Training Workshop II


Scientific Advisor:
IUFRO Task Force "Traditional Forest Knowledge"

Lead Trainer:
Ronald Trosper, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Forestry, Canada

Resource Persons:
Monika Singh (India), University of British Columbia, Canada
Ajith Chandran (India), University of British Columbia, Canada
In-Ae Kim (Republic of Korea), University of British Columbia, Canada

Michael Kleine, IUFRO-SPDC

Workshop Results:

In recent years, increasing attention has been given to international recognition and use of traditional forest knowledge (TFK) and indigenous wisdom. Embodied in indigenous communities or groups, this traditional (forest) knowledge has been utilized to preserve and protect resources vital to the continuity of indigenous communities or groups. Improving insight and latest knowledge of contributions of TFK to contemporary understanding of forests is thus of high importance for equitable benefit sharing in forestry.

Therefore, the workshop on “Traditional Forest Knowledge” was organized as part of the IUFRO-SPDC Pre-Congress Training Programme, at the Forest Human Resources Development Institute (FHI) in Namyangjiu City (near Seoul), Republic of Korea. The workshop offered participants from developing countries an overview of traditional forest knowledge and related research work. The participants enhanced their ability and skills in understanding the contributions of TFK to contemporary understanding of forests, particularly on examples including e.g. fire and other forest disturbances, shifting cultivation, and sustainability and resilience; and discussed community-based research and research ethics as well as ways to level the playing field between conventional science and civil science.

The training workshop was designed and lead by Professor Ronald Trosper (University of British Columbia, Faculty of Forestry, Canada). He was assisted by Monica Singh (India), Ajith Chandran (India), and In-Ae Kim (Republic of Korea). In total, 16 scientists (5 women and 11 men) working at universities and research institutions from 11 countries participated in the workshop.

The two and a half day workshop started with an overview by Professor Ronald Trosper about the workshop content comprising the following seven sessions:
•    The definition of traditional forest knowledge;
•    A comparison of traditional forest knowledge and scientific knowledge systems;
•    Contributions of traditional forest knowledge to understand forest systems and
•    Measures available to prevent further erosion of traditional forest knowledge;
•    Epistemic injustice;
•    The authority of science and TFK; and
•    Wrap-up discussions.

The workshop started on a learning session by discussing the definition of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) provided by Berkes. The participants were invited to critically look at it from the viewpoint of the characteristics of aboriginal and practical knowledge. In a subsequent opinion poll information and perceptions about TFK and indigenous forest wisdom were assessed and discussed. 

In the next session, the international context of traditional forest knowledge was examined in order to identify which international provisions protect or fail to protect TFK and indigenous knowledge. In the light of TFK and science, the participants were asked to recognize “data mining” or “distillation” of TFK into western frameworks. Different forms of learning and different relationships between humans and the forest for traditional knowledge and scientific knowledge as represented by forest science as well as changes in content over the years for TFK and forest science were explained. In the forth session on the authority of science and TFK, the participants became familiar with the Latour’s model and studied to “unpack” the concepts of “fact” and “value” using Latour’s four-way table, and understood how his “new bicameralism” changed the “old bicameralism”. 

Contributions of TFK to contemporary forestry were made visible on the model of forest fire and disturbance, and on shifting cultivation. For example, the participants learned to understand the effect shifting cultivation had on the definition of “forest” and “forest degradation”, and could describe how modern forms of shifting cultivation supported biodiversity and did not support stereotypes of such systems.

The last two sessions concentrated on community based research and research ethics, and on recognizing epistemic injustice in forestry situations: participants understood why the academic system of organizing knowledge created conditions that supported epistemic injustice.

In the discussion session, the participants were encouraged to present problems faced in their own study and work. In the workshop summary, Professor Ronald Trosper thanked all participants for their active participation, the staff from IUFRO-SPDC and Korean organizations for their support, and wished the participants to keep in contact and use the newly gained knowledge in their own works.

This workshop has been successful because:
•    a platform was built among participants for future exchange and cooperation;
•    the latest scientific knowledge discussed will assist in future TFK works of
      participants; and
•    the workshop pursued holistic thinking, which can be enhanced by learning.

Participants Evaluation

In total, 69 persons (32 women, 37 men) from 28 countries participated in the Training Workshops. Results of the training and satisfaction with the workshops were surveyed by an on-line questionnaire available to the participants during a period of one month after the Training Workshops. In total, 40 people responded to the request for comments.

In the survey, questions were addressed on the evaluation of 1) the individual thematic workshops, their content, difficulty, and value for the participants, 2) the additional skills training modules, and 3) the general organization and facilities of the Training Workshops.

Out of a total number of 40 responses, 10 commented on the Workshop on Traditional Forest Knowledge.

All answers indicated that there was great satisfaction with the Workshop, underlining that it lived up to the expectations of the participants. Except for one negative answer, the relevance to the job of the participants was given, and all participants confirmed that they would be able to use well what they had learned.

Strong agreement was pointed out with regard to the Workshop objectives, the added value from the training, the pace of the Workshop (which for 40% of the participants could be increased) and the quality of preparation by the instructors. The highest score was given for recommending the Workshop to colleagues.

With regard to improving the Workshop, participants opted for increasing the content covered in the Workshop (60%) and the workshop time (50%).

Overall comments about the value of the Workshop highlighted that participants highly appreciated the information gathered, made new friends from other regions, and learned how to incorporate and respect indigenous forest knowledge in any future project.