About that Forest

also known as Forest@Risk

 

How incentives, institutions, and worldviews sustain the common good… or lead to the tragedy

About that Forest

aka Forest@Risk

How incentives, institutions, and worldviews sustain the common good… or lead to the tragedy

A winner of the Nobel prize in economics, Elinor Ostrom listed a number of conditions that enable individuals and organizations to avoid the tragedy of the commons. As with all theories, however, putting these principles into practice may not be easy. Conflicting values, short-term focus, and reluctance towards imposed regulations may undermine any efforts to reach effective and sustainable resource management.

A winner of the Nobel prize in economics, Elinor Ostrom listed a number of conditions that enable individuals and organizations to avoid the tragedy of the commons. As with all theories, however, putting these principles into practice may not be easy. Conflicting values, short-term focus, and reluctance towards imposed regulations may undermine any efforts to reach effective and sustainable resource management.

About that Forest

Meanwhile, inclusive solutions that adopt multiple worldviews may prove successful in long term even though they may not be optimal for all. With the broader group of stakeholders the range of possible options and tested solutions expands. All this leads to more stable rules for effective management of common goods, such as forest, clean freshwater, healthy ecosystems, or public safety.

About that Forest

The About That Forest game is a sandbox for exploring how individual and collective behavior is affected by economic incentives, institutions, and moral norms. In a simple world of a community jointly managing their forest, participants can negotiate and act towards prosperity or… fail and end up struggling with the tragedy of the commons.

The About That Forest game is a sandbox for exploring how individual and collective behavior is affected by economic incentives, institutions, and moral norms. In a simple world of a community jointly managing their forest, participants can negotiate and act towards prosperity or… fail and end up struggling with the tragedy of the commons.

About that Forest

Players become the members of a village community who live off the jointly managed forest. While the community rules don’t always match their individual needs, players passionately argue about them, rebel or renegotiate conditions. The dilemmas faced by villagers serves as a metaphor for social, economic, and cultural processes driving critical sustainability issues.

The game has been played in Austria, Poland, Hungary, China, Ireland, and many other countries. About that Forest is also regularly used as an experimental research tool at IIASA.

Benefits

Explore economic, social, and cultural aspects of common goods management

Conduct experimental, cross-cutting research with a flexible and engaging tool

Let your students experience the tragedy of the commons and test possible strategies to prevent it

See how various incentives, institutions and worldviews affect individual and collective ability to negotiate, cooperate, or compete

Technical details

1-2 hours + debriefing min. 1 hour

1-2 hours + debriefing min. 1 hour

10-30

10-30

1 computer or tablet per each player or team of players

1 computer or tablet per each player or team of players

What participants say

  • In the game we covered individual decision making or collective decision making on risk and uncertainty. I think we all learnt that it has to be both. We have to think about our own good, income, good education for us, for our families. At the same time we have to think about our collective wellbeing. (...) So I think it was a big success. It was fun for both the teachers and the students.

    Reinhard Mechler
    IIASA, Risk Policy and Vulnerability program, deputy director
  • I think it’s a very good simulation of what is happening in reality. You see how much personal factors play a role, and how much selfish interests play a role, and how insanely difficult it is to follow a collective goal.

    A participant of the European Forum Alpbach

Contact





The game was developed in collaboration with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).