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IUFRO The Advocate for Forest Science.
The objective of the Task Force is an improved practice of Education in Forest Sciences worldwide. TF therefore aims at contributing to development of standards of Education in Forest Sciences, which meet the requirements of today, using experiences and examples of good practice in the IUFRO community and cooperation with higher education experts.
Activities of the TF in the attempt to reach this objective will be worked on in the course of the establishment of the TF and will include:
More details can be found in the Task Force's Terms of Reference.
Education in Forest Sciences has a long tradition and undergone fundamental changes: after aiming at preparation on occupations in forest management in a traditional stage today in many countries of the world in a relationship stage it is about managing natural resources for valued people and ecosystem relationships.
The need to explore new fields of education stems not only from the requirement to find answers to the questions posed by our civilization, but also from accumulated research knowledge and practical achievements of forestry that should be properly utilized. Forest knowledge is the basis for understanding the relationship between people and forests and the principles of management of forests regardless of regional disparities.
The system of higher education has been facing fundamental changes, triggered by globalization and global change, altering expectations of stakeholders and society from university graduates and novel insights of educational sciences – from teaching to learning.
We should also take into account that the competence profiles of forestry graduates do not always comply with the requirements posed by potential employers, while emphasizing that the professional attractiveness of the forestry sector for graduates is decreasing. Also many of the graduates will find employment outside of the forestry sector, some in NGOs and still others will work self-employed
As a response education in forest sciences has to focus more on methodical competences, and knowledge integration and communication across disciplinary borders. The development of skills, enabling graduates to tackle novel, complex problems, has been widely missing and focus was on contents instead of generic skills and methodical competences. Other developments include the growing role of universities in continuing education, new approaches to distance education including technology and didactics of e-Learning, and the movement towards Open Education Resources (OER).
Programmes of higher forest education have been challenged even more by changing societal demands, such as climate change, changing patterns of demands for ecosystem services, and novel resource governance systems. The development of forest sciences as well as of forestry curricula should adapt to or even anticipate those trends.
Account should also be taken of elements of traditional knowledge, forming strong cultural, religious and ethical links and promoting historical and generational continuity. Sustainable Forest Management requires knowledge of the uncertainties and risks on a global scale not only identified as "risk management", but also of the consequences to forests and forestry caused, for example, by aging of populations in developed countries.
Consequently development of forest sciences curricula should move towards:
IUFRO TF EFS is also an attempt to answer to the growing demand for coordination of research based knowledge and education at university level