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Ways to mainstream Biodiversity and Forest Education – COFO 24

FAO Headquarters held the 24TH Committee on Forestry and the 6th World Forest Week.
After I had my Italian breakfast, with a cappuccino and a croissant, I walked into the FAO atrium and the ambiance was welcoming the international guests into a colorful and ”forested” scenario.
The conference presented a rich programme including the COFO 24th ’s plenary sessions, and the 6th World Forest Week , characterized by high-level dialogues and open-discussions in the side events.
My attention gets caught by an item related to “Mainstreaming Biodiversity into agriculture, forestry, and fishery”.  FAO is actively promoting the creation of a platform for the establishment of multi-stakeholders dialogues and joint actions, in collaboration with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Its aims are to better understand how sustainable food production can embrace biodiversity issues, and to develop and apply new instruments to enhance the biodiversity concerns and conservation from the local to the international level.
“In forestry, Sustainable Forest Management and REDD+ are actions which are clearly leading towards reaching these goals, but more efforts need to apply at the country level. It is necessary to think about integration practices and implementation, rather than conservation itself” said Ms. Irene Hoffman, Secretary of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
‘What are the possible ways or elements necessary for mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in the forest sector?’ Below the main points mentioned during an open dialogue, which has seen the participation of experts from all over the world.

  • Good governance is one key, including strong governmental regulations in synergy with voluntary regional measures highlighted by Mr. Tim Christophersen, UN Environment
  • Embracing restoration practices to enhance the diversity in the ecosystems
  • Raising awareness and concern about biodiversity to the general public, with the application of a cross-sectoral cooperation and long-term approach

The Austrian representative reported cases of successful participatory processes on Sustainable Forest Management practices. Community monitoring practices were also reported by the Mexican speaker, to better understand the meaning of biodiversity, through flora and birds identification-workshops.
An interesting online source to mention is FAO’s Sustainable Forest Management toolbox; created as a multi-thematic and user-friendly tool for increasing SFM implementation worldwide. It targets forest owners, managers, and other stakeholders in order to share their experiences and enhance their knowledge.
Forest education was another topic discussed during the convention. It is clear that education plays a crucial and interdisciplinary role, starting from kids to young professionals and experts. It should provide innovation and diversify answers to face the actual global challenges, looking at the achievement of the Sustainable Developments Goals, for example. Forest education should enhance capacity building and practical experiences locally and across countries for a sustainable future.  “Forest is a free laboratory for children” said Ms. Janet Martires, Project Development and Information, Education and Community specialist, Kids-to-Forest-Asia.
The International Forestry Students Association’s delegation created COFO 24 series, short online lessons. This is an initiative to report and share the conference’s insights to the general public outside the FAO’s venue.
A winning starting point to share knowledge and learn from each other!

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