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Re-inventing the wheel or shaping agriculture and forest resilience exchange instead?

Despite the continued funding of scientific projects, new knowledge, innovative ideas and methods from practice are not sufficiently captured and spread. The research findings are often not integrated into agricultural and forestry practice. 

Let’s imagine that there was no exchange of knowledge between countries. Every nation would be forced to reinvent the wheel, on its own, when someone, elsewhere, had already done so. You may think that this situation is not possible in the interconnected 21st century but, for some types of knowledge, this is still the case. 

The publication and dissemination of scientific articles in scientific journals is a well-trodden path. A few global printing houses offer worldwide access to discoveries and innovations described according to scientific thinking, and in English: the global scientific language. However, knowledge and innovation do not belong exclusively to scientists. Thousands of practitioners, managers, policy makers or teachers innovate in their daily professional lives. With a bit of luck, these innovations are not only applied, but also published in a report or a factsheet, or conveyed to colleagues from the same region or country at technical conferences, field visits, or regional or national congresses (all in the local language). And they don’t go further, as in most cases their creators do not have the mandate to disseminate them internationally. 

In the fields of agriculture and forestry, the European Commission has been aware of this problem for years. To address this issue, it finances a series of projects called thematic networks through the Horizon Europe research and innovation funding programme. Thematic networks “focus on knowledge sharing in a language that is easy to understand and targeted to farmers and foresters. They […] address the necessity of primary producers for impartial and tailored knowledge on the management choices related to the needs, challenges or opportunities they experience.” Thematic networks last two to three years and focus on a topic in need of urgent dissemination of existing knowledge, both practical and applied research results. 

The LandNet thematic network

May 2023 sees the launch of the LandNet thematic network, developed by the ResAlliance project (Landscape resilience knowledge alliance for agriculture and forestry in the Mediterranean basin, as full title). Over two years and a half, the LandNet will facilitate information and knowledge flow and increase the awareness, understanding, and capacity of farmers and foresters (professionals from private companies, policy makers, and public administrations, as well as members of the education and research communities) on landscape resilience in Mediterranean countries. The LandNet will survey farmers and foresters to assess their practical needs, gaps, and barriers when facing hazards caused by climate change, notably wildfires and droughts, and it will gather and disseminate practical solutions existing in Mediterranean countries that address these challenges by supporting the resilience of landscapes. These solutions, written in plain language to practitioners, will be technological, financial, management, and governance. 

The 16 partners of the ResAlliance project are located in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Tunisia and Lebanon. Even with the partners’ in-depth knowledge of agricultural and forestry actors and their practices, stakeholders like you are invited to join the LandNet in order to contribute to the collection of solutions to maintain or increase the resilience of agricultural and forested landscapes, both in the northern and southern Mediterranean, both east and west. 

In addition, stakeholders in Northern Portugal, Catalonia (Spain), Sardinia (Italy), Peloponnese (Greece) or Cyprus will be able to participate in the LandLabs‘ face-to-face, free-of-charge activities. The LandLabs will carry out workshops, showrooms, and field visits, and will participate in national fairs and exhibitions. The objective of the LandLabs is to enable stakeholders to identify and adapt to their own region the best solutions from other countries. LandLabs activities are in local language. You can become a member of a LandLab by registering on LandNet

Whether to disseminate your solutions or to discover those that already exist in other countries, we invite you to stay informed through the ResAlliance website and our newsletter

This article was originally written by:
Eduard Mauri, European Forest Institute, ResAlliance project coordinator 

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