Contributions for the study of forest philosophy from the Peruvian praxis

Contributions for the study of forest philosophy from the Peruvian praxis

From the first impression, there will be those who think or say that talking about forestry philosophy is a waste of time since too many problems have the forestry (sub) sector to be disquisitions that do not contribute to raising industrial development and therefore its economic contribution to the country. From this perspective, the major problems of the sector have to do with forest overregulation, the suffocating pressure of forest supervision, the limited investments for the development of value chains (UNIQUE and DIE, 2015), the systematic attack on the reputation of timber exports, the low competitiveness of the (sub) sector, among others. This way of thinking considers that forest sciences are dissociated from philosophy (Rojo et al. 2013). A pragmatic approach considers that any epistemological disquisition makes forestry action lose effectiveness and meaning.

In this framework, the contribution of the forestry philosophy is to introduce a deep reflective attitude about what we believe, think, feel and say all the actors involved in the forestry sector in order to arrive at a clear and understandable knowledge of the ultimate aims of the forestry development. Ultimate ends are those that can only be justified by their own intrinsic value and not by being means to other more important ends (Mosterín, 1978). In this perspective, forest philosophy critically reviews each of our forest beliefs, discourses, narratives and practices to know if our various manifestations are in the correct direction of the ultimate ends, understood as the supreme or transcendental objectives. A fundamental tool for this destabilizing purpose is the question. Questions and more questions and that's what we will do.

Our first question is whether we know how to recognize “our truths” and if “our truths” are certainly contributing to forestry development. We will immediately ask ourselves what we are understanding by forestry development. Those our truths will immediately reveal to us what are the paradigms with which we are thinking of doing forestry development. In turn, the set of recognized paradigms will give us an account of the epistemological framework with which we are acting. Question: Is this an exercise that we have done? Although I hope I am wrong, I believe that this exercise we have not done because most often we work with established and finished truths that come from the logic of the market, competitiveness, economic growth, the economic exploitation of our forest resources, among others. that appear as unquestionable dogmas. This is explained because we are part of the development of normal science characterized by being disjunctive, reductionist, deterministic, legalistic and linear. From this perspective we reject uncertainties and chaos and it is better not to question the main lines of Western hegemonic thought.

For example, one topic that comes up is the definition of objectives. In this regard, we will ask ourselves: What are the objectives that we propose regarding forestry development? What is the scope of those objectives? What is the breadth of those goals? Are they limited or are they articulated objectives for greater purposes? Are they sectoral or are they articulated with the National Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals? Are they reductionist objectives or are they objectives that account for the complexity of forest problems? In this way we will know if our gaze is product or process, endogenous or exogenous. Due to our tradition of disciplinary training, we tend more to look at the resource than the territory or the landscape. In this context, to be disciplined is to be part of the mainstream of forestry thinking functional to mainstream economic thinking.

Then another provocative question appears. Who do we work for? For the institution? For the people? For the forests? For ourselves? I understand that the answer is not very simple because we are generally limited by vision, mission, institutional objectives and functions and competencies. So the question is whether those organizational elements clearly recognize who they are working for. This way we will know if we are at the service of the people or we think in terms of administrator and managed. This way we will know if our efforts have specific economic, social, environmental or sustainability weight.

We return again to the subject of our truths. Who has said that our truths are true? What is the truth? Do we think that our truths are truly ours? Are they complete? How aware are we of the processes of colonization of thought through which we have happily bought into the hegemonic discourses? Are we aware of the media power in the construction of our assumed truths? Are we aware of the process of intersubjectivity in the construction of our truths and that they are strongly influenced by the dominant culture? How many assimilated and legitimized truths are really post-truths?

We also wonder if many of our truths (forest management plan, minimum cutting diameter, seed trees, legal export, sustainability, among others) have a scientific basis, logical rigor and impeccable argumentative support. This is fundamental because it is assumed that the public forest administration has the ultimate objective of achieving the sustainability of the forest for the benefit of the people and the private forest administration has the ultimate objective of achieving benefits without affecting the resilience, adaptive and evolutionary capacity of forests and without harm social actors. Then we will ask ourselves if there is coherence between institutionality-normativity-discourses-narratives-actions.

As we have seen, forest philosophy is interested in the study of general problems related to the forest from a totalizing vision and not only from fragments of reality. Forest philosophy implies an undeniable love of wisdom and therefore makes rigorous reasoning its main working tool. For this, forest philosophy does not have to be content with what is already established or determined, but based on a deep capacity for astonishment, admiration, suspicion and doubt, it will always be looking for the truth of knowledge. Therefore, the inquisitive capacity and permanent state of disagreement about the statements that govern forest management. As has been seen, the attitude of forestry philosophy is radically reflective and critical. With this, it contributes to forestry scientific development and also to forestry development as long as we do not stop asking questions, answering them and searching tirelessly for new questions. In this way we will be able to see a gradual forest development by thinking, asking, acting and transforming.

By Rodrigo Arce Rojas
Forestal engineer
[email protected]


Rojo Martínez, G., & Martínez Ruiz, R., & Rodríguez Sauceda, E., & López Corrales, A. (2013). Philosophy of forest sciences. Ra Ximhai, 9 (4), 269-272.

UNIQUE and DIE. (2015). Value chains in the forestry sector of Peru Diagnostic report and strategic development. Frieburg: Global Green Growth Institute / Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE).

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