Making forests matter more — at a local café

20 Mar 2019

This year, the theme for the U.N. International Day of Forests on March 21, focuses on  forests and education — how people can learn to love forests.

Worldwide, members of the International Students’ Forestry Association (IFSA), organised students gatherings, so called world cafés, to explore the current and future challenges in the field of forest and landscape management.

Conceived according to a set of guidelines provided by the World Café Community Foundation, the first café celebrating forests day kicked off with the Asia Pacific World Café in Bangkok, jointly launched by IFSA, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC).

This event was followed by various others, happening, among other, in Indonesia, Slovakia, Serbia, Italy, and Canada. In Accra, Ghana, the Global Landscapes Forum engaged in a joint world café with FAO and IFSA during the Africa Climate Week. This event series aims to provide crucial insights in the recent developments and expectations in landscape management.

Café attendees around the world discussed various aspects of forest depletion and regeneration, responding to proscribed questions as wide-ranging as how they developed a love for forests, employment patterns in the forestry sector, compelling forest narratives, women as stewards of the forest and the contribution of traditional knowledge to forest management, reported Salina Abraham, Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) youth coordinator.

Oindrilla Basu, councillor of external affairs on the IFSA board of directors, states that this years IDF theme of Forests and Education “creates huge scope for the youth and student community to work together, come together for searching better natural opportunities to locally revive, restore our valuable ecosystems in the coming decade of restoration.”

International Forestry Student Association gathering at a World Café in Zwollen, Poland. GLF/Handout

Among the students, there was a great common understanding of the value of forests in our landscapes as “integral part that provides a countless number of ecosystem services and values beyond economic benefits” as Maximilian Schubert, IFSA Liaison Officer for the Youth in Landscapes Initiative, commented. In line with the GLF digital summit on Forest Bathing, one benefit being pointed out was the “magic to heal not only our climate but also our soul.” as a student attending the Bangkok World Café realized.

On another note, students acknowledged globalization as a factor that brought the world closer together and eventually creates one big family of varied culture, environment, and lifestyle. The huge range of diversity, natural and cultural, with similar aspirations in common living standards, was said to undeniably impact our natural resources

Another student added: “These impacts are not similar. Due to our diverse environment and microclimates, our landscapes are responding differently to these human interventions, creating havoc in natural resources and inequitable benefit sharing amongst socio-economic strata.”

Despite many different opinions and impressions among the students, the notion of “education as foundation of any stable community and a better future” was ubiquitous and mutual. The recognition of the undeniable role of the youth as main stakeholder in the future and thus in climate change raised the demand for a global vision of sustainability to address the challenges and threats of eco-disasters locally and globally.

“Our aware youth with their clear vision, has the energy to revive those indigenous knowledge, our connection with nature, our balance with aspirations of well being and our will to march forward to a resilient future is needed now.” the world café in the FAO headquarters in Rome concluded.

Learn more about World Cafés here.

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