Congress Spotlight #19 – ‘Citizen science’: A way to fight invasive species?

‘Citizen science’: A way to fight invasive species?


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At Shelley Beach, a few miles North of San Francisco, tanoaks and oaks, the most sacred trees to native people of the Northern California coast,  have been decimated due to the exotic disease known as Sudden Oak Death (SOD). SOD is thus not only changing the landscape dynamics but also profoundly altering the local culture. (Photo by Matteo Garbelotto)

At Shelley Beach, a few miles North of San Francisco, tanoaks and oaks, the most sacred trees to native people of the Northern California coast, have been decimated due to the exotic disease known as Sudden Oak Death (SOD). SOD is thus not only changing the landscape dynamics but also profoundly altering the local culture. (Photo by Matteo Garbelotto)

Invasive species are a threat to forest ecosystems around the world.

No surprise there.

Thousands of invasive flora and fauna have been transported – sometimes by accident, sometimes by design – to different continents and countries. Very often their impact is detrimental to their new region.

But, usually when one thinks of the negative impacts of invasive species, top of mind would be the effect on the economy – for instance, phytophthora dieback, an Asian import, affects the economically important jarrah tree in Australia. Or perhaps one would think of environmental damage, such as the destructive swath cut through the forests of Tierra del Fuego by imported North American beaver, to give just two illustrations of unwanted economic/environmental results.

But the societal impact is equally important.

And at the 24th IUFRO World Congress in Salt Lake City this fall, a session on the “societal impacts of invasive forest pathogens and pests”, will be presented by organizers Matteo Garbelotto of the University of California at Berkeley, USA; Giles Hardy of Murdoch University, Australia; and Paolo Gonthier of the University of Turin, Italy.

The organizers note that anything that has an economic impact has a societal impact, but there are many issues related to loss of plant hosts that can have a serious cultural impact with no apparent economic impact.

One example would be sacred tree species. The tanoak, which grows in parts of California and Oregon in the USA, is not of significant economic value per se, but it is sacred to some native Californians from the Central and Northern coast. They use tanoak acorns to make a traditional/ritual dish. However, tanoak is being decimated by Sudden Oak Death, which is believed to have originated in Asia, and the loss of this tree species is a major tragedy for these native people because it eliminates an important linkage with their past.

As a second example, the organizers note that closing forests to the public to prevent the spread of invasive pests and diseases is another case of societal impact – withdrawal of an environmental service – that is difficult to place a monetary value on.

One of the motivations for the symposium is to alert the scientific community to the need to work more closely with stakeholders and the public to better explain what the non-economic loss of a tree can mean to different social groups.

The organizers see this “citizen science” (one definition of which is: the engagement of non-scientists in decision-making about policy issues that have technical or scientific components) as a way to move forward in the fight against invasives.

Their hope is that by making the public partners with a stake in the issue – as well as some clout with decision-makers – rather than clients, it will help form a bond with the public that will generate enough pressure to bring about change in the way some sectors of the economy operate.

They note that the international trade in certain products – live plants and untreated wood, among others – offers the major pathway and entry point for invasives. But rapid, definitive action is difficult because that trade affects so many different interests.

For that reason they believe that researchers must spend more time providing policy makers, other stakeholders and the public with relevant, fact-based, easily understood information about the nature and mechanisms that lead to invasives’ introductions and to the wide-ranging implications. Otherwise, they say, one can’t really expect governments to make quick decisions on issues that have such huge economic ramifications.


Visit the webpages of IUFRO Division 7 Forest Health to find out more about IUFRO’s activities in this field:
http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-7/


See you at the IUFRO 2014 World Congress!

http://iufro2014.com/
Follow IUFRO 2014 on Twitter! Join IUFRO 2014 on Facebook!

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Related Links

The Montesclaros Declaration: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-7/70000/publications/montesclaros-declaration/

Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month: http://bugwood.blogspot.co.at/2014/04/invasive-plant-pest-and-disease.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+Bugwood+%28Bugwood%29

Twitter: #invasives

IUFRO Division 7 – Forest Health: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-7/

IUFRO Spotlight main page, http://www.iufro.org/media/iufro-spotlights/

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IUFRO Spotlight is an initiative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. Its aim is to introduce, in a timely fashion, significant findings in forest research from IUFRO officeholders and member organizations to a worldwide network of decision makers, policy makers and researchers.

IUFRO Spotlight issues up to October 2014 will primarily focus on the IUFRO World Congress that will take place on 5-11 October 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The topics of individual Congress sessions will be highlighted in order to draw attention to the wide variety of themes that will be addressed at the Congress and their importance on a regional and global scale. Find the IUFRO 2014 World Congress Scientific Program at: http://iufro2014.com/scientific-program/overview/

Congress Spotlight #18 – Consumers and Industry: Keen on Green

Consumers and Industry: Keen on Green


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Looking toward the future is enough to make you, ahem, “turn green” with envy.

© beermedia – Fotolia.com

© beermedia – Fotolia.com

It’s all about a greener future.

That future and, more specifically, how it relates to the world’s forests will be one of many subjects discussed at the XXIV IUFRO World Congress in Salt Lake City, Utah, this fall.

A session there, entitled Forests and Forest Products for a Greener Future will look at how business and marketing will contribute to that goal.

Organized by Eric Hansen of Oregon State University, Tom Hammett of Virginia Tech and Birger Solberg of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, it will cover a wide range of business and marketing theory topics that address how products and markets (timber and non-timber) can be expected to contribute to the greening effect.

The goal of their session is to convey a sense of the cutting edge work that is taking place in this field as consumers and industry embrace a greener future.

They point at some of today’s forest-related green initiatives that are, for the most part, in their infancy but offer the potential for massive leaps forward. Among them, a range of biochemicals, biomaterials and bioethanol, all from renewable materials; medical products such as wood-based casts for fractures; a growing interest in designing and building wooden skyscrapers; the positives around biophilic design (connecting nature and people in the places where they work, live and learn); and nanocellulose, where possible products include everything from body armor to automobile components to highly absorbent wound dressings, tampons and diapers. For these innovations to be successful, marketing will play a key role.

The range of research opportunities is immense, they say.

Business and marketing practices, through the value chains that process and transport forest-based products from forest to consumer, have a significant influence on the interactions between society and forests, the researchers note.

They also say that much current business and marketing research is about consumer/customer reactions to products and services, and that going forward in this area, research should play an increasingly important role in identifying green products that can be successfully adopted in the market place.

And they mention environmental marketing, eco-labeling, supply chain optimization and design for environment as some current practices that help the push toward a greener milieu.

Their session will also look at the idea of improving effectiveness in the supply chain. They note that in addition to the financial benefits, an efficient supply chain can also result in lower environmental impacts.

Other questions being explored focus on corporate social responsibility; a growing issue in both the business and research worlds. As examples of discussion points they ask: what motivates companies to be responsible? What policies can be put in place to encourage and-or reward that responsibility? Why do some companies embrace the concept and others not?

The organizers note there are relatively few forest researchers and academics specializing in marketing and business management issues (as opposed to traditional forest economics), so there is much room to study and improve understanding of the various important issues in the area.

This session aims to stir a wider discussion and engender increased interest in exploring more of those issues.

IUFRO Research Group 5.10.00 on Facebook:  Forest Products Marketing and Business Management


See you at the IUFRO 2014 World Congress!

http://iufro2014.com/
Follow IUFRO 2014 on Twitter! Join IUFRO 2014 on Facebook!

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21 March - International Day of Forests

21 March – International Day of Forests

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Related Links

IUFRO Research Group 5.10.00 – Forest products marketing and business management:
http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-5/50000/51000/

IUFRO Spotlight main page, http://www.iufro.org/media/iufro-spotlights/

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IUFRO Spotlight is an initiative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. Its aim is to introduce, in a timely fashion, significant findings in forest research from IUFRO officeholders and member organizations to a worldwide network of decision makers, policy makers and researchers.

IUFRO Spotlight issues up to October 2014 will primarily focus on the IUFRO World Congress that will take place on 5-11 October 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The topics of individual Congress sessions will be highlighted in order to draw attention to the wide variety of themes that will be addressed at the Congress and their importance on a regional and global scale. Find the IUFRO 2014 World Congress Scientific Program at: http://iufro2014.com/scientific-program/overview/

Congress Spotlight #17 – Forest outlook: What does the future hold?

Forest outlook: What does the future hold?


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Logs being moved by sea to a sawmill. Major changes in the patterns of demand for logs may result in them being processed in a different country to where they were harvested. (Photo by John Innes)

Logs being moved by sea to a sawmill. Major changes in the patterns of demand for logs may result in them being processed in a different country to where they were harvested. (Photo by John Innes)

Forest researchers from around the world will gather at the IUFRO 24th World Congress in Salt Lake City this fall where one of the issues will be to address the future, and the related challenges, facing forests and forest management in the 21st century.

Providing a sort of scientific crystal ball to give glimpses into the years ahead and discuss how to meet and adapt to coming challenges will be a sub-plenary session at the congress entitled, appropriately enough, “The Future of Our Forests”.

Resources for the Future (http://www.iufro.org/science/task-forces/resources-for-future/), the IUFRO task force behind this session, has set out to examine four major game-changers – globalization, plantations, new products and forest ecosystem services – and what they mean, and will mean, for forests, forest research and forest-dependent communities.

This session is organized by Task Force Coordinator John Innes, dean of the faculty of forestry at the University of British Columbia, and William Nikolakis, a postdoctoral fellow at the same university.

The task force notes that globalization is having a transformative effect on the use of forest resources and on the companies and communities that extract value from fibre.

Globalization has enabled competitive forestry operations to develop on plantations to the extent that these are becoming a major source of timber and a highly productive forest asset. The task force sees plantations as the most intensively managed forests, able to produce more from less land and inputs and likely to grow faster and be more pest- and pathogen-resistant through selective breeding and biotechnology. And, an increasing reliance on plantations may well reduce the pressure on native stands and help achieve zero net forest loss.

In addition, forests will have an important role as a source of feedstock into bio-products and for timber to meet specific ‘footprint’ standards and thresholds for buildings. While the demand for these new products is in its formative stages, the demand for new products will increase as the green economy takes hold.

An area also in its infancy is forest ecosystem services but, drawing on the expertise of those directly involved in the theory and practice of these services, the task force sees finding markets for forest services that are currently unrecognized or undervalued, and encouraging more holistic forest management as two positive outcomes from this area.

Carbon forestry in Wenzhou, China. This plantation has been established by the China Green Carbon Foundation specifically as a carbon sink, paid for by carbon credits. The management objectives of such forests differ markedly from more traditional forms of forestry. (Photo by John Innes)

Carbon forestry in Wenzhou, China. This plantation has been established by the China Green Carbon Foundation specifically as a carbon sink, paid for by carbon credits. The management objectives of such forests differ markedly from more traditional forms of forestry. (Photo by John Innes)

What will it mean for those whose lives and livelihoods revolve around the forests? The task force thinks:

Forest managers will have to take into account all these changing values and adapt to managing forests for a suite of services, of which timber is only one product.

Policy makers will need to create and support appropriate institutions enabling the trade of ecosystem services and will also need to sort out who owns the services – especially in areas where local and indigenous peoples dispute the ownership.

Researchers will have to recognize the demand for increasingly applied research that can be directly translated into reduced management costs and increased profitability from specialty and niche products. And researchers will also have to face up to providing objective scientific advice on difficult, and sometimes intractable, problems. They will not only have to “think outside the box”, they will also have to “look outside the box” to see the world beyond their own research interests.

The ambition of the task force putting this Congress session together is to understand these four important areas mentioned above that will reshape how forests are viewed and used and the end goal is to contribute to sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

A book will be produced by the task force that shares the experiences and perspectives of more than a dozen contributors from across the globe on various aspects of these issues going forward.

See you at the IUFRO 2014 World Congress!
http://iufro2014.com/
Follow IUFRO 2014 on Twitter! Join IUFRO 2014 on Facebook!

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Related Links

IUFRO Task Force on Resources for the Future: http://www.iufro.org/science/task-forces/resources-for-future/

IUFRO Spotlight main page, http://www.iufro.org/media/iufro-spotlights/

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IUFRO Spotlight is an initiative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. Its aim is to introduce, in a timely fashion, significant findings in forest research from IUFRO officeholders and member organizations to a worldwide network of decision makers, policy makers and researchers.

IUFRO Spotlight issues up to October 2014 will primarily focus on the IUFRO World Congress that will take place on 5-11 October 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The topics of individual Congress sessions will be highlighted in order to draw attention to the wide variety of themes that will be addressed at the Congress and their importance on a regional and global scale. Find the IUFRO 2014 World Congress Scientific Program at: http://iufro2014.com/scientific-program/overview/

Can REDD+ Achieve Conservation, Livelihoods and Climate Change Mitigation Goals?

By John Parrotta (Deputy Coordinator, IUFRO Division 8) and Lawal Marafa (Chair of the Conference Organizing Committee)

Dealing with uncertainties

"Adopting REDD+" conference (Photo by Lawal Marafa)

“Adopting REDD+” conference (Photo by Lawal Marafa)

REDD+ (reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhancing forest carbon stocks in developing countries) is an evolving mechanism for climate change mitigation under continued debate within and outside of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). While it has the potential to realize its primary climate change mitigation objective, there is considerable uncertainty regarding its actual or potential impacts on biodiversity, forests and the livelihoods of people in the tropical and sub-tropical forested landscapes where REDD+ implementation is envisaged.

The outcomes of efforts now underway to prepare for and eventually implement REDD+ activities hinge on a number of important issues, and the resolution of the uncertainties surrounding these issues. These relate to: (1) the ecological impacts of climate change and their influence on REDD+ strategies; (2) policy approaches adopted towards REDD+; (2) forest governance, tenure rights, livelihoods and local communities; and (4) how REDD+ activities will integrate systems for measurement, reporting and verification (e.g., of carbon stock changes).

International conference in Hong Kong

These issues were the focus of the International Conference on Adopting REDD+ for Conservation, Sustainable Community Livelihood and Climate Change Mitigation held in Hong Kong on 13-15 December 2013. The meeting was organized by the Geography and Resource Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), with support from the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), IUFRO, the Institute of Environment, Energy and Sustainability (IIESS), Chung Chi College and United College in partnership with the University of Leeds, University of York, University of Bergen, University of Kwazulu-Natal, Utrecht University and Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry. Attendees included 80 local and international participants and presenters from 17 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, Latin America, and Australia.

The conference included presentations from academics, policy makers and practitioners focusing on REDD+ and climate change issues from a variety of disciplinary angles, including ecology, forestry, geography, anthropology, economics, sociology and policy science. On the third day a fieldtrip highlighted examples of local forest management in Hong Kong, including sacred or feng shui forests, forest uses by local communities, and potential payment for environmental services (including carbon sequestration).

Local relevance of REDD+

Conference presentations and discussions highlighted a number of important conclusions similar to those of the recent (2012) IUFRO-led Global Forest Expert Panel assessment “Understanding Relationships between Biodiversity, Carbon, Forests and People: The Key to Achieving REDD+ Objectives”. These include, among others, the importance of understanding the effects of climate change itself as well as other factors driving forest and biodiversity loss and degradation, and how these changes are affecting the livelihoods and development prospenviects for forest-dependent communities.

Local case studies emphasized the importance of forests for the multiple environmental services they provide, particularly those related to local livelihoods and food security, and that these “co-benefits” of REDD+ are likely to be far more important to communities than the monetary payments expected from implementation of REDD+ programs. Further, a number of presentations emphasized the need for REDD+ or other Payment for Environmental Services (PES) programs to integrate social (particularly poverty reduction) objectives within their planning and implementation frameworks and to work within existing governance arrangements and markets mechanisms (such as forest certification) to achieve lasting results, and the importance of secure tenure and property rights to achieve both carbon sequestration goals and other, more locally relevant and important, environmental and socioeconomic objectives, including equitable benefit-sharing.

Bringing science to the people

How IUFRO’s Special Programme for Development of Capacities (SPDC) contributes to enhancing forest science communication within the framework of a Climate Change Adaptation Program in Bhutan.

Photo by András Darabant, BOKU, Austria

Photo by András Darabant, BOKU, Austria

Would you like to see your forest be wrapped up in plastic?  Well, this is what Bhutanese society will witness due to a research project that aims at simulating drought, which may affect the region’s forests in the future as a result of climate change.  In order to inflict drought stress on mature trees, entire research plots of considerable size have been covered with plastic roofs in about 2 m height above ground level, preventing rain water from reaching the soil and roots of trees.  But would local people show understanding for such a measure and approve of it easily?

This is where forest science communication comes in.  Transforming scientific knowledge and research results into useful information and guidance for policy-making has never been easy, neither at global nor at national and local levels.  Recognising the need for enhancing science-society interactions, the Royal Government of Bhutan has agreed to include science communication and science/policy interfacing work in its newly established Climate Change Adaptation program.

Climate change in the Himalayan forests has been a focal area for the development and adoption of strategies in the Bhutan Government for some time.  These strategies aim to increase the resilience of the Himalayan forests to climate change impacts such as species range shifts, changes in ecosystem services, catastrophic regime shifts and other altered disturbance regimes.  Very steep, erodible terrain and low economic resilience contribute to the threats and future consequences of climate change that Bhutan’s forests and people will be faced with.  Thus, building human capacities and knowledge base is much needed, as this will ensure the sustainability of efforts and inputs.

The Government of Bhutan, through its Renewable Natural Resources Research and Development Center Yusipang, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, and the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Environment, and Water Management, through the Vienna-based University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, have been collaborating in forest research over the past 15 years.  This successful cooperation has been extended through a comprehensive Climate Change Adaptation program called “Climate change adaptation potentials of forests in Bhutan – Building human capacities and knowledge base (BC-CAP)”.

The Special Programme for Development of Capacities (SPDC) of IUFRO contributes to this program by training Bhutanese forest scientists, Government officials and other relevant stakeholders in the effective dissemination and uptake of scientific knowledge in the field of climate sensitive forestry and land use. The support of IUFRO-SPDC includes two training workshops on science-policy interfacing and science communication.

A first workshop entitled “Working effectively at the interface of forest science and forest policy” was successfully held in Thimpu, Bhutan on October 22-24, 2013.  Forestry officers from the Bhutanese Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, forest department, forest development corporation and NGOs attended the workshop with the objective of gaining knowledge and skills in science-policy interfacing through hands-on exercises, lectures on concepts and methods and presentation of best practices.  The training workshop aimed to improve the understanding of key stakeholders in policy and decision-making and highlighted the important role of scientists in contributing information to these processes.

By applying the knowledge of how to work and effectively communicate at the science-policy interface, the Bhutanese society will be better informed about on-going climate change research and, thus, show greater understanding for the measures taken in the course of the project, including the plastic roofs established in their forests.

For further information on the IUFRO –SPDC training course, please visit: http://www.iufro.org/science/special/spdc/actproj/wsbhutan/

Addressing the challenges of higher Forestry education

How well-prepared are today’s forestry students? How do professionals, teachers, and students themselves perceive upcoming challenges and chances in terms of forestry education? Do university curricula adequately prepare forestry graduates to meet the demands and needs of the job market?

IUFRO, the global network for forest science cooperation and IFSA, the International Forestry Students’ Association are well-positioned to tackle this issue of forestry education at an academic level, owing to their global scope and mission statements.

Estonian forestry student presenting case studies from his home country. Photo taken by Vesa Miettunen, an IFSA member studying in Rovaniemi

Estonian forestry student presenting case studies from his home country. Photo taken by Vesa Miettunen, an IFSA member studying in Rovaniemi

In the course of the UNECE/FAO Metsä 2013 conference and the European Forest Week in Rovaniemi, Finland, both organizations held a joint side-event at the Hotel Santa Claus on 11 December. The aim was to raise awareness about the importance of forestry education at an academic level and identify related needs and challenges. The event was attended by about 100 participants, including many students, as well as representatives from international organizations, industry, and academic institutions. During 90 minutes, presentations were delivered by students and academics, followed by a lively debate with the attendees.

The Metsä 2013 conference, short for the joint session of the UN Economic Commission for Europe’s Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s European Forestry Commission, took place in Rovaniemi, Finland, from 9-13 December. Simultaneously, a second European Forest Week, organized by 15 official partner organizations from the European forest sector, including IUFRO and IFSA amongst others, was held across Europe.

Entitled “Future of Education – Future of the sector?”, the event was introduced by Professor Piotr Paschalis-Jakubowicz, Coordinator of IUFRO Task Force Education in Forest Sciences. After briefly presenting the work of the Task Force, he pointed out the fast evolution in the forestry sector over the last decades and the subsequent change of needs in the professional working environment. Professor Paschalis stated that future forestry education should emphasize generic skills and methodical competencies rather than contents and descriptive approaches, and should also integrate and communicate knowledge across disciplinary boundaries in order to match the diverse demands of the sector.

Following this presentation, students shared their perspective and experiences. Jakob Hörl, Head of IFSA’s Forestry Education Commission, gave a short description of IFSA, the global network of students of forest and related sciences. He elaborated on the potential and importance of IFSA to represent the students’ input in this debate and reinforced the willingness of IFSA to collaborate with IUFRO in this matter.

After this, Kathrin Rees-Müller from Germany and Andre Purret from Estonia provided the attendees with an overview of post-secondary Forestry Education in their respective countries and invited the participants for a general discussion.

The outcome of this discussion showed clearly that the sector has been facing fundamental changes, bringing along new demands and expectations of stakeholders and society. The future forestry experts need to acquire new skills and professional expertise that allow them to identify and meet present and future challenges and opportunities in a flexible manner. At the same time, core competences in forestry will be needed also in the future. Therefore, choices will have to be made in order to balance these demands without overburdening the curricula of future forestry graduates.

Based on the positive response from the participants at this side event, IFSA and IUFRO both agreed to develop a joint action plan to systematically assess the status of education at the academic level and to provide options and guidance for the future.

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