Document Type


Publication Date



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.

Publisher's Statement

© 2013 by the author(s). Publisher's version of record:

Publication Title

Ecology and Society


Publisher's PDF



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.