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IUFRO Spotlight #65 – Tying up loose ends in gender equality in forestry

IUFRO Spotlight #65 – Tying up loose ends in gender equality in forestry

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Social movement by indigenous women (temporarily) stops mining inside community forest in Odisha, India.
Social movement by indigenous women (temporarily) stops mining inside community forest in Odisha, India. Credit: Landing Together Film/Purabi Bose, date 28/08/2016

“In recent years gender equality in forestry has received a lot of attention – or lip service, anyway – but that’s not good enough. There exist a lot of loose ends at the practice and at the policy level,” said Dr. Purabi Bose, author, social environmental scientist, filmmaker and deputy coordinator of the IUFRO Gender and Forestry Research Group.

That’s the theme of a session – Women and Forests: Promoting Gender Equality Connecting Research, Public Policies and Forest Management in the Tropics – that Dr. Bose and Dr. Ana Euler, of Embrapa, are organizing and presenting at the IUFRO World Congress in Brazil this fall.

“Our session will address some of those loose ends,” said Dr. Bose. “And, what makes our session different is the platform. For the first time the IUFRO Congress is being held in Latin America and, being one of the oldest and most relevant congresses related to forests and tree science, we’ll get a diverse range of stakeholders from across the globe as well as Latin America, to share their evidence-based work.”

Dr. Euler noted that even though gender equality may not be a new subject worldwide, that’s not true in Latin America. “It just isn’t being widely discussed within the forest sector here.”

In her opinion, one of the major challenges is getting women to the decision-making tables where they can be part of the discussion. “To be present, is step one. To be heard and respected would be the second,” she said.

Dr. Bose said: “We talk about gender equality, which is the end goal. But to reach that end goal, I would argue the need to work on ‘equity and social diversity’.  Many fail to understand these nuances of gender dynamics.

“Even today ‘gender’ is often mistaken for women and-or feminist things. Researchers often assume they are talking about gender while, in reality, they are only assessing the role of women,” she continued.

“The biggest challenge, as I see it, is the risk of putting gender in a separate box rather than accepting that gender dynamics exist – in different strata of societies, in diverse landscapes, at different degrees.

“The categorization of ‘women’ as a homogenous group is a big obstacle. We need to create a level playing field for indigenous women from the global south vs. urban women in developed countries,” Dr. Bose said.

Dr. Euler added: “We want to avoid ‘gender roles’ and the concentration of women in (limited) specific sectors. That means women can, and should, play central roles in research, public policies and forest management in the tropics and elsewhere.

“This will be an important moment to discuss and evaluate the bottlenecks and challenges that are still present in the forest sector,” she said. “As an example, until last year there was no organization dedicated to the promotion of gender equality in Brazil’s forest sector and that encouraged the creation of the Rede Mulher Florestal (Forest Women’s Network).”

“We need to understand the existing gender roles,” said Dr. Bose, “which in many indigenous communities have been relatively better than in urban or rural context.

“My research work with indigenous communities in the tropics shows that men and women play an equitable role in forest conservation, yet implementation of policies are often gender biased.” As an example, she pointed to India’s recent draft National Forest Policy, which fails to mention terms like gender or women.

There have been some successes, Dr. Bose said. “Women have been in the forefront and often the media fail to highlight the success. In fact just a short while ago we saw indigenous women from the Brazilian Amazon successfully protesting for forest rights. And in Asia and Africa there have been some shifts in forest policy toward providing women access rights to collect non-timber forest products.”

But so far it has been local social movements that have primarily led to these achievements. Now, she said, it’s time for the international community to step up and show support.

Women are discussing community development indicators for the Açai fruit production chain in Afuá, Pará State, Brazil
Women are discussing community development indicators for the Açai fruit production chain in Afuá, Pará State, Brazil. Credit: Ana Euler; date 14/05/2019

Fernanda Rodrigues, president of the Board of Directors of Rede Mulher Florestal, who will be a panel member at the session, added: “Because there will be women representatives from northern countries, it will certainly make the Congress discussion even more interesting in terms of exchanges of experiences and proposing a positive agenda going forward.

“This Congress session will help us better understand the position of women in the forestry sector, especially as it relates to entrepreneurship, public policy and networking,” Ms. Rodrigues said. “And also in helping to build a collaborative women’s tropical forest network, engaging professionals and students from the different forestry sectors.”

Dr. Euler pointed out, “we don’t have a lot of information about gender equality successes in the tropics but the Rede Mulher Florestal is going to launch a public call to receive and disseminate such successes. And the Congress will help by providing a platform.”

“Ana (Euler) and I have only met through Skype so far,” said Dr. Bose. “But we’ve learned by working together on this session that we are both trying to achieve the same goal – to learn and share knowledge on gender and forestry in the tropics.

“We’re looking forward to building a strong collaboration involving our panellists, our audience and other networks. I think our session could be seen as a stepping stone to shape the next-gen issues under gender and forestry,” she concluded.

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IUFRO Spotlight is an initiative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. Its aim is to introduce, in a timely fashion, significant findings in forest research from IUFRO officeholders and member organizations to a worldwide network of decision makers, policy makers and researchers.

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Burn notice: Fire’s reality in the 21st century

Burn notice: Fire’s reality in the 21st century

NOTE: This text is reblogged without any changes from an article written by Hugh Biggar (Landscape News) about IUFRO Occasional Paper 32 – Global Fire Challenges in a Warming World, at


As a result of the extreme weather driven by climate change, fires are an increasingly common fact of life globally – one that calls for new approaches to living with fire, according to a report developed by a multinational team of experts.

“Data shows a trend of increasing frequency and intensity of uncontrolled fires adversely affecting biodiversity, ecological systems, human well-being and livelihood, and national economies,” says the report from the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) and the World Bank’s Program on Forests (PROFOR). Read more…

Congress Spotlight #64: Latest in forest science to be showcased in Brazil

Latest in forest science to be showcased in Brazil

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IUFRO Spotlight issues up to September 2019 will primarily focus on the XXV IUFRO World Congress that will take place on 29 September – 5 October 2019 in Curitiba, Brazil.

Individual Congress sessions will be highlighted in order to draw attention to the broader Congress themes, the wide variety of topics that will be addressed at the Congress and their importance on a regional and global scale.

Visit the Congress website at or

For the first Spotlight in this series we have invited Dr. Jerry Vanclay, Chair of the IUFRO World Congress Scientific Committee, to offer a sneak peak of the attractive and comprehensive technical program and talk about his personal expectations of the Congress.


Read more…

How Do Professionals Find the Science They Need?

The Society of American Foresters held seven small group dialogues throughout the United States.  One of the questions discussed was how natural resources professionals—resource managers and policy-makers—find the science they need to do their jobs.  66 people attended the dialogues.  Over half represented non-governmental organizations and public agencies.  Elected officials, university faculty and industry practitioners were also represented.

Six Key Findings Emerged

Figure 1. Word cloud of the 68 coded and indexed major points that emerged from all seven dialogues.

On-line searches are the most popular approach.  Google Scholar and ResearchGate are the favored applications.  Google Scholar is a web-crawler, indexing content across most peer-reviewed on-line academic journals and many other technical documents.  ResearchGate is a networking site for researchers, who upload publications to share, seek and provide answers to questions, and search for potential collaborators. Read more…

Spotlight #63 – What’s in the future for Non-Timber Forest Products?

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The roots of many forest plants are harvested for their medicinal values. Changes in climate and lack of management may imperil their long-term sustainability and the people who depend on them. Photo credit: James Chamberlain, USDA Forest Service.

The Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has recently published “…the most comprehensive assessment covering the production and management of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and resources – as well as the cultural, social, economic, and policy dynamics that affect them.” The assessment covers every state in the U.S.

But the findings can be utilized far beyond the U.S. borders. Read more…

Spotlight #62 – How and why criteria and indicators have changed forest management since the Rio Summit

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Regeneration is also covered by indicators for SFM. Photo: S. Linser.

Sparked in part by the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, the use of criteria and indicators (C&I) for sustainable forest management (SFM) has become an ever more present aspect of forest management.

Since that ’92 summit, “the focus of academic attention has been mainly on global forest governance with a research gap regarding regional (or international) forest related processes,” said Dr. Stefanie Linser of the European Forest Institute, who is also co-ordinator of IUFRO Working Party 9.01.05 on research and development of indicators for SFM. Read more…

Spotlight #61 – Digging into soil and what it means to earth’s survival

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The new living structures are the result of the re-elaboration of the old ones. Soil plays the main role in the process. So, humans who endanger life on our planet express a severe disagreement with a natural harmony that risks triggering negative feedback for the species. This always occurs to other species, why shouldn’t it happen to us? In: Zanella et al., 2018. Humusica 1, article 1: Essential bases – Vocabulary. Applied Soil Ecology, 122 (Part a), pp. 10–21.

Most people think of soil simply as something that grass, trees and other plants grow in and on.

But nothing could be further from the truth, says Dr. Augusto Zanella. Below in quotes, some key concepts gathered during an IUFRO Spotlight interview.

“Soils – in the forest and elsewhere – involve and affect ‘normal life’. They modify the air we breathe, they influence the climate, impact the food we eat and the water we drink”.

“Soil is not a substrate or a source of nutrients. It is a living matrix that sustains the functioning of every ecosystem”.

“It works like an efficient bank. It capitalizes energy and nutrients to be delivered for building and sustaining more complex and efficient ecosystems. It is a source of new materials, continuously generated from biodegradation and re-elaboration of dead structures”. Read more…

Spotlight #60 – Creating a virtuous circle in forest operations

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A newly published study entitled Sustainable Forest Operations (SFO): A new paradigm in a changing world and climate, indicates that “climate change, as well as the increasing demand for forest products, requires a rethinking of forest operations in terms of sustainability.”

The complex system of relationships involved in the SFO concept and its five performance areas including: Economics; ergonomics; environment; quality optimization; and people and society. (Credit: Enrico Marchi, Florence University, Italy)

The study suggests that the SFO concept provides integrated perspectives and approaches to effectively address ongoing and foreseeable challenges while balancing forest operations performance across economic, environmental and social sustainability objectives.

This new concept emphasizes that forest workers’ ergonomics, health and safety, and utilization efficiency and waste management are additional key elements that enrich the understanding of the sustainability in SFO.

In addition, through the promotion of afforestation and reforestation, improved forest management, and green building and furnishing, the SFO concept further emphasizes the role of wood as a renewable and environmentally friendly material. Read more…

IUFRO - The International Union of Forest Research Organizations