Environmental crisis narratives escalate around the world. Their production and consequences demand scholarly attention. Drawing on the analytical tools of political ecology and highlighting long-term historical developments, this article examines the shift to a new narrative of conservation in forestry, which displaces older structures of state forest management. In particular, we explore the emergence and unfolding of a crisis narrative of illegal logging, which escalated in Romania in the last thirty years. Based on long-term research of digital sources, interviews and fieldwork, we analyze the contents of this narrative, the way it produced heroes and villains, and its entanglements with processes of datafication, criminalization, and the surge of forest violence. We argue that (1) the genealogies of the forest crisis narrative can be understood in relation to frontier-specific processes of deregulation and re-territorialization, which generate acute struggles for forest control and legitimacy; (2) the narrative of illegal logging unravells as a media spectacle surrounding the production of data by a plurality of state and non-state actors (3) in the attempts to curtail illegal logging, the emphasis on law, surveillance and criminalization posits forest conservation one step short of militarization, fuelling the trends for global environmental law enforcement and securitization of conservation.
- POLITICAL ECOLOGIES