Theorising and analysing the forest-based bioeconomy through a global production network lens

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There is a multiplicity of bioeconomies and transition pathways, many of which are radically different from the biotechnological approach dominating in Western and Northern Europe. While the empirical basis for understanding this diversity is growing, also in the Global South, there is a lack of bioeconomic learning from existing allied theories. This paper applies global production network theory to the forest-based bioeconomy. Specifically, we focus on internationally traded renewable environmental products and identify an analytical framework for empirical investigation of the forest-based bioeconomy. We then apply the approach to the case of commercial medicinal plants in Nepal, using the example of the trade in air-dried bulbs of the Himalayan herbaceous plant Fritillaria cirrhosa in 2014–14 and 2021–22 with empirical data from structured interviews with traders (n = 65 and n = 79 for the two observation years) supplemented with interviews in the first period with harvesters (n = 540), central wholesalers (n = 73), processing industries (n = 79), and regional wholesalers in India and Tibet (n = 78). We find that global production network theory, and the associated array of analytical devices, can inform empirical investigation of the forest-based bioeconomy by operationalising the bioeconomy concept and grounding findings within an established theoretical frame and its associated emerging body of literature. The empirical application also demonstrated the possible policy outcomes from such empirical analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103128
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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© 2023 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Commercialisation, Environmental products, Forest policy, Frameworks, Nepal, Trade

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