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October : Why IUFRO really matters to tropical forestry research

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11 October, 2016

Why IUFRO really matters to tropical forestry research

I took on the presidency of the International Union of Forestry Research Organisations (IUFRO), in October 2014, having the honor to follow in the footsteps of some great leaders in forestry research. In my acceptance speech, I committed to promoting a number of key goals. These included firstly the promotion of forestry research globally, and consistent with the strategic goals of IUFRO, to emphasise the science-policy interface that is so important to world prosperity. There are two other areas of importance about which I am passionate and that underpin my key goals.

As an educator, I am committed to promoting education in forestry and am actively seeking the means to ensure that forestry education is effectively advanced. As an African and a scientist from the developing world, I recognise a great need to promote forestry research in regions of the world where forests are threatened and where resources are limited. Tropical and subtropical regions make up a large component of this domain. IUFRO is the global network for forestry research. It is a remarkable organisation; one of the oldest and largest research unions in the world representing some 15,000 forestry researchers in over 120 countries and 650 member organisations. I am often asked what makes IUFRO different from the various other organisations that focus on forests and forestry. The answer is easy to provide. IUFRO is the only organisation globally that is entirely focused on research; promoting research on virtually all aspects of forestry and connecting forestry researchers globally. As a non-profit and entirely non-aligned organisation, IUFRO is able to reach out to its extensive network of researchers to assemble knowledge of importance to an extensive community of stakeholders to provide unbiased and high-quality knowledge on key issues. In this regard, IUFRO provides knowledge without advocating and seeks only to ensure that decision-making at all levels is evidence-based and reliable. In this way, forestry stakeholders and researchers globally gain deeply from the services of IUFRO and this includes those in countries and institutions in tropical regions of the world.

Forestry is an incredibly broad subject and it is understood very differently by different groups of people; this also includes researchers. In some parts, forestry is seen as the conservation or management of natural forest ecosystems aimed at the provision of multiple goods and services. These ecosystems are hugely valuable in terms of, for example, renewable energy, food security and water regulation. Others think of forestry more specifically in terms of products that come from forests such as fibre for producing packaging and paper products. We must also not forget the social dimension of forestry and the fact that forests are deeply about people that rely on trees in a multiplicity of ways. All of these aspects of forests and forestry depend on our understanding of factors that affect them. In this regard, research is key to the future of forests and forestry and all of us that depend, often in ways minimally understood, on them.

Read the full paper HERE

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