as its website describes, is ‘a research-based design studio investigating the ecological, historical, political and social forces shaping the discipline of design today’. This mission statement is as ambitious as it gets. But it’s apt for a studio that, for over a decade, has constantly pushed the boundaries of design practice and evolved our understanding of the field. From its ‘ Ore Streams ’ project (2017-19), which considered the recycling of electronic waste and how design can encourage more responsible use of resources, to the ongoing ‘ Cambio ’, which explores the governance and ecological impact of the timber industry, Formafantasma’s work has inspired a new generation to see design not just as a styling tool, but also as a transformative force in an era of global uncertainty.

A still from  Cambio – The Industry of Timber , a visual essay that Formafantasma created for its ongoing investigation into the governance of the timber industry

It is fitting that Design Academy Eindhoven would appoint the studio’s founders, Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi, as department heads for its GEO-Design master’s programme. At its launch last year, Wallpaper* guest editor Paola Antonelli (as one half of Design Emergency ) interviewed the duo on their plans to encourage students to ‘go beyond the product and the object’. One year on, and following Formafantasma’s selection as Designer of the Year in our 2021 Design Awards , we caught up with them on how the programme has unfolded, and their hopes for today’s emerging creative talents.

GEO-Design: a pioneering programme at Design Academy Eindhoven

Farresin and Trimarchi were tasked with setting the vision for the department, and unsurprisingly, the programme description shares similarities with the stated goals of their design studio. ‘It’s about an attitudinal approach,’ they explain. ‘Tapping into the politics that shape not only the discipline of design, but also the way we produce and distribute things.’ As they see it, the design industry has been focusing on delivering solutions to users, without having a sufficient grasp on wider implications: the infrastructures that it supports, the politics it contributes to, and of course its ecological impact. GEO-Design is about reframing the conversation so designers are taking on the issues arising from ‘design’s complicity across multiple industries, communication networks, and aesthetic cultures’. 

The duo have been responsible for selecting both tutors and students, and creating the programme. The tutor line-up is impressive, including the founders of renowned European design studios, leading design curators, and even an ethnobiologist (Meredith Root-Bernstein, who led a project on conservation in the third trimester). Workshops have featured the Turner Prize-nominated duo Cooking Sections , who focus on the politics of food; artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, who examines our relationships with nature and technology; and ‘scientist of smell’ Sissel Tolaas , who champions smelling as a way to communicate and to navigate the world, on par with seeing and hearing.

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Formafantasma’s Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, interviewed by Design Emergency co-founder and Wallpaper* guest editor Paola Antonelli on Instagram Live in July 2020

The guest lecturers represent even more disciplines. Among them are Teresa Castro, a historian who investigates the connection between cinema and animism; Philipp Pattberg, a political scientist who specialises in climate change governance; and Paulo Tavares, an architect and urbanist whose recent research delved into the role of colonial racism in Brasília’s modern landscape. ‘As a department, GEO-Design will grow as an octopus, with a complex central consciousness and individual far-reaching tentacles,’ reads the programme description; the diversity of the curriculum certainly helps reinforce this goal.

This being a master’s programme, there is a certain level of design knowledge expected of incoming students, and so most of the first cohort of 20 come from design, engineering and architecture backgrounds. But Farresin and Trimarchi are keen to point out that there’s also someone who comes from the social sciences, and a chemist. ‘We are open to other people who are interested in design and want to apply, and of course we can support them,’ they say.

Design research: an evolving field

The programme offers a systematic induction into design research. The first trimester focused on how to develop one’s position, the second trimester involved ‘being more active in reflecting, analysing and criticising, and being transformative with design proposals’, while the third trimester was more about collaborating with fellow students. The course load is deliberately heavy in the first year, so students go through plenty of different experiences and can draw on this variety as they decide on the focus of their graduation project in the second year. 

The courses themselves are unusual: a highlight this year was Pedagogies of the Sea, led by design critic and curator Angela Rui and coinciding with her exhibition ‘Aquaria – or the illusion of the boxed sea’ at Lisbon’s MAAT, which examined our relationship with the oceans. ‘It explored how looking at a hyper object such as the ocean can foster the ability of designers to navigate through the ecology of thinking at multiple scales, recognising challenges, inequalities and interdependencies that still happen at sea,’ writes Rui. A sampling of student projects, available on the course’s Instagram feed ( @pedagogiesea ), includes a collection of postage stamps that interrogate the contradictory priorities of marine conservation policies; a book on Ciona (a genus of sea squirts) as a symbol of resistance to human exploitation of the sea; and an investigation into surimi, the imitation seafood product.

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Ciona Are Doing Well, a research project by GEO-Design master’s students Benedetta Pompili and Eleonora Toniolo, looked into Ciona (a genus of sea squirts) as a symbol of resistance to human exploitation of the sea


Formafantasma named Designer of the Year: Wallpaper* Design Awards 2021

At the end of the course, students presented their outcomes as part of MAAT’s public programme. Effective communication of ideas was key: ‘They had to engage in how to make their work speak to an audience, and how to present in an exhibition space,’ recall Farresin and Trimarchi. ‘We had students who did small installations, students who did a meditation session, others who did a monologue interspersed with video. Some even did ritual performances where they used multiple mediums to perform their own ideas on stage. It goes to show that GEO-Design is about experimenting with the boundaries of your design education, transcending the design discipline itself and how it was theorised.’  This dynamic approach has certainly captured wider attention, and Farresin and Trimarchi say that other institutions have expressed interest in what they are doing at Eindhoven. This being said, they admit that ‘education is an ever-changing organism’, and there is some fine tuning they need to do, particularly so that the programme does not tend too much towards abstraction. ‘There’s a need to ground this in materiality,’ they point out. ‘So for the year ahead, we will have more of a making element. In the first trimester, there will be a ceramics workshop, and it will not be about contextualising ideas. You’re just going to experience ceramics: mould making, creating shapes. Then it’s up to you to link it with whatever else you’re doing.’

Formafantasma on the purpose of design school

There is, of course, the question of what GEO-Design students would do once they have completed the programme. In their conversation with Antonelli last year, Farresin and Trimarchi had expressed the hope that beyond traditional design studios, their graduates would find roles at NGOs, as activists, or in the research and development departments of companies. (‘I’m hoping they will become mayors or presidents, too,’ countered Antonelli). Today, their answer is more open-ended. ‘Next September, when our students present their graduation project, we are asking them to list a series of skills and qualities they want to highlight, so we can mentor them accordingly,’ they say.  ‘But we are not here to professionalise people. The whole idea [of GEO-Design] is also to rethink the purpose of design school, right? And how we educate people for a changing world, and for a discipline that should change, though it’s not necessarily changing.’ Rather than shaping their students into a particular mould, to fill specific roles, Formafantasma want to nurture a flexible mindset. 

We’re here to help students develop their critical attitude in approaching design, and we hope they will take what they have learned back to their own discipline of reference. That’s the only thing you can do as a responsible educator

Cambio: an ongoing investigation into the timber industry

Within their own practice, Farresin and Trimarchi have ably demonstrated the practical potential of this critical attitude. Following its initial, widely acclaimed presentation at Serpentine Galleries, ‘Cambio’ is now on view at the Centro Pecci at Prato, Italy, and will be travelling to the Museum für Gestaltung in Zürich later in the year; with every iteration its exhibition displays (themselves elegant and enlightening) are complemented by more and more real-world projects.

Among them is an invitation from Finnish furniture manufacturer Artek to study the arboreal forests in Finland. ‘They are already virtuous by nature, but they don’t necessarily have an R&D department that thinks about the future of their company in relation to ecology,’ the duo explain. ‘So they opened up their doors fully to us. We looked at everything that they do and presented our own vision for their ecological development, so they can evolve their approach to forestry.’

Installation view of Formafantasma's ‘Cambio’ exhibition at Centro Pecci, Prato, Italy. 

Expanding the practice of design

For our 5x5 anniversary project, Formafantasma’s edit of creative leaders of the future run the gamut from emerging talents Johanna Seelemann and Irakli Sabekia (both their former students) to more established design studios such as Superflux and Studio Plastique . Naturally, all of them focus on design research, but their interests are varied, including industrial agriculture, geopolitical conflict, the climate emergency, and sustainable energy. Among them, Buro Belén , best known for investigating the relationship between humans and the sun, stands out for also being tutors in the GEO-Design programme: ‘They have been thinking about material research for years, and doing it with a lot of consistency,’ say Farresin and Trimarchi. The work of some of these creative leaders of the future may often be conceptual, yet to find practical applications. But it is not difficult to imagine these eventually making the same impact as ‘Cambio’, both in terms of industry practice and public perception. 

They are all people who are in one way or another expanding the ways of practicing design today. And we think it’s important for them to be praised, and to be published in Wallpaper*’ – Formafantasmasert

They add that their experience with younger designers, whether through the GEO-Design programme or their own studio, should give us optimism for the future. ‘The next generation is much less attracted to design because of a possible glamorous side to it. They’re much more aware of the pitfalls of the discipline, and definitely much more engaged. They want what they do to be meaningful, and they are adamant to contribute to the world for the better.’ 

Meet Formafantasma’s five creative leaders of the future:

  • Studio Plastique
  • Irakli Sabekia
  • Buro Belén
  • Johanna Seelemann


'Cambio', until 24 October, at Centro Pecci, Prato, Italy,

'Cambio – Tree, Wood, Human', at Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich, Switzerland,

A version of this article appears in the  October 2021, 25th Anniversary Issue of Wallpaper* , on newsstands now and available to subscribers –  12 digital issues for $12/£12/€12 .

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TF Chan is a former editor of Wallpaper* (2020-23), where he was responsible for the monthly print magazine, planning, commissioning, editing and writing long-lead content across all pillars. He also played a leading role in multi-channel editorial franchises, such as Wallpaper’s annual Design Awards, Guest Editor takeovers and Next Generation series. He aims to create world-class, visually-driven content while championing diversity, international representation and social impact. TF joined Wallpaper* as an intern in January 2013, and served as its commissioning editor from 2017-20, winning a 30 under 30 New Talent Award from the Professional Publishers’ Association. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he holds an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University.

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From experimental and esoteric inspirations into incredible and tangible projects

Lead by italian duo andrea trimarchi and simone farresin, formafantasma is an amsterdam-based design studio focusing on experimental material investigation, making research the essence of their work. .

Formafantasma - Seeing the wood for the trees - cambio

Adriana Ayala

Industrial & Interaction designer. Traveler and explorer, constantly seeking new experiences. Passionate about design as an action and way of life. I see design as an adventure, a journey. I embrace the process and enjoy the practice.

Design studio


After graduating from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2009, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin founded Formafantasma . Since then, the duo has developed a body of work characterized by the experimental material investigation and the exploration of issues such as the relationship between tradition and local culture, critical approaches to sustainability and the significance of objects as cultural conduits. 

The duo perceives their practice as a bridge between craft, industry, object, and user. It is through their work that they aim to forge the links between their research-based practice and a wider design industry. The duo perceives their practice as a bridge between craft, industry, object, and user. It is through their work that they aim to forge the links between their research-based practice and a wider design industry.

For Formafantasma, research is responsible for some of their most interesting, unique and conceptually rich pieces. The very intricate and detailed stories behind their work make their designs incredibly significant and always surprising. 

Who are Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin? How did your journey in design begin?


“We met in Florence during our bachelor’s. Then we decided to apply to the Master at Design Academy in Eindhoven. We did so as a duo. With one portfolio for the two of us.”

Why Formafantasma? Why focus on research and experimental design?

“We had this name in mind ( formafantasma ) since we started working together really at the early beginning. If you translate it in English it means ghost shape. It is actually pointing out how our work is not driven by formal research but more by a conceptual approach. 

In general, our fascination for objects lays in their ability to represent human history and even possible futures. We see Design as a discipline meant to question and envision social-cultural end even political changes. Despite this, our projects always start from our own personal fascinations.

The translation of these intuitions into design sees the transformation of intimate ideas into more sharable concepts. We, as designers, work almost as filters. Our projects are the result of a process of distillation. We always know where we start but never where we are going to end.”

Which are the main values, core concepts or style inclinations that, above all, will always represent Formafantasma?

“Obviously aesthetics is important in the sense that whatever we produce is a visual addition to an already saturated world of images. In general, we are not interested in talking about our work in terms of aesthetic outcomes or even less in terms of style. We are not stylists. What will always be recognizable is our approach, our process. The translation of ideas into form is our intuitive part.”

Formafantasma has worked with international clients and created incredible works around the world. Can you tell us what is your design process? What are the first steps you take when starting a new project?

“Every project is a different experience. The starting point can be a material sample or a concept that comes out during the development of a previous project. Usually one of us gives the first input and immediately we start to work together on it, discussing for hours! 

We are not the type of designers that spend most of their time sketching forms… that is the last step. We start from a concept and we later create an archive of images and texts that help us to communicate our point of view on the subject to the other one. There is a lot of verbal and visual communication.

The first maquette is almost a magical moment: we always find objects we have in our house or studio that we can use, stacked or attached to check the first proportions and to have the first translation in 3D of all the time we spent discussing (and arguing!). That is an exciting moment.”

“We learned to know this is quite unusual for designers, but often we write about our work in the middle of the process to refine our thinking and identify any weaknesses.

All of the above describes our process when developing a product-based design. If we are talking about our research-based projects, such as Ore Streams and Cambio, the process is different in these cases. It is about first researching in published materials then reaching out to a variety of practitioners that can help us develop a more holistic perspective.

In the case of Ore Streams for instance (a project about electronic waste, it’s recycling, and repairing) we have been for instance connecting to recyclers in Europe, in developing countries, with activists, with Interpol, with universities and producers. We record interviews and cross the information we collect in the attempt to develop design-based observations that could potentially be applied to improve the subject of investigation.”

You are lecturing and heading workshops in various Universities and Institutions, how did this start? What made you want to work with students?

“From September 2020 we are going to head the GEO DESIGN master’s department of the Design Academy in Eindhoven . We want to work with students because education is the place where potentially we could be more radical. Ideas do not disseminate through products.

This is a statement we wrote about the department: The department GEO—DESIGN within the Master’s course acknowledges the legacy of industrial production as the fundamental source for the expertise and agency of the designer, whilst at the same time problematizing and addressing industrial production’s historic contribution to environmental and social instability and its incompatibility with models of sustainable or even survivable futures.” 

As a department, GEO-DESIGN will grow as an octopus, with a complex central consciousness and individual far-reaching tentacles. Students will develop research and communication tools to facilitate a deeper understanding of today’s complex reality but most of all to propose transformative interventions through design and its material, technical, social, and discursive possibilities.

In order to achieve this, GEO-DESIGN assembles a framework of diverse knowledge – from material histories to cultural world-views, from humanism to ecology, from plant and animal rights to artificial intelligence, from the Earth’s core to outer space.

The department will be embedded in trans-disciplinary collaboration to increase the scale and depth of the research, but also to take an ethical position that respects the expertise, lived experience, skills, resources, or communal significance of individuals and institutions in other fields.”

Thinking about the many talented and ambitious students out there, what is the most important piece of advice you would give to recent graduates in the design field?

“To do not compromise at the beginning. You are broke in any case so you better think what matters for you at least in the first two years!”

What is the next step for Formafantasma?

“Starting the department in Eindhoven mentioned above. Continuing our latest project Cambio. Working on an editorial project (still to be conceived fully) and developing some product based project with furniture companies we have been in contact with for a while.”

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A force of nature: studio formafantasma transforms volcanic rocks into design....

formafantasma projects

A Force of Nature: Studio Formafantasma Transforms Volcanic Rocks into Design Objects

Project name, design studio.

We never cease to be amazed by the work of Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin , the design duo known as Studio Formafantasma . Based in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, the two Italians really know how to produce perfectly-finished objects of superior craftsmanship that also possess a sophisticated conceptual framework. In what could be their most intriguing collection to date, Formafantasma ’s new body of work titled ‘ De Natura Fossilium ’ is an exploration of the relationship between Sicily’s volcanoes and the communities surrounding their trembling and often fiery slopes. Following its unveiling during Milan Design Week last month, the collection is currently on display at Gallery Libby Sellers in London (41-42 Berners street, London W1T 3NB) , and will be open until 12 June 2014. The exhibition is accompanied by a photography series by Formafantasma’s long-time collaborator Luisa Zanzani .

Lipari, 2014 (detail)Occhio di pernice basalt, lava rocks, brass, textile.H35 x W35 cm‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma.Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Lipari, 2014 (detail) Occhio di pernice basalt, lava rocks, brass, textile. H35 x W35 cm ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Small Pillar, 2014 (detail)Basalt, Occhio di pernice basalt, brass, textile.H50 x W35 x D35 cm‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma.Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Small Pillar, 2014 (detail) Basalt, Occhio di pernice basalt, brass, textile. H50 x W35 x D35 cm ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Valle del Bove, 2014Mouth blown lava, lava rock, Murano glass.H35 x W35 x D25 cm‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma.Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Valle del Bove, 2014 Mouth blown lava, lava rock, Murano glass. H35 x W35 x D25 cm ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Consisting of various objects for the home such as bowls, decorative boxes, a stool and small tables, ‘ De Natura Fossilium ’ features almost otherworldly materials like basalt, lava rocks and obsidian glass, either carved into geometric forms or used unaltered, bound together with brass or textile strings. The collection borrows its title from a 16th-century treatise on minerals and rocks by  Georgius Agricola  which constitutes one of the earliest scientific attempts in the field of mineralogy . Just as  Agricola  was a pioneer in his science, namelythrough, naming and classifying the earth’s rocks and minerals for the very first time,  Studio Formafantasma  has also, in turn, attempted to approach the use of volcanic stones and minerals anew, both through a study of traditional arts and crafts relating to the rocks found on Etna and Stromboli, as well as through a rigorous research process on contemporary manufacturing techniques that push these volcanic materials to new, exciting extremes.

Apart from the volcanic rocks, natural glass and metals that have been used,  Trimarchi  and  Farresin  have also deployed the use of  lava-stone thread  which was developed as a more sustainable alternative to carbon fibre. The designers have utilised this thread in the weaving of two  tapestries  depicting the ancient deities of the Sicilian volcanoes,  Hephaestus and  Athena  (Vulcan and Minerva for the Romans). The heat and force of the volcano was also symbolically harvested during the project in the production of mouth-blown glass using lava stones, a process that reverses the natural behaviour of the volcano by re-melting the solidified lava stones into pitch-black glass.

Athena, 2014Basalt fibre, cotton.H190 x W120 cm‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma.Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Athena, 2014 Basalt fibre, cotton. H190 x W120 cm ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Efesto, 2014Basalt fibre, cotton.H190 x W120 cm‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma.Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Efesto, 2014 Basalt fibre, cotton. H190 x W120 cm ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Stromboli, 2014Occhio di pernice basalt, lava rock, brass.H30 x W40 cm‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma.Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Stromboli, 2014 Occhio di pernice basalt, lava rock, brass. H30 x W40 cm ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Despite its experimental character, the collection is extremely refined and balanced . Dedicated to Italian designer  Ettore Sottsass  – the master’s influence in the modular designs, linear forms and quasi-haphazard compositions of the ‘ De Natura Fossilium ’ collection are in fact easily detectable. The sleek glass and basalt volumes are juxtaposed with natural lava stones in a gesture that refers to the traditional lava sculptures of Sicilian artisans traditionally carved only on one side (giving the sculpture a double face, one carved by man, the other carved by nature). The colection also includes a conceptual clock, a rather meditative piece that can also be read as a Zen art installation: three basalt bowls, indicating the hours, minutes and seconds, contain volcanic sand from three different ages, gently being pushed around by a brass clock hand. With symbolic elements such as rotating earth and moving time, this could indeed be one of the most poetic pieces of design we have seen in quite a while.

‘De Natura Fosssilium’ collection credits: Concept, Design: Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin  Development: Francesco Zorzi, Nicola Lorini, Emile Kirsch, Bettina Bohm, Luisa Zanzani, Francesco Pace Production: Ingv/Catania (Rosanna Corsaro, Lucia Miraglia) Carl Aubock/Vienna, Berengo Studio, Leerdam Glass Museum, Textiel Museum Tilburg, Sergio Grasso, Teun Vinken Photo Credit: Luisa Zanzani  Special thanks to: P-S, MichelaPelizzari, Federica Sala

Monti Silvestri, 2014Basalt, brass, electrical components, lava sand.Each piece: H35 x D35 cm‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma.Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Monti Silvestri, 2014 Basalt, brass, electrical components, lava sand. Each piece: H35 x D35 cm ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Iddu, 2014Obsidian mirror, lava rock, brass.H150 x W40 cm‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma.Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Iddu, 2014 Obsidian mirror, lava rock, brass. H150 x W40 cm ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

left: 1892 Stool, 2014Occhio di pernice basalt, brass, textile.H60 x W30 x D30 cmright: 1614 Stool, 2014Basalt, brass, textile.H60 x W30 x D30 cm‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma.Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

left: 1892 Stool, 2014 Occhio di pernice basalt, brass, textile. H60 x W30 x D30 cm right: 1614 Stool, 2014 Basalt, brass, textile. H60 x W30 x D30 cm ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Etnea Photo Collection, 2014 by Luisa Zanzani.Various dimensions‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma.Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Etnea Photo Collection, 2014 by Luisa Zanzani. Various dimensions ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Linguaglossa, 2014Mouth blown lava, lava rock, Murano glass.H35 x W25 x D25 cm‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma.Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Linguaglossa, 2014 Mouth blown lava, lava rock, Murano glass. H35 x W25 x D25 cm ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Small Pillar, 2014Basalt, Occhio di pernice basalt, brass, textile.H50 x W35 x D35 cm‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma.Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Small Pillar, 2014 Basalt, Occhio di pernice basalt, brass, textile. H50 x W35 x D35 cm ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Etnea Photo Collection, 2014 by Luisa Zanzani.Various dimensions‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma.Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

Alicudi, 2014 Mouth blown lava, lava rock, Murano glass. H35 x W35 x D25 cm ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers.

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formafantasma projects


Cambio is an ongoing investigation conducted by Studio Formafantasma into the extraction, production and distribution of wood products, commissioned by Serpentine Galleries  and currently on show at Museum für Gestaltung Zürich in Switzerland. The website collects the research outcomes  and compiles an archive of documents, videos, books and articles on the topic.

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Formafantasma – Cambio Centro Pecci, Prato, IT 15th May /24th October 2021

Serpentine Galleries, London, UK 4th March/17th May 2020

Cambio, from the medieval Latin cambium, ‘change, exchange’, is an ongoing investigation conducted by Formafantasma into the governance of the timber industry. The evolution of this form of commerce over time, and its tentacular expansion across the globe, has made it difficult to regulate. It grew out of the bioprospecting that took place throughout colonial territories during the nineteenth century, becoming one of the largest industries in the world both in terms of the revenue it generates and the impact it has on the planet’s biosphere.

The earliest objects in the exhibition are samples of rare hardwoods first exhibited in the Great Exhibition of 1851, a few hundred metres from this building, which represent trees logged to the point of extinction. The newest are the exhibition display furniture and seating designed by Formafantasma, all of which were made from a single tree blown over in a storm in northern Italy in 2018. Contained in every piece of wood is an archive of climatic change and the movement of natural materials around the world.

Cambio also references the cambial layer, a membrane that runs around the trunk of trees, producing wood on the inside, a record of the tree’s past, and bark on the outside, enabling it to keep growing. Like the rings of a tree, the central spaces of the exhibition present data and research in the form of interviews, reference materials and two films made by Formafantasma in response to their research, while the perimeter spaces offer a series of case studies that provide insight into the way wood is sourced and used. Each of these investigations represents a collaboration with experts from the fields of science, conservation, engineering, policymaking and philosophy. Together, they move from a microscopic analysis of wood and its ability to store carbon dioxide, to a metaphysical understanding of trees as living organisms.

This multidisciplinary exhibition highlights the crucial role that design can play in our environment, and its responsibility to look beyond the edges of its borders. The future of design can and must attempt to translate emerging environmental awareness into a renewed understanding of the philosophy and politics of trees that will encourage informed, collaborative responses.

The exhibition opens with two pieces that introduce the physical matter of wood and its properties; a two-screen projection, and two sections of a tree trunk. Together, they offer a re-evaluation of trees – as sources of information, constantly recording global climate change, as the solution for mitigating these changes by storing carbon dioxide as they grow, and as a warning against over-management and monocultured forests that are more vulnerable to intense weather events. The smell, developed by smell researcher and artist Sissel Tolaas, evokes the wet earth and flora of a forest, offering an immersive reminder of what is at stake when we lose this environment.

1858, 2020 (2020)

The tree displayed nearby – an oak, or Quercus – was grown in Garnstone Forest, Herefordshire, England and brought to the gallery from a sawmill in East Sussex. The branches and much of the bark has been removed, and the trunk has been sawn into planks and air-dried ready for use. These first stages of processing capture the tree when it has been transformed from a living being into an object. The moving image work takes its title, 1858, from the first year that the tree shown in the film created a ring. One video shows the process of extracting a coring from the tree, a technique used by dendroclimatologists to analyse its rate of growth; widely-spaced rings indicate a lot of growth, while close-set rings show very little growth. These differences can be compared against data from other trees, known temperatures and rainfall, providing a record of the effects that climate change has had on the tree over the course of its lifetime. The numbers scrolling across the bottom are data obtained from a number of different trees in the Alps, which together indicate a rise in temperature in this region.

The second video follows the topography of a valley in Northern Italy, the Val di Fiemme. Managed by the community living in the valley since the middle ages, the forest of the Val di Fiemme was ravaged by storm Vaia in 2018. More than thirteen million of these trees were blown down, requiring an immediate response from the community. There were several factors in the urgency of this effort: to prevent the wood from decaying and releasing unanticipated amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; to safeguard the community’s livelihood; and to learn from the disaster by reintroducing a larger variety of species into the valley. One of these felled trees has been used by Formafantasma in 1858 and has provided the wood for all of the displays and seating designed by them throughout the exhibition. This decision was made as an indicator of their belief that materials should be chosen by designers on the basis of more than simply aesthetic reasons – that their original context and method of extraction need to be considered as well.

View of South Gallery

View of 1858, 2020, South Gallery

Still from  1858, 2020

This section of the exhibition presents forensic research undertaken by Formafantasma with a number of different scientific institutions into the data that can be found in wood. Following on from the coring procedure shown in the first gallery space, wood products are investigated as holders of carbon dioxide, as records of their origins even while they undergo carving, pulping (for paper) or fire (for charcoal). The analysis of these mundane objects, many of which are still produced from protected species, can help to regulate logging practices around the world, and offer manufacturers, designers and users better information about the impact of their material choices.

BEKVAM (2020)

COLLABORATION: Centrum Hout, Almere

Each individual stool in this stack has been produced using a different wood species common to Europe. As trees grow, they store carbon dioxide, and if the wood is used for production, rather than for fuel, the carbon dioxide remains held within it. The density of each wood type corresponds to its differing rate of growth and ability to store carbon dioxide. In general, a denser wood will take longer to grow, and will store more carbon dioxide. The replication of a single design – here, a stepped stool distributed by IKEA – in seven different species of wood is an experiment into this balance. The mass production of this popular object is an example of a production model that assumes constant renewal of the source material and disposability of the item. However, for wood products to be truly sustainable, they need to have a service life that is at least the same length of time that it took for the tree to grow. The order of the stools reflects the different service lives of these species. The service life of each object has been calculated against the optimal rotation age of the species it was made from. Ultimately, mass production of furniture has given users access to affordable objects whose usable life may well be too short to justify the felling of the trees required to produce them. To maximise the timber industry’s contribution to climate change mitigation, the best strategy is to focus on sustainable forest management focused on carbon accumulation in the forest, combined with a steady increase in the life span of wood products that are able to store the carbon dioxide they hold for a longer time.

On the anatomy of trade (2020)

COLLABORATION: Thünen Institute, Hamburg

Every year, thousands of products made from illegally-sourced timber are discovered at customs being imported into the EU. According to Interpol, this material accounts for 15-30% of all global timber trade. The objects on the shelves have been collected in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium in the last twelve months. They have been analysed by the Thünen Insitute and the Royal Africa Museum in order to determine the exact species of wood used to make them, a forensic process that has revealed the complex network of often illegal international trade. Some examples include rare wood found in musical instrument parts, and endangered species within charcoal.

200/500 μm (2020)

5 years (2020)

The title of the installation, 5 years, refers to the amount of time it will take for a single tree – specifically, one pine tree growing in Central Europe – to reabsorb the same amount of carbon dioxide that will released by these objects once they are discarded. The objects on the table have been selected because they are all single use or packing products made from wood or wood pulp.

On the Resonance of the forest (2020)

Resonance wood provided by Opere Sonore by CIRESA

The form of these two speakers, designed by Formafantasma, has been reduced to the minimum possible required to project sound: soundboards, like those incorporated into acoustic guitars, pianos, or harpsichords, transistors and an amplifier. The soundboards have been made from spruce wood grown in the Val di Fiemme, Italy. This particular type of wood is called ‘resonance wood’, and is selected by instrument makers for the best possible sound production. Musical instruments are one of the wood products most likely to be made from hard woods that are endangered. The preference for this material is often justified by the quality of the sound produced by rare species, but on a microscopic level, rosewood (often used for recorders) and spruce resonance wood (such as the wood used for these speakers) have similar anatomical traits that lend themselves to sound production.

On the origin of species (2020)

In an attempt to map the species of wood used in books printed globally, Formafantasma sourced a selection of different copies of Darwin’s On the origin of species, printed in a number of different countries. Paper from each book was microscopically analysed by the Thünen Institute, in an attempt to identify the relationship between the location of the printer and the origin of the species used for the paper. The film 200/500 μm shows microscopic images of the internal structures of various wood fibres, both in the paper and in the wooden objects. The results revealed there to be little to no relationship between the geographical site of the printer and the ecosystem that provided the wood for the paper they are using. Although most papers are made of a mixture of different pulps – often from diverse places and species – the most common were Pine (Pinus spp.) and Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.). Fast-growing wood species used for the production of pulp and paper can now be found widely distributed in the globe, regardless of where they grew originally. Given the rapidly rising demand for paper and other pulp products, the increase in fast-growing plantations is likely to continue to replace endemic ecosystems. A good example amongst the selection of books here is the copy printed in Brazil, on paper made from Eucalyptus. Its natural distribution covers Australia and Malaysia, but with countries like Brazil now exporting large amounts of pulp, this fast-growing tree has replaced species native to South America. Paper production is just one part of the timber industry where efficient productivity is favoured over diversity.

Wood DNA barcoding, 2019, Institute of Forest Genetics, Thünen Centre of Competence on the Origin of Timber, Hamburg, Germany

Archive of charcoal samples, 2019. Department of Wood Biology, The Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium

Cambio (2020)

Constructed in the format of a visual essay, this film investigates how the industry of timber has evolved over time. It asks how a networked understanding of materials can be applied to a more holistic approach to design, and draws connections between timber’s physical materiality and the abstract but pervasive conditions of exploitation, colonialism, and consumerism.

The film starts with the appearance of primordial plants on Earth, their evolution into trees, and the subsequent flourishing of human life across the planet. It continues with the global expansion of the timber industry in conjunction with the European imperialist agenda, and its later shift towards the development of sustainable forestry practices and environmental conservation.

Shot in a former Italian plantation for paper production, it makes use of chroma key compositing – a process by which it is possible to ‘layer’ images over existing footage by introducing green screens into the frame while shooting, and collaging other images or footage in later. Various different colours have been used in television and film to achieve this effect, but green has become one of the most commonly used – as with most technologies – due to human features. The human eye evolved to differentiate movement and depth against the green of the forest, and what has become an instinctive disregard for flora in favour of the potentially dangerous fauna has been called ‘plant blindness’. Here, the forest is never a background – it is the subject matter and focus of the film.

View of South Powder Room

Seeing the wood for the trees (2020)

COLLABORATION: Vanessa Richardson, European Investigation Agency

One side of this central space is dedicated to a film that focuses on the governance of the timber industry and how this is structured today, touching upon the major European and global regulations and regulatory bodies involved in it. The four reading points on the other side, meanwhile, have been designed by Formafantasma, and offer direct access to a website that holds reference materials collected by the design studio over the course of the past eighteen months. These include filmed interviews with the specialist collaborators that informed the projects on display in this exhibition, reading materials, reference images and links form a living archive of the designers’ research-led practice. Together, the resources in this space aim to offer a greater level of transparency, both in the research and thinking of design practice, and in the structure of a global industry.

The film Seeing the wood for the trees addresses the current state of the timber industry, showing images and documents set against the forest floor and also using the green screen technique that was employed for Cambio, shown in the next room. The text of the voiceover was conceived in conversation with Formafantasma and written by Vanessa Richardson of the European Investigation Agency. Organisations like the EIA fight against the practice of illegal logging and to uphold the principles of sustainable forestry using international certification systems such as the FSC and PFSC. Like the film in the space next door, Seeing the wood for the trees employs green screen, or chroma key compositing, to illustrate the text, but offers only the forest floor as a background; the viewpoint of the camera, pointing straight down, echoes the film’s discussion of forest governance ‘from above’.

Still from Seeing the wood for the trees

The archive of lost forests (2020)


The objects and images on display in this space have all been sourced from the Economic Botany Collection in Kew Gardens and the storage spaces of the V&A (shown in the film at the end of the gallery). The wood samples from Kew were first displayed in the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the International Exhibition of 1862, close to this building, and were intended to be used like a catalogue of the British Empire’s timber resources. The V&A can also trace its history to these exhibitions, but rather than holding raw materials, it has amassed a collection of furniture and objects that record the application of many of these species of wood by designers and makers. Real and virtual images are overlaid in the film at the end of the space, pointing to the missing links that connect an object with its place of origin, and highlight contemporary design’s ongoing appetite for an endless library of materials.

The wood samples on display in this space were first brought to London from all over the British Empire, and the various labels on the samples give clues as to the collectors’ understanding of the wood’s indigenous use, and its possible purpose after import. The name of the collection at Kew – the Economic Botany Collection – points to the value ascribed to these resources. Very little information is given as to the societal or ecological reality of the areas from which these woods were extracted, however, with perhaps one exception – a small sample of Green Ebony, which has already been noted as extinct on its nineteenth-century label. The Great Exhibition of 1851 and the International Exhibition of 1862 were some of the first instances of materials, industrial development and the potential resources of the British Empire being brought together for the public. These seminal moments in the foundation of design thinking and art education were nevertheless inextricably related to the environmental, social and economic legacies of colonialism. Today, the purely economic function of the Economic Botany Collection has been superseded by new, conservation-led principles; samples from these woods are used to provide comparative data against which products like those on display in the East Gallery can be tested, to prevent the consumption and distribution of illegally-logged wood.

View of North Gallery

Large wood pieces shown at the International Exhibition of 1862

Small wood pieces shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the International Exhibition of 1862

The furniture pieces in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s storage, shown in this film, were assembled as examples of exceptional craftsmanship and industrial production. Conceived as a source of inspiration for the development of a formally and technically sophisticated design culture in Britain, this collection of objects showcases the properties of different woods and the skill of designers and makers. However, European design also had to adapt to reductions in the availability of certain species due to overlogging. Nineteenth-century illustrations of British settlements in Jamaica can be found reflected in the polished surfaces of some of the V&A’s furniture. Jamaica was the source of a great deal of mahogany that can now be found in Europe, initially for shipbuilding, which helped Britain’s expansion of its colonies, and later for cabinet-making.

Although the exact source of the wood in the V&A furniture cannot be determined, the origins of the wood samples in the Economic Botany Collection at Kew have been carefully catalogued.

The most contemporary collection included in the film is the virtual wood library offered by the popular 3D rendering software Keyshot, which includes rare and endangered woods as available for designers to apply to the surfaces of their forms. Digital tools such as this can be used to simulate finished objects, and without a critical intervention into context or sustainability, appear to perpetuate the myth of an endless supply of materials.

The combination of images, text and film in this section of the exhibition takes a view of forestry that moves beyond the extraction of resources and attempts to understand the complex ecosystems that forested regions contain. It does so by bringing together approaches to the governance and management of both European and Amazonian forests, and compares changes in these approaches over time and from different geopolitical perspectives.

The two very different mapping techniques displayed here also prompted a conversation between Formafantasma and the political scientist Philip Pattberg. The gap between technological mapping devices and national regulations, the transnational experiences of the communities that live in Amazonia and international agreements, has produced a regulatory vacuum in which no legislation dedicated to forest governance yet exists.

Displayed on the tables are a set of existing regulations that mention the governance of forests. However, none of these documents have forestry as their focus; rather, they have incorporated the subject into other, often wide-ranging agreements. The proposals written by Philipp Pattberg, meanwhile, drew on several of them to suggest future forest governance strategies. These documents constitute a series of speculative proposals that range from the feasible to the speculative.

International Convention on the Conservation, Use and Equitable Sharing of Forest Ecosystems  It is based on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) from 1992-93, which is exhibited on the table nearby, but it focuses specifically on forests and invites the creation of national plans for their preservation. Amsterdam Protocol on Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation  This is a protocol that could be written based on the existing Convention on Biological Diversity. This protocol adopts a similar strategy to the United nation REDD program and proposes the implementation of a repayment plan to remunerate the owners of forests, who in turn agree to preserve them and their ability to continue to store carbon dioxide. International Agreement on Sustainable Forest Management and National Certification Schemes  This agreement proposes the setting up of national certification schemes so that wood extraction and circulation would no longer be based on existing private certification schemes (PFC and PEFC). Universal Declaration of Trees’ Rights  This document is both the most radical and the most straightforward, applying the structure of the universal declaration of human rights to trees.

COLLABORATION: Gaia Amazonas, Bogotá

The images of hand drawn maps originate in communities that work with the foundation Gaia Amazonas in the Colombian Amazon. Together, they use experience, conversation and GPS technology to define their territories by highlighting important materials, sites of ritual and society, landmarks and history. These are maps that do not respect geopolitical boundaries, but instead offer the communities’ understanding of the region as a biome. This information is then translated into official maps that support legal documents that recognise their right to live on and protect these areas.

Tanimuka Community- Local community map, Comeyafú Indigenous Resguardo, Caquetá River (Amazonas Department, Colombia), 1999

Comeyafú Community – Sketch of the Yucuna Indigenous Community, Comeyafú Indigenous Resguardo, Caquetá River (Amazonas Department, Colombia), 1999

RADAM, 1968 and 2020

Originally initiated in 1970, the RadamBrasil project was a collection of aerial photographs and radar images that, when aligned, aimed to cover an extensive area of the Brazilian rainforest. Its purpose was originally intended to reveal the location of natural resources for economic exploitation, but over time this documentation has become a useful comparative tool to demonstrate the extensiveness of the Amazon’s biomass and, since the project’s inception, the spread of deforestation.

Quercus, 2020

COLLABORATION: Emanuele Coccia

This film has been produced by manipulating a Lidar scan of an oak forest in Virginia. Lidar technology, which comes from the terms ‘light detection and ranging’, uses lasers to scan and record large surface areas and has often been used in cartography and archaeology. More recently, it has been adopted by the timber industry in order to selectively log trees. Like the RADAM maps nearby, however, it could be repurposed – here, it provides an opportunity to consider humans from the point of view of the trees, with a voiceover written by philosopher and botanist Emanuele Coccia. Coccia’s text questions our own sense of dominance, observing rather the degree to which humanity is dependent upon the form and physicality of trees, from the perspective of an imagined forest. It suggests a crucial shift in perspective if we are to find more radical ways of living with and protecting these complex ecosystems – one that stems from the understanding that humans and trees are inextricably interlinked.

Cambio – Catalogue (2020)

For this project, Formafantasma collaborated with experts from the fields of science, conservation, engineering, policymaking and philosophy. They have gathered a range of texts, interviews and visual materials for the publication that pose questions about the role that design can play in translating emerging environmental awareness into informed, collaborative responses.

Extending the principals of this project to the catalogue, the paper used in the book has been microscopically investigated to confirm it doesn’t contain cells from endangered species.

The catalogue includes texts by: Jennifer L. Anderson, Paola Antonelli, Emanuele Coccia, Formafantasma, Lesley Green, Rebecca Lewin, Vanessa Richardson, Paolo Tavares and Mauro Agnoletti. Additionally, the catalogue includes interviews with: Faustino Londoño & Nelson Ortiz, Frederic Lens, Mark Nesbitt & Caroline Cornish, Phillipp Pattberg, Pieter Baas, Kaisa Raitio, Marco Fioravanti and Artek. It is designed by SJG/Joost Grootens and Dimitri Jeannottat.

Edited by Riccardo Badano, Rebecca Lewin, Natalia Grabowska, Cristiana Perrella, foreword by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Bettina Korek, introduction by Formafantasma.

Order the catalogue here:  Serpentine Bookshop

Concept, design

Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin

Formafantasma team

Riccardo Badano, Simón Ballen Botero, Gregorio Gonella, Jeroen Van De Gruiter, Johanna Seeleman, Peter Sorg, Ibrahim Kombarji, Lenn Gerlach, Felix Lenz

Exhibition curated by

Rebecca Lewin, Curator, Exhibitions and Design. Natalia Grabowska, Assistant Curator. Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Selleries. Cristiana Perrella, Centro Pecci

Special thanks to

Atticus Stovall, Johanna Agerman Ross, Joost Grootens, Galleria Giustini Stagetti, Alice Rawsthorn, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Giacomo Moor ,  Leonardo Scalet  ,  K48 Production – Leone Balduzzi and Barbara Guieu, Nele Schmitz, Pieter Baas, Gerald Koch, Paola Antonelli, Libby Sellers, Nick Humphrey, Tamar Shafrir, Michela Pellizzari, Fabio Ognibeni and Ciresa, Marina Otero, Anastasia Kubrak, Cristiana Perrella, Margherita Villani, Camilla Mozzato, Stefano Pezzato, Raffaele Di Vaia, Alice Labor, Marianne Goebl, Joana Mouta, Mariano Gemmo, Riku Rehell, Antti Tevajärvi, Artek Team, Ville Kokkonen, Kaisa Raitio, Marcus Walsh, Henrik Heräjärvi, Markus Kröger, Silja Keränen, Timo Riekko, Marco Fioravanti, Giuseppe Penone

Marco Carrer, University of Padua, Padua Emanuele Coccia, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris Vanessa Richardson, Environmental Investigative Agency, London Gaia Amazonas, Bogotá Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam Magnifica Comunita di Fiemme, Cavalese Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, Leiden Philipp Pattberg Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London Royal Museum of Central Africa, Tervuren Thünen Institute, Hamburg Sissel Tolaas, Smell Researcher and Artist Victoria and Albert Museum, London Marco Fioravanti,University of Florence, Italy Centro Studi Erbario Tropicale, University of Florence Opera Del Duomo, Florence, Italy Giuseppe Penone, Italy

Formafantasma exhibition supported by

Nicoletta Fiorucci Russo – Fiorucci Art Trust

Supporting partners

Flos, Pictet, Rinascente

Additional support

Sarah Arison, Jay Franke, Cockaine, Kingdom of The Netherlands

Video production by

C41, LaGalla23 Productions

Furniture courtesy

Galleria Giustini Stagetti

In Kind support from

IFF Ink and scent communication

Digital Communication supported by

Bloomberg Philanthropies

Website design

Koehorst in ’t Veld with Benjamin Sporken

Website development

New Design Vision, Davide Giorgetta

George Darrell, Gregorio Gonella

Developed as research material, the following interviews were recorded and conducted by Formafantasma to create a constant dialogue with practitioners involved in the forestry sector, scientists, artist and NGOs dealing with timber and forest-related topics.

Teresa Castro

– Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, FR

Vanessa Richardson

– Environmental Investigation Agency, London, UK

Carlos Rodríguez

– Tropenbos Colombia, Bogotá, CO

Nele Schmitz

– Global Timber Tracking Network (GTTN), Hamburg, DE

Mark Nesbitt and Caroline Cornish

– Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, London, UK

Mauro Agnoletti

– University of Florence, Florence, IT

Federico Alice Guier

Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, NL

Renzo dal Pra

– Magnifica Comunità di Fiemme, Cavalese, IT

Tommaso Dossi

Eric de Munck

– Centrum Hout, Almere, NL

Francisco Von Hildebrand

– Gaia Amazonas, Bogotá, CO

Stefano Cattoi

Peter Pechachek

– Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA), Ankara, TR

Atticus Stovall

– NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, US

Cristophe Orazio

– European Forest Institute, Arles, FR

Leonardo Scalet

Susanna Nocentini

– Professor of Forest Management, University of Florence, IT

Commander Giuliano Savelli

– Vallombrosa’s Biodiversity Department Police, Italy

Pieter Baas

– Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, NL

Andrea Olbrich

– Thünen Centre on Competence on the Origin of Timber, Hamburg, DE

Philipp Pattberg

– VU Institute for Environmental Studies, Amsterdam, NL

Mehrdad Jahanbanifard

Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, NL

Hans Beeckman

– Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, BE

Faustino Benjamin Londoño


Frederic Lens

Hilke Schröder

Italo Giordani

Gerald Koch

Tropenbos International, Wageningen, NL

Fabio Ognibeni

– Ciresa, Tesero, IT

Emanuele Coccia

– École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, FR

Hans Verkerk

– European Forest Institute – Smart Forestry, Joensuu, FI

Alun Watkins

– PEFC UK, Sheffield, UK

Marco Fioravanti

– Professor of Wood Technology, University of Florence, IT

Alessio Papini

– Erbario Tropicale, University of Florence, IT

Marshal Giovanni Galipò

– Vallombrosa’s Biodiversity Department Police, IT

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Faire Forêt

FAIRE FORÊT is a short documentary that follows the actions of local inhabitants from Corrèze, a region located in the South West of France where the wood industry is very powerful. It is an investigation around the political acts of living in a rural area, where the landscape has become a consumable product. The blurred definition of the word «forest» enables misinformation and abuses. Through their association «Faîte et Racines», the inhabitants of this territory attempt to reappropriate a common heritage, the forest.

FAIRE FORÊT - Documentary

Film Director: Madeleine Oltra

Filming Team: Nicolas Lefrère, Angelo de Taisne, Romain Laval

Sound Editor: Gianluca Kegelaert is a digital environment for sharing personal connections with forests around the world. Each forest is represented by a local forest ambassador, who takes the viewer on an audio-visual walk in their forest while discussing the meaning and importance of nature in their lives.

Concept, text, interviews: Hannah Segerkrantz

Development: Marta Kielpinska

’10 Millions +1 (The Activists)’

A group of activists called ‘Camp for Forest’ defends the Białowieża Forest from increased logging. It is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain and it has been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site. The film tells the fragmented story of the fight between the activists and the loggers. The struggle of the activists is superimposed on the images recalling the splendor of the forest. The film is composed entirely of footage gathered by the activists for the purpose of court evidence and to raise social awareness.

'10 Millions +1 (The Activists)', 2018

Directed by Kinga Kiełczyńska

Video footage: Camp for Forest's archives

timber industry

Europe losing forest to harvesting at alarming rate

Europe has lost a vastly increased area of forest to harvesting in recent years, data suggests, reducing the continent’s carbon absorption capacity and possibly indicating wider problems with the EU’s attempts to combat the climate crisis. … Increase in demand for timber and wood products, such as pulp and paper, and more burning of biomass for fuel may be behind the rapid rise in harvesting observed in the Nordic countries.

Europe losing forest to harvesting at alarming rate, data suggests

The Coronavirus Has Not Stopped the Global Trade of Forest Products

Many commodity products saw reduced trade during March and April, a result of reduced demand, closures of manufacturing facilities to protect workers, constraint in the handling capacity of goods at many ports, and widespread financial distress. However, one sector that has remained fairly strong during the initial period of the epidemic is the forest products industry.


Global Forest Watch

It’s hard to manage what you can’t measure. Global Forest Watch makes the best available data about forests available online for free, creating unprecedented transparency about what is happening in forests worldwide. Better information supports smarter decisions about how to manage and protect forests for current and future generations, and greater transparency helps the public hold governments and companies accountable for how their decisions impact forests.

A complete guide to carbon offsetting

Duncan Clark summarises the offsetting debate in this edited extract from The Rough Guide to Green Living

The Guardian

Paying for our sins

Offsetting makes us feel better, allows us to consume more to the benefit of the polluters, deflects attention away from the real and present danger that is climate change and, George Monbiot finds, does little good

The Mediated Plant

Since at least the 1980s, the animal turn, propelled by the animal rights movement, has systematically put the question of animal difference, agency, conscience, and subjectivity on the agendas of the humanities and social sciences. Now a “plant turn” seems to be sweeping different fields of knowledge and creation. As the human species sleepwalks into a greenhouse fever of its own making, plants and their singular life forms, long relegated to the margins of conceptual thinking about life itself, finally jut out of the leafy, decorative setting in which they had been “backgrounded,” in order to be better acted upon.

In The Forest Ruins

In 1986, during a flight over southwest Amazonia, the geographer Alceu Ranzi noticed a huge geometric earthwork cut through the middle of a vast tract of deforested land. From the ground, the structure was nearly imperceptible, as it mingled with the environment like a natural topographic feature, but from the vantage point of the aircraft, its precise architectural plan was clearly distinguishable as an engineered inscription on the surface of the earth.

In New Zealand, Lands and Rivers Can Be People (Legally Speaking)

Can a stretch of land be a person in the eyes of the law? Can a body of water? In New Zealand, they can. A former national park has been granted personhood, and a river system is expected to receive the same soon.

New York Times

Of messiness, systems and sustainability: towards a more social and environmental finance and accounting

This essay is a personal attempt at a re-visitation and re-consideration of a number of the fundamental questions which underlie accounting and governance but which only rarely receive explicit consideration. Social and environmental accounting has been the principal focus of my research interests since I became an academic and the subject was, indeed, the primary reason I became an academic in the first place.

British Accounting Review

The Paradox of Wealth: Capitalism and Ecological Destruction

Today orthodox economics is reputedly being harnessed to an entirely new end: saving the planet from the ecological destruction wrought by capitalist expansion. It promises to accomplish this through the further expansion of capitalism itself, cleared of its excesses and excrescences. A growing army of self-styled “sustainable developers” argues that there is no contradiction between the unlimited accumulation of capital—the credo of economic liberalism from Adam Smith to the present—and the preservation of the earth. The system can continue to expand by creating a new “sustainable capitalism,” bringing the efficiency of the market to bear on nature and its reproduction. In reality, these visions amount to little more than a renewed strategy for profiting on planetary destruction.

Monthly Review

Environmental accounting

Environmental accounting is an attempt to broaden the scope of the accounting frameworks used to assess economic performance, to take stock of elements that are not recorded in public or private accounting books. These gaps occur because the various costs of using nature are not captured, being considered, in many cases, as externalities that can be forwarded to others or postponed.

Oxford Research Encyclopedias

Lesson of the pencil

Milton Friedman uses a pencil to illustrate how the free market price system promotes cooperation and harmony among those with no common interest.

Accounting for the environment

This is the first half of a commercially produced video which seeks to lay out the basic elements of – and rationale for – accounting engaging more directly with environmental issues. Despite its age, the basic production and message have dated very little.

Rob Gray’s Youtube channel

Carbon offsets are not our get-out-of-jail free card

Buying carbon credits in exchange for a clean conscience while you carry on flying, buying diesel cars and powering your homes with fossil fuels is being challenged by people concerned about climate change.


Accounting and happiness

This paper begins with the observation that happiness is the primary goal of human endeavour. One critical element of human endeavour is business, leading to the proposition the primary objective of business is to contribute to happiness, with profit being a means towards this end. This central idea linking business and the pursuit of happiness is used to critique the capability of accounting to contribute to lofty objectives leading to the central question if the goal of business should be the pursuit of human happiness, can accounting contribute to this goal?


The public benefits of private forests: an ecosystem services valuation of private forest lands in Pierce County

This report values some of the ecosystem goods and services provided by privately owned forest lands in Pierce County. The analysis reveals that privately held forest lands provide between $259 million and $942 million worth of ecosystem services every year. In present terms, these lands are valued between $26 billion and $94 billion when considering a 100-year timeframe.

Earth Economics

Stones Have Laws

The film explores the legacy of slavery, and the ritual and folk stories attached to lives lived by the rhythm and law of the forest. In the film, the Maroons demonstrate rituals to contact ancestors and local forest spirits, and recite how foreign conquerors forced them to relocate over and again. In colonial times they battled fiercely against the Dutch colonial rule. Nowadays they confront multinationals that exploit their ancestral grounds for mining and logging.

Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan

World of Matter

World of Matter is a multimedia project providing an open access archive on the global ecologies of resource exploitation and circulation.

World of Matter comprises visual practitioners and theorists conducting long-term research on material geographies, who engage ideas and practices from art, spatial culture, urbanism, anthropology, art history, cultural theory, photojournalism, activism, publishing, curating and education.

The core group includes Mabe Bethonico, Ursula Biemann, Uwe H. Martin & Frauke Huber, Helge Mooshammer & Peter Mörtenböck, Emily E. Scott, Paulo Tavares, Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan.

World of Matter furthermore forges collaborations with other thinkers and makers, whose work resonates with our own in terms of both content and aesthetic strategy.

Challenges and Opportunities of Accounting for Harvested Wood Products

Harvested Wood Products (HWPs) are wood-based materials harvested from forests, which are used for products such as furniture, plywood, paper and paper-like products, or for energy. Wood products contribute to mitigating climate change through forming a storage pool of wood-based carbon and  substituting environmentally damaging sources of material and energy such as fossil fuels.

Harvested timber is converted into a wide variety of wood products. Their carbon content moves through different levels during their life cycle. After their use, products are sometimes recycled, and ultimately burned or deposited in landfills where they slowly decay. The carbon stored in wood, which was initially captured from the atmosphere, is finally released back into the atmosphere. Changing the demand for wood products can consequently have an important role in the global carbon cycle and the fight against climate change.

Workshop on Harvested Wood Products in the Context of Climate Change Policies

Substitution effects of wood-based products

While the positive role of forests in climate change mitigation is generally well perceived, the contribution of wood products to mitigation is much less known and understood. Current national reporting of greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and related processes does not attribute the substitution benefits of wood-based products directly to the forest sector. However, this information is important when developing optimal strategies on how forests and the forest sector can contribute to climate change mitigation.

A substitution factor (or displacement factor) typically describes how much greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided if a wood-based product is used instead of another product to provide the same function – be it a chemical compound, a construction element, an energy service or a textile fibre. Overall greenhouse gas substitution effects can be estimated by combining information on the quantity of wood products that are produced or consumed, with product-specific substitution factors.

EFI - European Forest Institute

Protecting forests is critical to public health

Zoonotic viruses such as COVID-19 come into contact with people when we encroach upon their natural habitat. The further we push into the last remaining patches of primeval forest, the more likely we will encounter new zoonotic viruses. The hunters that I observed would travel for days to catch their quarry but their journey was greatly aided by roads and trails cut by loggers. Roads provide access to these previously inaccessible regions, making controlling hunting much harder. If you build it, they will come indeed.

Textures of the Anthropocene: Grain Vapor Ray

The Anthropocene hypothesis regards humanity as a geological force, its activities effectively altering the earth system’s metabolic structures: sediments, currents, and rays are redistributed towards unknown configurations. The publication Textures of the Anthropocene: Grain Vapor Ray engages with earthly conditions and human imagination in a discursive, trans-historical experiment. Departing from a corpus of historical documents spanning several centuries, scholars, theorists, scientists, and artists have been asked to grapple with the constantly shifting qualities of the particular, fleeting, and energetic, presenting new positions on the textures and forms that knowledge takes on within the Anthropocene.

Botanizing Rulers and Their Herbal Subjects: Plants and political power in Greek and Roman Literature

This paper argues that plants are sometimes made to play the role of “biographical objects” in Greek and Roman texts. The stories linking plants and three rulers (Attalus iii, Mithradates vi, and Juba ii) suggest that the rhetoric of power associated with the Greek or oriental practice of botany was only progressively accepted by the Romans.

Phoenix 66(1-2)

colonial archive

In the Forest Ruins

In 1986, during a flight over southwest Amazonia, the geographer Alceu Ranzi noticed a huge geometric earthwork cut through the middle of a vast tract of deforested land. From the ground, the structure was nearly imperceptible, as it mingled with the environment like a natural topographic feature, but from the vantage point of the aircraft, its precise architectural plan was clearly distinguishable as an engineered inscription on the surface of the earth. Ranzi recognized that the “geoglyph” was a pre-Colombian construction, and since then satellite-based surveys are showing that his striking finding is just one piece of a much larger archaeological complex formed by at least four hundred geoglyphs spread across a territory nearly the same size as the Netherlands. It is still uncertain whether this extensive network of monumental structures served military, religious or resource-management purposes, but through carbon dating it is possible to infer that they were occupied between the years 900 and 1500 of the current era, demonstrating that before the European colonial invasion this region of Amazonia was inhabited by Amerindian societies whose spatial designs produced remarkable transformations in the forest landscape.

The University of Minnesota Press

The Geological Imperative: On the Political Ecology of the Amazonia’s deep History

Beginning in the late 1960s, a series of reports produced by international media and non-governmental agencies exposed the critical situation confronting the indigenous peoples of Amazonia, whose territorial, cultural, and physical survival was severely threatened by the advancement of large-scale development projects into their lands. Out of this lineage of ‘activist’ publications came The Geological Imperative : Anthropology and Development in the Amazon Basin of South America, a ninety-page compilation of four articles written by the American anthropologists Shelton H. Davis and Robert O. Mathews and published in 1976. An exercise in ‘political anthropology,’ as the authors described it, this report presented an up-to-date cartography of mining and drilling activities in formerly ‘isolated’ areas of Amazonia, describing a ‘frontier scenario’ of systematic and generalised human rights violations against indigenous communities.

Science, Environment and Empire History: Comparative perspectives from forests in colonial India

This essay is a critical review of the following recent books: Arun Agrawal, Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005); Peder Anker, Imperial Ecology: Environmental Order in the British Empire, 1895-1945 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001); David Arnold, The Tropics and the Traveling Gaze: India, Landscape and Science, 1800-1856 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006); Gregory A. Barton, Empire Forestry and the Origins of Environmentalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Richard Drayton, Nature’s Government: Science, Imperial Britain, and the ‘Improvement’ of the World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000); and S. Ravi Rajan, Modernizing Nature: Forestry andImperial Eco-Development, 1800-1950 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). [Author abstract]

Environment and History 14(1)

The Subterranean Forest: Energy systems and the Industrial Revolution

The Subterrranean Forest studies the historical transition from the agrarian solar-energy regime to the use of fossil energy, which has fuelled the industrial transformation of the last 200 years. The author argues that the analysis of historical energy systems provides an explanation for the basic patterns of different social formations. It is the availability of free energy that defines the framework within which socio-metabolic processes can take place. This thesis explains why the industrial revolution started in Britain, where coal was readily available and firewood already depleted or difficult to transport, whereas Germany, with its huge forests next to rivers, came much later. This landmark text was originally published in German in 1982 and was thoroughly revised and updated for the White Horse Press in 2001.

The White Horse Press

The Natural Contract

Global environmental change, argues Michel Serres, has forced us to reconsider our relationship to nature. In this translation of his influential 1990 book Le Contrat Naturel , Serres calls for a natural contract to be negotiated between Earth and its inhabitants.

University of Michigan Press

The Crystal Palace, Environmentally Considered

In the nineteenth century, horticulturists such as John Claudius Loudon and Joseph Paxton, aware of the new environmental possibilities of glasshouses that had been demonstrated in the context of horticulture, contemplated the use of fully-glazed structures as a means to creating new types of environments for human beings. While Loudon suggested the use of large glass structures to immerse entire Russian villages in an artificial climate, Henry Cole and Paxton envisioned large-scale winter parks, to function as new types of public spaces. These indoor public spaces were intended to grant the urban population of London access to clean air, daylight and a comfortable climate. Although glasshouses had only been experienced in the immediate context of horticulture, designed in accordance with the specific environmental requirements of foreign plants, rather than the requirements of human comfort and health, they were perceived as a precedent for a new approach to architectural design primarily driven by environmental criteria. The environmental design principles of horticulture were discussed extensively in nineteenth-century horticultural literature such Loudon’s Remarks on the Construction of Hothouses (1817), Paxton’s Magazine of Botany (1834-49) and the Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London (1812-44). Since the purpose of glasshouses was to facilitate the cultivation of an increasing variety of foreign plants in the temperate climate of Northern Europe, the creation of artificial climates tailored to the specific environmental needs of plants became the primary object of the design.

arq: Architectural Research Quarterly

Three Hundred Years of Applied Sustainability in Forestry

Foresters tend to take a long-term view because trees take so long to grow. That may explain why foresters have led the way in developing the modern concept of sustainability. There are debates on where, when and by whom this concept arose, but in this edition of Unasylva, Schmithüsen makes acase for Hans Carl von Carlowitz as the catalytic figure.

unasylva 240

A Forest Journey: The role of wood in the development of civilization

Until the ascendancy of fossil fuels, wood has been the principal fuel and building material from the dawn of civilization. Its abundance or scarcity greatly shaped, as A Forest Journey ably relates, the culture, demographics, economy, internal and external politics, and technology of successive societies over the millennia. The book’s comprehensive coverage of the major role forests have played in human life–told with grace, fluency, imagination, and humor―gained it recognition as a Harvard Classic in Science and World History and as one of Harvard’s “One-Hundred Great Books.” Others receiving the honor include such luminaries as Stephen Jay Gould and E. O. Wilson. This new paperback edition will add a prologue and an epilogue to reflect the current situation in which forests have become imperative for humanity’s survival.

The Countryman Press

Feminist Ecological Economics and Sustainability

New developments in feminist ecological economics and ecofeminist economics are contributing to the search for theories and policy approaches to move economies toward sustainability. This paper summa- rizes work by ecofeminists and feminist ecological economists which is relevant to the sustainability challenge and its implications for the discipline of economics. Both democracy and lower material throughputs are generally seen as basic principles of economic sustainability. Feminist theorists and feminist ecological econ- omists offer many important insights into the conundrum of how to make a democratic and equity-enhancing transition to an economy based on less material throughput. These flow from feminist research on unpaid work and caring labor, provisioning, development, valuation, social reproduction, non-monetized exchange relationships, local economies, redistribution, citizenship, equity-enhancing political institutions, and labor time, as well as creative modeling approaches and activism-based theorizing.

Journal of Bioeconomics

The Sound-Symbolic Expression of Animacy in Amazonian Ecuador

Several anthropologists of Amazonian societies in Ecuador have claimed that for Achuar and Quichua speaking Runa there is no fundamental distinction between humans on the one hand, and plants and animals on the other. A related observation is that Runa and Achuar people share an animistic cosmology whereby animals, plants, and even seemingly inert entities such as rocks and stones are believed to have a life force or essence with a subjectivity that can be expressed. This paper will focus on Quichua speaking Runa to seek linguistic evidence for animacy by examining the sound-symbolic properties of a class of expressions called ideophones. I argue that structural features of ideophones such as canonical length and diversity of sound segments as well as type of sound segments, help express the animism of the Runa lifeworld. Moreover, although these features are not indicative of any essential distinctions between plants and animals, they may be indicative of a scalar view of animacy, along the lines suggested by Descola who first proposed a continuum or ‘ladder of animacy’ for the Achuar. Ideophones, then, may be understood as one set of linguistic tools for coming to terms with the diversity of their ecological setting, a setting which spans highly animate humans and animals, through less animate plants, trees, and rocks.

wood analysis

Seeds of Industry and Empire: Economic Botany Collections between nature and culture

Scientists such as Kew’s Sir William Hooker structured their botanical research programmes in order to satisfy the ever–increasing demand for useful plants, and thus a new discipline was born—economic botany.This paper is concerned with economic botany collections, which may not appear to be of immediate interest to the museum ethnographer. However, such biocultural collections were, and still are, very much concerned with the accumulation of ethnographic material culture and offer an alternative insight into the notion of ‘nature and culture,’ one in which nature and culture are juxtaposed within a single interpretative framework.

Journal of Museum Ethnography

A History of World Agriculture: From the Neolithic age to the current crisis

Only once we understand the long history of human efforts to draw sustenance from the land can we grasp the nature of the crisis that faces humankind today, as hundreds of millions of people are faced with famine or flight from the land. From Neolithic times through the earliest civilizations of the ancient near East, in savannahs, river valleys and the terraces created by the Incas in the Andean mountains, an increasing range of agricultural techniques have developed in response to very different conditions. These developments are recounted in this book, with detailed attention to the ways in which plants, animals, soil, climate, and society have interacted.

Monthly Review Press

Microcosmos: Four billion years of microbial evolution

Microcosmos brings together the remarkable discoveries of microbiology of the past two decades and the pioneering research of Dr. Margulis to create a vivid new picture of the world that is crucial to our understanding of the future of the planet. Addressed to general readers, the book provides a beautifully written view of evolution as a process based on interdependency and the interconnectedness of all life on the planet.

University of California Press

The Wardian case: A history of plant transportation

Philippa Lewis from Kew’s Archives team reveals the important role of the Wardian case in the history of plant transportation.

Kew Garden: Read and Watch

The Immense Cry Channeled by Pope Francis

And yet if the power of the ‘Laudato si’ is so strong, it is because its author—and this text, surprising as it may seem for an encyclical, does have an author, a pen, a voice—makes, it seems to me, two major innovations; namely: the link between ecology and injustice and the recognition of the power of the earth itself to act and to suffer. In a really interesting way, these two innovations are associated with the strange word cry, for which Francis is the channel, amplifier, and interpreter (clameur in French, grido in Italian): “a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate the questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” (Text from author)

Environmental Humanities 8(2)

Nature’s Currency: The atlantic mahogany trade and the commodification of nature in the eighteenth century

Throughout the eighteenth century, as mahogany consumption expanded exponentially in North America and Europe, intense competition developed over its rapidly shrink- ing natural habitats. Confronted with the reality that seemingly limitless natural assets could quickly be exploited to a point of near-extinction, people in the mahogany trade struggled for control over information about, and access to, this coveted natural resource. These conflicts played out in interconnected ways in mahogany-growing regions of the West Indies and the Bay of Honduras (now Belize), within circum-Atlantic trade networks, and in the impe- rial rivalry between England and Spain.

Project MUSE

Origins of Western Environmentalism

Widespread misgivings bout the efects of economic activity on the environment can seem a uniquely modern preoccupation-the result of industrialization, an expand- ing population and a science sophisticated enough to trace cause and effect. Theodore Roosevelt’spride, the U.S.Forest Service,and the myriad nature refuges established in England by naturalist Nathaniel Charles Rothschild are remembered more as attempts to preserve unspoiled nature than as responses to worries about impending environmental doom. In truth, the roots of Western conservationism are at least 200 years old and grew in the tropics.

Deep roots: A conceptual history of ‘sustainable development’ (Nachhaltigkeit)

In the last two decades, the concept of ‘Sustainable Development’ has made a steep career as a political and ethical guideline for dealing with the planet’s ecological and social crisis. The concept, globally inaugurated in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development (socalled Brundtland Commission) is, however, not a brain-child of the modern environmental movement. Its blueprint can be found in the professional terminology of forestry. ‘Sustained yield’ had been the major doctrine of international forestry for almost two centuries. This formula is a translation of the German term ‘nachhaltiger Ertrag’. The roots of this concept can be traced back to the era of early ‘European Enlightenment’, when German Kameralists, inspired by the English author John Evelyn and the French statesman Jean Baptist Colbert, began to plan their dynasties’ woodlands ‘nachhaltig’ – in order to hand them along undiminished to future generations. The word itself was then coined in 1713 by Hanns Carl von Carlowitz, head of the Royal Mining Office in the Kingdom of Saxony, in order to meet the challenge of a predicted shortage of timber, the key resource of the time. This paper on the historical evolution of the concept of sustainability is thought to be a contribution to the 20th anniversary of the report of the Brundtland Commision.

WZB Berlin Social Science Center

The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion

Sir James George Frazer originally set out to discover the origins of one ancient custom in Classical Rome – the plucking of the Golden Bough from a tree in the sacred grove of Diana, and the murderous succession of the priesthood there – and was led by his invetigations into a twenty-five year study of primitive customs, superstitions, magic and myth throughout the world. The monumental thirteen-volume work which resulted has been a rich source of anthropological material and a literary masterpiece for more than half a century. Both the wealth of his illustrative material and the broad sweep of his argument can be appreciated in this very readable single volume.

Palgrave Macmillan UK

Indigenous Protest and the Roots of Sustainable Forestry in Bolivia

In the mid-2000s, Bolivia emerged as a leader in sustainable tropical forestry, in large part because of Ley 1700, the 1996 forestry law. The 1996 forestry law reformed Bolivian forestry by requiring management plans, inventories, and harvest limits while also guaranteeing the legal right of Indigenous communities to manage their forests for timber. This article analyzes the history of Bolivian forestry reforms, paying particular attention to the involvement of Indigenous lowland communities in influencing the forestry law. Specifically, we analyze the role a 1990 Indigenous protest march called the March for Territory and Dignity had in unifying Indigenous communities, incorporating Indigenous concepts of territory into the national dialogue and legal framework, and influencing the 1996 forestry law. We argue that the Indigenous protest march united Indigenous communities around the common cause of territorial sovereignty. In response to Indigenous protest, the Bolivian government established Indigenous-controlled territories and enacted forestry reforms that incorporated community demands and values.

Environmental History 24(1)

Wildlife tourism in Latin America: taxonomy and conservation status

We provide an initial insight into the extent, occurrence and characteristics of wildlife tourism involving close interactions with free-ranging, non-domesticated, animals outside of formal captive environments across Latin America. Using information provided online via TripAdvisor, we found this type of tourism was occurring across the region (advertised on 249 wildlife tourist attraction webpages across 21 countries) and involved a diverse range of wild animals (73 species, including 19 currently considered as threatened by the IUCN). Opportunities for direct contact with wild animals were particularly prevalent (54% of all surveyed webpages). Despite the potential economic benefits, studies have indicated that these types of ecotourism are potentially having net negative impacts on wildlife conservation and welfare. Mammals classified as Least Concern featured most commonly in tourist photos, but our analyses suggest that mammals and species classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List were most likely to occur in these types of wildlife tourist attractions (WTAs). Amphibians and species classified on the IUCN Red List as Data Deficient or Critically Endangered were least likely. Given the growing nature of the wildlife tourism sector, we provide recommendations to help effectively balance and manage wider wildlife protection goals and growing tourist interest in wildlife.

Journal of Sustainable Tourism 26(9)

The Life of Plants: A Metaphysics of Mixture

We barely talk about them and seldom know their names. Philosophy has always overlooked them; even biology considers them as mere decoration on the tree of life. And yet plants give life to the Earth: they produce the atmosphere that surrounds us, they are the origin of the oxygen that animates us. Plants embody the most direct, elementary connection that life can establish with the world.

In this highly original book, Emanuele Coccia argues that, as the very creator of atmosphere, plants occupy the fundamental position from which we should analyze all elements of life. From this standpoint, we can no longer perceive the world as a simple collection of objects or as a universal space containing all things, but as the site of a veritable metaphysical mixture. Since our atmosphere is rendered possible through plants alone, life only perpetuates itself through the very circle of consumption undertaken by plants. In other words, life exists only insofar as it consumes other life, removing any moral or ethical considerations from the equation. In contrast to trends of thought that discuss nature and the cosmos in general terms, Coccia’s account brings the infinitely small together with the infinitely big, offering a radical redefinition of the place of humanity within the realm of life.

Polity Press

Since at least the 1980s, the animal turn, propelled by the animal rights movement, has systematically put the question of animal difference, agency, conscience, and subjectivity on the agendas of the humanities and social sciences. 5 Now a “plant turn” seems to be sweeping different fields of knowledge and creation. As the human species sleepwalks into a greenhouse fever of its own making, plants and their singular life forms, long relegated to the margins of conceptual thinking about life itself, finally jut out of the leafy, decorative setting in which they had been “backgrounded,” in order to be better acted upon. 6 Books on the “hidden life of trees” become worldwide best sellers and pioneering countries buck the general deforestation trend by granting legal personhood to forests. 7 As botanists and geneticists lose their exclusive grip on the puzzles of vegetal life, philosophers invite us to think about and with plants, reclaiming a noninstrumental approach to plant life and taking plants’ relational and nonhierarchical mode of being as an ethical and political model

e-flux Journal #102

Science and Colonial Expansion: The Role of the British Royal Botanic Gardens

In this classic work, available once again after many years out of print, Brockway examines in detail three cases in which British scientists transferred important crop plants—cinchona (a source of quinine), rubber and sisal—to new continents. Weaving together botanical, historical, economic, political, and ethnographic findings, the author illuminates the remarkable social role of botany and the entwined relation between science and politics in an imperial era.

Yale University Press

Nature in Roman Catholic Tradition

It is often suggested in contemporary anthropology that Western views of nature are fundamentally different from those in “societies of nature,” supposed to conceptualise the environment in non-dualistic terms. The author questions this view by discussing in some detail three different views on nature in Roman Catholic tradition. Firmly rooted in a dualistic worldview, although not as rigid as sometimes assumed, this tradition conceptually separates nature, humankind, and the divine. However, many features assumed to characterise non-Western views of nature, such as animistic beliefs and images of communion with nature, form an integral part of scholarly Roman Catholic thought as well as of popular religious practices. Roman Catholic tradition emerges as a dynamic tradition of ideas which allows the relationships between nature and other domains to be construed in diverse ways.

Anthropological Quarterly 74(1)

The Vulnerable Planet: A short economic history of the environment

In this clearly written and accessible book, John Bellamy Foster grounds his discussion of the global environmental crisis in the inherently destructive nature of our world economic system. Rejecting both individualistic solutions and policies that tinker at the margins, Foster calls for a fundamental reorganization of production on a social basis so as to make possible a sustainable and ecological economy.

Mahogany: The costs of luxury in early America

In the mid-eighteenth century, colonial Americans became enamored with the rich colors and silky surface of mahogany. This exotic wood, imported from the West Indies and Central America, quickly displaced local furniture woods as the height of fashion. Over the next century, consumer demand for mahogany set in motion elaborate schemes to secure the trees and transform their rough-hewn logs into exquisite objects. But beneath the polished gleam of this furniture lies a darker, hidden story of human and environmental exploitation. Mahogany traces the path of this wood through many hands, from source to sale: from the enslaved African woodcutters, including skilled “huntsmen” who located the elusive trees amidst dense rainforest, to the ship captains, merchants, and timber dealers who scrambled after the best logs, to the skilled cabinetmakers who crafted the wood, and with it the tastes and aspirations of their diverse clientele. As the trees became scarce, however, the search for new sources led to expanded slave labor, vicious competition, and intense international conflicts over this diminishing natural resource. When nineteenth-century American furniture makers turned to other materials, surviving mahogany objects were revalued as antiques evocative of the nation’s past.

Harvard University Press

The Landscape in the Cavalcata dei Magi

[IT] Il paesaggio rurale è uno degli elementi meno conosciuti del patrimonio culturale italiano, di cui viene spesso ignorata la dimensione storica a favore dei suoi caratteri ambientali o architettonici, e raramente il tema viene affrontato nell’analisi delle rappresentazioni pittoriche. Sebbene con la Cavalcata dei Magi, il Gozzoli non sembri riprodurre un luogo definito del territorio toscano, ma piuttosto un luogo di fantasia, il dipinto costituisce uno straordinario regesto che illustra nei dettagli la ricchezza di elementi reali del paesaggio toscano, nelle sue componenti agricole, pastorali e forestali. La scomposizione del paesaggio reale e la sua ricomposizione in una realtà pittorica ispirata dalla fantasia dell’autore, nulla toglie alla ricchezza di un patrimonio da cui l’artista evidentemente attinge.

Pacini Editore

Storia del bosco: Il paesaggio forestale italiano

[IT] Faggi, castagni, querce, larici, abeti… Oltre il 35% della penisola è coperto da boschi, un paesaggio che spesso percepiamo come primigenio e ‘naturale’. In realtà, come il resto del nostro paesaggio, i boschi sono un prodotto della storia, sempre legata all’opera dell’uomo che ne ha modificato tutte le caratteristiche. Nell’antichità il bosco è già largamente utilizzato, tanto che le foreste naturali nel primo secolo d.C. sono meno di una decina. Il bosco di alto fusto e il bosco ceduo, la forma più diffusa, hanno contribuito al bisogno di legna da fuoco, carbone e legname da costruzione, consentendo allo stesso tempo il pascolo del bestiame. Dal medioevo all’Ottocento sono le costruzioni navali che modellano gran parte dei boschi, legando strettamente il mondo dei commerci mediterranei a quello della montagna. Da nord a sud, poi, esiste una ‘civiltà del castagno’, vero e proprio ‘albero del pane’ a cui intere popolazioni devono la propria sopravvivenza. Oggi l’esodo dalle campagne e dalle montagne ha portato alla ricomparsa di macchie e foreste in territori antropizzati da secoli. E il desiderio di ricercare nel bosco valori naturalistici si è sovrapposto alla realtà storica di un paesaggio forestale come prodotto culturale. Un viaggio alla riscoperta dello straordinario rapporto che ci lega alle ‘selve oscure’.

Editori Laterza

Waorani Resistance Campaign

After years of community-led territorial mapping and frontlines organizing, the Waorani people of Pastaza province have united to defend one of the last oil-free roadless areas of their ancestral territory. Now, they are ramping up their struggle. On February 27th 2019, the Waorani launched a historic lawsuit in Ecuador’s city of Puyo. The Waorani’s lawsuit, co-filed with Ecuador’s Ombudsman, aims to keep their ancestral lands free from natural resource extraction and to set a precedent for other indigenous nations to do the same.

Timber Trade Portal

This web portal is an answer of the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF) to the numerous questions timber traders have when it comes to legal timber trade, due diligence, country requirements and export. It serves as a central information point, where you can find country profiles on both timber industry and legislation of producer countries, mainly located in tropical Africa, Asia and Latin America. has been developed by Chatham House to enable users to explore the fast-evolving dynamics of international trade in natural resources, the sustainability implications of such trade, and the related interdependencies that emerge between importing and exporting countries and regions.

Trase Yearbook 2018

The Trase Yearbook presents the latest insights on the sustainability of global agricultural commodity supply chains associated with tropical deforestation. Based on Trase’s unique transparency data, and with a spotlight on soy in 2018, it provides a first systematic assessment of the sourcing patterns of major buying companies and countries, the deforestation risk associated with the major companies and import markets that dominate Brazil’s soy exports, and the links between deforestation commitments and changes on the ground.

Trase yearbook

Trase – Transparent supply chains for sustainable economies

Trase seeks to transform our understanding of agricultural commodity supply chains by increasing transparency, revealing the links to environmental and social risks in tropical forest regions, and creating opportunities to improve the sustainability of how these commodities are produced, traded and consumed.

EIA – Environmental Investigation Agency

EIA is a different kind of environmental organization with a unique combination of methods: undercover investigations of criminal activity, a wide variety of scientific, economic and social primary evidence, and campaigning expertise are combined to achieve systemic environmental breakthroughs. A thirty-year track record reveals EIA as arguably the most consistently independent, fearless, dynamic and effective NGO working on global environmental issues today.

Overharvesting and Money Laundering in Gabon

“One Cannot Survive Going By the Rules”: How Colossal Overharvesting and Money Laundering Became the Standard in the Forests of Gabon.

The Thünen Centre of Competence on the Origin of Timber

Global changes and developments in the international trade with wood and wood products, amongst others require reliable control mechanisms for a doubtless identification of timber species and of their geographic origin. The identification of timber species is also important for the assessment of product properties (consumer protection) as „lower-grade“ substitute timbers are imported at a distinctly increasing rate.

Thunen Institute

Antwerp, hub for illegal timber trade

According to EIA Director Lisa Handy, Wan Chuan Timber exported timber to Europe every two months for four years. “Antwerp is not the only destination, but the most frequent. Every WCTS shipment is illegal and involves elements of corruption, tax evasion, bribes and the over-exploitation of tropical forest,” said Handy.

Brussels Times

Congo Basin: Unraveling the past to predict the future

First wood biology laboratory in sub-Saharan Africa has opened in DRC to explore the world’s least-known rainforest.

Forest News

Martín von Hildebrand, The Power of Maps

Martín von Hildebrand explains the importance of social cartography as a component in indigenous territorial management.With the support of Esri, Gordon & Betty Moore, Parks and Gaia Amazonas, the indigenous organizations of the Amazon prepare their life plans to participate together with the state in the composition of the future of the Amazon.

The Power of Maps

Illegal Logging Portal

The Illegal Logging Portal, hosted and maintained by Chatham House, provides information on illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber. It provides an overview of some of the key issues and developments, and includes a searchable database of documents and news items from around the world.

RAISG – Amazon Geo-Referenced Socio-Environmental Information Network

The Amazon Geo-Referenced Socio-Environmental Information Network is a consortium of civil society organizations from the Amazon countries, supported by international partners, concerned with the socio-environmental sustainability of Amazonia.

Mapping for Rights: Indigenous Peoples, Litigation and Legal Empowerment

In the process of adjudication and litigation, indigenous peoples are usually facing a very complex and demanding process to prove their rights to their lands and ancestral territories. Courts and tribunals usually impose a very complex and onerous burden of proof on the indigenous plaintiffs to prove their rights over their ancestral territories. To prove their rights indigenous peoples often have to develop map of their territories to prove their economic, cultural, and spiritual connections to their territories.

Erasmus Law Review

Cartografía Histórica de Áreas Naturales Protegidas y Territorios Indígenas en la Amazonía

Since 2013, the RAISG set out to answer some central questions about the way in which the current coverage of the Protected Natural Areas (PNAs) and the Indigenous Territories (IT) in the Amazon became what they are today and the challenges they face in future scenarios for its management. In this way, we wanted to complement other analyzes on the current situation and prospects of forest loss or historical deforestation carried out by the RAISG. These processes, although interconnected in certain aspects, have their own particularities and implications.

Gaia Amazonas

Forest Law – Selva Juridica

This book navigates across a frontier landscape—the living forests of western Amazonia. Situated at the transition between the Amazon floodplains and the Andean mountains, this border zone is one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth and fulfills vital functions in global climate regulation. It is also the home of indigenous nations and a land of great ethno-cultural diversity. Underlying this vast territory are immense deposits of oil, gas, and minerals, most of which remain untapped to this day. Recent years have seen the expansion of large-scale extraction activities in western Amazonia, driven by escalating competition between states and multinational corporations over the control of these strategic natural resources. Forest Law enters in conversation with parts of the tropical forest that are zoned for this sort of impact following a series of landmark legal battles that are unfolding in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where nature has been declared a subject of rights. The book takes a slow road in mapping the historical, political, and ecological dimensions of these trials on behalf of the forest and the people who cultivate the forest, tracing the entanglements and frictions between the ethical and epistemic stakes these conflicts raise. Among the many interlocutors of Forest Law, a constant partner was Michel Serres’s book The Natural Contract. Serres, in his own essayistic way, provides us with a frame, both philosophical and methodological, for our engagement with a territory that refuses to be represented by a single, hegemonic perspective. The first lines of this plurinational and multispecies contract are being currently drawn in Ecuador. The book reflects upon this new constitutional space wherein both humans and nonhumans gather in a political assembly, the living forests of Amazonia.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University

Palma Africana

“It is the contemporary elixir from which all manner of being emerges, the metamorphic sublime, an alchemist’s dream.” So begins Palma Africana, the latest attempt by anthropologist Michael Taussig to make sense of the contemporary moment. But to what elixir does he refer? Palm oil. Saturating everything from potato chips to nail polish, palm oil has made its way into half of the packaged goods in our supermarkets. By 2020, world production will be double what it was in 2000. In Colombia, palm oil plantations are covering over one-time cornucopias of animal, bird, and plant life. Over time, they threaten indigenous livelihoods and give rise to abusive labor conditions and major human rights violations. The list of entwined horrors—climatic, biological, social—is long. But Taussig takes no comfort in our usual labels: “habitat loss,” “human rights abuses,” “climate change.” The shock of these words has passed; nowadays it is all a blur. Hence, Taussig’s keen attention to words and writing throughout this work. He takes cues from precursors’ ruminations: Roland Barthes’s suggestion that trees form an alphabet in which the palm tree is the loveliest; William Burroughs’s retort to critics that for him words are alive like animals and don’t like to be kept in pages—cut them and the words are let free. Steeped in a lifetime of philosophical and ethnographic exploration, Palma Africana undercuts the banality of the destruction taking place all around us and offers a penetrating vision of the global condition. Richly illustrated and written with experimental verve, this book is Taussig’s Tristes Tropiques for the twenty-first century.

University of Chicago Press

Animism (Volume I)

What is the role of aesthetic processes in the drawing of the boundaries between nature and culture, humans and things, the animate and inanimate? Structured around the aesthetic processes and effects of animation and mummification, Animism—a companion publication to the long-term exhibition of the same title, which premiered at Extra City Kunsthal Antwerpen in January 2010—brings together artistic and theoretical perspectives that reflect on the boundary between subjects and objects, and the modern anxiety that accompanies the relation between “persons” and “things”.

Sternberg Press

How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond The Human

Can forests think? Do dogs dream? In this astonishing book, Eduardo Kohn challenges the very foundations of anthropology, calling into question our central assumptions about what it means to be human—and thus distinct from all other life forms. Based on four years of fieldwork among the Runa of Ecuador’s Upper Amazon, Eduardo Kohn draws on his rich ethnography to explore how Amazonians interact with the many creatures that inhabit one of the world’s most complex ecosystems. Whether or not we recognize it, our anthropological tools hinge on those capacities that make us distinctly human. However, when we turn our ethnographic attention to how we relate to other kinds of beings, these tools (which have the effect of divorcing us from the rest of the world) break down. How Forests Think seizes on this breakdown as an opportunity. Avoiding reductionistic solutions, and without losing sight of how our lives and those of others are caught up in the moral webs we humans spin, this book skillfully fashions new kinds of conceptual tools from the strange and unexpected properties of the living world itself. In this groundbreaking work, Kohn takes anthropology in a new and exciting direction–one that offers a more capacious way to think about the world we share with other kinds of beings.

The Forest and The School: Where To Sit at the Dinner Table?

To eat a frog, the missionary Jesuit priest, the enemy tribe, the whole history of colonial domination in South America, is to serve your ancestor at the dinner table, without nostalgia, for what you are digesting is your future as a human – and that includes a frog-future as well. In the sixteenth century, the image of Amerindian anthropophagy was at the center of the dispute on the meaning of humanity. In the early twentieth century, it was again rediscovered by the Brazilian avant-garde associated with the imprint ‘Revista de Anropofagia’. Anthropofagia is a cosmopolital philosophy, a cannibal metaphysics extending well beyond a pacifying, multicultural view of appropriation. Eating another human is to cross the ontological boundaries imposed by Western modernity, capitalist labor, the Cartesian-Freudian self. Nature and culture are in the perspective of the hunter and the hunted. To become prey is the movement of humanity.

Archive Books

Exchanging Perspectives: The Transformation of Objects into Subjects in Amerindian Ontologies

My subject is the cosmological setting of an indigenous Amazonian model of the self.1 I will examine two major contexts, shamanism and warfare, in which “self” and “other” develop especially complex relations. Shamanism deals with the relation between humans and nonhumans; and in warfare, a human other, an “enemy,” is used to bring a “self” into existence. I will deliberately use a set of traditional dichotomies (I mean, in the tradition of modernity) as both heuristic instruments and foils: nature/culture, subject/object, production/exchange, and so forth. This very crude technique for setting off the distinctive features of Amazonian cosmologies carries the obvious risk of distortion, since it is unlikely that any nonmodern cosmology can be adequately described either by means of such conceptual polarities or as a simple negation of them (as if the only point of a nonmodern cosmology were to stand in opposition to our oppositions). But the technique does have the advantage of showing how unstable and problematic those polarities can be made to appear, once they have been forced to bear “unnatural” interpretations and unexpected rearrangements.

Common Knowledge

Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism

This article deals with that aspect of Amerindian thought which has been called its ‘perspectival quality’ (khem 1993): the conception, common to many peoples of the continent, according to which the world is inhabited by different sorts of subjects or persons, human and non-human, which apprehend reality from distinct points of view.

The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute Vol. 4, No. 3

Who is Afraid of the Ontological Wolf? – some comments on an ongoing anthropological debate

This article, which was delivered as the 2014 Annual Marilyn Strathern Lecture, outlines both some of the stimuli that led to the ‘ontological turn’ in anthropology and some of its implications. Ontology is outlined here by the author as an anti-epistemological and counter-cultural, philosophical war machine.

The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology

The Crystal Forest: Notes on The Ontology of Amazonian Spirits

The ideas sketched out in this paper date back to my work with the Yawalapiti and Arawete in the 1970s and 1980s, where, like any ethnographer, I had to confront different indigenous notions about nonhuman agency and personhood. However, the event catalysing them in the here and now was my much more recent reading of a remarkable narrative issuing from another Amazonian culture. This was the exposition given by Davi Kopenawa, Yanomami thinker and political leader, to the anthropologist Bruce Albert apropos the xapiripe, the ‘animal ancestors’ or ‘shamanic spirits’ who interact with the shamans of his people (Kopenawa 2000; Kopenawa & Albert 2003). These texts are part of an ongoing dialogue between Kopenawa and Albert, in which the former presents Whites, in the person of his interlocutor-translator, with a detailed account of the world’s structure and history; a narrative which also doubles as an indignant and proud claim for the Yanomami people’s right to exist.1 Here I shall transcribe the shorter version of the narrative, published in Portuguese in 2004.

Inner Asia 9

An Uncommon Victory For An Indigenous Tribe In The Amazon

On April 26th, a parade of hundreds of Waorani men and women, members of an indigenous nation in a remote part of the Ecuadorian Amazon, marched triumphantly through the streets of Puyo, the regional capital of the eastern province of Pastaza. Many had come from villages in parts of the rain forest that have no roads—journeying by canoe and small plane. They were celebrating a new court ruling, which held that the Ecuadorian government could not, as it had planned, auction off their land for oil exploration without their consent. Nemonte Nenquimo, a Waorani leader, told me that they had come to Puyo to reclaim their right to self-governance and that the verdict had made them feel safer. “The court recognized that the government violated our right to live free, and make our own decisions about our territory and self determination,” she said, over WhatsApp. “Our territory is our decision, and now, since we are owners, we are not going to let oil enter and destroy our natural surroundings and kill our culture.”

The New Yorker

Why Wood Is Back At The Top Of The Tree For Architects

Strong, clean and versatile, engineered timber is the ‘new concrete’. With wooden skyscrapers in the offing, could it be the answer to the global housing crisis?

The Observer - Architecture

Toward a Harmonized Definition of Non-Wood Forest Products

Over the past two decades an increasing number of governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and institutions, as well as the private sector, have become involved with the promotion and utilization of non-wood forest products (NWFPs). A lot of new information has been collected on the socio-economic importance and potential of NWFP utilization and its effects on the environment. However, little progress has been made to clarify the terminology for NWFPs. On the contrary, new and practically interchangeable terms have been created (“byproducts of forests”, “minor forest products”, “non-timber forest products”, “non-wood goods and benefits”, “non-wood goods and services”, “other forest products”, “secondary forest products”, “special forest products”) and a multitude of definitions proposed, all covering different aspects, species and products according to the focus of work of the respective author or organization.

FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Are We Approaching ‘Peak Timber’ In The Tropics

Over the past few decades, tropical timber production in many Asia–Pacific countries has been akin to the symmetric logistic distribution curve, or ‘Hubbert Curve’, observed in the exploitation of many non-renew- able resources—a rapid increase in production followed by a peak and then decline. There are three principal reasons why logging of native tropical forests resembles the mining of a non-renewable resource: the standard cutting cycle of 30–40 years is too brief to allow the wood volume to regenerate; tropical log- ging catalyses considerable deforestation; and the bulk of logging is undertaken by multinational corpora- tions with little interest in long-term local sustainability. Unless something fundamental changes, we believe tropical forests will continue to be overharvested and cleared apace, leading to an inevitable global decline in tropical timbers of non-plantation origin. It has become common these days to speak of ‘peak oil’. In the tropics, we suggest that we should also begin to discuss the implications of ‘peak timber’.

Biological Conservation

FAO Model Code of Forest Harvesting Practice

Considerable progress has been made in recent years in the introduction of environmentally sound forest harvesting practices in many parts of the world. Nonetheless, much remains to be done. There is a continuing need to refine harvesting system and techniques so that they become fully compatible with the objectives of sustainable forest management, allowing them to contribute in an important way to the economic and social aims of sustainable development. This document is one response to this need. Its primary objective is to promote forest harvesting practices that improve standards of utilization and reduce environmental impacts, thereby contributing to the conservation of forests through their wise use. The information provided in this model code of forest harvesting practice has been compiled with the intend of highlighting the wide range of environmentally sound harvesting practices that are available to forest managers, especially those requiring only a modest level of investment in training and technology. This will permit policy-makers to develop national, regional or local codes of practice which will best serve the particular needs of government agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and other constituents.

Temporal Decay in Timber Species Composition and Value in the Amazonian Logging Concessions

Throughout human history, slow-renewal biological resource populations have been predictably overexploited, often to the point of economic extinction. We assess whether and how this has occurred with timber resources in the Brazilian Amazon. The asynchronous advance of industrial-scale logging frontiers has left regional-scale forest landscapes with varying histories of logging. Initial harvests in unlogged forests can be highly selective, targeting slow-growing, high-grade, shade-tolerant hardwood species, while later harvests tend to focus on fast-growing, light-wooded, long-lived pioneer trees. Brazil accounts for 85% of all native neotropical forest roundlog production, and the State of Pará for almost half of all timber production in Brazilian Amazonia, the largest old-growth tropical timber reserve controlled by any country. Yet the degree to which timber harvests beyond the first-cut can be financially profitable or demographically sustainable remains poorly understood. Here, we use data on legally planned logging of ~17.3 million cubic meters of timber across 314 species extracted from 824 authorized harvest areas in private and community-owned forests, 446 of which reported volumetric composition data by timber species. We document patterns of timber extraction by volume, species composition, and monetary value along aging eastern Amazonian logging frontiers, which are then explained on the basis of historical and environmental variables. Generalized linear models indicate that relatively recent logging operations farthest from heavy-traffic roads are the most selective, concentrating gross revenues on few high-value species. We find no evidence that the post-logging timber species composition and total value of forest stands recovers beyond the first-cut, suggesting that the commercially most valuable timber species become predictably rare or economically extinct in old logging frontiers. In avoiding even more destructive land-use patterns, managing yields of selectively-logged forests is crucial for the long-term integrity of forest biodiversity and financial viability of local industries. The logging history of eastern Amazonian old-growth forests likely mirrors unsustainable patterns of timber depletion over time in Brazil and other tropical countries.

How Much Can Forests Fight Climate Change?

When it comes to fighting global warming, trees have emerged as one of the most popular weapons. With nations making little progress controlling their carbon emissions, many governments and advocates have advanced plans to plant vast numbers of trees to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in an attempt to slow cli- mate change. But emerging research suggests that trees might not always help as much as some hope.

Voluntary Guidelines For The Sustainable Management Of Natural Tropical Forests

This publication is an update of ITTO’s first policy guidance document on the management of natural tropical forests published in 1990. The new voluntary guidelines are supported with increased knowledge and the emergence of a wide range of new challenges and opportunities for tropical forest management. It is designed to serve as guidance for addressing the policy, legal, governance, institutional, ecological, social and economic issues that need to be taken into account in the planning, implementation and evaluation of SFM in natural tropical forests to ensure the sustainable provision of forest goods and environmental services.

ITTO - International Timber Trade Organization

Reduced Impact Logging: Concepts and Issues

In this paper, two apparently contradictory conclusions are drawn: First, that reduced impact logging (RIL) involves the application of technologies that have been known for many years and are utilized as a matter of common practice in many industrialized countries; and second, that RIL is something new, requiring both a new mindset and also a new approach to tropical forest management. It is hoped that the reader will be convinced that these assertions are true in spite of the apparent contradiction between them.’

Reduced-Impact Logging as a Carbon-Offset Method

Concern about rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases has prompted the search for methods for sequestering carbon in plant biomass. Due to cost effectiveness, high potential rates of carbon uptake, and associated environmental and social benefits, much attention has focussed in promoting tropical forestry for offsetting carbon emissions.

Conservation Biology

Atmospheric Homeostasis By And For The Biosphere: The Gaia Hypothesis

During the time, 3.2 × 109 years, that life has been present on Earth, the physical and chemical conditions of most of the planetary surface have never varied from those most favourable for life. The geological record reads that liquid water was always present and that the pH was never far from neutral. During this same period, however, the Earth’s radiation environment underwent large changes. As the sun moved along the course set by the main sequence of stars its output will have increased at least 30% and possibly 100%. It may also have fluctuated in brightness over periods of a few million years. At the same time hydrogen was escaping to space from the Earth and so causing progressive changes in the chemical environment. This in turn through atmospheric compositional changes could have affected the Earth’s radiation balance. It may have been that these physical and chemical changes always by blind chance followed the path whose bounds are the conditions favouring the continued existence of life. This paper offers an alternative explanation that, early after life began it acquired control of the planetary environment and that this homeostasis by and for the biosphere has persisted ever since. Historic and contemporary evidence and arguments for this hypothesis will be presented.

Blackwell Munksgaard

Plant Blindness

Plant blindness is defined as the inability to see or notice the plants in one’s own environment, leading to the inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere and in human affairs. Here, Allen discusses on the campaign to overcome plant blindness whose aim is to liberate students from the many traps that lead to a lack of appreciation for and understanding of plants.

Interscalar Vehicles for the African Anthropecene: On Waste, Temporality and Violence

How can we incorporate humanist critiques of the Anthropocene while harnessing the notion’s potential for challenging political imagination? Placing the Anthropocene offers one way forward; the notion of an African Anthropocene offers a productive paradox that holds planetary temporality and specific human lives in a single frame. Navigating the Anthropocene from Africa requires attending to scale both as an analytic and an actor category. In order to do so, this essay proposes the notion of interscalar vehicles: objects and modes of analysis that permit scholars and their subjects to move simultaneously through deep time and human time, through geological space and political space. This essay discusses the creation and destruction of value/waste and pasts/futures around a uranium mine in Mounana, Gabon, to unpack the political, ethical, epistemological, and affective dimensions of interscalar vehicles and their violent Anthropocenic implications.

Cultural Anthropology

Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital

Finance. Climate. Food. Work. How are the crises of the twenty-first century connected? In Capitalism in the Web of Life, Jason W. Moore argues that the sources of today’s global turbulence have a common cause: capitalism as a way of organizing nature, including human nature. Drawing on environmentalist, feminist, and Marxist thought, Moore offers a groundbreaking new synthesis: capitalism as a “world-ecology” of wealth, power, and nature. Capitalism’s greatest strength—and the source of its problems—is its capacity to create Cheap Natures: labor, food, energy, and raw materials. That capacity is now in question. Rethinking capitalism through the pulsing and renewing dialectic of humanity-in-nature, Moore takes readers on a journey from the rise of capitalism to the modern mosaic of crisis. Capitalism in the Web of Life shows how the critique of capitalism-in-nature—rather than capitalism and nature—is key to understanding our predicament, and to pursuing the politics of liberation in the century ahead.

Verso Books

The Mushroom at The End of The World: On The Possibility of Life In Capitalist Ruins

Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world—and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests across the northern hemisphere. Through its ability to nurture trees, matsutake helps forests to grow in daunting places. It is also an edible delicacy in Japan, where it sometimes commands astronomical prices. In all its contradictions, matsutake offers insights into areas far beyond just mushrooms and addresses a crucial question: what manages to live in the ruins we have made? A tale of diversity within our damaged landscapes, The Mushroom at the End of the World follows one of the strangest commodity chains of our times to explore the unexpected corners of capitalism. Here, we witness the varied and peculiar worlds of matsutake commerce: the worlds of Japanese gourmets, capitalist traders, Hmong jungle fighters, industrial forests, Yi Chinese goat herders, Finnish nature guides, and more. These companions also lead us into fungal ecologies and forest histories to better understand the promise of cohabitation in a time of massive human destruction. By investigating one of the world’s most sought-after fungi, The Mushroom at the End of the World presents an original examination into the relation between capitalist destruction and collaborative survival within multispecies landscapes, the prerequisite for continuing life on earth.

Princeton University Press

The Offsetted

It is difficult to argue against afforestation, but why is the accurate value of every single tree so relevant to the city? Who is benefitting from it? Is this a second wave of what David Gissen refers to as “environmental gentrification” initiated in NYC during the 1970s?3 Before current quantifications that assign figures and formulae to plants, their value was extracted in a more direct way. When British Empire forestry was first established as a disciplinary practice in India, formalizing the right of the state over “nature,” it proscribed private interests and initiated a new system of forest management based on a logic of utilitarian preservation.4 Rather than the actual survival of plants or animals, the goal of this forestry was focused on preventing the exhaustion of resource extraction. Using the universal goodness of plants to prevent indigenous peoples from living off the forest for the sake of the “environment,” Empire forestry eventually masqueraded a form of biopolitical control, limiting access to the forest for its original dwellers. Furthermore, the extraction of commodities from every single tree (timber, rubber, or pharmaceutical substances) has been used as a form of ecocracy throughout history: controlling space and people through the conservation of ecology. This conservation paradigm implied that the ruling class could keep extracting material resources from trees without exhausting the forest. As Arun Agrawal articulates with his notion of environmentality, much before the pacifist Chipko movement of the 1970s, the reclassification of forests into designated reserves led villagers in Northern India to resist becoming environmental subjects through violent actions. They started hundreds of forest fires in the early 1920s to protest colonial British regulations that were passed to “protect the environment” from the harms the Empire itself inflicted.

The New Wild

‘Poetry can repair no loss,’ John Berger writes, ‘but it defies the space which separates.’ This year, The Clearing has commissioned seven writers to mark the Remembrance Day of Lost Species. These pieces are not eulogies. Although they respond to the grief and disorientation of our times, they are also songs of hope and memory, commitment and renewal. They mark the immensity of current and past losses, but defiantly —by bridging the ‘space which separates.’ Our seventh and final piece is by Anna Tsing, who examines the impact of ‘invasive’ species, their human causes and our response to them.

Little Toller Books

More-than-Human Sociality: A Call for Critical Description

How could it have ever occurred to anyone that living things other than humans are not social? The more one thinks about it, the more ridicu- lous an opposition between human sociality and non-human—what? ‘non-sociality’?—becomes. If social means ‘made in entangling relations with significant others,’ clearly living beings other than humans are fully social—with or without humans. Yet, as this volume discusses, an opposi- tion between nature and society has been quite conventional in the modern humanities and sciences. The opposition defines what we call the social sciences, which almost never deal with the intrinsic sociality of non- humans, that is, those social relations that do not come into being because of humans. I was trained in this tradition too. I am embarrassed to see that, in my earlier work, I sometimes defined social as ‘having to do with human histories.’ Now this seems quite strange. The concept of sociality does not distinguish between human and not human. ‘More-than-human sociality’ includes both.

A Threat to Holocene Resurgence Is a Threat to Livability

Livability is never an exclusively human issue; like all other life forms, we can only live successfully by living together with others. The set of environmental problems evoked by the term Anthropocene has created threats to more-than-human livability. This chapter explores the consequences of modern ecological simplifications, as these threaten the processes of resurgence necessary to maintain the multispecies landscapes that have nurtured humans, among others.

Palgrave Studies in Anthropology of Sustainability

On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales

This essay concerns one historically significant link between conceptualizing and making the world: the naturalization of expansion as the way for humans to inhabit the earth. Why have people called expansion “growth” as if it were a biological process? I came to this question not only for historical reasons but also to consider contemporary challenges of how to live well with others—both other species and other cultures. European and North Ameri- can elites have had trouble living with others, and not just because of prejudice. In the twentieth century, we became used to political ecologies of production— the production of stuff, the production of citizenship, and the production of knowledge—in which unauthorized others had no useful place. Others had no useful place because they got in the way of that expansion imagined as necessary for well-being; expansion was progress. Biological and cultural diversity were the enemies of progress. So it seems important to ask: What was that growth? What legacy has it left us with today?

Duke University Press

The Wretched Earth

We begin with the recognition that the Earth is wretched. This is not a metaphor. It is literally our ground. The Earth is wretched because its soil – that thin layer of earth at the surface of the planet upon which we depend for life – is contaminated, eroded, drained, burnt, exploded, flooded and impoverished on a worldwide scale. Our title evokes Frantz Fanon’s seminal book The Wretched of the Earth (1961), which called upon the wretched of the earth (les damnés de la terre) to rise up against imperialism in all its forms and create a new world that would depart from the hypocrisies and violence of European humanism. As Jennifer Wenzel and other scholars of postcolonial environmental humanities have pointed out, despite his profound anthropocentricism and utilitarian- ism with regard to the natural world, Fanon’s work is crucial for recognising that, as he states, the land is ‘the most essential value. (…)This special issue presents new research on, and in some cases gener- ated through, contemporary art practices that both explore and intervene in the cultures, politics and systems of representation, as well as their attendant desires and violences, generated through human interaction with the soil.

Science, Environment and Empire History: Comparative Perspectives from Forest in Colonial India

This essay is a critical review of the following recent books: Arun Agrawal, Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005); Peder Anker, Imperial Ecology: Environmental Order in the British Empire, 1895-1945 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001); David Arnold, The Tropics and the Traveling Gaze: India, Landscape and Science, 1800-1856 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006); Gregory A. Barton, Empire Forestry and the Origins of Environmentalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Richard Drayton, Nature’s Government: Science, Imperial Britain, and the ‘Improvement’ of the World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000); and S. Ravi Rajan, Modernizing Nature: Forestry and Imperial Eco-Development, 1800-1950 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).

White Horse Press

Colonial Archives and the Arts of Governance

Anthropologists engaged in post-colonial studies are increasingly adopting an historical perspective and using archives. Yet their archival activity tends to remain more an extractive than an ethnographic one. Documents are thus still invoked piecemeal to confirm the colonial invention of certain practices or to underscore cultural claims, silent. Yet such mining of the content of government commissions, reports, and other archival sources rarely pays attention to their peculiar placement and form. Scholars need to move from archive-as- source to archive-as-subject. This article, using document production in the Dutch East Indies as an illustration, argues that scholars should view archives not as sites of knowledge retrieval, but of knowledge production, as monuments of states as well as sites of state ethnography. This requires a sustained engagement with archives as cultural agents of “fact” production, of taxonomies in the making, and of state authority. What constitutes the archive, what form it takes, and what systems of classification and epistemology signal at specific times are (and reflect) critical features of colonial politics and state power. The archive was the supreme technology of the late nineteenth-century imperial state, a repository of codified beliefs that clustered (and bore witness to) connections between secrecy, the law, and power.

Kluwer Academic Publishers

Mother Earth: Public Sphere, Biosphere, Colonial Sphere

In The Human Condition in 1958, Hannah Arendt wrote a cautionary tale of two forms of alienation—from the earth (Gaia) and from the world (Cosmos)—that threatened to annihilate not merely some humans, not merely all humans, but to unleash an atomic holocaust on all life.

Earth Stalked by Man

To take the concept of the Anthropocene seriously requires engagement with global history. But what ‘global’ shall this be? In honour of the work of Marilyn Strathern, this essay explores that planetary Anthropocene composed of fragments that do not fit together at all, and yet necessarily do. At the centre of my concerns are the awkward relations between what one might call ‘machines of replication’ – those simplified ecologies, such as plantations, in which life worlds are remade as future assets – and the vernacular histories in which such machines erupt in all their particularity and go feral in counter-intentional forms. Such eruptions are manifestations of post-Enlightenment modern Man, the one who got us into the mess we call the Anthropocene. Yet, in contrast to approaches that begin with the unified continuity of Man (versus indigenous ontologies; as scientific protocol and so on), this article explores contingent eruptions and the patchy, fractured Anthropocene they foster.

This paper provides a short overview of recent work in feminist economics, ecofeminism, and feminist ecological economics, that relates to the debate sur- rounding the transition to more sustainable, less resource-dependent economies and societies. It is important for ecological economists to be aware of – and to draw from – these feminist sources, since a gendered analysis identifies structural reasons for the systematic ‘externalization’ of both the natural environment and gendered, unpaid work in existing economic systems.

Forest diamonds

How family rivalry and the Catholic church helped miners devastate an indigenous Amazon territor.

Climate Home News

Climate fraud and carbon colonialism: the new trade in greenhouse gases

To understand the impact of “pollution permits” and “emissions trading” on the ecological crisis, the findings of the international scientific community must be noted. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN advisory body num- bering 3,000 scientists, concluded in 2001 that “the present CO2 concentration has not been exceeded during the past 420,000 years and likely not during the past 20 million years.” The clear and alarming consensus in the scientific community is that human- kind is wreaking havoc on the atmosphere.

Taylor&Francis online

An even more inconvenient truth: why carbon credits for forest preservation may be worse than nothing

If the world were graded on the historic reliability of carbon offsets, the result would be a solid F. The largest program, the Clean Development Mechanism, came out of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, when dozens of nations made a pact to cut greenhouse gases. European leaders wanted to force industry to emit less. Americans wanted flexibility. Developing nations like Brazil wanted money to deal with climate change. One approach they could agree to was carbon offsets.

Natural capital accounting TEDxWageningenUniversity

Combining the environment with economics is what Lars Hein deals with in his talk about Natural Capital Accounting. His ecosystem accountant approach makes extensive use of spatial information like satellite images and integrates this with statistical data to get valuable data about monitoring of land use.

Incomes from the forest: methods for the development and conservation of forest products for local communities

Hundreds of millions of people in the tropics derive a significant part of their livelihood from forest products. Many of these people live on lands designated for forest conservation. To resolve the growing tension between local people????s livelihood needs and these conservation aims, there has been significant interest worldwide in uses of forests that are compatible with conservation.

SEEA Experimental-Economic Accounting 2012

The SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounting complements the SEEA Central Framework by taking a different perspective. The Central Framework looks at “individual environmental assets”, such as water resources, energy resources, etc. and how those assets move between the environment and the economy. In contrast, the SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounting takes the perspective of ecosystems and considers how individual environmental assets interact as part of natural processes within a given spatial area.

Uncertainty in establishing forest reference levels and predicting future forest-based carbon stocks for REDD+

Forest reference levels (FRLs) provide a benchmark for assessing reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and they are central to demonstrate additionality of REDD+. Attaining realistic FRLs, however, is challenging, especially in complex mosaic landscapes. We established FRLs in northern Laos for different reference periods and tested them against actual carbon stock changes.

Sustainability accounting – a brief history and conceptual framework

Research linking accounting to the emerging concept of sustainability surfaced in the early 1990s and has received continuing attention in academic and professional accounting literature. This paper tracks this brief history through to the release of the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in August 2002, consolidating the various approaches into a sustainability accounting framework.

State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2017

Following record-setting temperatures last year, the need for action against climate change is higher than ever. But even the most concerned individuals, corporations, and states will still emit greenhouse gases (GHGs)1 in an industrial society—despite their best efforts to install more efficient light bulbs, use low-carbon transportation, or otherwise try to lower their footprint. After reducing GHG emissions as much as possible internally, organizations need to support low carbon activity externally—typically by purchasing carbon offsets.

Forest Trends

The darker side of green: plantation forestry and carbon violence in Uganda

In recent years, there has been a significant trend toward land acquisition in developing countries, establishing forestry plantations for offsetting carbon pollution generated in the Global North. Badged as “green economic development,” global carbon markets are often championed not only as solutions to climate change, but as drivers of positive development outcomes for local communities. But there is mounting evidence that these corporate land acquisitions for climate change mitigation—including forestry plantations—severely compromise not only local ecologies but also the livelihoods of the some of the world’s most vulnerable people living at subsistence level in rural areas in developing countries.

The Oakland Institute

Green economy and carbon markets for conservation and development: a critical view

Green economy aims to use economic rationality and market mechanisms to mute the most ecologically damaging effects of globalized capitalism while reviving economic growth in the global North, fostering development in the South, and decoupling economic growth from environmental decline. An archetypal application of green economy is transnational trade in ecosystem services, including reduced emissions for deforestation and degradation (REDD+). By compensating developing countries for maintaining forests as carbon sinks, this approach is meant to transcend politics and circumvent conflicts over the responsibilities of industrialized and ‘less-developed’ countries that have stymied global climate policy.

SEEA Central Framework 2012

The System of Environmental-Economic Accounting 2012—Central Framework is a multipurpose conceptual framework for understanding the interactions between the environment and the economy. By providing internationally agreed concepts and definitions on environmental-economic accounting, it is an invaluable tool for compiling integrated statistics, deriving coherent and comparable indicators and measuring progress towards sustainable development goals.

Trees – in maintenance of City of Amsterdam

Interactive map of Trees in maintenance in the City of Amsterdam.

City of Amsterdam

Fast-Wood Forestry. Myths and Realities

Each year the area of fast-growing tree plantations in the world expands by around one million hectares. The planting of large areas of eucalypts, acacias, pines and poplars has sparked off bitter controversy, especially in the developing world. Some claim plantations will destroy the environment and displace small farmers. Others say they will help protect natural forests and provide economic growth. Most of the public does not know what to believe.

FAO, Christian Cossalter and Charlie Pye-Smith

Man and Nature; or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action, George Perkins Marsh

First published in 1864, polymath scholar and diplomat George Perkins Marsh challenged the general belief that human impact on nature was generally benign or negligible and charged that ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean had brought about their own collapse by their abuse of the environment. By deforesting their hillsides and eroding their soils, they had destroyed the natural fertility that sustained their well-being. Marsh offered his compatriots in the United States a stern warning that the young American republic might repeat these errors of the ancient world if it failed to end its own destructive waste of natural resources.

University of Washington Press

Prospect for Sustainable Logging in Tropical Forest, Barbara L. Zimmerman and Cyril F. Kormos

A convincing body of evidence shows that as it is presently codified, sustainable forest-management (SFM) logging implemented at an industrial scale guarantees commercial and biological depletion of high-value timber species within three harvests in all three major tropical forest regions. The minimum technical standards necessary for approaching ecological sustainability directly contravene the prospects for financial profitability. Therefore, industrial-scale SFM is likely to lead to the degradation and devaluation of primary tropical forests as surely as widespread conven- tional unmanaged logging does today. Recent studies also show that logging in the tropics, even using SFM techniques, releases significant carbon dioxide and that carbon stocks once stored in logged timber and slash takes decades to rebuild. These results beg for a reevaluation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change proposals to apply a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation subsidy for the widespread implementation of SFM logging in tropical forests. However, encouraging models of the successful sustainable management of tropical forests for timber and nontimber products exist at local-community scales.

BioScience, Volume 62, Issue 5, May 2012, Pages 479–487

Notre Dame cannot be rebuilt […] France no longer has trees big enough

Notre Dame cathedral cannot be rebuilt exactly as it was before the devastating fire ripped through its historic structure because France no longer has trees big enough, experts have warned.

DailyMail Online, UK

Brazil Laundering Illegal Timber On a ‘Massive and Growing Scale, Jonathan Watts and John Vidal

After a two-year investigation, the environmental campaign group [Greenpeace] says it has uncovered evidence of systematic abuse and a flawed monitoring system that contradicts the Brazilian government’s claims to be coping with the problem of deforestation in the Amazon.

15 Years of Forest Certification in the European Union. Are We Doing Things Right?, M. Gafo Gomez-Zamalloa, A. Caparros and San-Miguel Ayanz

Forest certification is one of the most important issues that have entered the forest sector in the past 15 years. There are many detractors and supporters of this instrument, but merely looking at the number of hectares certified and products carrying the logo of certification, one cannot deny that certification has gained importance, year after year. The overall objective of this study is to evaluate the effect of 15 years of forest certification in the EU forest-based sector, using the Delphi method. The analysis leads to the conclusion that the impact of certification in the EU forest- based sector is positive-neutral with respect to ecological aspects, positive-negative on the economic and positive- neutral on the social ones. However, its positive effect is limited, due to the fact that the changes needed for the certification are minor. An improvement in the information to both society and local people by the actors involved in forest certification could increase the positive impact on the sector.

Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA)

Paulo Tavares, In the Forest Ruins

In the Forest Ruins tells the history of the modern colonization of Amazonia from the early-twentieth century until the neoliberal present, tracing the relations between spatial designs, political violence, and the environmental destruction that characterized this process.

Paulo Tavares, The Geological Imperative: On the Political Ecology of the Amazonia’s Deep History

An understanding of the Amazon as an anthropogenically cultivated multinature. By exposing the “politics of erasure” deployed by the Brazilian state against Indigenous peoples and their lands in the twentieth century Tavares shows that genocide and ecocide are often two sides of the same coin in struggles for land sovereignty.

Fig. 01 “The Fierce People”: Images from the ethnographic film The Ax Fight, which documents a conflict within a Yanomami community witnessed during field-work research carried by North-American ethnologist Napoleon Chagnon. Realized in collaboration with Timothy Ash, 1975.

Pedro Neves Marques, Mimetic Traps: Forest, Images, Worlds

An essay from Pedro Neves Marques about the particularities of Amerindian multinaturalism that sharpens our sense of the forest as an ontological multiplicity teeming with relations, perspectives, and temporalities

Yanni Alexander Loukissa, Life and Death of Data

A reflexive essay on living collections by designer and ethnographer Yanni A. Loukissas unfolds alongside a remarkable series of data visualizations. As an inquiry into the botanical data of Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum, his project Life and Death of Data shows that in addition to the actual plant specimens of this collection, their metadata are valuable indices of historical events and local knowledge.

Sustainable Forest Managment: Requirements-PEFC

This benchmark lays out the international requirements for sustainable forest management. Developed by a working group with representation of all relevant stakeholders, it describes the criteria and indicators we believe are vital for the sustainable management of a forest. Every national forest management standard must address these requirements to achieve PEFC endorsement. On the ground, this benchmark is the basis for the requirements that forest owners or managers must meet to achieve PEFC certification at local level, making it one of our most important standards.

Curating Biocultural Collections: A Handbook, edited by Jan Salick, Katie Konchar and Mark Nesbitt

Biocultural collections cross the boundary between nature and culture, documenting the remarkable richness and diversity of human engagement with the natural world. With materials ranging from blocks of wood to DNA, and from ancient books to new websites, they play a diverse role in research and relaying valuable information about our world. Curating Biocultural Collections is the first book that both recognizes this role and provides wide-ranging advice for successfully managing these resources. Written and edited by experts from around the world, Curating Biocultural Collections  draws on real-world experiences, providing examples from ethnobiology, anthropology, agriculture, botany, zoology, and museum curation. The book places a strong emphasis on meeting the needs of collection users and encourages ethical and equitable engagement with source communities. With one hundred photographs, including objects from little-known collections, alongside case studies and a carefully chosen bibliography, this book gives valuable insight for anyone working to preserve valuable resources.

The Wood Collection (Xylarium) of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Caroline Cornish, Peter Gasson and Mark Nesbitt

The wood collection of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (United Kingdom) has its origin in the founding of Kew’s Museum of Economic Botany in 1847. In the nineteenth century specimens came from explorers and botanists; from imperial institutions such as the Indian Forest Department, and from international exhibitions (world’s fairs). Woods were labelled with their names and properties, creating an educational exhibit aimed particularly at forestry students. In the early twentieth century wood specimens from aristocratic estates formed the basis of a new museum of British Forestry. The foundation of the Jodrell Laboratory at Kew in 1876 led to more research in plant anatomy, but sustained research in wood anatomy and the creation of a major collection of plant anatomy slides dates from the 1930s. Since that time, accessions have come from other wood collections (sometimes the transfer of whole collections), from Kew’s botanical expeditions in Brazil and Southeast Asia, and often as institutional or personal gifts from wood anatomists in other countries. The woods now number 34,314 and form part of the Economic Botany Collection, kept in a purpose-built research store and with a collection database available online. As well as enabling plant anatomy research, the woods are increasingly used by historians, and for wood isotope studies, biochemistry etc.

IAWA Journal 35(1), 2014: 85-104

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Word for World Is Forest

The story focuses on a military logging colony set up on the fictional planet of Athshe by people from Earth (referred to as “Terra”). The colonists have enslaved the completely non-aggressive native Athsheans, and treat them very harshly. Eventually, one of the natives, whose wife was raped and killed by a Terran military captain, leads a revolt against the Terrans, and succeeds in getting them to leave the planet. However, in the process their own peaceful culture is introduced to mass violence for the first time.

The novel carries strongly anti-colonial and anti-militaristic overtones, driven partly by Le Guin’s negative reaction to the Vietnam War. It also explores themes of sensitivity to the environment, and of connections between language and culture.

Author: Ursula K. Le Guin

The Privatisation of Biodiversity? Possible New Approaches to Nature Conservation Law in UK, Colin T. Reid

Although the protection of biodiversity in the UK could be strengthened by incremental development of existing measures, there is potential to adopt new approaches. Three such innovations, some of which are already used in other countries, are examined: conservation ease- ments, biodiversity offsets and paying for ecosystem services. Whereas the current approach relies heavily on the actions of state bodies, the alternative methods offer the opportunity to introduce greater flexibil- ity and to harness the initiative and resources of a wider range of actors, as has occurred in other areas of environmental regulation. The desirability of such new methods must, however, be given careful consideration in terms of suitability to the needs of biodiversity and issues over coherence, transparency, accountability and public partici- pation. There is also a question over the effect of ‘commoditisation’ of what has so far been viewed as a common heritage.

Journal of Environmental Law 23:2, July 2011, 203–231

Global Environmental Governance: Taking Stock, Moving Forward, Frank Biermann and Philipp Pattberg

This article provides a focused review of the current literature on global environmental governance. In the first part, we differentiate between three usages of the term “global environmental governance,” which we describe as analytical, programmatic, and critical. In the second part, we highlight three key characteristics of global environmental governance that make it different, in our view, from traditional international environmental politics: first, the emergence of new types of agency and of actors in addition to national governments, the traditional core actors in international environmental politics; second, the emergence of new mechanisms and institutions of global environmental governance that go beyond traditional forms of state-led, treaty-based regimes; and third, increasing segmentation and fragmentation of the overall governance system across levels and functional spheres. In the last section, we present an outlook on future study needs in this field.

Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 2008. 33:277–94

We Can’t See the Forest for the Trees: the Environmental Impact of Global Forest Certification is Unknown, Philipp Pattberg and Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers

The role of private instruments such as certification systems in global environmental governance is continuously expanding. Therefore it is becoming increasingly important to know the environmental impact of these schemes. However, the sustainability impact of forest certification standards is largely unknown. Although much academic and policy-oriented research has been done, most analyses are desk studies – a paper reality has been created. Therefore we propose a global multi-disciplinary assessment to evaluate the environ- mental, social and economic impacts of sustainability certification.

Visseren-Hamakers, I., & Pattberg, P. H. (2013). We can’t see the forest for the trees. The environmental impact of global forest certification is unknown. GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 22(1), 25-28.

FSC International Standard: Principle and Criteria, Forest Stewardship Council

FSC is an international organization that provides a system for voluntary accreditation and independentthird-party certification. This system allows certificate holders to market their products and services as the result of environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management.

Forest Stewardship Council

Compilation of Forestry Terms and Definitions, European Forest Institute

In June 1994 the European Forest Institute (EFI) had prepared a document of selectedterms and definitions for the ‘Follow-up of the Second Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe’ held in Helsinki in 1993. Excerpts from the 1994 report “Terms and Definitions” were used both within the Second and Third Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe. The 1994 interim report had been compiled, evaluated and reviewed with the help of a large number of experts of various research fields.

EFI-Internal Report No. 6, 2002

Suzanne Simard, How trees talk to each other – TED Talk

“A forest is much more than what you see,” says ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery — trees talk, often and over vast distances. Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes.

Suzanne Simard, How trees talk to each other, 2016. TED Talk

The Timber Getters

Made by The National Film Board 1952. Directed by Bern Gandy. In post-war Australia, the milling of our nation’s prized hardwood timbers was a rapidly growing industry. Mechanisation introduced economies in the handling, but the skill and stamina of the axe-men were still indispensable in timber-getting. This short film looks at the work of the men living in bush sawmill camps

Bern Gandy, 1952. Film 10min 32'.

Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace

Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.

Brad Plumer for the New York Times, May 6, 2019

Image: Lalo de Almeida for The New York Times

Michał Pytlik, Archaeopteris

The first known forests on Earth arose in the Late Devoni- an (approximately 380 million years ago), with the evolu- tion of Archaeopteris. Archaeopteris was a plant that was both tree-like and fern-like, growing to 10 metres (33 ft) in height. Archae- opteris quickly spread throughout the world, from the equator to subpolar latitudes.

Michał Pytlik, Archaeopteris. Illustration.

Global Timber Tracking Network (GTTN)

The Global Timber Tracking Network (GTTN) promotes the operationalisation of innovative tools for species identification and for determining the geographic origin of wood to verify trade claims.

UNEP & INTERPOL, Green Carbon, Black Trade: Illegal Logging, Tax Fraud and Laundering in the Worlds Tropical Forests

Environmental crime and the illegal grabbing of natural resources is becoming an ever more sophisticated activity requiring national authorities and law enforcement agencies to develop responses commensurate with the scale and the complexity of the challenge to keep one step ahead.


Michelangelo Frammartino, Le Quattro Volte, 2010

Near an old Calabrian village, a near-silent elderly goatherd tends to his flock along with his mischievously intelligent dog. The story incorporates sections dedicated to a lost kid goat, a felled tree and a charcoal kiln in a simple tale that unfolds slowly, with ravishing beauty, but it also leav es the viewer with plenty to think about.

Michelangelo Frammartino, Le Quattro Volte, 2010. Film, 88 min, colour

Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve, 1504

Dürer’s fascination with ideal form is manifest in Adam and Eve. The first man and woman are shown in nearly symmetrical idealized poses: each with the weight on one leg, the other leg bent, and each with one arm angled slightly upward from the elbow and somewhat away from the body.

Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve, 1504 engraving (fourth state), 25.1 x 20 cm The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Frederik H.Kistenkas, Concurring Regulation in European Forest Law: Forest Certification and the New EU Timber Regulation

The recent EU Timber Regulation(EUTR) combats illegally harvested timber. Thus, it may prima facie appear to compete or overlap with the existing forest certification schemes Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). In contrast to these certification schemes, EUTR is a public, not a private law scheme. Hybrid public-private regulations may re-enforce each other and, in terms of environmental norm setting, might well be superior to private or public regulations alone.

GAIA 22/3 (2013): 166-168

Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation (2012)

The Regulation commenced on 30 November 2014 and describes the due diligence process that businesses must undertake. Due diligence requires importers of regulated timber products and Australian processors of raw logs to minimize the risk that the wood or wood-fiber has been illegally logged.

The due diligence process requires businesses to:

1. Have a documented system that explains how the requirements will be met;

2. Gather information about the products being imported and their supply chain;

3. Assess the risk the wood or wood-fiber in these products has been illegally logged by:

– Timber Legality Framework where the imported product is certified under Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) standards; or

– a Country Specific Guideline (CSG) where one is available, or

– a risk assessment against certain regulated risk factors;

1. Mitigate any associated risks (where they aren’t already low); and

2. Keep a written record of the process undertaken.

Each time an importer brings a product into Australia, they are also required to make a declaration about whether they have complied with the due diligence requirements. []

Australian Government, Federal Register of Legislation

Illegal Logging Prohibition Act (2012)

The Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 aims to combat trade in illegally logged timber products in Australia. This legislation only places requirements on Australian businesses, and establishes equal treatment for suppliers of timber, regardless of nationality.

The Act bans the import of illegally logged timber and timber products into Australia, and prohibits the processing of Australian-grown logs that have been illegally harvested. It establishes comprehensive monitoring and investigation powers, and sets out penalties for Australian businesses that do not comply with the Act.

The legislation comes in two parts: primary legislation and detailed regulations. [EU FLEGT Facility]

U.S. Lacey Act

The Lacey Act is a 1900 United States law that bans trafficking in illegal wildlife. In 2008, the Act was amended to include plants and plant products such as timber and paper. This landmark legislation is the world’s first ban on trade in illegally sourced wood products. There are two major components to the plant amendments: a ban on trading plants or plant products harvested in violation of the law; and a requirement to declare the scientific name, value, quantity, and country of harvest origin for some products. The Lacey Act is a fact-based statute with strict liability, which means that only actual legality counts (no third-party certification or verification schemes can be used to “prove” legality under the Act) and that violators of the law can face criminal and civil sanctions even if they did not know that they were dealing with an illegally harvested product.

Forest Legality Initiative

Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade-FLEGT (2003)

The EU published the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan in 2003. The Action Plan sets out a range of measures available to the EU and its member states to tackle illegal logging in the world’s forests.

Illegal logging has a devastating impact on some of the world’s most valuable remaining forests, and on the people who live in them and rely on the resources that forests provide.

The EU is one of the largest consumers of timber products in the world. EU companies and governments that buy timber and timber products from suppliers in Africa, Asia or South America have a significant impact on illegal logging. If they unwittingly buy illegal timber, they create profitable markets for illegal loggers and undermine efforts to enforce forest law in timber-exporting countries. If buyers purchase timber from producers that comply with national laws, pay for the timber they fell and act responsibly towards the local population and the environment, this will help reduce illegal logging.

The EU FLEGT Action Plan sets out seven measures that together prevent the importation of illegal timber into the EU, improve the supply of legal timber and increase demand for timber from responsibly managed forests.

European Union Timber Regulation-EUTR (2010)

Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market – also known as the EU Timber Regulation or EUTR counters the trade in illegally harvested timber and timber products through three key obligations:

1. It prohibits the placing on the EU market for the first time of illegally harvested timber and products derived from such timber;

2. It requires EU traders who place timber products on the EU market for the first time to exercise ‘due diligence’;

Once on the market, the timber and timber products may be sold and/or transformed before they reach the final consumer. To facilitate the traceability of timber products, economic operators in this part of the supply chain (referred to as traders in the regulation) have an obligation to

3. Keep records of their suppliers and customers.

The Regulation, entered into application on 3 March 2013, covers a wide range of timber products listed in its Annex, using EU Customs code nomenclature.

Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council

Tracy McVeigh, Borneo’s Majestic Rainforest is Being Killed by The Timber Mafia

Felling trees to meet British demand for garden furniture is devastating villages, livelihoods and food supplies, and threatening endangered species.

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

A Sand County Almanac is a combination of natural history, scene painting with words, and philosophy. It is perhaps best known for the following quote, which defines his land ethic: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

Alexander Hick, Thinking Like a Mountain

““Thinking Like a Mountain” is a documentary film that narrates the present-day struggle of the Arhuaco, an isolated indigenous mountain community in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada whose traditional way of life has been threatened by the armed conflict in Colombian and is now by the ever-growing effects of climate change on their fragile environment. The Arhuacos are the guardians of the forest and the ice of Colombias highest mountain. While on the surface this ancient culture appears not to have changed in centuries, Thinking Like a Mountain reveals a much more complex reality. “

Thinking like a Mountain - Trailer

The wood from the trees: The use of timber in construction

Trees, and their derivative products, have been used by societies around the world for thousands of years. Contemporary construction of tall buildings from timber, in whole or in part, suggests a growing interest in the potential for building with wood at a scale not previously attainable. As wood is the only significant building material that is grown, we have a natural inclination that building in wood is good for the environment. But under what conditions is this really the case?

The wood from the trees: The use of timber in construction, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 68, Part 1, 2017

Jane Lister and Peter Dauvergne, Timber

Timber is a vital resource that is all around us. It is the house that shelters us, the furniture we relax in, the books we read, the paper we print, the disposable diapers for our babies, and the boxes that contain our cereal, detergent, and new appliances.

Fordaq – Market place for wood products

Fordaq manages the leading online market for wood professionals. More than 200,000 wood professionals (log producers, sawmills, veneer mills, panel producers, importers and large industrial users) have chosen to become members of the Fordaq network.

Fordaq - Market place for wood products

How much CO 2 is captured in your wood products?

Trees store CO 2 during their growth . After harvesting the wood for industrial purposes – not for burning – this CO 2 remains stored in the wood. This CO 2 storage remains applicable as long as the wood is used as a product.

Centrum Hout

Program Earth – Jennifer Gabrys: Citizen Sense

Jennifer Gabrys suggests that the sensor-based monitoring of Earth offers the prospect of making new environments not simply as an extension of the human but rather as new “technogeographies” that connect technology, nature, and people.

Dutch tree sends tweets about climate change

A thirty-something-year-old poplar tree on the campus of Wageningen University & Research is currently tweeting about how it deals with hot, dry days without enough water, and the conditions in which it grows best. The data is helping researchers to analyse the interaction between tree growth and extreme weather conditions.

Wageningen University

Tropical Timber to mitigate climate change

Integrating both the complete carbon and greenhouse gas balances through a lifecycle assessment will allow us to determine the impact accurately, and help us answer the question on wether we should continue on the path towards a forest conservation future or a broader approach to climate smart forestry.

FE (Federico) Alice Guier, Wageningen University

EFI – European Forest Institute

The European Forest Institute is an international organisation established by European States. EFI conducts research and provide policy support on forest-related issues, connecting knowledge to action.

Thousands of people around the world use GFW every day to monitor and manage forests, stop illegal deforestation and fires, call out unsustainable activities, defend their land and resources, sustainably source commodities, and conduct research at the forefront of conservation.

Global Forest Watch, Map.

New York Declaration on Forests

Spurred by the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September 2014, the New York Declaration on Forests is a political declaration that brings together governments, companies and civil society actors including indigenous peoples organizations with the common aim of halving the loss of natural forests by 2020, and striving to end it by 2030.

Sustainable Development Goals, 15. Life on land

Healthy ecosystems protect the planet and sustain livelihoods. Forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in particular, provide myriad environmental goods and services – clean air and water, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation. Forests and rangelands sustain a range of industries, generate jobs and income and act as a source of food, medicine and fuel for more than a billion people.

[…] world’s tropical forests are huge carbon emission source

The world’s tropical forests are so degraded they have become a source rather than a sink of carbon emissions, according to a new study that highlights the urgent need to protect and restore the Amazon and similar regions.

IKEA – Setting the goals: Forest Positive 2020

Henrik Elm, Global Purchase Manager, addresses the challenge – how can we continue to produce beautiful furniture made from wood, while still having a positive impact on the worlds’ forests?

Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – CITES

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement to which States and regional economic integration organizations adhere voluntarily. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. (…) Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties, it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level. For many years CITES has been among the conservation agreements with the largest membership, with now 183 Parties.

Christopher D. Stone, hould Trees Have Standing? Law, Morality, and the Environment

Originally published in 1972, Should Trees Have Standing? was a rallying point for the then burgeoning environmental movement, launching a worldwide debate on the basic nature of legal rights that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. (…) At the heart of the book is an eminently sensible, legally sound, and compelling argument that the environment should be granted legal rights. For the new edition, Stone explores a variety of recent cases and current events—and related topics such as climate change and protecting the oceans—providing a thoughtful survey of the past and an insightful glimpse at the future of the environmental movement. This enduring work continues to serve as the definitive statement as to why trees, oceans, animals, and the environment as a whole should be bestowed with legal rights, so that the voiceless elements in nature are protected for future generations. [catalogue entry]

Should Trees Have Standing? Law, Morality, and the Environment Third Edition (Oxford University Press)

Michael J. Dockry & Nancy Langston, Indigenous Protest and the Roots of Sustainable Forestry in Bolivia

(…) This article analyzes the history of Bolivian forestry reforms, paying particular attention to the involvement of Indigenous lowland communities in influencing the forestry law. Specifically, we analyze the role a 1990 Indigenous protest march called the March for Territory and Dignity had in unifying Indigenous communities, incorporating Indigenous concepts of territory into the national dialogue and legal framework, and influencing the 1996 forestry law. We argue that the Indigenous protest march united Indigenous communities around the common cause of territorial sovereignty. In response to Indigenous protest, the Bolivian government established Indigenous-controlled territories and enacted forestry reforms that incorporated community demands and values. [abstract]

Kevin Schneider, Why You Should Be Excited About India’s “Rivers with Rights” Ruling

‘On March 20th, 2017, the Uttarakhand high court in India recognized two rivers (the Ganga and Yumina) as “living entities” with fundamental rights, making it possible for designated humans to represent the rivers in court and for complaints to be Gled in the rivers’ names. (…) By giving them “living entity” status, human proxies will be able to act directly to further the interests of the rivers themselves, thereby bypassing issues of “standing” and other procedural obstacles that have thwarted the protective purpose of many environmental laws.’

Paulo Tavares, Nonhuman Rights

‘Some of the most contentious political conflicts of today are directly or indirectly related to the conservation or transformation of what maybe described as one of the most powerful ideological apparatus produced by colonial/modernity – the very idea of nature itself. (…) The ‘animist’ conception of this legal text, which grants fundamental rights to elements such as rocks, mountains, river deltas and the seas, introduces a radical legal-epistemic shift that challenges the rigid borders that separates the world of objects from the world of subjects, the natural from the social, thus projecting a radically new universalism between humans and non-humans.’

Forensic Architecture, Sternberg Press (Berlin: 2014)

Frans Lanting, Union of Concerned Photographers

Union of Concerned Photographers uses the power of photography to underline the urgency of environmental concerns. In the past 25 years, nearly 300 million acres of forest have been destroyed. This area – which is about twice the size of France – has mainly been cleared for farming.

Formafantasma Makes Stunning Furniture from Junked Mobile Phones & Other E-Waste

Courtesy of Formafantasma

By Ayla Angelos

February 5, 2019

Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin,  the Italian designers behind Amsterdam-based studio Formafantasma , are tackling social issues through innovative product design and material experimentation. While taking aim at wasteful design and consumption habits, the duo places themselves at the intersection between craft, industry, objects, and user experience—forged from an interest in research-based practices within the wider design industry.

The pair has collaborated with numerous brands, such as Fendi , Max Mara, Hermes, Droog, Established & Sons . And more recently, their two-year project  Ore Streams — commissioned by the  National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne—saw physical objects, video, and animation bound together, opening up a dialogue on the topic of e-waste and the dangerous lifecycles of technology. Take the iPhone, for instance. With each eagerly anticipated new update, we contribute more and more to the ever-growing accumulation of electronic waste. Old products are ending up in landfills around the globe and, although countries widely vary in recycling capacities, none are able to fully deal with the increasing levels of e-waste buildup. So steady are our use patterns that in just six decades more metal will be aboveground rather than under,  Formafantasma notes.

We spoke to Trimarchi and Farresin about their reasons for starting the Ore Streams project, and how they approach more research-based projects within their business model.

formafantasma projects

The Chair, featured in Formafantasma’s Ore Streams project, is made in part with metalized car paint and a variety of mobile-phone components. COURTESY OF FORMAFANTASMA.

What is the Formafantasma design ethos? Are there any particular viewpoints or methods of practice that you adhere to?

We believe that the role of a designer is to respond to the social and cultural necessities of a society. A designer should be critical and have the ability to open up possibilities and new ways of utilizing design as a discipline.

Recently, through our work with Ore Streams, we have investigated the recycling industry of electronics. The aim was to understand if these objects could be more efficiently designed for the recuperation of components or materials both in developed and developing countries. In this sense, our work is evolving and taking more responsibility. For Ore Streams, we also designed a series of objects that are more speculative–but that isn’t really the most important part of the work. The research is much more relevant.

formafantasma projects

Cubicle 2, from Ore Streams, includes a table that hides an old microwave aerating grid and piles of mobile phone castings underneath its surface. COURTESY OF FORMAFANTASMA.

Run us through the concept for Ore Streams, your two-year research project on e-waste. Why did you start the project, and why now? Is the e-waste issue something that needs more attention?

The project was developed for the new NGV Triennial initiated by the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. Initially, we wanted to focus on the mining of minerals because Australia is still one of the few first-world countries that has its economy still largely based on mining. We wanted to investigate the relationship between the sourcing of materials and their transformation into products. 

The earth’s surface has been mined for millennia in search of resources–such as metals and minerals—to fulfill our production demands. In fact, forging metal changed the course of history: bronze empowered humans to weaponize and gold facilitated local and then global trade. Even at this very moment, new cavities are being hollowed out, while existing excavated sites are abandoned or re-filled with new earth—a superficial recompense. Our human greed for metals has grown to such an extent that by 2080, the biggest metal reserves will not be underground. Instead, they will be above the surface, as ingots stored in private buildings or otherwise circulated within products, such as building materials, appliances, furniture, and an ever-growing market of consumer electronic products.

“Efforts to recycle this complex hardware remain new, uncharted, and contentious.”

We decided to focus on the recycling of metals, because in the near future the majority of materials will come from recycled sources. Obviously, this is great–but on the surface of our planet, rivers of ore in the form of these discarded materials stream freely as if in a continuous, borderless continent. Efforts to recycle this complex hardware remain new, uncharted, and contentious. New logistic structures, technologies, and cross-country alliances are being forged to allow for the renewal of metals at the lowest expense. As this shift ensues, the mining industry will be permanently altered. We will enter a new phase, where above-ground scavenging will out-perform and out-value digging below the surface for raw material.

We decided to specifically focus on e-waste because it is at the moment the fastest growing stream of waste globally. Due to the complexity of recycling digital tools, a lot of these products are illegally shipped in developing countries where recycling technologies and regulations are often not in place. This is obviously a problem both for the environment and the laborer.

formafantasma projects

The Trash Bin, featured in Formafantasma’s Ore Streams project, sports gold coating that was gilded from discarded tech devices. COURTESY OF FORMAFANTASMA.

Do you think the design industry is doing enough to tackle waste problems?

No, absolutely not. When we visited all the different recyclers, they mentioned how there is a lack of communication between them—the designer, engineer, and producer. Producers are not aware of the implication of their design choices. For instance, when a phone must be recycled it is fundamental to remove the battery because if it’s shredded, it explodes. This must be done by hand and obviously if a phone is designed as a shell where everything is glued together, then even the simple action of removing a battery is more complex.

formafantasma projects

Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Formafantasma. COURTESY OF FORMAFANTASMA.

How do you balance research-based projects like Ore Streams with your design business model? And what have you implemented to make sure that your designs go hand-in-hand with these commitments to recycling? 

Over the years we have developed a more independent practice and a more commercial one. Nevertheless, even when we collaborate with larger brands we are preoccupied to make relevant works. For instance, when we designed the WireRing lamp for Flos, we had the idea to make an object that could be as simple and efficient as possible, and reduced to the minimum so that it could be flat-packed with the use of very few materials. The WireRing is designed to be a timeless object so that it could last as long as possible and not be discarded because of the changes of fashion. In that sense we tried to make it as sustainable as possible.

formafantasma projects

Formafantasma’s WireRing lamp for Flos. COURTESY OF FORMAFANTASMA.

Read more furniture , lighting , and product design stories on Sixtysix.

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formafantasma projects

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Built to last … Formafantasma’s collection of wooden products.

Formafantasma: Cambio review – how good is wood?

Serpentine Gallery, London The Amsterdam design studio finds creative ways to expose myths about wood’s sustainability

W hat’s not to like about wood? It sucks up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it grows, then spits it out as lovely lengths of golden timber, ready to use for everything from eco-friendly buildings to biodegradable paper straws and cardboard cups. It is nature’s wonder material, produced in an endlessly renewable, reusable and recyclable stream of green goodness. Right? Not so fast, say the designers behind the Serpentine Gallery’s new exhibition, Cambio . The forestry industry is not quite as squeaky clean as the timber trade associations would have you believe, nor are paper and cardboard products necessarily the carbon-negative alternatives they claim to be. In the ethical maze of responsibly sourced materials, it seems we can’t always see the cost of wood for the trees. Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, the Italian duo behind Amsterdam-based design studio Formafantasma (meaning “ghost form”), have shone their aesthetically pleasing spotlight on the global dynamics of the timber industry to encourage us to see the material afresh. Marking the first chapter in the Serpentine’s new foray into curating design in addition to its established programme of contemporary art, the exhibition attempts to draw the worlds of science, conservation, engineering and policymaking together in a research-driven show. The results are mixed, with some provocative ideas emerging from a display that has the overall feeling of browsing an Aesop concept store – with wafts of artificial tree scent to match.

Where is your wood from? Interpol says up to 30% of all timber is illegally sourced.

One of the first things you encounter is a teetering totem pole of Ikea stools, the £20 Bekväm , reliable provider of kitchen steps and houseplant stands to countless homes around the world. Formafantasma have remade the stool in seven different kinds of wood, from oak to chestnut and cherry, and stacked according to how long the tree grew before it was logged, and how much carbon dioxide it stored in the process.

“The furniture industry’s mass production model is based on the constant renewal of the source material and disposability of the item,” say the designers. “But for wood products to be truly sustainable, they need to have a service life that is at least the same length of time that it took for the tree to grow.” Want the stool in walnut? You’d better plan on keeping it for 120 years. Nearby, a pair of tables piled high with disposable paper and cardboard products tells a similar story. There’s a smallish pile of reinforced envelopes, a fair stack of paper towels and a couple of towers of takeaway containers and paper cups. The work is titled 5 Years, the amount of time it will take a single pine tree to reabsorb the same amount of carbon dioxide released when each pile is discarded. The sight of just a few cardboard boxes equating to five years’ worth of arboreal labour might make you feel a bit queasy about all that Amazon packaging you dutifully put out with the recycling every week.

On an adjacent wall, a number of wooden objects are lined up in a row, a hammer next to a ping-pong bat, a guitar next to a brush, like evidence gathered from a crime scene. The sense of a police lineup is apt: a clipboard of material analysis beneath each item reveals the amount of endangered timber featured in these everyday objects. A dark, polished violin chin-rest is made of Brazilian rosewood , a timber for which “the risk of illegal logging is high”. The brush handles and drumsticks, meanwhile, are made from ramin , an endangered south-east Asian hardwood, while a spatula handle has been whittled from threatened African bubinga . According to Interpol, which seizes thousands of these items every year, illegally sourced wood products account for 15-30% of all global timber trade.

Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Formafantasma.

Despite the number of international conventions in place to curb illegal logging (dutifully printed out and drily displayed on tables), it seems we haven’t come too far from the 19th-century thirst for exotic tropical hardwoods, shown in all its colonial ostentation at the back of the gallery. Trimarchi and Farresin have raided the archives at Kew Gardens and collected a handsome haul of timber specimens, which were originally shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851, just across the park. Marvel at the great polished slice of a mahogany tree trunk brought back from British Honduras, or the jet-black obelisk of Ceylon ebony, advertised as being “used in turnery for fancy articles”.

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Formafantasma: The Latest Architecture and News

The beauty of impermanence: exploring adaptive architecture from the global south at the 2023 sharjah architecture triennial.

The Beauty of Impermanence: Exploring Adaptive Architecture from the Global South at the 2023 Sharjah Architecture Triennial - Featured Image

Inaugurated on November 11, 2023, and running until March 10, 2024, the Sharjah Architecture Triennial serves as a metaphor drawing attention to the design and technological innovations within the built environment, particularly in the global south. The exhibition features contributions from 29 architects and studios spanning 25 countries. Building upon Venice's global platform for experimentation at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition , the 2023 Triennial embarks on a similar journey, creating space for voices and discussions often overlooked in global exhibitions and unveiling elements that have long existed but remained unseen. With a keen awareness of the global south, but also of the global north, and an understanding of the polarities between them, as articulated by curator Tosin Oshinowo , this second edition of the exhibition focuses on "The Beauty of Impermanence: An Architecture of Adaptability."

Celebrating everything that exists, especially in the global south where places thrive amidst scarcity, the triennial adopts an optimistic approach, drawing lessons from current situations and revealing the value and sophistication of alternative responses that have emerged due to resource constraints. “ We're able to celebrate them. We're able to learn from them ”, adds the curator. The triennial aims to comprehend a more sustainable, accessible, and equitable future—a collective effort to address the challenges of climate change, explore the built environment, and embrace under-celebrated regional traditions. Highlighting solutions that have endured the course of time and others responding to contemporary difficulties, "The Beauty of Impermanence" emphasizes the necessity of nuanced hybridity essential for our urbanized world.

The Beauty of Impermanence: Exploring Adaptive Architecture from the Global South at the 2023 Sharjah Architecture Triennial - Image 1 of 4

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Sharjah Architecture Triennial 2023 Announces Opening Program and Site-Specific Commissions

Sharjah Architecture Triennial 2023 Announces Opening Program and Site-Specific Commissions - Featured Image

Prior to the opening of the Sharjah Architecture Triennial 2023 on November 11, 2023, the organizers have revealed details of several new commissions and site-specific interventions that will explore and expand on the overarching themes of this year’s edition, The Beauty of Impermanence: An Architecture of Adaptability . The three-day opening program has also been announced, featuring talks, tours, screenings, workshops, and performances. Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo , the event set out to explore the innovations born out of conditions of scarcity in the Global South and ways in which cultures collaborate, adapt, re-use, and re-appropriate resources to move towards a more resilient and equitable future. Architects, designers, and studios have been invited to contribute with installations and projects to be displayed across the city and the surrounding desert.

Sharjah Architecture Triennial 2023 Announces Opening Program and Site-Specific Commissions - Image 1 of 4

Exploring Scarcity in Global South: Sharjah Architecture Triennial 2023 Announces Full List of Participants

Exploring Scarcity in Global South: Sharjah Architecture Triennial 2023 Announces Full List of Participants  - Featured Image

A group of 31 architects, studios, and designers have been invited to participate in the Sharjah Architecture Triennial from 11 November to 10 March 2024. For its second edition, the Triennial aims to explore innovative design solutions emerging from conditions of scarcity in the Global South . The participants, representing 27 countries, offer a diverse and international response to the theme, addressing its implications for the future of architecture. The Triennial is curated by Tosin Oshinowo and revolves around the theme "The Beauty of Impermanence: An Architecture of Adaptability."

Exploring Scarcity in Global South: Sharjah Architecture Triennial 2023 Announces Full List of Participants  - Image 1 of 4

16 Architectural Installations at the 2023 Milan Design Week and Salone del Mobile

16 Architectural Installations at the 2023 Milan Design Week and Salone del Mobile - Featured Image

Milan Design Week represents one of the biggest annual design events in the world, bringing together Salone del Mobile.Milan, the largest furniture and design trade fair worldwide, and Furiosalone, along with many other exhibitions, product launches, conferences, and design-related events. This year’s edition, held between April 17th, 2023 and April 21st, 2023, brought together architects, designers, manufacturers and enthusiasts, both Italian and international. Many architectural offices contributed by collaborating with various brands to develop architect-designed products and to create architectural installations to highlight not only furniture and object design but also the larger context of Milanese architecture and culture.

Featuring designs from internationally recognized architecture offices such as OMA , MAD Architects , Stefano Boeri Interiors and CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati , the following selection showcases temporary interventions in both historical and contemporary contexts. The designs present several recurring themes, such as the interest and fascination with the properties of water, be it contained within man-made structures or in its natural state. Many of the participating companies chose to showcase not only their products but also the historical architecture of Milan , by using buildings such as Pinacoteca di Brera, Casa Maveri, or the deconsecrated church of San Vittore e 40 Martiri as a backdrop for their installations.

16 Architectural Installations at the 2023 Milan Design Week and Salone del Mobile - Image 1 of 4

The Salone del Mobile.Milano Appoints Lombardini22 to and Formafantasma to Redefine the Exhibition Spaces

The Salone del Mobile.Milano Appoints Lombardini22 to and Formafantasma to Redefine the Exhibition Spaces - Featured Image

The Salone del Mobile.Milano 2023 entrusted the Milanese architecture and engineering studio Lombardini22 with curating the exhibition space and redefining its layout and circulation flows to ensure an increasingly engaging and contemporary business platform. On a similar note, Formafantasma was appointed to take care of the large Arena and the Cameos, small exhibitions layout in the trade fair site. During this year’s edition, seven exhibitions will be held simultaneously at Fiera Milano fairgrounds in Rho. The events are open to professionals from Tuesday 18 th until Sunday 23 rd of April, and to the general public on Saturday and Sunday.

The Salone del Mobile.Milano Appoints Lombardini22 to and Formafantasma to Redefine the Exhibition Spaces - Image 1 of 4

The Salone del Mobile Transforms General Layout and Presents 2023 Theme

The Salone del Mobile Transforms General Layout and Presents 2023 Theme - Featured Image

The 61st edition of The Salone del Mobile transformed its general layout and program, including Euroluce, the iconic International Lighting Exhibition in Milan . Curated by architect Beppe Finessi , in collaboration with Formafantasma and the studio Lombardini22 , the new vision for The Salone del Mobile will improve accessibility and the trade fair and user experience. Running from 18th to 23rd April 2023 at Rho Fiera Milano , the 2023 Salone will focus on schools and universities under the theme "Design School."

The Salone del Mobile Transforms General Layout and Presents 2023 Theme - Image 1 of 4

Get Set: 9 Architecturally Relevant Exhibitions at the 2022 Dutch Design Week

Get Set: 9 Architecturally Relevant Exhibitions at the 2022 Dutch Design Week - Featured Image

Under the motto "Get Set," the 2022 DDW exhibited more than 50 art and architectural installations to call out designers and communities for a shift from preparation to action facing the challenges of our time. Led by Miriam van der Lubbe, Creative Head of DDW, with Marjan van Aube and Formafantasma as ambassadors, the 21st edition of the Dutch Design Week took place the last week of October in Eindhoven , the Netherlands closing with a Graduation Show of over 200 students of the Design Academy Eindhoven.

Inspiring designers to incorporate innovation and sustainability and familiarize the public with all the technology has to offer, ArchDaily has selected 9 relevant works focused on bio-materials and modular systems. Highlighting ongoing design research, the list underlines projects that reinvent how we deal with nature and the space we live in. 

Get Set: 9 Architecturally Relevant Exhibitions at the 2022 Dutch Design Week - Image 12 of 4

Lessons Learned : A Podcast by Dutch Design Week & ArchDaily

Lessons Learned : A Podcast by Dutch Design Week & ArchDaily - Featured Image

Lessons Learned is a podcast by Dutch Design Week and ArchDaily. In each episode we pair young design talents with seasoned designers to further their practice and help them learn from the mistakes of the past. The young talented individual asks one pressing question, and the designers share their learnings and their biggest fuckups.

Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria Samples the Future

Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria Samples the Future - Featured Image

In this week's reprint from Metropolis , the National Gallery of Victoria , a thought-leading institution surveys the ever-expanding fields of speculative and critical design in Australia , through the work of Formafantasma.

formafantasma projects

The Challenges of Preserving a Small, Local - and Globally Famous - Design Legacy

The Challenges of Preserving a Small, Local - and Globally Famous - Design Legacy - Featured Image

On its outskirts, you'd be forgiven for assuming that Columbus , Indiana is a suburban American town like any other. But travel downtown and you're suddenly greeted with an unexpected variety of modern architecture. The small midwestern city has for the past half-century been a kind of laboratory for contemporary architecture, attracting designers as diverse as Kevin Roche and I M Pe i. Children attend school in a building designed by Richard Meier, congregants attend services in a church designed by Eliel Saarinen .


  1. The Timeless Botanica project by Formafantasma

    formafantasma projects

  2. Studio Formafantasma Creates Mind-Blowing Art from Mt. Etna's Volcanic Lava

    formafantasma projects

  3. Formafantasma: Cambio, Museum für Gestaltung Zürich

    formafantasma projects

  4. Foundation by Formafantasma

    formafantasma projects

  5. Encounters & discoveries: Formafantasma: "Botanica" project

    formafantasma projects

  6. formafantasma: charcoal for the vitra design museum

    formafantasma projects


  1. Formafantasma

  2. Studio Formafantasma

  3. TALK

  4. Creative Homestead: Stylish Homes, Horse Stables, and Tranquil Ponds for Productive Living! #3

  5. diy tractor mini diesel engine petrol pump science project #shorts

  6. FormaFantasma


  1. FormaFantasma

    Formafantasma is a research-based design studio investigating the ecological, historical, political and social forces shaping the discipline of design today. Whether designing for a client or developing self - initiated projects, the studio applies the same rigorous attention to context, proc...

  2. Formafantasma design, news and interviews

    Elisa Barkan 13 September 2023 Oltre Terra exhibition calls for "constructive relationship" between humans and sheep Design duo Formafantasma has unveiled an exhibition at Oslo's National Museum...

  3. Oltre Terra exhibition by Formafantasma unravels history of wool

    Design duo Formafantasma has unveiled an exhibition at Oslo's National Museum of Norway about the history and future of wool production, featuring a 1,700-year-old tunic and a carpet made from...

  4. formafantasma: baked

    oct 21, 2009 'baked' draws on salemi, the sicilian folk event, where a flour based material is used to create architectural decorations. the project pays homage to bread and flour - essential...

  5. Formafantasma on GEO-Design and tomorrow's creative leaders

    Design & Interiors Formafantasma on their GEO-Design master's programme, and designers thinking big The Italian design duo - and Designer of the Year in the 2021 Wallpaper* Design Awards - are among our featured visionaries in '5x5', Wallpaper's 25th anniversary project.

  6. Formafantasma experiment with lava to form furniture collection

    As in their previous projects Autarchy (2010) and Moulding Tradition (2009), Formafantasma questions the link between tradition and local culture and the relationship between objects and the idea ...

  7. formafantasma

    formafantasma (andrea trimarchi and simone farresin) has established a coherent body of work that is characterized by experimental material investigations through which they explore issues such as ...

  8. Formafantasma transforms esoteric inspirations into art

    Formafantasma's project ExCinere, is a new take on the tradition of volcanic lava as building material and a manifest of the enduring attraction between humans and the impossible force of nature. The department will be embedded in trans-disciplinary collaboration to increase the scale and depth of the research, but also to take an ethical ...

  9. A Force of Nature: Studio Formafantasma Transforms Volcanic ...

    Valle del Bove, 2014 Mouth blown lava, lava rock, Murano glass. H35 x W35 x D25 cm 'De Natura Fossilium' by studio Formafantasma. Photo by Luisa Zanzani. Courtesy of Gallery Libby Sellers. Consisting of various objects for the home such as bowls, decorative boxes, a stool and small tables, ' De Natura Fossilium ' features almost ...

  10. Cambio

    For this project, Formafantasma collaborated with experts from the fields of science, conservation, engineering, policymaking and philosophy. They have gathered a range of texts, interviews and visual materials for the publication that pose questions about the role that design can play in translating emerging environmental awareness into ...

  11. Cambio: On Finnish Forestry explores Finnish design's link to ...

    Known for an interest in climate change, Formafantasma has completed a number of other projects that explore the environmental impact of design. These include the first Cambio show in London ...

  12. Formafantasma Makes Stunning Furniture from Junked Mobile Phones

    February 5, 2019. Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, the Italian designers behind Amsterdam-based studio Formafantasma, are tackling social issues through innovative product design and material experimentation. While taking aim at wasteful design and consumption habits, the duo places themselves at the intersection between craft, industry ...

  13. Formafantasma

    To encounter any project of Formafantasma is to become aware of one's position in the world, and to recognize through design a new realm of exceptional and radical possibilities. Ore Streams: The design approach to the recycling of electronic waste. How important are materials in your work as designer? Extremely important.

  14. Formafantasma: Cambio review

    The effect is reminiscent of Formafantasma's recent Ore Streams project, which entailed some interesting research into the murky world of recycling electronic waste, but resulted in a range of ...

  15. Formafantasma

    3 days ago Inaugurated on November 11, 2023, and running until March 10, 2024, the Sharjah Architecture Triennial serves as a metaphor drawing attention to the design and technological innovations...

  16. Formafantasma's Findings

    Formafantasma's home-studio space, a converted stove factory in north Amsterdam, is richly suffused with the aroma of smouldering cedar.The shelves are lined with paperbacks, positioned with their fore-edges facing outwards - a neutral backdrop for the residues of former projects and curios that have accumulated since studio founders Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin met in design ...

  17. Movie: Eindhoven design studio Formafantasma experimenting ...

    Shellac samples from Formafantasma's Botanica project Farresin adds: "Nowadays it is just farmed by small communities in India and Thailand. We see a parallel between this and silk production, but ...

  18. Tacchini on Instagram: "As we approach the conclusion of the year 2023

    1,236 likes, 6 comments - tacchini_italia on December 29, 2023: "As we approach the conclusion of the year 2023, we are pleased to present a compilation of notewo..."