Submission Date


Document Type



Environmental Studies

Second Department

International Relations


Johannes Karreth

Second Adviser

Patrick Hurley

Committee Member

Denise Finney

Department Chair

Leah Joseph

Department Chair

Rebecca Evans

Project Description

Forests play a major role in reducing levels of Greenhouse gasses which are a major contributor to global warming. Conversely, deforestation is a major contributor to climate change. This study examines the concept of good forest governance, dispelling notions that resource use needs to be a zero-sum game. Rather, it identifies local collective agreements as espoused by Elinor Ostrom in Governing the Commons as the best means of balancing the undeniable economic potential of converting forests to other uses (grazing, farming, and mining) with the more sustainable approach of protecting forests for their environmental benefit. For Ostrom, these collective agreements are the most promising approach to achieving good governance which protects forests, reduces deforestation, and creates a sustainable balance between economic growth and forest preservation. Despite a major focus of states, international organizations, NGOs, and foreign aid donors, improving forest governance has proven to be a challenge. Using efforts in Brazil and Indonesia to implement forest governance, this study uses the PEAT (Participation, capacity for Enforcement, Accountability, and Transparency) framework to evaluate the role of state actors, non-governmental organizations, agribusiness, and Indigenous people and local communities in forest governance. By presenting a structured comparison of forest governance in these two countries, the thesis seeks to highlight successful efforts to improve forest governance, identify persistent obstacles, and extract lessons from each case that can be applied to improve forest governance elsewhere.