14th World Forestry Congress – Moving from ‘tree hugging’ to sustainable forestry management

Children play at Batang Buat river, Lubuk Beringin village, Indonesia.

Children play at Batang Buat river, Lubuk Beringin village, Indonesia.

Delegates attending the 14th World Forestry Congress will seek tangible solutions over the next two days to the global challenge of feeding a growing human population – including a burgeoning, consumptive middle-class – while limiting the extent of climate change and environmental degradation.

One of the major trends that have emerged over the opening three days of the gathering has concerned the sustainable use of forest resources.

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Can bamboo drive Africa’s emerging green economy?


Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that brings to many African countries a significant untapped potential for generating rural income, restoring degraded landscapes, and combating climate change. To harness bamboo to drive a green economy in Africa, robust national policies and international frameworks that support bamboo development are needed.

As African countries shift to the post-2015 development agenda and develop strategies to achieve their Sustainable Development Goals, there is one resource that many may not have previously considered – bamboo. Despite the many benefits this plant brings and the huge reserves of indigenous bamboo found across the continent, the resource remains largely untapped in Africa.

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Interview with Dr. Marjana Westergren: Forest Scientist

Dr Westergren (resized)

Dr. Marjana Westergren, a researcher at the Slovenian Forestry Institute

Dr. Marjana Westergren is a researcher at the Slovenian Forestry Institute, working in population and landscape genetics, management and conservation of forest genetic resources, and adaptation of forest tree populations.

Our social media reporter Boris Rantaša caught up with her ahead of her session on forest genetic monitoring at the EUFORINNO Workshop (9.9.2015, 19:45, Hall 3A).

What is it like to be a scientist?

For me, it’s really nice to be a scientist, because you get to find out new things. The best thing about it is when you analyze the data, see the results, interpret them and see, ‘this is something that I figured out, and my colleagues have figured out with me and we actually have done this!’ and this might help somebody right now or in the future. It’s a really rewarding feeling and it makes you [keep going].

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Forests for climate change mitigation, adaptation and sustainable development


As the global community comes together in Durban 7-11 September for the XIV World Forestry Congress, the importance of forests in addressing climate change is set to take centre stage. Deforestation and forest degradation account for up to 12 per cent of global carbon emissions – more than the emissions from all the planes, trains, automobiles and ships in the world. It is only by including forests in a climate change strategy that we can hold the increase in global average temperature below two degrees. While forests hold the key to reducing carbon emissions, forests serve an even greater purpose to the more than 1.6 billion people around the world that depend on them.

Forests provide livelihood, food, shelter and financial resources to people, and play a critical role in conserving biodiversity.

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Youth play their part in conserving forests in Africa

Indigenous afrotemperate forest growing in a river valley. Western Cape South Africa

Indigenous forest in Western Cape, South Africa

Advocating forestry and conservation may sound boring to many young people who often lack ambition and know nothing but the latest hip-hop songs or latest trends in fashion. However, for Eric Ogallo from Kenya and Kiki Tassi from Togo, it is a different story. The two young men teach rural communities how to conserve their forests. They both attended the World Forestry Congress in Durban this week.

Twenty-five year old Ogallo is part of a youth-led non-governmental organization working in the forests of the central highlands of Kenya. “We want to rehabilitate the area by using the youth and their innovations, so that they can create solutions to livelihoods and forestry management issues,” he said.

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Knowledge about our forests disappears as fast as the forests themselves


When I as was a young child back in the 1960s, my parents, indeed the people of my village, had knowledge about protecting the forest and the surrounding environment. I am not sure where they acquired this knowledge. Certainly there was little, if any, talk about “caring for the forest” and I cannot recall any campaigns about mitigating deforestation or protecting our environment. “Climate change” was not even a concept. However, it was simply an accepted, common practice that everybody has responsibility for taking care of the environment in which we lived.

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Over to Hazel! Live from the Working on Fire Media Tour…


Working On Fire tour

The Working on Fire tour took place on September 9, 2015 in Howick, North of Pietermaritzburg.  It was conducted by Tim Sidey, a National Operations Manager for The “Working on Fire” tour

As we were driving past the Marrianhill area in Durban, Tim Sidey showed us dead eucalyptus trees. They were poisoned by the Working on Fire team because eucalyptus is an alien invasive species. The poison kills the tree standing up, so it does not need to be harvested, saving on labour and fuel. He also explained how the Working on Fire team poisons invasive trees in high mountaneous areas, using rope access.

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Communities, Forests and Fire Management

Eshowe awareness – look at the risks.

Wildfires are the scourge of South African rural communities and costs the economy billions of rand each year. Working on Fire (WoF) is a government-funded, job-creation programme focusing on Integrated Fire Management. WoF fire fighters are recruited from marginalised communities and trained in fire awareness and education, prevention and fire suppression skills.

They form veld and forest fire fighting ground crews, stationed at bases around the country.

Zanele Nxumalo, National Community Fire Awareness Coordinator, reports on the Working on Fire Cafe’ held on day 2 of the World Forestry Congress.

“Communities taking ownership of fire management is the key to reducing the number of unwanted fires,” says Working on Fire, the South African Government’s leading programme in Integrated Fire Management (IFM)”.

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