Many centuries ago, a Greek philosopher noted that change is the only constant in life.
And change is brought about, in many instances, through discourse.
Discourse has been described in part as: “an ensemble of ideas, concepts and categories through which meaning is given to social and physical phenomena…”
According to this definition, discourse refers to a particular set of related ideas, which are shared, debated and communicated using different formats.
Through various discourses, we can discover fresh information and be introduced to new and different perspectives. We are able to gain experience and insight. As a result, our thinking, our attitudes, and our approaches toward various issues can evolve and change.
Certainly the ways in which forests are viewed, managed and developed have changed as the discourses concerning them have evolved. Read more…
IUFRO Anniversary Congress Spotlight #55: Genetics research crucial to future forest health, adaptation, conservation and sustainable management
“The role genetics/genomics research can play in forest management is huge but, unfortunately, remains under-utilized,” said Dr. Om Rajora, Professor of Forest Genetics and Genomics at the University of New Brunswick, Canada.
“Genetics/genomics research can greatly assist the management of natural and planted forests by conserving healthy, productive, well-adapted and genetically diverse natural forest and developing high yielding tree varieties with desired traits for deployment in plantations,” he said.
Dr. Rajora is the organizer and coordinator of a session entitled Genetics and Genomics for Conservation, Climate Adaptation and Sustainable Management of Forests to be presented at the IUFRO 125th Anniversary Congress in Freiburg, Germany in September. Read more…
IUFRO 125th Anniversary Congress Spotlight #51 – Pooling resources to meet sub-Saharan forest challenges
Collaboration and cooperation are the keys to facilitating learning and making better use of research outcomes in sub-Saharan African countries facing severe forestry challenges.
That’s the philosophy behind Dr. Joseph Cobbinah’s upcoming session on the impact of forestry research on policy, livelihoods and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. The session will take place at the IUFRO 125th Congress in Freiburg in September. Read more…
Keynote speaker at the IUFRO Regional Congress for Asia and Oceania –
Forests for Sustainable Development: The Role of Research
Professor Zhang, the IUFRO Regional Congress for Asia and Oceania 2016 is jointly organized by IUFRO and the Chinese Academy of Forestry. This is the first Congress of its kind to be held in the region of Asia and Oceania and will offer an extraordinary opportunity for enhancing forest science cooperation. You are one of the leading scientists in silviculture and forest management in China and have a long experience in the establishment of planted forests on the one hand, and sustainable forest management on the other hand. The Congress will particularly focus on these two areas with its themes “Planted forests for fostering a greener economy”, and “Sustainable forest management for enhanced provision of ecosystem services”. Read more…
To manage forests sustainably – think synergy
The title of the publication, produced by the IUFRO Special Project on World Forests, Society and Environment (IUFRO-WFSE), is Forests Under Pressure – Local Responses to Global Issues.
Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Forest Management in a Changing Context
Wednesday, 12 June 2013
The first keynote speaker at IUFROLAT III was Eduardo Mansur, Director of FAO’s Forest Assessment, Management and Conservations Division. He talked about “Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Forest Management in a Changing Context”.
First, however, he conveyed greetings from Eduardo Rojas Briales, Assistant Director-General and Head of the Forestry Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, on whose behalf he was giving this presentation.
Mansur started by asking what the world should be like in 2050, when the world’s population is estimated to have exceeded 9 billion people.
Pressure on natural resources and the need for food will have increased tremendously by that time. He identified the following major challenges:
3) Climate Change
In order to respond adequately to these, which are in fact closely interrelated, he explained various necessary approaches such as the landscape approach. He also underlined the big potential of restoration for improving the environmental situation without affecting food security.
In view of these challenges, the main objectives of FAO are:
1) Eradication of hunger
2) Elimination of poverty and strengthening of economic and social progress
3) Sustainable management of natural resources
Part of the response to these challenges is better governance of resources and more social participation. Integration and inter-sectorial approaches are key here. This is also especially true for forest research, which needs a more integrated approach.
Mansur explained concepts and tools that FAO has worked with so far and will continue to use in the future, such as the concept of sustainability, the forest resources assessment (FRA), criteria and indicators, etc.
In conclusion, he identified communication and social networks as a key tool to change people’s often blurred conceptions especially with regard to forest management. Science and research are essential here as they can provide the data and knowledge which will help to do away with erroneous perceptions and trade-offs between biodiversity and forest use, for example.
The IUFRO/FORNESSA Regional Congress kicked off at the diverse and scenic World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya yesterday. This event which runs from the 25th -29th June marks the first Regional Congress in Africa, providing the opportunity for experts focused on Sub-Saharan African forest issues to come together to share and discuss the hot topics surrounding the region’s forests and trees.
The Congress opened with traditional Kenyan singers who performed for the over 300 participants coming from 40 plus African counties and over 50 countries worldwide – the largest gathering of forest experts Africa has ever seen.
The Congress is organized under the theme “Forests and Trees: Serving the People of Africa and the World” and highlights research under the following 6 themes:
1 – Forests and Climate Change
2 – Forests and Water
3 – Forest Policy, Governance and Trade
4 – Forest Biodiversity and Conservation
5 – Agro-forestry, Energy and Food Security
6 – Education, Training and Institutional Capacity Building
Integrated into the Congress is the ITTO/AFF Policy Day taking place on Thursday, June 28th, which focuses on the policy and science interface for sustainable forest management in Africa.
Scientific cooperation plays an important role in the future of African forest science and research and this premiere event serves to act as a catalyst of growth for the FORNESSA network by bridging the geographical barriers and bringing together scientists, researchers, forest managers and policy makers face-to-face- to discuss with their peers issues of paramount importance.
For official coverage of the Congress & photos from the day visit the IISD reporting services homepage at http://www.iisd.ca/ymb/forest/iufrofornessa/c1/.
Combatting Climate Change Comprehensively
By Ben Chikamai (Kenya Forestry Research Institute)
IUFRO Board Member, Kenya
African forest policy makers and governments could benefit by using a recent study as a template to help bring climate change adaptation into the mainstream of national development strategies.
The study, conducted in two forest-dependent areas in Africa, emphasizes cross-sectoral planning – recognizing and incorporating interacting priorities, such as agriculture, health, forestry, land-use planning, water resources, energy, education, etc. – as a key element in implementing any effective climate change adaptation strategy.
Forests can play an important role in achieving climate change adaptation goals in Africa. But sustainable forest management decisions alone can’t accomplish that. Policy decisions – for forests as well as other resource areas – must complement one another. At present, impacts from some of those other sectors may actually be threatening the forests.
There are a number of pressures on Africa’s forests – agricultural expansion and forest over-use among them. Reducing non-climatic pressures, in a logical, prioritized manner, can help reduce the vulnerability of forest ecosystems. That’s crucial because many people in Africa are highly dependent on forest goods and services. Those people are, and will continue to be, particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Improving the capability of forest dependent communities to adapt to a changing climate will reduce that vulnerability.
The study: Enhancing Adaptation of Forests and People in Africa – Development of Pilot Cases for Selected Forest Ecosystems in Ghana and Malawi, examined forest issues related to climate change in selected areas of those countries. The authors, E.G. Foli and S. Makungwa, worked in those specific areas because they represent typical examples of the ecological and socio-economic situation prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, so the findings could also be applied to countries in West, Central, Southern, and parts of East, Africa.
Among other findings, the study confirmed a general trend of increasing mean annual temperatures and a decline in mean annual rainfall. In the Ghana pilot area this has resulted in forest loss due to wildfire; a decline in the availability of non-timber forest products; reductions in agricultural crop yields; and declining potable water supplies and the associated risk of water-borne diseases. In the Lake Chilwa area of Malawi, in addition to declining potable water supply and its associated disease risks, there has also been poor productivity on tree farms; loss of indigenous trees in communal areas, riverbanks and surrounding forest reserves; a decline in agricultural productivity; and declining fish catch from the lake.
While the study noted how changing climatic conditions can adversely affect livelihoods, health and food security in those communities, it also noted examples of locally initiated adaptation strategies developed to mitigate the impacts of the changing climate. By compiling existing information, including the needs of stakeholders in the various inter-related resource areas, consulting with local communities and assessing and evaluating each project site, enhanced and concrete adaptation measures for the pilot areas were developed.
Then, a priority setting exercise was carried out to identify appropriate and relevant adaptation strategies and activities that would best serve the communities. Similar techniques could be used across a much wider area, the authors say, but that will require political will, financial commitment, and an integrated multi-sectoral – even trans-national – approach. It’s a challenge, they agree, but one that must be faced.
The full study can be found at: http://www.fornis.net/content/enhancing-adaptation-forests-and-people-africa-development-pilot-cases-selected-forest-ecosy
PDF document for download
The current set of international forest governance arrangements is best seen as a complex hybrid mix of international law, soft law, and non-governmental performance-based measures such as international certification schemes and industry codes of conduct. A diverse array of organizations and interest groups, all with different mandates, create the institutional environment for forest policy and governance. All of these actors are dedicated to supporting the different functions of forests, developing and implementing measures designed to protect the forest benefits, and interacting – often in a competitive manner – with each other for political and financial support at different levels. There are an increasing number of governance challenges, such as the demand for bioenergy and legally harvested and produced timber (e.g. EU Timber Regulation on banning illegal timber products from the EU market, to be applied in early 2013). There is clear evidence from research that complex forest problems require synergistic approaches involving a wide range of policy instruments.
There are two concepts that could guide efforts towards a more effective international forest governance: problem focused policy learning is enabled by including from the start a broad group of stakeholders and institutions inside and outside of the forest sector and by gathering practical advice, practitioners’ knowledge, insights and the best available research. In addition, impacts between various policies and policy levels need to be better understood. Improved institutional intersection, in which different interventions perform specific functions, might lead to adaptive capacities in ways a single institution could not. In order to improve the understanding and practical application of these two concepts, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) is currently establishing a new Task Force on International Forest Governance to address institutional intersection and policy learning.
A Contribution to Forest Europe
Policy learning and institutional intersection may support and guide the implementation of commitments declared in the ‘Oslo Ministerial Decision: European Forests 2020′, such as the European Ministers’ decision: (i) to develop and update policies and tools for sustainable forest management, including by facilitating open and flexible policy dialogue; (ii) to monitor, assess and facilitate implementation of commitments on sustainable forest management in all European countries and in the region; and (iii) to facilitate sharing of experiences across countries, sectors and stakeholders on all aspects of sustainable forest management and other forest related issues (see articles 21a-c).
The state of play of European forest governance and challenges
- European regional agreements with regard to governance include the Oslo Ministerial Mandate for Negotiating a Legally Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe, and the EU FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) Action Plan, setting the goal of combating illegal harvesting and illegal timber trade in environment, trade and development cooperation policies.
- With these developments, domestic challenges arise. There is fragmentation of institutions and authority in addressing key goals. For example, good forest governance was originally seen as a development issue, but has become a trade issue also. The EU and Member States are facing the challenge to link the development agencies with the trade agencies and to find synergistic ways how to work together, that do not violate the legal responsibilities of either.
- As Europe with FLEGT is commending good governance elsewhere in such a coherent and concerned way, the EU and Member States are facing the challenge to also demonstrate good forest governance within the region in order to not lose legitimacy and credibility at international level.
What research can do
- Defining and implementing interaction between trade, development and natural resource policies is not as simple as it might seem. Researchers can uncover the pathways through which synergies could be facilitated by new institutional arrangements and new policy approaches. For example, incentives and signals from FLEGT could encourage supply chain tracking, often through the use of certification bodies, which then help to reinforce good forest governance in developing countries.
- Researchers have an ability to identify: what are the most synergistic pathways for interactions between the different actors and entities? And what does this mean for developing strategic directions and decisions in order to guide actors with often conflicting mandates and diverse institutional cultures? What are the obstacles for the formulation and implementation of policies and institutions fostering ‘good’ governance principles?
- Policy learning is the attempt to adjust the goals or techniques of policy in response to past experience and new information. In the complex context of European forest policy, policy learning can only begin when stakeholders, practitioners, government agencies, civil society organizations, and scientists create, through deliberation, a joint understanding of the context and nature of forest problems from a wide variety of perspectives. The success of this learning process depends upon having the best available information about policy options as informed by research, practice, and the experience of civil society.
- Policy learning that occurs in a deliberative process will expose legitimate differences over goals and objectives that divide stakeholders but, by creating a common understanding of ‘how things work’, policy learning also can reveal win-win solutions. For example, at the same time that participants learn about the viability of one or more efforts – such as FLEGT, certification and management plans etc. – they learn about the challenges confronting other stakeholders.
- The most important level of learning about potential solutions to public problems is at the level of intersection of institutions. It simply is no longer the case that a single intervention sits alone by itself and has no impact anywhere else. In fact any international negotiation or deliberation only has an impact when it actually interacts with something else, e.g. with domestic legislation or certification or national forest programmes.
- There is a role for research simultaneously involving practitioners and civil society to analyse the different interactions among government and market mechanisms across global, national and local scales that might produce innovative, effective and enduring results.
- For example, the supply chain tracking in the framework of the FLEGT process involves public and private actors at different levels – sub-nationally, nationally and internationally – and therefore could lead to broad global coalition for good forest governance in a way a single intervention, such as private certification schemes can not achieve.
- The institutional intersection approach is now gaining growing acceptance as illustrated by the UN Rio 2012 summit’s focus on the two themes: ‘green economy’ and ‘institutional framework for sustainable development’.
What can Forest Europe do?
- Forest Europe can play a key role in promoting policy learning and institutional intersection by sharing a learning platform involving multiple stakeholders, informed by the best available information about policy options.
- It can facilitate stakeholder and civil society participation at domestic level by creating forums for deliberation with scientists, policy makers, and forest managers at local, sub-national and national levels. For example, the national forest programme process could be a national-level learning forum.
- It can support engagement of policy makers in scientific meetings focused on governance and policy, such as the IUFRO All-Division 9 ‘Forest Policy and Economics’ Conference in Sarajevo in May 2012.
- It can support policy-research networks, like the FOPER network in Southeast Europe, that are actively researching public problems identified through stakeholder processes with the purpose of contributing to policy makers, practitioners and civil society as well as to the research community.
- And it can actively promote the role of Forest Europe in the global discussion on forest governance by assuming a leadership role in creating the institutional capacity for policy learning and collaborative research necessary to provide adaptive governance capacity for the future.
Embracing complexity: Meeting the challenges of international forest governance. A global assessment report. This report was prepared in the frame of the Global Forest Expert Panels (GFEP), an initiative established within the framework of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). The report was led and coordinated by IUFRO. Visit: http://www.iufro.org/science/gfep/
The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) is the only world-wide organization devoted to forest research and related sciences. Its members are research institutions, universities, and individual scientists as well as decision-making authorities and other stakeholders with a focus on forests and trees. Visit: http://www.iufro.org/
PDF document for download
13 May 2011, New York – As discussions draw to a close at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in UN Headquarters this week, members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), an international mechanism composed of 14-forest related organizations and secretariats, are calling upon countries to pay more attention to the crucial contribution of forests to sustainable development.
Members of the CPF are working to improve management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. Sustainably managed forests contribute directly to poverty reduction by providing jobs, incomes, and consumable goods for poor families.
“At a time when we are faced with environmental, social, and economic crises that are daunting; the CPF is working intensively together to further catalyze the positive contributions of forests, including the livelihoods of forest-dependent people, as is being celebrated in 2011, the International Year of Forests.” says Jan McAlpine, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat. “Forest services and benefits are multifaceted and wide-ranging, from the environmental contributions to the social and economic. Cross-sectoral and cross-institutional cooperation and a people-relevant approach is vital not only to management of forests but for advancing sustainable development around the world.”
“Further analysis is needed during the International Year of Forests, to emphasize the connection between people and forests, and the benefits that can accrue when forests are managed by local people in sustainable and innovative ways” says Eduardo Rojas-Briales Assistant Director-General of the FAO Forestry Department. “Together we must continue to pursue multiple pathways towards sustainable development using forests at all levels.”
Rojas called attention to the 2011 edition of FAO’s State of the World’s Forests, which provides an analysis of how forests support people’s livelihoods and the development of sustainable forest industries. According to the report, forest industries are improving resource efficiency and recycling efforts and are making progress in promoting wood products as more environmentally friendly than alternative materials. Moreover, State of the World’s Forests 2011 indicates that community-based and traditional knowledge forest management approaches can help communities harvest and sell non-wood forest products to create more sustainable livelihoods.
The relevance of traditional forest-related knowledge and practices to global efforts to advance sustainable forest management, biodiversity conservation, adaptation to environmental change, and livelihood security is highlighted by a 6-year global study that has recently been completed by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations.
Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organization noted that “Already in many tropical countries, sustainably managed forests and the products that arise from them are contributing to sustainable development at both the national and especially at the community level. But since sustainably managed forests still make up less than 10% of the total global tropical forest area, they clearly have the potential to play a much bigger role.”
A successful example of sustainable forest management can been seen in Guinea, where the Landscape Management for Improved Livelihoods (LAMIL) project by the World Agroforestry Centre and the Centre for International Forestry Research has had a profound influence on the sustainability of four large forest areas. Prior to the project, local people were forbidden from using the forest resources and illegal logging, poaching and land clearance were leading to forest loss. The LAMIL project developed a system of co-management involving local communities and government where the local people derive real benefits from the forests, and in return have shown their willingness and ability to manage them sustainably.
“The project illustrates how changes in how forests are governed can lead to win-win outcomes for forests and people,” commented Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research. “This project has done much to improve the welfare of the local people,” said Dennis Garrity Director General of the World Agroforestry Center. “It has also shown that sustainable forest management and improved livelihoods are inextricably linked.”
“Forests, soils and water are a trilogy that are not stand-alone, self-sustaining resources” says Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. “To foster a holistic approach to the management of these environmental resources, we must attend to three things. First, we need to focus on the causes, not the symptoms of deforestation. Second, we also need to focus on the soil, which is the real source of life for the land. Third, the communities that maintain the ecosystems we depend upon need to be rewarded.”
At the recent United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) meeting in February, ministers and high officials agreed on a Ministerial Declaration which stresses that “forests are an integral part of the global environment and human well-being, providing multiple goods and services essential for people worldwide and crucial for sustainable development and the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.” The UNFF Ministerial Declaration contains the most important global forest policy issues and concerns as the concrete input on forests to the upcomingRio+20 conference. Rio+20 (June 2012), marks the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of Agenda 21, the blueprint for sustainable development, agreed upon at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. The conference will review progress made towards sustainable development and map out future strategies to address sustainable development and environmental challenges.
For more information:
Gerda Wolfrum, wolfrum(at)iufro.org, International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO)