From Forest Monitor blog via SAF Linked In . The author, Rafal Chudy of Oregon State, asked the question “are there empty formulas in the U.S.” and we have described some here in the 2012 planning rule, but I’m sure they are fairly common. It’s a natural human tendency to agree to something when you have to, and try to reinterpret it later under more favorable conditions to your point of view. Here’s a link, and below is an excerpt.
During a Forest Policy course in Sweden, I remember very well your lecture where you were talking about “empty formulas” in forest policy.
Could you explain to Forest Monitor readers what are “empty formulas”?
– “Empty formulas” are frequently used by political language. They demonstrate an agreement by a formula or a specific wording, but which lack substance due to the use of vague and general terms. Everybody agrees on “Sustainable Forestry” which serves ecological, economic and social needs. But the meaning of such a general goal for a specific stand is vague and open. It includes harvested stands as well as set-asides. During policy implementation “empty formulas” then need to be specified to come up with a solution.
The attractiveness of empty formulas is that they communicate the impression of political solutions where in practice no agreement was found between conflicting interests. Therefore empty formulas are strongly used by actors in cases with weak decision making procedures, e.g. in international forest policy. The disadvantage is that empty formulas, which sometimes are even part of laws, leave decision space for substantial decision in implementation dominated by powerful actors.