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Vienna/Vantaa – “It is not commonly understood how much – even in our hypermodern urban age – human health and well-being are influenced by forests and trees”, said Professor Hannu Raitio, coordinator of the IUFRO Task Force on Forests and Human Health of the Vienna-based International Union of Forest Research Organizations, and Director General of the Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla in Vantaa, prior to World Health Day on 7 April. Research shows that there is a huge untapped economic and health potential in forest biodiversity. “Preserving biodiversity attains an autonomous value – independent of any uses known at the present time”, said Professor Raitio.
Loss of species and decrease in biodiversity always imply a potential loss of health-related ecosystem services and genetic resources. The conservation of the earth’s biological diversity, of which a large part is found in forests, is increasingly recognized as an important goal. Preserving biodiversity is rational also from an economic point of view. As noted in FAO’s State of the World’s Forests 2011, many top-selling herbal products such as goji and echinacea are derived from forests, and the collection and trade of raw materials continues to significantly affect forest economies. Probably more than half of the most prescribed medicines – also in the Western pharmacopoeia – are based on chemical compounds found in natural organisms. “Even if the drug is produced synthetically, it is often first found in nature, or it may be a modification of some naturally occurring compound. We start to realize that every organism is a potent bioreactor with unique capabilities”, stated Professor Raitio.
Medical treasures waiting to be discovered
Currently only less than one per cent of all known plants are thoroughly analyzed for pharmaceuticals and with microbes, fungi and animals the percentage is even smaller. Only a small fraction of all existing species of organisms have been discovered and described so far. Moreover, all higher plants are hosts to one or more endophytic microbes, organisms residing in tissues between or among living plant cells. Of the estimated 500,000 plant species living on the planet, only a handful has had their endophytic microflora thoroughly studied.
“There are medical treasures waiting to be discovered in forest plants literally everywhere. For example, we recently began a study on the microflora of the root system of the common Scots Pine, Pinus sylvestris“, informed Professor Raitio: “We wanted to see what kind of chemical substances can be found in the microscopic fungi that are living symbiotically with the tree, and test them against the age-related eye disease (AREDS), which is a major cause of vision loss in people of advanced age all over the world. We thought that in a few years we may find a substance that could be of potential use, but only after a few months of research we already had our first candidate. We are now cooperating with medical doctors to develop a medicine of it.”
Traditional medicine also greatly relies on forest resources, for example in the treatment of malaria. Most of the hundreds of millions of cases of malaria each year are in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is the second highest cause of death from infectious disease. Poor communities have limited access to modern drugs, with the majority relying on traditional medicine in treating malaria. The World Agroforestry Centre recently published a guide entitled ‘Common Antimalarial Trees and Shrubs of East Africa’, which describes 22 species of trees and shrubs that are used as antimalarial treatments in East Africa by traditional medical practitioners and rural communities. “These species have great potential for further study and development as readily available alternative treatments for the curse of malaria,” said Najma Dharani, the main author of the book.
Sustainable management of forests to be key
Forests support the livelihoods of millions of people by providing food, water, fuel, protection against natural hazards etc., and offer a range of health-related goods and services, from medicinal compounds to the support of our psychological capacity and mental health. The key to preserve these ecosystem services is sustainable forest management (SFM), aiming at a balance between society’s increasing demands for forest products and benefits, and the preservation of forest health and diversity. This balance is critical to the survival of forests and the health of people depending on forests. “These people do not only include the forest-dwelling native tribes in various corners of the world, but every one of us, wherever we live, and whatever is our industrial or economic level. This is the most important message for us all on the World Health Day and in the United Nation’s International Year of Forests 2011“, said Professor Raitio.
The international group of scientists of the interdisciplinary IUFRO Task Force recently suggested taking into account human health aspects in all forest management activities systematically. This could be done through applying the Health Impact Assessment (HIA), a program which is promoted actively by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is to date mainly being used in urban planning, to forest-related issues. For this purpose, a set of forest-related human health indicators could be developed and included in public health reports in a similar way as they are often included in reports on water, energy, mining, biodiversity and agriculture.
For more information:
Gerda Wolfrum, wolfrum(at)iufro.org, International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO)
IUFRO Task Force on Forests and Human Health
The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) is a voluntary arrangement among 14 international organizations and secretariats with substantial programs on forests. The CPF’s mission is to promote the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forest and strengthen long term political commitment to this end.
– Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
– Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
– International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)
– International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO)
– Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD Secretariat)
– Global Environment Facility (GEF Secretariat)
– United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD Secretariat)
– United Nations Forum on Forest (UNFF Secretariat)
– United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC Secretariat)
– United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
– United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
– World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
– World Bank (World Bank)
– The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
IUFRO Deputy Executive Director Michael Kleine
At its 50th meeting on 23 February 2011 in Vienna, Austria, the IUFRO Board unanimously approved of Dr. Michael Kleine’s nomination as new IUFRO Deputy Executive Director. In the following interview Dr. Kleine will outline, among other things, the future orientation and coordination of programs, projects and initiatives.
Dr. Kleine, could you, first of all, give a brief account of your professional career?
I graduated in forestry from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria, and obtained a doctoral degree and habilitation from the same university. Over the past 25 years, my work has focused on forest management issues under conditions ranging from central Europe through seasonal Asia into perhumid South East Asia. My work included residential assignments in Pakistan and Malaysia for more than 12 years and short-term projects in many other countries in Asia. Read more…
From 23 to 25 February 2011, more than 50 members of the IUFRO Enlarged Board from 24 countries met in Vienna, Austria, for the 50th IUFRO Board Meeting. This was the first gathering of the new Board that had been elected at the XXIII World Congress in Seoul, Korea, in August 2010, for the period 2010-2014.
The Board welcomed and approved those new members and officeholders that have decided to join IUFRO’s global network, and approved the establishment of various new Research Groups and Working Parties. It appointed IUFRO-SPDC Coordinator Michael Kleine as new Deputy Executive Director and welcomed Jan Heino as IUFRO’s new Development Officer.
The one-day business meeting was followed by a two-day scientific seminar in the nearby Vienna Woods to discuss how the six key research goals of IUFRO and, consequently, the three institutional goals formulated in the IUFRO Strategy 2010-2014 could be attained.
For this purpose, the IUFRO Enlarged Board members concentrated on preparing a roadmap for new Task Forces that would be dealing with the six research goals. Together with the proposed Task Force Coordinators – each of them internationally recognized experts in their respective fields – they identified those thematic areas to which the new interdisciplinary Task Forces can add the most value to both the scientific discourse and policy deliberations. For each theme they also discussed specific entry points for the nine Divisions. The Task Forces will not generate new research but assess and synthesize existing knowledge and identify knowledge gaps. They should not duplicate work that is already underway by other institutions. Forest governance as a cross-cutting issue should be addressed by all Task Forces.
IUFRO key research goals (Task Force Coordinators/Deputies):
Forests for People (Ulrike Pröbstl, BOKU/Perry Brown, University of Montana)
Forests and Climate Change (Frances Seymour, CIFOR/Markku Kanninen, University of Helsinki)
Forest Bioenergy (Rolf Björheden, Skogforsk/Elspeth McRae, Scion)
Forest Biodiversity Conservation (Bryan Finegan, CATIE/Saw Leng Guan, FRIM)
Forest and Water Interactions (Tony Simons, ICRAF/Shirong Liu, Chinese Academy of Forestry)
Resources for the Future (John Innes, UBC/Jung-Hwan Park, KFRI)
As part of the overall roadmap agreed at the seminar, each Task Force will define cross-disciplinary activities and expected outputs and enter them into a realistic time schedule considering the resources that might be needed and identifying potential Task Force members. The Task Force Coordinators were asked to present respective Terms of Reference by early April 2011. Results of the work shall be presented prominently, among a series of other occasions, at the XXIV IUFRO World Congress in autumn 2014 in Salt Lake City, USA.
IUFRO President Niels Elers Koch commented the process confidently, “In the past IUFRO sometimes failed to start Task Forces in the right way. It was often difficult to mobilize the great knowledge and experience available in our Divisions for science-policy interactions. With this meeting, however, we want to capitalize properly on this knowledge and involve the Divisions from the very start. So it seems that we have put the Task Forces on track successfully.“
IUFRO World Series Vol. 28, Edited by: Jeremy Rayner, Alexander Buck, Pia Katila
A new study assessing inter-national efforts to improve forest governance was issued together with a policy brief on 24 January 2011 by the Global Forest Expert Panel on International Forest Regime. It suggests among other things that global efforts have too often ignored local needs and failed to address the fact that deforestation is usually caused by economic pressures from outside the forests. The detailed results of the work of the expert panel, which was constituted under the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and coordinated by IUFRO, was presented to the Ninth Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) on 31 January 2011 as part of the launch of the International Year of Forests.
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 (English/French/Spanish): http://www.iufro.org/science/gfep/forest-regime-panel/report/
Press Release: http://www.iufro.org/science/gfep/media-information/gfep-ifr-assessment-press-release/
For more information about the Expert Panel on International Forest regime, please visit:
IUFRO Executive Director Alexander Buck
On 1 December 2010, Alexander Buck assumed the position of Executive Director of IUFRO. IUFRO President, Professor Niels Elers Koch, Director General of the Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning, states in this context, “We short-listed five strong candidates from different countries for the position as IUFRO’s new Executive Director. The Selection Committee and the IUFRO Board unanimously agreed that Alexander Buck was the best person for this position.” The following interview will show what Alexander Buck envisages for IUFRO.
Q: The International Union of Forest Research Organizations understands itself as “the” global network for forest science cooperation. What does it take in your opinion to make this network even more active and stronger in the future?
B: IUFRO brings together research organizations, universities and individual scientists as well as decision makers and other stakeholders with an interest in forests and trees. This unique membership pool ensures excellent networking opportunities across borders and disciplines. However, to make sure that scientists can really benefit from these opportunities, it is crucial for IUFRO to understand and adequately respond to their needs and interests as well as to ensure the participation of colleagues from truly all parts of the world. Communication is of key importance in this context and therefore I am strongly committed to communicate closely with all our members and officeholders to help them achieve their research missions more efficiently. Read more…
IUFRO President Niels Elers Koch
At the IUFRO World Congress 2010, Professor Niels Elers Koch, Director General of Forest & Landscape Denmark, a national centre at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, was elected IUFRO President for the period until the next IUFRO World Congress in 2014. He follows Professor Don Koo Lee, Korea, in this position, recognizing his contributions to the development of IUFRO in the past five years.
Q: Professor Koch, at the beginning of your first speech as IUFRO President at the closing of the XXIII IUFRO World Congress in Seoul, you underlined the importance of IUFRO for your personal career as a forest scientist. What can IUFRO do for a forest scientist today?
K: When I was 25 years old, I participated in my first IUFRO World Congress. It was held in Oslo, Norway, in 1976. That changed the rest of my life – to the better. IUFRO provided me with a global network of the best researchers in the area I studied. I also met with colleagues who became some of my best and everlasting friends. And I got a much better understanding and appreciation of other cultures through IUFRO. I am sure that IUFRO can do the same for forest scientists today. As “the global network for forest-related research” it offers excellent opportunities to exchange knowledge and experience, meet new colleagues and friends from all over the world and, thus, become a true “forest researcher without borders”. 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 25: Forests and Society – Responding to Global Drivers of Change
IUFRO Special Project World Forests, Society and Environment IUFRO-WFSE
Many of the world’s forests and forestry are undergoing far reaching changes. An increasing number of global, complex, interacting environmental and socio-economic drivers of change affect forests and society. This book focuses on identifying the main global drivers of change and their direct and indirect effects on forests, forestry and forest dependent people. It proposes ways to reduce the adverse effects of these drivers and to take advantage of the benefits and opportunities they might bring.
To learn more about this publication, visit: http://www.iufro.org/science/special/wfse/
Volume 27: Asia and the Pacific Forest Products Workshop: Green Technology for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
Climate change is a global problem, with global causes and effects. Climate change affects the basic elements of life for people around the world – access to water, food production, health, and the environment. Hundreds of millions of people will potentially suffer from hunger, water shortages, and more frequent severe natural disaster such as droughts, typhoons and floods, as the climate changes. Addressing climate change and dealing with the impacts requires urgent efforts by all.
The main objective of the workshop was to provide a forum for linking various international, regional and national agencies and institutions dealing with climate change issues in forest products processing and utilization, and to share strategies, experiences and knowledge, related to green forest products technology.
For more information, visit: http://www.iufro.org/publications/series/world-series/#c16554
In the Seoul Resolution, IUFRO sets its goals for the coming years.
THE SEOUL RESOLUTION
The XXIII IUFRO World Congress “Forests for the Future: Sustaining Society and the Environment” provided a unique forum for presentation and discussion of the results of current global research related to forests and trees. The Congress explored a broad range of current and emerging issues of great importance for the future of forests and their capacity to provide the environmental, economic, social, cultural, and health benefits that sustain rural and urban societies worldwide.
During this historic International Year of Biodiversity, in anticipation of the upcoming International Year of Forests, and recognizing the vital role that forest science must play in meeting the common challenges we face worldwide, IUFRO commits itself to:
Focusing more on scientific research and international collaboration in six thematic areas: Forests for People; Climate Change and Forestry; Bio-Energy; Forest Biodiversity Conservation; Forests and Water Interactions; and Forest Resources for the Future.
Further, IUFRO commits itself to the following goals:
Improving communication within the IUFRO structure, with other scientists, students, forest professionals, and the public; and increasing visibility and accessibility of research findings;
Expanding and deepening IUFRO’s work at the science-policy interface by enhancing scientific contributions to international processes, conventions, and organizations; responding rapidly to new policy issues; expanding partnerships and collaborating with international organizations and processes through the provision of scientific information and policy options;
Urging member institutions and external stakeholders to renew and strengthen forest monitoring activities and support global monitoring efforts;
Improving IUFRO’s capacity to expand its membership and funding base to provide support for the full range of IUFRO’s activities to benefit the forest researchers belonging to IUFRO’s member organizations; and
Promoting high-quality forest-related research and expanding IUFRO’s capacity for interdisciplinary cooperation; strengthening scientific capacity; relating the work of all IUFRO units to the six thematic areas; broadening IUFRO’s membership base; and identifying emerging issues and changing paradigms.
THE SEOUL RESOLUTION – LA RESOLUCIÓN DE SEÚL – LA RESOLUTION DE SEOUL – DIE RESOLUTION VON SEOUL
On Saturday, 28 August, the last day of the IUFRO World Congress, the winners of IUFRO’s Best Poster Award were announced. They are:
Div 1 / Pifeng Lei, University of Freiburg, Germany
“Belowground niche separation and productivity in tree species mixtures
Div 2 / Yoshihiro Hosoo, Shinshu University, Japan
“Isolation and analysis of a gene encoding a potassium membrane transport protein from Cryptomeria japonica”
Div 4 / Sungho Choi, Korea University, Korea
“Predicting the changes in forest distribution using the thermal and hydrological indices”
Div 5 / Lee Su-Yeon, Seoul National University,
“Analysis of terpenoids released during the drying process of Cryptomeria
Div 6 / Maija Faehnle, Finnish Forest Research Institute, Finland
“Evaluating the use of social information in urban forest planning”
Div 7 / Takahashi Yukiko, The University of Tokyo, Japan
“Genetic diversity of the pathogen of Japanese oak wilt, Raffaelea quercivora, in the gallery bored in an oak tree, and mycaniga of the ambrosia beetle, Platypus quercivorus”
Div 8 / Ahn Young San, Korea Forest Research Institute, Korea
“Historical change in sediment yield in Lake Toro catchment, Kushiro/mire, northern Japan over the past 300 years”
Saturday was the sixth and final day of the XXIII IUFRO World Congress. After one more round of scientific sessions and administrative meetings, the day’s highlight were the Closing Ceremony and the Farewell Gala Event. Read more about it in Saturday’s Congress Daily.
The participants of the Closing Ceremony heard about the decisions of IUFRO’s International Council, such as the election of the new IUFRO Board and President, the selection of the Congress venue 2014 and the selection of two new Honorary Members.
During the following Farewell Gala Event, there was singing, dancing, cooking and a lot of toasting, as IUFRO bid farewell to host country Korea and Korea bid farewell to IUFRO.
Thank you for this wonderful IUFRO World Congress!