Discussions with young people from across the continent at the European Summer School “Creating Forest Experiences”
To “spur curiosity and appreciation” by putting a proof of origin on forest products – this was only one out of many ideas discussed during the one-week long European Summer School “Creating Forest Experiences”. The event was organized by the Protection of the German Forest Organisation (“Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald”) in Freusburg, Rhineland-Palatinate from 9th – 13th July 2018. Young adults from various backgrounds learned and debated about the economic, ecological and social function of forests. The programme included keynotes and interactive workshops. In the course of the week, the participants developed forest projects on recreation for young people. Furthermore, they created the idea of the “interactive forest path”: a hiking trail where you can choose different options that bring you to distinct parts and stories of the forest.
Voices and impressions from the summer school were now compiled in a nice short video (English and German version). In the video, the participants share their experiences but also political messages related to forests. George, for instance, highlights the necessity to get out of the foresters world and to learn in an interdisciplinary setting: “Foresters are really good to stay only with foresters, communicating only with foresters; so to get that outlook from other backgrounds I guess to what we need to do to fix forestry problems was really exciting for me” he says. Léa calls for more action: “Our lives depend on healthy forests. Therefore we ask you to take action”. There is also the request for more participation in policy making: ”We have new ideas and fresh perspectives. Include youth in policy making!”.
In the framework of the summer school, I gave a presentation on European forests. As a researcher, I think it is especially important to get into contact with young people and to present my and the research perspective and vision of the forest and to discuss these with them. African swine fever, tree communication via fungal network, political struggles over forests and wilderness zones in Europe – these are only some of the topics during an inspiring week. And I had the impression: Curiosity and appreciation were definitely spurred during this summer school!
See here the German version of the video
More information on the summerschool here.