Kristin Stoeren Wigum
This paper is anchored in experiences from coastal forestry in Norway and a three years interregional project aimed at mobilising stakeholders in the value chain from forestry to industry and the end use of wood-based products, involving politicians and public administration in cooperation networks. This paper argues for and discusses how systemic design approaches should complement today’s use of Design Thinking (British Design Council 2004) in this work to tackle complexity and wicked problems (Rittel, Webber, 1973). Compared to its potential, Norwegian coastal forestry today is in a state of low performance that has deeply rooted causes that are not easily solved by innovation events. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2021, 2022) is calling for urgent action and has provided global society with only three years (2022–2025) to start intervening at a systemic level to reduce climate gas emissions over the next 30 years and reach a maximum 1.5 ℃ temperature increase goal. Global forests are seen as one of the most important means of reducing carbon dioxide through their growth and existence. They also promote biodiversity, timber and bio-fibre, substituting fossil-based human-made materials, products and energy solutions (UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 2020). Forests as a resource must be approached using local perspectives and care in parallel with a holistic view of planetary boundaries, including concern for social sustainability. The Norwegian forestry industry is experiencing resistance toward industrialised logging. This is not an unimportant hindrance to the development of industrialised production and more advanced value chains for wooden resources. Although the volume of forest resources in Norway is increasing (by 12.5% in 2020, SSB), ripe spruce and pine are hard to reach for logging in non-reachable areas. The planting of these forests started approximately 100 years ago with the aim of restoring deforestation caused by industrialisation in all of Europe. This article introduces system traps and opportunities along with Meadows’ (2008) 12 leverage points for increased awareness of possibilities for intervention. It also discusses how delays and long-term system behavioural patterns are both traps and opportunities to intervene in the archetype of the structure of the value chain, starting with forestry. However, a surprise to many stakeholders may be the role social systems and information flow play in establishing sustainable value chains. Systemic design may lead the sector to explore relations and connections over time rather than physical elements and fragmented parts of the system.
Keywords: forestry, sustainability, system dynamics, traps, interventions for change, systemic design