Forests are much more than trees. At EFI we think about forests as nets of connected socio-ecological systems. To have a broader picture of these networks and to understand them better it is worth sometimes to look beyond trees and pay more attention to the people in and around the forests. Anthropologists are quite useful for this task, especially because they are those who ask: Why does the forest matter?
As an anthropologist myself, I have been guided by this question during the fieldwork and research on the perception of forests and forestry in Poland. I was interested in who is negotiating the meaning of Polish forests, and when, how and why this is taking place. By studying these negotiations one can understand better the different beliefs, values, rationales and worldviews related to forests. And it becomes clearer how these are impacting approaches to forest management and nature conservation. In my work, I have been particularly interested in examining a juxtaposition of a category of forest (level of policies and politics) and a material forest (an element of the landscape). This allowed me to use the forest for a reflection on more compounded changes within Polish society.