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Category: education

“Political commitments are not enough”

An Interview with Eva Müller, Director General, Forests, Sustainability and Renewable Resources, BMEL

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 Eva Müller, Director General, Forests, Sustainability and Renewable Resources at the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

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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. 

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Integration of forests, policy and mindsets

Written by Lison Ambroise & Sara Helsen

As part of the IFSA (International Forestry Students’ Organisation) delegation, we had the opportunity to take part in the conference “Governing and managing forests for multiple ecosystem services across the globe” in Bonn. The event did not only gather experts from many different countries, but also transdisciplinarity was the watchword: participants ranged from the field of forest policy to forest management research, and from practitioner to policymaker. 

During the introductory panel, the projects responsible for the organization of the conference were presented. Both the INFORMAR (Integrated Forest Management Learning Architecture) and the POLYFORES (Decision-making support for Forest Ecosystem Services in Europe) project were introduced by Georg Winkel (Head of EFI Bonn), while the Research Training Group ConFoBi (Conservation of Forest Biodiversity in Multiple-Use Landscapes of Central Europe) was presented by Jürgen Bauhus (Freiburg University). After a welcome note by Eva Müller, Head of the Forestry Department of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the first plenary started with a global overview of today’s forest management and practices, a “Tour de la Planète”. From Robert Nasi (Center for International Forest Research, Natalia Lukina (Russian Academy of Sciences), Christian Messier (Université du Québec à Montréal), Ulrich Schraml (Forest Research Institute of Baden-Württemberg), and Eduardo Rojas Briales (Polytechnic University of Valencia) we learned about European forests, tropical forests, Boreal forests – including differences between Russia and Sweden –, Australian and northern American ones, as well as Mediterranean forests. It was obvious that, depending on the localization of the forests and the societal context, the perception of forest ecosystem services differs a lot, as well as forest management. According to Robert Nasi, in some tropical forests, the informal sector accounts for ten times more logging than the formal one and the deforestation rate is still increasing, so what we call “sustainable management” does not seem to be the solution. In Russia, Australia, Canada, and the US, forest management is predominantly segregated, while many European countries apply an integrative approach. Segregation versus integration, that was a returning question. We were impressed by the creativity of Ulrich Schraml (Forest Research Institute of Baden-Württemberg) who illustrated a history of segregation and reintegration using bowling pins in different colors.

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Schools’ Reaction to Fridays for Future: “Green Campus Day” in Freiburg

by Sonja Mewes

The Fridays for Future movement has received not only a lot of attention but also support in our University Town of Freiburg in the south of Germany. This led the Montessori School ANGELL in Freiburg – where I am teaching – to reflect on how to channel this energy of the students to engage and work on concrete projects related to climate change and environment.
In this context, the Montessori Zentrum ANGELL decided to launch an initiative called ‘The Green Campus Day’ on November 15th, 2019. Our teachers suggested a range of projects in the area of climate change, biodiversity, waste reduction and upcycling. We selected all these projects on the basis that our students would learn about their contributions to reduce their carbon footprint, their impact on biodiversity and waste reduction. It was up to the students to select a project of their choice. The age of the students in our group ranged from 12 to 18 years.

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Helping journalists report on complex science

On 11-12 July 2019, nine journalists from six media teams visited the Białowieża Forest to attend the ‘Sound Co-Lab Reporting’ – a workshop introducing audio storytelling techniques to report on forest-related issues. The workshop was part of the Lookout Station which aims to bridge the gap between science and media and bring innovation to newsrooms. The event was organized in collaboration with EUFORGEN to bring forest genetics onto the map of interconnected issues needed to decipher today’s complex problems.

Białowieża Forest, a UNESCO-protected site on the border between Poland and Belarus, is known worldwide for its high conservation value and for a history of controversy over conservation and forest management.

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A SINCERE interest in forest ecosystem services

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” -John Muir

Forests have more to offer than timber and wood products. Through its multifunctional nature, it provides several other goods and services such as carbon sequestration, erosion control and the provision of clean water. These benefits which people obtain from forests can collectively be referred to as “forest ecosystem services”.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) 2005 report classifies ecosystem services into three categories:

  • Provisioning services (e.g. food, fresh water, firewood)
  • Regulatory services (e.g. climate regulation, carbon sequestration)
  • Cultural ecosystem services (nonmaterial benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation, and aesthetic experiences)
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When school becomes holiday – Exploring forest resilience from all the angles

It’s funny how one starts to miss the things they previously would have been glad to give up. In my case, I realized I have missed sitting in lecture rooms. That is why I was so eager to participate the summer school “Forest Resilience” organized by the SwissForestLab, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) and NFZ.forestnet. The school took place in Davos, Switzerland from 18th to 24th of August. There were 20 students from 10 different countries and diverse backgrounds.

Resilience is a complex, multiscalar and interdisciplinary issue. It touches topics from tree growth to disturbance regimes, from human behaviour to economics and insurances. The summer school had made considerable effort to fit these different perspectives into a packed but mind-grabbing programme. We started with lectures on the social and economic aspects of resilience. As many of us had more natural sciences background, there was a lot of new information to chew on.

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Green jobs: different names, same thing? Perspectives from half-year reflection of the project’s milestones

The change to a greener economy offers important opportunities to create decent jobs and create social inclusion, besides leading the global economy to a path of sustainable growth…These changes give an opportunity to change all the shortcomings in the forest sector.

(Forest Europe, 2014)

Written by Juliet Achieng

The mention of green jobs elicits different reactions among people. For some, it is the hope of better tidings for the forest sector, for others it’s just a fancy term that has no clear meaning while for others it just brings more confusion and questions than answers. But who will shed light on this buzz word? The Green Jobs project brings together three international organizations (European Forest Institute, International Union of Forest Research Organizations and International Forestry Students Association) with research and networking prowess to attempt to give answers to this puzzle. We also aim to shed light on the changes in employment that have been happening as well as the drivers of these changes in different regions and what trends could be anticipated in the future with regards to employment in the sector. Skills and competencies needed for future employment are also a vital component of our project. Through a clearly defined research approach, consisting of a literature review, workshop, survey and rapid employers’ interviews, we aim to adequately tackle these topics and provide a more elaborate picture. 

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