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Forests for People

Task Force Coordinator:

Ulrike Pröbstl-Haider, Austria


Perry J. Brown, United States

Task Force Members

Dr. Ulrike Pröbstl is professor for landscape development, recreation and tourism at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria. (Division 6)
Dr. Perry Brown is professor and deputy dean at the University of Montana. (Divisions 6 and 9)

Further Task Force members

  • The Task Force on Forest and Human Health will be represented in the Task Force.
  • Division 1 nominated Dr. August Temu, Coordinator of the Research Group 1.04.00 - Agroforestry
  • Division 6 will be represented by Tuija Sievänen, member of the IUFRO Board and senior researcher at the Finnish Forest Research Institute in Helsinki. Further members: Frank Jensen, DK; Olga Shaytarova, RU; Anatoly Gryazkin, RU; David Edwards, UK; Ervizal A. M. Zuhud, IN; Dwiko Budi; Permadi, IN
  • Division 7 nominated Daniel Herms, Coordinator of WP 7.03.11 - Resistance to insects
  • Division 9: nominated: Bikash Rath, Regional Centre for Development Cooperation (RCDC)/India; Coordinator of WP 9.05.06 Community Forestry, and Jinlong Liu, Centre for Forestry and Natural Resource Policy/China; Coordinator of WP 9.03.05 - Traditional forest knowledge in tropical and subtropical regions

Rationale and objective(s)

The main aim of the Task Force is to enhance the IUFRO strategy in the thematic area 1 and to strengthen the interdisciplinary research.

The main subjects of this Task Force are multifaceted and differ significantly between the various societies across the world. This variety is represented by the following sub-themes:

Livelihoods - issues of agro-forestry, food security, fuels, poverty alleviation, and human dislocation
For a large number of people forests play a vital role for their livelihood, food security, nutrition and fuels. A loss or further degradation of forests may lead to poverty and human dislocation.

Health, Recreation and Tourism - issues of human health, recreation and nature-based tourism
In developed countries the functions of forests have changed over time. The various social functions are becoming increasingly recognized as being very important and include recreation as well as health, well-being and quality of life. Furthermore, all over the world tourism is a growing economic sector which is always in search of new products, new offers and attractions. Forests and natural environments across the world provide opportunities for regional development around nature-based tourism.

Urban and Rural Landscapes
- issues of ecosystem services, economic benefits and development, spaces and places for living
The international trend of urbanisation is endangering many forests close to cities and the metropolitan areas. Their reduction goes hand in hand with significant losses of ecosystem services. They also reduce the quality of spaces and places for living. In rural areas the increasing demand for biomass is one of the forces changing significantly the character of the landscape and its ecosystem services.

Culture and Education - issues of perceptions of forests, spiritual character, education, historical tradition and practice, communication and governance
Many counties have a strong cultural relationship and history associated with forests, the use of timber and related professions, traditions and practices. It is important to maintain this knowledge to increase the awareness of forest and forest products and to integrate it into educational programs. Furthermore participatory planning, communication and governance play a crucial role to integrate the perception of forests and their important role into decision making processes.

The Task Force will explicitly focus on

  • Needs of changing societies
  • Definitions of the societal relevance of forests
  • Trade off with other forest uses
  • Requirements in education, governance and planning.

Terms of Reference

Current global events and trends underline the necessity to investigate the role of forests in a broader societal context. Modern forest management and decision making requires ever more information and relevant analysis as the number and types of forest-based uses increase and the required trade-offs become more complex. Research and knowledge dissemination will reduce the risks of taking wrong decisions, especially attractive investments associated with the global demand for energy and real estate development.

The strategy of "Forest for People" will support an integrated approach to decision making and ensure that societal aspects in their broadest sense are considered. A broad, all-encompasssing approach is crucial, because many forest benefits such as human heath, cultural values, local traditions, and education do not have direct economic impacts. On the other hand, some uses with economic value, such as nature based tourism and non-timber forest products are not necessarily taken into consideration adequately during forest management decisions.

It will be a challenge to expand the essential interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research concept to all IUFRO themes and across all IUFRO Divisions.  The Task Force will support the IUFRO-Strategy by

  1. compiling relevant knowledge and making it available
  2. increasing the awareness of possible alternatives and social implications
  3. preparing the implementation with transferable examples and best practises