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A learning approach to forest policy and management

Written by Laura Dieguez

Finding a balance between the changing social demands on various forest ecosystem goods and services has for long challenged policy makers and practitioners in Europe. Particularly, the integration of wood production and biodiversity conservation has often been marked by heated debates. In the light of this, the European collaborative research project “POLYFORES” was born (POLYFORES: Decision-making Support for Forest Ecosystem Services in Europe – Value Assessment, Synergy Effects and Trade-Offs), carried out in Germany by the Professorship for Forest and Environmental Policy of the University of Freiburg, and funded under the SUMFOREST Era-Net.

In November of 2019, a POLYFORES workshop took place in Freiburg im Breisgau. The workshop was seeking to generate interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge, to support decision makers in policy and practices to find a balance between the different demands on German forest ecosystem services. Following a transdisciplinary approach, more than 30 scientists, practitioners and decision-makers from the field of forestry and biodiversity protection from various German regions took part in the planning of different forest management scenarios.

Workshop participants learn about tree microhabitats and the economic values of forest sites through the use of I+ Trainer. Photo credit: Andreas Schuck

The Rosskopf Marteloscope located in the Freiburg City Forest provided the location for the exercises that, with the support of a team of experts, allowed participants to explore and learn about the different synergies and trade-offs between wood production and nature conservation. By using the I+ trainer, it is possible to learn about tree microhabitats, the economic value of trees, and the possible outcomes of different thinning decisions.

A learning environment was created through the discussion of the results and decision-making processes. By doing so, participants could share their knowledge and experience with others, and contribute with their ideas for the integration of biodiversity into sustainable forest management. This design also allowed the project researchers to examine the barriers and drivers of learning between these actors as a key support to integrated forest management.


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