On Wednesday, 12 June 2013, the Third IUFRO Latin American Congress was officially opened at 9:00 a.m. The master of ceremonies, Gabriel Robles, welcomed over 600 participants to the festively decorated Chirripó Room in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, the venue of the Congress.
Fernando Carrera, IUFROLAT Organizing committee welcomes the audience.
In his opening address, Fernando Carrera, CATIE, Chair of the Congress Organizing Committee of IUFROLAT 2013, provided perspective into the changes he has noticed in the development of IUFRO over the past 30 years. He noted that now more than ever, the public is addressing environmental issues, whereas in the past the public was not talking about this. He highlighted how forestry is playing a leading role in the discussion.
He stated IUFROLAT received over 800 scientific abstracts for the Congress and over 200 of these are being presented during the Congress, highlighting the role of this important event to address the issues and challenges in Latin American forests and the role of forestry in this area.
IUFRO President, Niels Elers Koch next took centre stage, and provided a warm welcome to participants and dignitaries. He spoke about how IUFRO has changed his life and improved his scientific capacity since he attended his first event when he was 25 in Oslo, Norway. He brought three messages to share with the crowd:
IUFRO President Niels Elers Koch address Congress audience.
- Enjoy the Congress and benefit the best you can.
- Get to know your IUFRO network. There is a lot of knowledge that we can share. Forests are central to the Latin American landscape and there is room to grow the IUFRO network in the region.
- Participate in the IUFRO 2014 World Congress, held between Oct. 5th -11th in Salt Lake City, Utah, that will bring together over 3000 forest scientists, stakeholders and policy makers from the world over.
Koch closed by announcing that the IUFRO Board has decided on a recommendation for the International Council of IUFRO to vote for Brazil as the host country for the 2019 World Congress. Having the Congress for the first time in Latin America, in Curitiba, Brazil will be a great opportunity for IUFRO to strengthen ties with forest research organizations in Latin America.
Jose J. Campos address IUFRO LAT on behalf of CATIE.
Next, José Joaquín Campos, Director of the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), organizer and host of the conference, announced that this Congress has brought over 600 participants from Latin America, and other parts of the world to Costa Rica and highlighted the opportunity it presents to discuss and debate what has worked, is working and has not worked in the forests here and around the world. He underlined the strong ties that have existed between IUFRO and CATIE since its establishment 40 years ago in 1973 and stressed the importance of IUFRO in the future of Latin American forest research.The 40th anniversary of CATIE will also be duly celebrated in the course of the Congress. Campos thanked all who have been involved in the organization of IUFROLAT 2013.
Representing the Government of Costa Rica, Ana Lorena Guevara, Vice-Minister of MINAE, the Ministry of the Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, welcomed all the participants and expressed the delight of the country to host this event. She noted that environmental protection is high on the agenda in Costa Rica and they are working in great effort to maintain and implement policies to ensure that Costa Rica will be a low emission and carbon neutral country by 2021 and that this will in great part be achieved through the forest sector. She proudly stated that forests now cover 52% of Costa Rica and they balance this with sustainable development and preservation. She highlighted Costa Rica’s leading role in environment services and hopes that others can learn from their example. She concluded saying she hopes the results and resolutions of IUFROLAT can be utilized to craft policies that will continue to see the Costa Rican environment, people and economy thrive as one.
IUFRO President Niels Elers Koch (right) and IFSA President Daniel Schraik (Photo by John Innes)
The International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) is the global network for forestry students and students of related sciences, its members are organized in 78 institutions in over 50 countries. IFSA provides a platform for international networking, to enhance formal education, promote cultural understanding and to provide opportunities to gain practical experiences with a wider and more global perspective.
To improve services IFSA provides to its members and to foster the continuity of the network, the need for regular professional support has been identified by the IFSA officials during past meetings. To reach this goal possible partner organizations have been screened. After the annual International Forestry Students’ Symposium (IFSS) held in August 2012, IUFRO expressed its interest to collaborate on this specific request and thus taking the existing partnership on an even higher level. Since then both organizations have put a lot of effort in the creation of a joint full-time position. A letter of agreement which provides the legal foundation for the position, hosted by the IUFRO Secretariat in Vienna, Austria, was established.
Finally the agreement was duly signed by the IFSA President, Daniel Schraik, and the IUFRO President, Niels Elers Koch, on the occasion of the 52nd IUFRO Board Meeting in Turrialba on the 11th of June 2013. This is for both organizations a great step on the one hand increasing the continuity of IFSA and at the same time generating constant input of young talent to IUFRO.
12-15 June 2013
San José, Costa Rica
Congress website: http://www.web.catie.cr/iufrolat/Iufro_ing.htm
This blog will present highlights and impressions from IUFROLAT III, the Third IUFRO Latin American Congress which starts today in the city of San José, Costa Rica and will run until Saturday, 15 June 2013. The Congress has been organized together with CATIE, the Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, RIABM, the Iberoamerican Model Forest Network, FAO and several IUFRO members in the region. The overall theme of the Congress is “Forests, competitiveness and sustainable landscapes” and one of its major goals is to place relevant science-based information at the disposal of decision makers.
With up to 600 expected participants, IUFROLAT III has exceeded all expectations and has outnumbered previous regional Congresses by far. This clearly shows the extraordinary interest and need of scientists in Latin America to share and exchange information on the issues that are high on the agenda in the region concerning forest and landscape management, ecosystem services and climate change adaptation and mitigation, among others. The Congress languages being Spanish, English and Portuguese will further contribute to ensuring an excellent exchange of knowledge and experience.
IUFRO is placing particular emphasis on strengthening forest-related research in regions. Regional congresses are aimed to promote quality research as well as maintain the momentum of IUFRO activities in the five-year periods between IUFRO World Congresses in a certain region.
The great success of previous regional congresses, especially the First African Regional Congress held in Nairobi, Kenya, almost exactly one year ago, have confirmed the great need for IUFRO’s focusing on defined geographic areas. The first two IUFRO Latin American Congresses in Valdivia (1998) and La Serena (2006), both organized by INFOR, the Forest Research Institute of Chile, and the European Regional Congress that took place in Warsaw, Poland (2007), are further excellent examples.
IUFRO Board Meeting
Right before the Congress, the IUFRO Board (http://www.iufro.org/who-is-who/board/) held its annual meeting and important issues concerning the future of the network, its leadership, venues of world congresses and strategic guidelines are on the agenda. The decisions made at this Board meeting will pave the way for the next Board term starting after the next IUFRO World Congress in October 2014 in Salt Lake City, USA (http://www.iufro2014.com/).
IUFRO-SPDC Pre-Congress Training Workshop: Communicating Forest Research – Making Science work for Policy and Management
San José, Costa Rica, June 9-11
Prior to the Congress, IUFRO’s Special Programme for Development of Capacities (IUFRO-SPDC), formerly known as the Special Programme for Developing Countries in coordination with CATIE, carried out a training workshop for early-career scientists from the Latin American Region to strengthen capacities and skills in forest science communication. The workshop brought together 16 participants from 11 regional countries.
One attendant, Eduardo Lopez Rosse from CIDES-UMSA and UMSS-Trópico, Bolivia, expressed his thoughts on the workshop. “The workshop was a great experience… I learned how to transmit scientific information outside the academic arena to other stakeholders, municipalities in my country, as well as to the general public.”
Another scientist, Mariana Moya, Extension Advisor at the Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Buenos Aires of Argentina had this to say, “We have a lot of people in Latin America working intensively with small farmers, with aboriginal communities, and we must communicate with governments, private companies, and different kinds of social organizations. It is helpful to me to see experiences from people who work in Brazil, Chile, Panama, and how they are communicating in their extension programs.”
The workshop which concluded today was an excellent demonstration of the SPDC’ capacity development efforts in building strengthened communication of forest research in a region.
It is important to note that IUFRO-SPDC through generous contributions by the Governments of Finland, Germany and the United States of America as well as the Center for International Forestry Research supports a total of 66 scientists in the framework of the Scientist Assistance Programme to attend the IUFROLAT Congress, bringing scientists who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to come to such an event.
Information about the Training Courses and IUFRO-SPDC:
Urban Park Perks’ Research Rounded Up & Rated
PDF for download
Floodplain forests in Leipzig, Germany. Photo Matilda Annerstedt.
Green areas and parks provide many benefits to urban spaces. That’s what people have said for years – but without an awful lot of evidence to back it up.
Now there is an evidence-based report, Benefits of Urban Parks: A systematic review, offering some support to that assertion.
The recent study, one the authors believe is a first-of-its-kind, draws conclusions based on green space related research published in a number of top-level scientific publications.
It offers a comprehensive and critical assessment that evaluates the strength of the evidence supporting a series of park benefits. Read more…
Putting production from peatlands in perspective
A minerotrophic mire changing towards an ombrotrophic bog, Finland. Photo: J. Päivänen
PDF for download
By Palle Madsen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
Coordinator of IUFRO Research Group 1.01.00 – Temperate and boreal silviculture
Policy makers and forest managers in the boreal and temperate regions now have a new tool to assist them in making climate-smart and environmentally responsible peatland forestry decisions for the future.
Persons involved in peatland management can benefit from Peatland Ecology and Forestry – a Sound Approach, a new very well-illustrated book that gathers an impressive array of research from various countries and regions. Read more…
Power, discrimination and gender equality
PDF for download
Non timber forests product collection – Stefan Jonsson
By Tuija Sievänen (Finnish Forest Research Institute),
Coordinator of IUFRO Division 6 – Social Aspects of Forests and Forestry
A new publication takes a long, hard look at – and dispels some of the myths about – the issue of gender equality as it relates to development and environmental governance of the forests.
The author, Seema Arora-Jonsson of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Coordinator of the IUFRO Working Party dealing with gender research in forestry, focuses on groups in India, which is widely recognized as a highly gender-biased country and in Sweden, a country seen as highly gender-equal. Read more…
New GFEP assessment report published as IUFRO World Series 31
Edited by: John A. Parrotta, Christoph Wildburger, Stephanie Mansourian
Forests harbour a major proportion of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and provide a wide range of vitally important ecosystem services – including carbon sequestration and storage. Deforestation and forest degradation continue to erode biodiversity and the capacity of forest ecosystems to help mitigate climate change and provide the goods and services that sustain livelihoods and human well-being locally, and globally. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhancing forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+) is a proposed mechanism which has the potential to realise its primary objective – climate change mitigation – with variable impacts, positive and negative, on biodiversity, forests and people. REDD+ is complex, its proposed activities and implementation mechanisms not yet clearly defined, and therefore surrounded by uncertainty. Because of its high relevance to climate change mitigation, the conservation and sustainable use of forests and their biological diversity, the Expert Panel on Biodiversity, Forest Management and REDD+ was established by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests in December 2011 to carry out this assessment.
The Expert Panel included 24 scientists and other experts from a variety of biophysical and social science disciplines relevant to the topics covered in this assessment report. An additional 18 contributing authors added their expertise to the assessment. Each chapter was prepared by a team of Lead Authors and Contributing Authors led by one or more Coordinating Lead Authors. A full draft of the report and its individual chapters was peer-reviewed prior to its completion. The results of this voluntary collaboration between January and October 2012 are presented in the six inter-related chapters comprising this book.
This assessment report evaluates the implications of forest and land management interventions envisaged under REDD+ in a multidimensional and integrated fashion. It summarises the most current scientific literature that sheds light on the relationships between forest biodiversity and carbon (and other ecosystem services), how these complex relationships may be affected by management activities implemented to achieve REDD+ objectives, the potential synergies and tradeoffs between and among environmental and socio-economic objectives, and their relationship to governance issues. Based on the main findings of the assessment (summarised in Chapter 6), a policy brief entitled ‘REDD+, Biodiversity and People: Opportunities and Risks’ has been prepared especially for policy- and decision-makers.
The full report is formally presented at Forest Day 6 on 2 December during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Doha, Qatar (26 November-7 December, 2012).
The report, the policy brief and a press release – New Study Suggests Global Pacts Like REDD Ignore Primary Causes of Destruction of Forests – are available for download.
Report and Policy Brief: http://www.iufro.org/science/gfep/biodiv-forman-redd-panel/report/
Press Release: http://www.iufro.org/science/gfep/media-information/gfep-bfmr-assessment-press-release/
For more information about the Expert Panel on Biodiversity, Forest Management and REDD+, please visit:
For Peat’s Sake
PDF for download
Wildfire in Alberta, Canada 2011. Photo by Stephanie Koroscil
By Björn Hånell, Coordinator, IUFRO Division 1 (SLU, Sweden), and
Jean-Michel Carnus, Coordinator, IUFRO Division 8 (INRA, France)
Forest fires are a persistent and growing problem around the world. While fire certainly produces some ecological benefits, those are arguably being outweighed by the increasing frequency, size and intensity of fires as the planet warms.
In a given year, forest and grassland fires can be extensive – burning 350- 450 million ha (an area larger than India); expensive – costing many billions of dollars to combat (in Canada alone fire management costs can reach $800 million a year); and lethal – a recent study attributed almost 340,000 deaths annually to respiratory and other causes related to the impact of forest/bush fires.
Making the situation more worrisome are predictions that these fire events could triple in the next 50-75 years.
A recent Canadian Forest Service bulletin: Peatland Fires and Carbon Emissions (Frontline Express 50 http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/publications?id=33351) noted that some fire researchers from Canada, the U.S. and Russia – where fire in those countries’ boreal forests is a significant activity – have begun looking more closely into boreal peatlands.
Peatland ecosystems cover only 2-3% of the earth’s land surface, but in the boreal they make up 20-30% of the forest region and average 20-30% of the area burned annually.
Those peatlands store an estimated 30% of the world’s terrestrial carbon – some 300 billion metric tons. Typically they are fairly wet areas, but when they dry and burn – usually in severe drought years or from some drainage activities – they have the potential to flip from carbon sink to carbon source as they release huge amounts of greenhouse gases.
How significant are the emissions from peatland fires? In 1997 in Indonesia peatland fires released the equivalent of 20-40% of all annual global fossil fuel emissions. And Indonesia’s peatlands are dwarfed by the peatland reserves in Canada, Alaska and Russia.
Peatland fires tend to produce a lot of smoke and can be difficult to extinguish. In the north they can continue to smoulder stubbornly beneath the winter snow and then burst into flame again in a subsequent year.
Smoke, as noted above, also makes human health a major consideration in peatland fires. Smoke is toxic to begin with, but peatlands contain about 15 times as much mercury – a serious toxin – as nearby upland forests. The mercury-laden smoke can travel far. Recently in Russia, smog permeated Moscow from peat fires many kilometers distant and, within the last few months, air quality advisories were being issued in parts of British Columbia on Canada’s west coast as smoke from Siberian peat fires pushed ozone levels to neverbefore- seen numbers.
While quite a bit is known about the function and behavior of fire in the boreal forest, much of the research there has been on upland forest areas. By comparison, much less is known about the vulnerability of boreal peatlands to fire.
One of the key areas being investigated in the boreal peatlands is focused on developing a peat moisture code. By getting a better handle on peatlands moisture content, researchers will know the potential for burning, when it might occur and how deep it will burn. That will help preparation and mitigation efforts.
A report by J.M Waddington (McMaster Centre for Climate Change, McMaster University) and colleagues suggests that such a code can be developed – with modifications to adapt to specific peat types and issues – within the framework of the existing Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) System.
The FWI System (or portions of it) has been adopted – with adaptations for local conditions – by several countries as a fire management tool: New Zealand, Fiji, Portugal, Spain and several U.S. states, among them.
There are six components to the FWI System. Three are fire behavior indices – related to rate of fire spread; available fuel; and frontal fire intensity.
The other three components, those most germane to this topic, relate to fuel moisture. They are numeric ratings of the moisture content of litter and other fine fuels; the average moisture content of loosely compacted organic layers; and the average moisture of deep, compact organic layers.
The ratings give indications of factors ranging from ease of ignition and flammability of fine fuel, to the amount of smoldering in deep duff layers and large logs.
Wildfire in Alberta, Canada 2011. Photo by Stephanie Koroscil
IUCN has launched a campaign, « Plant a Pledge » , and is asking readers to sign the petition at www.plantapledge.com. It takes just a minute of your time!
IUCN is hoping that you will help the campaign by reaching out as widely as possible, by helping to promote the campaign through your networks, through publicising it through the web, social media, presentations and word of mouth.
Plant a Pledge – www.plantapledge.com – is an opportunity for the global public to tell world leaders and land owners that they support the goal to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested lands by the year 2020. The goal is an implementation vehicle for achieving CBD Aichi Target 15 and has become known as the “Bonn Challenge” after it was launched in Bonn, Germany, in September 2011.
The Bonn Challenge target to restore 150 million hectares by 2020 came second when over 1 million people took part in the on-line public Rio Dialogue vote for the most important global recommendation during the recent UN summit in Brazil, “Rio+20”.
Restoring 150 million hectares would inject billions of new dollars into economies every year, and would significantly help mitigate climate change, boost biodiversity and reduce poverty.
The Plant a Pledge petition will gather the signatures from people across the globe, and will be personally delivered by our Ambassador Bianca Jagger to senior delegates at an upcoming high level international meeting, urging land owners and governments to dedicate land to landscape restoration.
Help gather enough signatures to really turn the heads of those leaders and convince them to commit to the Bonn Challenge.
The website www.plantapledge.com will give you lots more information on the campaign and on forest landscape restoration.
Please go there now and sign the petition and urge all your friends, contacts and networks to do the same, by forwarding this message, and ideally also by sharing it through other means.
If you have time to explore the site, you might like to watch the videos, explore the interactive restoration globe, read the case studies and learn more about the issue and the campaign.
Other things you can do to support this important campaign are:
– follow the campaign on twitter: http://twitter.com/PlantAPledge
– ‘like’ the campaign on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/plantapledge
– Tell all your friends, colleagues and networks and ask them to sign, too!
Thank you for your support!
During 4 weeks in July, three young students worked at IUFRO Headquarters to get a taste of work in an office. Here is their report:
Summer students Moritz, Julian and Jonathan in front of the mobile IUFRO World Congress 2014 booth
When you work for IUFRO, you have to be prepared for a wide range of different tasks such as setting up a filing system, sorting notes or getting the mail. One of the most exciting assignments we got was to prepare a draft on how to improve and reorganize the IUFRO webpage according to our own vision. The three of us put together our ideas and debated how the webpage could be changed in order to be more attractive to users not familiar with IUFRO, and still be easy for all users to operate with.
IUFRO Headquarters is a very nice place to work at. While there is a lot of work to be done, the atmosphere is pleasant and relaxed. Everyone is very cooperative and helpful. In our work, we did not have to worry about time pressure, but were encouraged to finish all our tasks properly.
Since the members of IUFRO Headquarters were very busy with their usual tasks, such as doing the finances, organizing meetings, writing reports or minutes, they were highly pleased that we took over extra tasks for them and so facilitated their work.
We learned much: not only about the work of IUFRO and its member organizations, but also about the functioning and logistics of a big association, like IUFRO, and its headquarters. The time here at IUFRO was a highly informative and instructive, as we learned to work within a group, but at the same time independently. And we now have an idea what it is like to work in an office of an international association.
Jonathan Kleine, Julian Koch, Moritz Wildburger
Photo: IUFRO Headquarters