Forests: Medicine for Body and Soul
By Hannu Raitio, Coordinator of IUFRO Task Force ForHealth
(DG Finnish Forest Research Institute, Metla)
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Imagine a doctor who, rather than advising the usual: “Take these pills daily for the next two weeks,” says instead: “Take long walks in the forest daily for the next two weeks. That should get you back to normal.”
Okay, that’s a bit fanciful. But, it may not be too big a stretch.
There is a growing body of scientific research that suggests forests and other natural, green settings can reduce stress, improve moods, curtail aggressiveness and – possibly – even strengthen our immune systems.
Medical and health care costs are a skyrocketing financial burden in many, if not all, countries around the world – often funded through taxation or other common responsibility arrangements. Read more…
By Robert Jandl, Deputy Coordinator of IUFRO Division 8
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In the coming decades, forests will play a major role in our planet’s carbon cycle and in our efforts to manage the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.
Getting a better understanding of whether that role might be good (a sink, absorbing carbon) or bad (a source, adding carbon to the atmosphere), motivated a study by Yude Pan and colleagues, recently published in Science Express.
The study identifies global forests as the major terrestrial carbon sink (as opposed to grasslands, peatlands or agricultural lands). It is the first such study to base conclusions on forest inventory and land cover data instead of simulation results. Read more…
End trade in detrimental ornamentals to save forests
By Eckehard Brockerhoff, IUFRO Deputy Coordinator of Division 7
(SCION, New Zealand)
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In a provocative attempt to save the world’s forests, a group of 70-plus scientists from 17 countries are asking trade policy makers around the globe to phase out such international trade in high-risk plants that put forest health at high risk while offering limited economic benefit.
If the scientists’ proposal is implemented, it would mean an end to all international trade in containerized ornamental plant seedlings and trees intended as plants for instant landscape planting. Read more…
Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge: Sustaining Communities, Ecosystems and Biocultural Diversity
By Su See Lee, IUFRO Vice-President
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A new book invites forest scientists to think outside the box – or, perhaps outside the laboratory – and make more of an effort to incorporate elements of traditional knowledge in their research and forest management activities.
The book, Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge: Sustaining Communities, Ecosystems and Biocultural Diversity, published by Springer just this month, takes a long look at the contribution traditional knowledge has made and continues to make to sustainable resource management around the world. Read more…
Forest research matters. All of us under the IUFRO umbrella know that.
Research is what we, in our member organizations, do. It is who we are.
By Niels Elers Koch, President, IUFRO
(Copenhagen University, Denmark)
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In addition to increasing our understanding of the world in which we live, there can be – and often are – important policy implications for our research findings. And we know very well that good sustainable forest management decisions can only be made based on sound science.
For that reason, IUFRO is embarking on a new initiative called IUFRO Spotlight to introduce timely, significant forest research findings from our member organizations to a worldwide network of policy makers, other decision makers and researchers. Read more…
Professor Mike Wingfield, IUFRO Vice-President for Divsions
Interview with Michael Wingfield, IUFRO Vice-President for Divisions
Q.: Professor Wingfield, as Director of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute FABI (see IUFRO Featured Members Section: http://www.iufro.org/featured-member-of-the-month/article/2011/09/22/forestry-and-agricultural-biotechnology-institute-fabi/) based at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, you are at the forefront of forest research. What are the major challenges underpinning successful forest research today?
I have the privilege to lead a very exciting research institute that has a strong focus on various aspects of forestry genetics, biotechnology and tree health. What I think is important to recognize is that forestry is an incredibly broad discipline and the forefront of research in forestry stretches across the biological and natural sciences, engineering and the social sciences. In this respect, it is difficult to clearly define forest research, let alone understand the forefronts of research in this field. Read more…
2 volumes of IUFRO’s World Series have just been newly published. The IUFRO World Series was designed to give IUFRO officeholders a possibility to make their expertise known to a larger public. In most cases, reports resulting from IUFRO meetings, IUFRO Task Force reports or results from the work of IUFRO Special Projects and Programmes are published in this series. The main focus is on original research devoted to specific themes either in the form of collected articles or as single extensive contributions.
Volume 26: Traditional Forest Related Knowledge, Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Forest Management in Eastern Europe, Northern and Central Asia.
Andrey Laletin, John A. Parrotta, Ilya Domashov (editors). Vienna, 2011 – 78 p.
Forests and woodlands that are the traditional homes of local communities in Eastern Europe, Northern and Central Asia have historically been managed by these communities themselves, or more recently in collaboration with government agencies. Traditional forest-related knowledge (TFRK) and innovative forest management practices, developed over centuries, have contributed significantly to the natural and cultural heritage of the region, and sustained production of multiple goods and services that enhance livelihood security and quality of life for people. The conference provided a platform for sharing of information and exchanging experiences among scientists, the holders and users of traditional knowledge, non-governmental organizations, forest managers and other relevant stakeholders related to forest biodiversity and traditional forest-related knowledge. The conference highlighted the importance of traditional knowledge towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the objectives of the Rio Conventions, and its contributions to sustainable forest management.
For more information visit: http://www.iufro.org/publications/series/world-series/#c16553
Volume 29: Asia and the Pacific Symposium – Vulnerability Assessments to Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards
Editors: Antonio M. Daño, Karen Rae M. Fortus, Sim Heok-Choh. Kuala Lumpur, 2011 – 95 p.
In December 2010, a symposium was held in Manila, the Philippines, to lo0k at the vulnerability of ecosystems to natural and anthropogenic hazards and how best to assess it. The main objective of the symposium was to enhance the capability and capacity of participants in conducting vulnerability assessment of various ecosystems. It served as a venue for exchange of knowledge and initiatives in vulnerability assessment. The symposium was also expected to come up with output materials that will be useful in preparing appropriate programmes/projects to deal with the inherent biophysical and socioinstitutional characteristics of ecosystems and the stressors of the resources including the impacts of climate change.
Learn more about this publication at http://www.iufro.org/publications/series/world-series/#c18479
IUFRO Vice-President Su See Lee
Q: Dr. Lee, you are a senior scientist with the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) specialized in forest pathology. Why did you choose a career in forest science in the first place?
A: I have always been interested in biology and decided to specialize in botany for my first degree at the University of Malaya. That led me to my first job as a tutor at the Faculty of Forestry, Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (UPM) with the opportunity to also pursue my Masters degree at that university. UPM subsequently appointed me as a lecturer in the faculty to teach and conduct research mainly in forest pathology.
A grant from the International Foundation for Science (IFS) started me off on my first research project on dipterocarp mycorrhizas which sparked off my interest to pursue my Ph.D. at the University of Aberdeen. From then on, I was totally hooked on unraveling the many unknowns in tropical forest biology, in particular, the intricate and complicated relationships between fungi and trees. In 1990 when the chance came to take up a full-time research position at FRIM, I decided to switch from academia to full-time research and have since been enjoying conducting research into diseases of tropical forest trees, dipterocarp ectomycorrhizas, macrofungal diversity and also ethnomycology. Read more…
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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. Read more…
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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)