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Media and social licence: on being publicly useful in Tasmanian forests conflict


Lester, L, Media and social licence: on being publicly useful in Tasmanian forests conflict, Forestry, 89, (5) pp. 542-551. ISSN 0015-752X (2016) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Institute of Chartered Foresters. This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research following peer review. The version of record s available online at

DOI: doi:10.1093/forestry/cpw015


This article analyses the role of media in the representation and circulation of the term ‘social licence’ within public debate. It does so in the context of an increasingly global political economy of forests, growing public interest in resource procurement and environmental sustainability, and new forms of mediatized environmental conflict that carry volatile notions of ‘the affected’. Drawing on a longitudinal study of the three-decade-long conflict over forests and forestry in the Australia’s southern island state of Tasmania, this research outlines the emergence, embedding and decline of the term ‘social licence’ in national and local media coverage. The article argues that the term’s openness and strategic deployment by stakeholders in news media exposes industries, markets and communities to continuing conflict, while making the term a site for conflict itself. The article concludes by asking how – within the context of expanding international markets and complex supply chains, and sophisticated use of media by campaigners, corporations and governments – ‘social licence’ can be a publicly useful concept.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:media, environmental conflict, Tasmania forestry public debate, transnational, social licence
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Communication and media studies
Research Field:Media studies
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Communication
Objective Field:The media
UTAS Author:Lester, L (Professor Libby Lester)
ID Code:107034
Year Published:2016
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP150103454)
Web of Science® Times Cited:23
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2016-03-02
Last Modified:2021-03-04
Downloads:15 View Download Statistics

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