World Wood Day – Celebrating “Wood is Good” by Cultural Approach
Report by Howard Rosen, Coordinator of IUFRO Working Party 5.10.01 Wood Culture, http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-5/50000/51000/51001/ , and Andrew Wong, Deputy Coordinator of IUFRO Division 5 Forest Products, http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-5/50000/ .
How would you like to go the a celebration with people from 93 countries, including wood carvers and turners making art pieces, musical groups playing wooden instruments, tree planting to improve the environment, talks on how the use of wood has affected people’s lives throughout history, and other entertainment such as folk dancing and puppeteering? Well one just occurred in Odunpazarı District of Eskişehir, Turkey, from March 6-31, 2015 with over 400 attendees.
Endorsed by IUFRO, these celebrations of World Wood Day (WWD) occur around March 21st each year. The main event is about one-week long and the post-events can last several weeks. The events are focused on wood culture, which encompasses the human use of wood: the value and the way people use wood in society. Wood culture can include: activities with wood, human or societal attitudes toward wood, wood products, and wood-related environments. WWD is celebrated on the same day as the UN-declared International Day of Forests, which calls for global society to support sustainable forestry that in turn would yield sustainable wood production, forest products, and wood culture for future generations. This year was the third WWD celebration, the first was in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2013 and the second in Xianyou, Fujian Province, China in 2014. Regional events have also been held throughout the world.
At the recent celebration, booths were setup so that the hundreds of people of all ages from the general public and other attendees could view and learn from woodcarvers, wood turners, furniture makers, and folk artisans. (Odunpazarı Mayor Kazim Kurt looks at the carvings of Yecid Robayo from Columbia.) Events also included demonstrations and, performances of various wooden musical instruments and a special children’s program over several days. A technical symposium with 31 speakers was held under the heading of Wood and Humanity: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Sustainable Development. The day after WWD, many of the attendees traveled to a local community park to plant black pine (Pinus nigra) tree saplings to emphasize the need for a sustainable source of trees for both beauty and products. Two unique highlights of the 2015 celebration included an international, collaborative project with 23 artisans from 17 countries that designed and constructed a timber “bridge” (arch) and erected it in the town square a few blocks from the venue of the meeting (see accompanying photo of the arch with the artisans).
You might ask, how did this all come about. The International Wood Culture Society (IWCS) was founded in the United States in 2007 as a non-profit, non-governmental international network of wood enthusiasts, dedicated to the research, education and promotion of wood culture. IWCS established the World Wood Day Foundation (WWDF) several years later to hold annual World Wood Day celebrations and to manage funds and grants to carry out the foundation’s missions. The connection to IUFRO was the formation of Working Party 5.10.01 Wood Culture within IUFRO Division 5 Forest Products. The programs have been interconnected since the formation of the Wood Culture Working Party.