Efforts to develop extensive forest-based climate change vulnerability assessments have informed proposed management and policy options intended to promote improved on-the-ground policy outcomes. These assessments are derived from a rich vulnerability literature and are helpful in modeling complex ecosystem interactions, yet their policy relevance and impact has been limited. We argue this is due to structural-functional logic underpinning these assessments in which governance is treated as a procedural “black box” and policy-making as an undifferentiated and unproblematic output of a political system responding to input changes and/or system prerequisites. Like an earlier generation of systems or cybernetic thinking about political processes, the focus in these assessments on macro system-level variables and relationships fails to account for the multi-level or polycentric nature of governance and the possibility of policy processes resulting in the nonperformance of critical tasks.
Ecology and Society
Wellstead, Adam; Howlett, Michael; and Rayner, Jeremy, "The neglect of governance in forest sector vulnerability assessments: Structural-functionalism and “black box” problems in climate change adaptation planning" (2013). Department of Social Sciences Publications. 6.