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“If we want a sustainable future, the ecosystem needs it as well”

An interview with Pierre Ibisch, professor for Nature Conservation

Forests are among our planet’s most important human life-supporting ecosystems, and we have many expectations with regards to the ecosystem services they provide. But: How do major global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss affect forests globally, and what can forest governance and management do? How can we deal with rising and changing demands for forest products and ecosystem services due to global population and economic growth, and urbanization?   

In order to discuss these questions, the conference “Governing and managing forests for multiple ecosystem services” brought together policymakers, practitioners and academic researchers from different fields on 26-28 February in Bonn. During this event, EFI in collaboration with the documentary filmmaker Patrick Augenstein, interviewed Pierre Ibisch, Professor for Nature Conservation at Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development. 

How much progress did we make since the Earth Summit 1992? With regards to this question Pierre Ibisch also has some very personal memories to share. His first research project brought him to Bolivia in the 1990s, where he lived for a couple of years. He remembers that he was hoping to have seen the worst-case scenario of degraded land in his career, as he was convinced things could not get worse. In the coming years, this assumption was proved wrong, when he discovered dramatic changes within relatively short time there. Based on his experiences, he dedicated his research to both Biodiversity studies and to the field of restoration and natural potential of recovery.  

Pierre further points out that there is a lot of confusion towards the term of “restoration”, mainly caused by humans who are convinced to be more clever than ecosystems. However, he says that “Natural Ecosystems cannot keep up with the pace of Climate change. It is a worrying scenario to have potential of worsening the situation”.

He questions human’s behavior and emphasizes that we have to better support our ecosystems and learn from its resilient capacities. “If we want a sustainable future, the ecosystem needs it as well”, he states. That is why one of his latest publications is called: ”Humans in the Global Ecosystem and Forest Restoration”. The title stresses how humans influence and cause changing ecosystems. 

Finally, he risks an outlook with promising observations of a passionate scientist who traveled a lot. He met enthusiastic people around the globe who are very committed and work towards a more sustainable future every day.  

The interview with Pierre Ibisch is part of a series of interviews, all produced during the conference.


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