Forest, Time, and Society / 4th World Congress of Environmental History 2024

Panel Deep04: Forest, time, and society

Short Abstract:
The time of humans and societies (short/medium-term time) and forests (long-term time) intersect in many ways. This panel explores different interconnections and challenges between time, humans (societies), and forests (nature).

Long Abstract:
Time is complex and elusive. Humans, belonging to short-term time, are within modern societies’ clock-time detached from the rhythm of nature and instantaneous time’s speed exceeds human capacity, e.g., artificial intelligence. Humans interact with longer time cycles of societies and nature. In the context of their time scales, humans and societies aim to control and adapt to long-term times of nature (long durée, glacial time, or natural time).

In controlling forests, humans have extended short- and medium-term times to forests, such as activities to accelerate tree growth. Climate change seems to distract the idea of nature’s long-term time adding new perceptions of heritage and temporal urgency.

Time, invisible to human senses, relates both to the forest itself and to human footprints. Forests seem to ’preserve’ time, creating an image of agelessness. Due to forests’ long-term time, traces of past human generations, cultures, and institutions, such as management practices, are detectable in contemporary forests. Forests today are largely shaped by past societies, whereas contemporary societies define future forests.

Time of humans and forests intersect in many ways. Our panel contributes to exploring different interconnections between time, humans (societies), and forests. We invite diverse forms of engagement in how we manifest peoples’ and societies’ time versus the time of the forest. What decisions, conflicts, and solutions exist when human/societal time connects with forest time? How have different time scales and the friction between these affected societies and forests?

Convenors: Jaana Laine (LUT University), Lotten Gustafsson-Reinius (Stockholm University / Nordiska museet), Jukka Nyyssönen (Norsk institutt for  kulturminneforskning)


WCEH2024 OULU 19-23 August, 2024
4th World Congress of Environmental History

Transitions, Transformations and Transdisciplinarity: Histories beyond History

With this overarching conference theme, WCEH2024 aims to emphasize both the arc of time and the importance of bringing diverse approaches to bear on contemporary problems. The conference will illuminate the value of historical understandings that go far beyond the discipline of history. Environmental history is to be seen as an evolving practice, one that is created in conversation across multiple fields, concerns, and communities.

The theme speaks to instances of transitions (between eras and regimes of human impact, between unsustainable and sustainable practices); of transformations (of ecologies and landscapes, of practices and expectations); and of transdisciplinarity (across methods, theories, traditions, and audiences).