Producing the boreal: the politics of environmentalism, capital and nature in Canada's northern forests




Lorentz, Victor

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This thesis argues that current environmentalist initiatives aimed at creating a stable regime of ecological governance in Canada’s northern boreal forest are structurally complicit with the forces driving its exploitation. Through the negotiation of the Canadian Boreal Framework Agreement and the aggressive institutionalization of Forest Stewardship Council certification, environmental organizations participate in the erection of a regime of ecological production predicated on the maintenance and delivery of ecosystem services. Through the creation of a stable, uniform field of exchange of natural functions, these initiatives deepen the entanglement of capital with new vestiges of nature. I trace the production of this ecologized, boreal capitalism through the concepts of fixed capital and real subsumption, arguing that this organization of nature constitutes a ‘fixing’ of value and thus a determining factor in the trajectory of capitalist development in the region. In this, I assert that environmental organizations have become essential institutions in the functioning of processes of accumulation. They ensure an articulation between the epistemic realms of a burgeoning ecological science and capital, and secure the communication of value down the commodity chain for ecological services and certified products. Further, they take on some responsibility for the organization of consumption, and thus the modes of possible political engagement. I conclude by finding that despite this deep identity between market and environmentalist institutions the possibility for productive – rather than protective – resistance is opened up alongside the more lamentable consequences of these developments.



Forestry, Political Ecology, Non-Governmental Organizations