Strengthening forestry capacities from a complex thinking perspective

Strengthening forestry capacities from a complex thinking perspective

By Rodrigo Arce Rojas

Until now, a simplifying vision of thinking has prevailed in the forestry sector, characterized by being positivist, disjunctive, reductionist, linear, and deterministic. This is supported both by the disciplinary training in which all professionals have been educated but also by the very administrative structure of the State and the private organization that emphasizes functions, competencies, and rigid boxes in the organization that reinforce fragmentation. Efforts such as Committees, Multisectoral Commissions, Intersectoral Commissions, among other modalities of joint work, do not necessarily manage to recover a systemic vision if each of the parties continues to lock in their particular perspectives with simplifying thinking schemes. Hence the need to incorporate complex thinking as one of the ways to enrich simplifying thinking that is not disdained but is strengthened by opening up to complexity.

Arce (2016: 5) has proposed a conceptual core of complex thinking that we take as a basis:

Complex thinking is a philosophy, strategy, method, attitude and practice aimed at addressing border problems that are between regular and predictable behaviors and irregular and unpredictable behaviors with the purpose of understanding and giving explanations of reality in a totalizing way, integrative, dialogic with the environment, constructive and transformative from the understanding of the complex structures in which the emergence of new behaviors and self-organization are verified.

Complex thinking can therefore be considered as a new way of understanding reality, explaining it and transforming it from new forms of thought that are not reduced to a classical rationality or logic but rather opens up towards the multiple manifestations of reality, including reality. uncertainty, the strange, the strange, the ambiguities, the turbulence, among other expressions of the complexity of reality. In this framework, interdisciplinarity and unconventional contributions that come from non-classical logics, discrete mathematics, network theory, complex adaptive dynamic systems, information theory, among others, become especially relevant.

Applied to capacity building in the forestry sector, thinking in a complex way implies taking into account the following factors (Núñez, 2013; Osorio, 2012; Solana, 2011; Pereira, 2010; Morin et al. 2002; Morin, 1998):

Wholes: All types of forest ecosystems, all forest biological diversity, all forest stakeholders, all sectors involved, the entire production chain. It also involves considering all hierarchies, all dimensions, all categories, all meanings, all evaluations, and all senses. This is a perspective that accounts for the networks and the recognition of polycentrism or acentrism. Now, this does not mean falling into the reductionism of holism, but rather having the ability to recognize the strategic elements or catalysts to understand the dynamics of complex systems. The systemic or organizational approach refers to the fact of dialogue with the environment.

Adaptive complex dynamics: It is not only a matter of recognizing the diversity of heterogeneous elements, but also the interactions, interdependencies, interdefinability, feedbacks and feedbacks. This set of relationships account for the principles of feedback, recursion, dialogicity, emergence, autonomy / dependence (self-eco-organization) that characterize complex thinking.

Changes and transformations: A complex adaptive system reflects the capacity for learning, adaptation, evolution and regeneration. This is a way of visualizing the management of entropy in the system.

Uncertainty: Corresponding to phenomena such as volatility, irruptions, sudden changes, ambiguities, fog, contradiction, paradox, chaos, order-disorder. Refers to the principle of blurring in which the borders are not rigid and are rather permeable and not continuous

The application of complex thinking to the strengthening of forestry capacities leads us to take into account the following considerations:

  • Assume the totality of forest biological diversity and not be restricted only to products of known commercial value, emblematic or charismatic.
  • Address all value chains and networks
  • Value the diversity of actors linked to forest biological diversity or ecosystem services, including the diversity of each actor and the age, equality and gender equity perspective.
  • Value all knowledge and not only official, informal, academic or Western.
  • Generate active processes of dialogic interaction in the construction of public policies and not just remain in information or knowledge transmission schemes.
  • Recognize that forest problems are not only solved by forestry professionals but that true interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches and practices are required.
  • Recognize that the forest is an integral part of larger systems such as landscapes and hence the need to emphasize the gaze of territories.
  • End the false paradox between development and conservation because both approaches must be treated in a dialogic and recursive way.
  • Recognize that forests play a fundamental role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, not only from a perspective of contribution to economic growth but also from their contribution to well-being.
  • Change the position from reactive foresters to proactive foresters with the capacity for dialogue with all dimensions, planes, scales, temporalities, meanings and senses of reality.
  • Recognize that the socioecosystem is affected by the environment, so history and context matter a lot.
  • Review the epistemological frameworks and paradigms of forestry development that have reinforced inbreeding and disconnection with the national and global environment.
  • Approach the phenomena of informality and illegality from a perspective of complexity to overcome approaches that privilege only the punitive but do not achieve structural understandings of these major border problems.
  • Do not stay only in the averages, in the known or conventional solutions. Having the ability to look at and address the entire spectrum of the Gaussian bell in order to attend to the weird, the weird that has until now been downplayed or underestimated

Daring to strengthen capacities from the perspective of complex thinking is to assume with responsibility, creativity, innovation and daring new ways of thinking, even if it is painful, it means losing power quotas or recognizing that several of the things we have been doing have been ineffective in so much so we have not solved those great border problems that challenge us.

Bibliographic references:

Arce, Rodrigo. (2016). Contributions of complex thinking to group facilitation. Paper presented to: World Congress for Complex Thinking. The challenges in a globalized world. Paris, 8 and 9 December 2016

Morin, Edgar; Ciurana, Emilio; Motta, Raúl. (2002). Educating in the planetary age: complex thinking as a learning method in human error and uncertainty. Salamanca: Secretariat of Publications and Editorial Exchange University of Valladolid.

Morin, Edgar. (1998). Introduction to complex thinking. Barcelona: Editorial Gedisa.

Osorio, Sergio. (2012). Complex thinking and transdisciplinarity: emergent phenomena of a new rationality. Journal of the Faculty of Economic Sciences: Investigación y Reflexión [online] 2012, XX (June-No month): [Date of consultation: August 14, 2017] Available at: ISSN 0121-680

Pereira, José. (2010). Basic considerations of the complex thought of Edgar Morin, in education. Revista Electrónic @ Educare Vol. XIV, N ° 1, [67-75], ISSN: 1409-42-58, January-June 2010.

Solana, José. (2011). Edgar Morin's complex thinking. Criticisms, misunderstandings and necessary revisions. Gazeta de Antropología, 2011, 27 (1), article 09 ·

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