Tackling the Complex Relationship Between Forests and Society

Interview with IUFRO Division 9 Coordinator Daniela Kleinschmit

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Daniela Kleinschmit is Coordinator of IUFRO Division 9 “Forest Policy and Economics”. She is heading the unit on forest policy research at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

Photo provided by Daniela Kleinschmit

Q: Dr. Kleinschmit, how did you get involved in IUFRO and in how far has your work and career in IUFRO been beneficial for your scientific endeavors?

A.: I got involved in IUFRO about 12 years ago thanks to the supervisor of my PhD thesis, Max Krott. My first IUFRO conference was the World Congress in Kuala Lumpur in 2000. It was fascinating to meet peers from all over the world and exchange ideas, experiences and knowledge. Personal contacts are particularly helpful for developing transnational research projects and writing or organizing publications such as special issues of journals. In addition, a network like IUFRO helps to raise awareness for new triggering questions.

Q.: You are the Coordinator of IUFRO’s youngest Division which has been established in response to the growing need of giving social sciences more room in IUFRO. Does IUFRO respond adequately to the current trends in forest policy and economics research today and what will be future needs?

A.: The continuously increasing need for social sciences is well recognized in the forest research area. For this reason, IUFRO’s decision to establish a new, second Division for social science was just timely. And IUFRO is making efforts to integrate this concentrated competence with that of other disciplines, e.g. by means of the Task Forces, in order to respond to those current environmental and social challenges that demand an interdisciplinary understanding. Nevertheless, if IUFRO wants to attract more researchers with a social science perspective we might need to carefully reconsider the institutional settings of our network.

Q.: Division 9 is entitled “Forest Policy and Economics”. Is there a linkage between these areas?

A.: Division 9 represents a range of diverse areas of social science besides economic and political science, e.g. historical science or jurisprudence. All of these areas are concerned with the complex relationship between forests and society but the concepts and methodologies used may vary.

Q.: There will be an all-Division 9 meeting in May in Sarajevo, BosniaHerzegovina, where the latest trends and findings in the forest policy and economics area will be presented. What is the expected outcome of this conference?

A.: It will be the first meeting of the new Division and therefore a great opportunity for the different groups to get in contact with each other. But besides this more general goal we aim to identify what in particular is needed from social science when it comes to key political questions concerning forests. Beyond that, the closely linked “Directors’ Forum” will address questions on governance and participatory management of forest research.

Q.: Division 9 also covers information and communication. You have always had a keen interest in forest science communication and led a former IUFRO Task Force related to this topic. Why is science communication important and how can it be strengthened?

A.: From my point of view communicating science is crucial to bridge the gap between science and society, not least because it can enhance the acceptance and legitimacy of science. We can use already existing competence and structures as those in our Division, for example, to strengthen science communication. However, we may need to further link the existing capacities with each other and with the demands as well.

Q.: The next IUFRO World Congress will be in October 2014 in Salt Lake City, USA. Do you have any plans for your Division for the Congress?

A.: We are already in contact with the Congress organizers. We will use our upcoming All Division 9 conference in May to channel our activities.

IUFRO All Division 9 Conference
9-11 May 2012, Sarajevo, BosniaHerzegovina  
http://www.foper.org/iufro_1.html

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