Grand Theory and Context-Specificity in the Study of Forest Dynamics: Forest Transition Theory and Other Directions



This article critically reviews forest transition theory, which posits a decline in forest cover followed by expansion during the course of development. Whereas case studies in advanced industrial nations provided an empirical foundation, more recent cross-national modeling efforts and studies in developing regions have raised doubts. Forest transition theory has limitations in its concept of forests, its treatment of forest dynamics, its explanation for forest transitions, and its generalizability. This critique provides the basis for research needs to link studies of forest dynamics on various timescales to other land use/land cover research, as via historical-comparative methods and interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks.