Interview with IFSA Statutes Councillor Salina Abraham on her Exchange Experience in Europe

by Meike Siegner


Pictures: Salina Abraham

Salina Abraham has been an active member with IFSA since 2015 and currently serves at Statutes Councillor with IFSA International. As part of her Environmental Science and Resource Management Program at University of Washington (Seattle) she chose to spend one year in the Netherlands to study Economics. For the Tree News she reported on her exchange experience in Europe and the insights she gained by combining both economic and natural resource management perspectives in her studies.

Can you provide us insights into why you chose to pursue exchange studies at a European University?

 About a year ago, when I was three months away from my graduation in Environmental Science and Resource Management at University of Washington, I decided that I wanted to double major in Economics. That was a big decision for me that arose out of my interest in studying the interface between people and the environment. I always knew that I wanted to learn Economics at some point, but I had imagined it as a hobby – something fun to do during retirement. However, based on my desired career direction (environmental policy), I quickly realized it made sense to understand Economics earlier rather than later. Economics is the study of how humans manage resources and I felt like understanding the development of this discipline would be important.  Even though it has a limited focus on natural resources, I felt that knowing the logic, frameworks, and models would be useful in my future career in environment and sustainability field.

I also knew that I didn’t want to study it in America. Mostly, because I did not want to learn conservative, classical economic thought and the Netherlands was attractive to me because of their social policies. I had thought that, for the most part, you can’t come to a country with a very progressive social safety net and then teach, for example, “taxes are really bad!.” I wanted to explore the ways that economics could contribute to these social policies. So, I was hoping that a different political environment would result in a less conservative and potentially more progressive economics learning environment, which could, hopefully, translate into a different take on natural resource economics as well. Those were the thoughts that led to my decision to pursue my exchange studies at Tilburg University, in the town of Tilburg with around 200.000 inhabitants. They allowed me to complete my final year before graduation abroad, which tends to be rare.

And did you feel that the different economic environment in the Netherlands influenced the way the subject was taught?

Well, in general the economics literature is very conservative. You can’t escape it but you can have a professor who understands the differences in application and highlights the limitations of theoretical models, that is its application in reality versus practice by pointing out limits when it comes to applying economic models and frameworks in real-life situations. I’ve seen professors identify the points of breakdown for frameworks more here than in the United States, which is refreshing. However, my disappointment with the program here was primarily that it was a classic Business and Management School and there was a huge shortage in terms of any environmental application to economics, or a perspective that would combine human economic behavior and the environment. I started out with one environmental econ course and I ended up dropping it because it is the same material that we had already covered in an environmental science major as an undergrad. One thing that I did fall in love with though, outside the standard courses, was taking development economics, which I truly love. Development Economics is essentially the study of poverty and how it can be relieved.

One course I’m taking this quarter looks at the power of randomized control trials to determine the effectiveness of certain poverty interventions in many fields. I found this really appealing as it finally allowed to me to quantitatively study livelihoods. The exploration of livelihoods is what I felt I was missing when studying only environmental science and what drove me to economics. I absolutely loved having this class and dissecting literature on the influence of microcredits on individual decision-making in agriculture or energy use. Bringing the math and quantitative data into the questions that we discuss in environmental science but in very ‘fuzzy’ terms was exhilarating for me. Taking that science beyond the soil and trees and into the people was something I loved.

With respect to the environmental and sustainability discourse, did you experience any difference between Europe and the United States?

 The biggest shock for sure is lifestyle differences. Coming from the U.S., I learned, for example, how to live in a smaller space and I started to bike a lot. I miss my car in some ways but my carbon footprint has changed radically here with an excellent public transportation system. You can’t escape a lifestyle change when coming to Europe. The food aspect is also very interesting. There are so many local stores, farmer’s markets and bakery’s, centrally located, which I had not experienced before that.  In addition to lifestyle, I noticed a greater international awareness among people that seems to be absent in the United States. People in Europe know about a variety of political systems, events on the news, and understand a sense of interconnectedness largely because of the interactions within the European Union. This type of diverse global knowledge doesn’t exist in the States in the same way. In the US, the average person does not know about global politics. Whereas here they do and it is integrated into media, and as a result, discussions and I think that this has an influence towards the acceptance of environmental issues and sustainability as a whole. Simply because people recognize the interconnectedness of different countries and people and the impact of various countries and policies on the other. Maybe it is a European Union thing but in that sense I found that there is a general openness. Even if the average person does not know a lot about the environment, they may still digest the issue in a different way than the average American would.

How did you experience being involved with IFSA at the European level?

I regularly attended the coffee hours and I oversee the Northern European Region as councilor during the past five months. What is shocking to see is how much larger the organization is in Europe and how very well established. There is history in LC’s that didn’t exist with IFSA for me in North America. In my home university, we are only two years old. I also think that there seems to be a greater variety in forestry practices in Europe which is reflected in the organization. It seems that there is a lot more to discuss in  Europe with respect to forest management history and practice in different countries, compared to North America. You can definitely see a greater exchange in historical and technological knowledge and ideas in Europe.

With this exchange experience in your pocket, what are your plans for the near future?

My plan is to graduate in the next few weeks and finish my thesis. I am still undecided whether I want to pursue a job at this point. I may start my masters at the Wageningen University in a few months. I could easily imagine staying longer in Europe and Wageningen University represents exactly what I wanted to study when I went on this exchange. I would look at doing a focus on Economics within the Environmental Science masters. This exchange has been great in providing me with basic economic knowledge and a different context for application. Now I want to get it from a focus on the environment, people and agriculture. I think that’s the right next step. It is just a matter if I will do it this September or in a few years. Either way, the year ahead will be full of learning.

Meike is the current Head of Publications with IFSA and the founder and Editor in Chief of the Tree News. She can be reached under meike.siegner.ifsa(a)


Calling The Spirit of Asia Pacific to IFSA APRM 2017 in Bogor, Indonesia

Asia Pacific Meeting

by Mahtuf Ikhsan

Picture: Satriyapayoga-Deviant Art

Located along the tropical rain rainforest with its bright sun, beautiful bird singing and  splashes of freshwater, Indonesia is ready to make the Asia Pacfic charming again. IFSA Asia Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM) 2017 is being hosted in Bogor, Indonesia under the official theme Forest Value Towards Sustainable Development Goals. The organizing commitee from IFSA LC-IPB will make a great sound for all participating forestry students.

Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM) is one of the annual IFSA events that invites forestry students in the region to discuss forestry related topics and promote the effectiveness of IFSA regionally. The first meeting was in 2013 when two IFSA regions merged together to form Asia-Pacific region. The first meeting was held in Kookmin University Seoul, South Korea. The second meeting was held in University of Kyoto, Japan, and this year we are honoured to hold the event in Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia.

APRM 2017 will be running from May 15th until 21st . The theme, Forest Value Towards Sustainable Development Goals, is dedicated to the United Nation’s mission to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, we consider these global issues to be concerned specifically related to forestry such as land degradation, energy crisis, global warming and climate change. We aim to increase knowledge and interest of students towards these issues in order to achieve a sustainable future for our region.

As students, we can play an important role in forestry decision-making activities. Youth brings fresh ideas and energy to the negotiation table on how to pursue a green future . Youth has a voice when it comes to providing input on the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals and our collective actions can create long term impact for the future of our earth. The organizing committee, which consists of 55 people, has designed a very special program for the event. We will bring you to some of the most stellar places of West Java Province, like the beauty mozaic of Bogor Botanical Garden, the cloudy area of Gunung Walat University Forest and also introduce you to the amazing traditional and sustainable life of local communities in Cultural Village Sindang Barang. A substantial part of the program will include academic lectures, talks from keynote speakers and a trip to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). A poster session is planned as well and we encourage students to submit their research.

Thank you for everyone that has register for the APRM 2017. For detailed information and payment instructions please visit . Also, don’t forget to follow our fanpage APRM Indonesia 2017 for frequent updates. See you in Bogor young foresters!


Growing Up with Glulam: Mika Donahue, Wood Science Student at Oregon State University, on What It’s Like to Grow Up in a Family-Owned Timber Business


by Mika Donahue

Mika Donahue is a student in the wood science program at Oregon State University (United States) and the daughter of a family that owns RLD Company, Inc., a provider of independent timber and glulam fabrication. For the IFSA Tree News, Mika wrote a personal account on what it is like to grow up in the family business and how her career choice ties in with the development of the company.

Growing up, my childhood was not so different from other kids. My two older brothers and I loved to play and explore the world around us. Unlike most families though, our parents run a small business that manufactures heavy timber glulam and log structures. So rather than climbing on park playgrounds, days with Dad meant playing in the lumber yard and exploring the giant wood forts of stacked glulam at the plant. We grew up with the perpetual smell of fir and cedar in the air, the sounds of screeching saws and forklift traffic, and the constant sting of splinters from clambering onto giant wood beams. But most importantly, we grew up with a deep appreciation for the forests and the warm beauty that their resources could provide.

I have always been incredibly proud of the work that my family has put into this unique little business. Founded in 1984 by my grandfather, Robert L. Donahue, RLD Company, Inc. has come a long way. Knowing that this man, who spent his childhood broke and hitching rides on railcars, would eventually use his skills and knowledge gained from the lumber industry to start a small glulam fabrication company, is a constant reminder for me of how much this family has accomplished. Additionally, knowing that the company he started would eventually manufacture the truss system for the world’s longest wood vehicular bridge in Hiroshima, Japan, shows me what RLD Company, Inc. is all about. We are a small business that does big things, and I am consistently blown away by the work that each individual brings to the table.


(Robert L. Donahue, Founder of RLD Company, Inc., standing in front of the Hiroshima Bridge)

After my grandpa retired, my dad has continued to push the company’s boundaries, executing projects that exemplify the structural and aesthetic beauty of wood. Equipped with one engineer, one draftsman, one operations manager and ten or so other machine operators, our team is smaller than most. We currently have an office in Vancouver, Washington, where my parents run the bulk of the operations. There is also a manufacturing facility in Chehalis, Washington, where my two older brothers, Jordan and Garrett, live and work as machine operators and layout crew. We have carved a niche in the engineered wood products industry by being a fully integrated manufacturer that processes raw logs and hardware into a product ready to ship for construction. This allows us the flexibility and versatility needed to manufacture a wide variety of custom projects that range from the long span glulam structure of the Our Lady of Loreto Church in Foxfield, Colorado, to the double curvature art piece of the Lincoln Park Zoo Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois.


(Picture: Lincoln Park Zoo Pavilion, Nick Ulivieri Photography)


(Picture: Our Lady of Loreto Catholic Church, TomKPhoto)

After graduating from Central Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon, my parents encouraged me to take a gap year and work for the business as bookkeeper and administrative assistant. As a seventeen-year-old girl, helping manage my family’s business accounts and cash flow seemed a little daunting at first, but the experience proved to be more valuable than I could have imagined. Being able to successfully communicate with customers and suppliers while managing important responsibilities for the business gave me a strong sense of independence and real-world application. At times it was extremely stressful. After all, I was just a teenage girl trying to act as professional as possible while interacting with people who have worked in the industry for decades. But, hey, you learn as you go. The industry experience provided me with a much greater appreciation for punctuality and attention to detail than an academic setting could provide. Sure, if you turn an assignment in late you might get a bad grade, but here, if you turn in something late, you can lose thousands of dollars.

With a new perspective, I could more fully appreciate the products and function of our business. However, it wasn’t until I watched a TED Talk from Vancouver-based architect Michael Green regarding the environmental necessity of mass timber building that I really found my spark. Learning about wood’s ability to sequester carbon and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions added a whole new level of importance to my understanding of forestry and wood construction; it has set the stage for my academic pursuits.

Equipped with new inspiration, I headed to Oregon State University to start my Wood Science Management & Marketing degree. The education I received and the network of people I met greatly expanded my scope of the wood industry, and it eventually landed me a summer internship at the Sierra Pacific Industries stud mill. Conveniently located in Chehalis, WA, I was able to live with my brothers and gain experience outside of the family business. Although working with my parents has provided some amazing opportunities for growth and experience, special treatment was inevitable. No matter how much they assured me I was just another employee, I knew I was still their daughter. Working at Sierra Pacific launched me out of my comfy administrative desk job and into a jarring blue-collar work environment with stricter rules and long days of manual labor and machine operation. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and pushed both my mental and physical limits.

After my summer internship, I decided to switch gears and embark on another adventure for a yearlong exchange at the University of British Columbia’s Wood Products Processing program. I am finishing up my last semester here, and the knowledge I have gained from this experience has greatly enhanced my understanding of all aspects of forestry, particularly on a global level.

Currently, my greatest interests still lie in mass timber and engineered wood products. The potential these products can bring to a more sustainable and diverse construction industry places RLD Company, Inc. in an optimal position. It is one of the many reasons I plan to continue working for the family business for the next 5 months. Even though the flexibility I receive from working for my parents doesn’t exactly reflect how things will be in the real world, there are huge benefits for staying involved with the family. The best parts about working for a family business, particularly one as versatile as RLD Company, Inc., are the opportunities to explore all aspects of the business. While I could continue work as a bookkeeper, working for the family business allows me to gain experience with my Dad in project quoting or financial analysis, with our operations manager Davy in scheduling and marketing, or with my brothers in the manufacturing plant learning machine operation and layout. I am always excited to expand my toolbox of knowledge and experience, and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have grown up with such a unique business. Taking part in the manufacturing of heavy timber structures is amazing—structurally and aesthetically, but knowing its importance in the context of the environment and sustainability makes it a passion I wish to pursue for as long as I can.

The author, Mika Donahue, is responsible for the content of this article and can be reached under donahuem(a)

IFSA’s Collaboration with the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO)


by Lisa Prior (IFSA Liaison Officer IUFRO)

Picture (from left to right): Janice Burns, Lisa Prior and Jesse Mahoney at the IUFRO board meeting in Beijing, China (Source: Jesse Mahoney)

The International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) and IUFRO have been cooperating for more than 15 years. IUFRO is one of IFSA’s most important partner organizations.  The current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in 2014 during the IUFRO World Congress in Salt Lake City, USA. Both organizations share a vision of global networks for those in forest research and education, enabling exchange and cooperation.

As the biggest network in forest science, IUFRO unites about 700 member organizations in more than 110 countries, representing over 15,000 scientists. Just as students within IFSA, all scientists contribute and collaborate voluntarily within IUFRO.

Numerous research meetings, small and large, are organized by IUFRO members every year. The biggest in 2017 will be the 125th Anniversary Congress in Freiburg, Germany taking place 18th-22nd of September, were IFSA will also be actively involved.

The Joint Position

Part of the MoU and one of the supporting initiatives for IFSA is the `Joint IFSA/IUFRO Position´. It is financed by IUFRO and offers a young forestry professional the opportunity to work at the IUFRO Head Quarters in Vienna, Austria. Their working time is equally divided between IFSA and IUFRO and they also help in creating a stronger collaboration between the two organizations. Currently this position is held by Janice Burns from Canada.  One of her main tasks is to support the `Joint IUFRO-IFSA Task Force on Forest Education‘, an ambitious joint project of the two organizations (more details about the JTF can also be found in an interview with Lena Lackner, one of the coordinators, in the January issue of the Tree news).

The one year position comes with the possibility to be extended for a second year, to allow for continuity. As Janice has been doing a terrific job and is still very motivated to work with the two organizations, IUFRO and IFSA were happy to extend her contract. She will continue in the position until January 2018. An open call to find new candidates for the Joint IFSA/IUFRO Position will start in July this year.

IFSA’s involvement at the IUFRO 125th Anniversary Congress

Another goal of the collaboration is to create opportunities and encourage IFSA students to participate in scientific meetings. For example, the participation fee for the IUFRO World congress is waived for a number of students.

IFSA will organize a number of events at this year’s `125th Anniversary Congress´. For this purpose an IFSA commission headed by Dylan Goff has been created. A sub-plenary session with the title `Our Future Forests´ will take place on Wednesday the 20th of September. It will focus on four topics (Forest and climate change, Forest Education, Definition of “Forests” and/or “Forestry” and Innovative Technologies) and include video statements from several IFSA members. A workshop in the style of an Incubator session will be held alongside the congress giving students the opportunity to present their projects to a broader audience.

Further training and sub-plenary sessions, targeting students and young professional, are organized by the `Joint IUFRO-IFSA Task Force on Forest Education´. The editor-in-chief of `Tree News – IFSA’s Online Editorial´, Meike Siegner, will hold a workshop on online journalism. Additionally, IFSA and IUFRO are jointly organizing a mentoring program, which brings together students/early career researchers and senior scientists during the congress.

The IUFRO Internship

Every year a paid internship is granted to an IFSA student by IUFRO. The open call for this year’s internship has just closed. The successful candidate will be notified in early May. He or she will start their two month stay at the IUFRO headquarters in mid-October.

There are many ways to get involved and benefit from IFSA´s partnership with IUFRO. If you have any questions or ideas please don´t hesitate get to in touch.

The author, Lisa Prior is a master student at Göttingen University in Germany and the current Liaison officer for IUFRO [lisa.prior.ifsa(a)].

Book Review: The Golden Spruce – A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed

Picture Good Reads

by Jiayi Chew

Picture: Goodreads

In “The Golden Spruce” Vancouver writer John Vaillant invites the reader on a journey two centuries back in time, to the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of British Columbia. These islands, also known under their indigenous name Haida Gwaii, were home to the Haida people. The Haida were spiritually connected with the dense forests that covered the land, as was expressed, for example, by worshipping a large Sitka spruce, the Kiidk’yaas, that, as a result of a genetic mutation, was golden in color and was believed to imprint sacred qualities in every man that visits the tree.

Over time, however, Western colonization and technological progress made the old-growth-forest ecosystem of Haida Gwaii subject to infinite human desire and the Haida people had to witness how the rapid uptake of mechanization led to the replacement of traditional forest systems with industrial logging operations.

The book tells the story of Thomas Grant Hadwin, a talented forester, who had worked for the industry many and who witnessed in the 90’s how the few remaining old-growth stands on Haida Gwaii came under threat of being logged. Hadwin, that had developed over the course of his work life a deep appreciation for the beauty of old-growth forests, distanced himself from the industry whose purpose it was to destroy the very things that were dear to him and became an environmental activist. Being trapped between his passion for the work he did for many years on the one hand and his solidarity with forests on the other hand, Hadwin had gradually gone mad and his poor mental condition escalated with an act of destruction, when he felled the sacred golden spruce of the Haida people, as an act of protest against the logging industry, and then disappeared on route to his trial.

The story of the Golden Spruce demonstrates to the reader the possible effects of uncontrolled and unlimited human greed. The book tells how the Haida people became victim of an act of destruction, since Hadwin’s radical attempt to draw attention to the issue of deforestation violated the spiritual and cultural heritage of those that are already deprived of their rights in many respects. The book is powerfully written and John Vaillant descriptively illustrates the logging history on Haida Gwaii, thus making the topic of deforestation accessible to a wide group of readers, independent from cultural or professional backgrounds. Unlimited and uncontrolled exploitation of forest resources, as described in the book, is an issue in many parts of the world. In Taiwan, for example, we can see how more rigid standards that have been adopted by the government to protect natural forests have resulted in increased import of timber from neighboring countries with poor environmental standards. The story of the Golden Spruce invites the reader to reflect on many social and cultural aspects surrounding forestry and thus presents a great resource to forestry students to discuss the costs and benefits of contemporary forest practice.

The author, Jiayi Chew, is a final-year student in Forestry at National Chiayi University (Taiwan) and responsible for the content of the contribution.

Book Details:

The Golden Spruce- A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed

Author: John Vaillant

Publisher: W.W Norton & Company, New York, 2005

ISBN: 9780393058871 (Hardcover)

Language: English

Link to the Publisher

Interview with Dzineku Bismarck on the 2017 IFSA Northern Africa Regional Meeting (NARM) in Ghana


(by Ositadinma Evaristus)

Dzineku Bismarck is a senior student in Forestry at the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), Suniyani, Ghana. He is a founding member and former President of the Natural Resources Students’ Association (NARSA) and the president of the IFSA LC. He is also the head of the organizing committee for 2017 the IFSA Northern Africa Regional Meeting which will be hosted by the University of Energy and Natural, Sunyani, Ghana.

You were a delegate to the NARM 2016 that was held in Nigeria, given that experience how do you feel hosting NARM 2017?

Our LC is humbled and honored to have the privilege of hosting this great event.  We are only one year and some months into our membership with IFSA, so having been selected as hosting institution among other universities in the region is a huge privilege for our LC and the University. We are very much looking forward to welcome everyone to Ghana.

What are the official theme and topics for NARM 2017?

The theme official for NARM 2017 is “Improving Resilience to Climate Change and Realizing Sustainable Use of Land, Forest and Water Resources, the Role of the Youth.”  The official program is then divided into topics centered on issues such as nature-based solutions to climate change, experiments on various land and water resource management techniques, development green jobs and many more. The selected topics are designed to train and equip participants on latest internationally accepted best practices on climate change mitigation.

What are the expected outcome for this conference?

Ultimately, it is the realization of capacity building of students to undertake climate change mitigation activities. In that sense, it is hoped that this event will foster collaboration among youth across cultures and spur greater awareness with respect to responsibilities over forest resources, thus making contribution to efforts associated with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

When is this event going to happen?

NARM will take place between May 21-28, 2017 at the University of Energy of Natural Resources (UENR), Sunyani, Ghana. Registration is still open. We are expecting over 250 attendees from Nigeria, Liberia, Egypt, Niger Republic, Tanzania, Kenya, Ivory Coast and many other countries.

More information is accessible online via the official website: Webpage NARM 2017. Updates on NARM17 will also be launched on the following social media platforms: Facebook: NARM17; Instagram: NARM17 and twitter: @NARM17.

For comments or questions please contact the author Ositadinma Evaristus, a recent graduate of Forestry and Wildlife Technology from the Federal University of Technology Owerri Nigeria. He is currently training with the Imo State Zoological Gardens, Nekede, Owerri, and can be contacted via evarsergio(a)





Drums for the 45th IFSS have started beating!

by Tatenda Mapeto
Pictures:, OC IFSS 2017

Developed and used by African communities living in forested areas drums served as an early form of long distance communication.  The 45th International Forestry Students Symposium IFSS 2017 is being hosted in South Africa and the organising committee along with Southern African Forestry students are thrilled to officially start beating the drums and blow the horns of calling IFSA world to Africa.

Running from the 2nd to the 17th of July 2017, the symposium boasts an extensive pre-symposium, symposium and post-symposium program. The theme for the event is “Practising forestry in a diverse environment ‘Siyaphi’:  Where to from here?”. This theme will unpack globally relevant issues of the changing dimensions of forests as we have known them for the last century. The word Siyaphi is a Xhosa language word that translates to the English language as where are we headed to now, what strategies do we have in place to move and get to where we are going to. The theme is indeed broad yet in every sense focused towards the uncharted waters that the forestry world has had to go into, and rapidly so in the past 20-30 years. The carbon industry for instance is solely based on the survival of forest ecosystems yet foresters have always treated carbon as a by-product of their beloved forest ecosystems.

As global change becomes a key role player and in cases such as the carbon story, forest-water-energy cycles that foresters were so in tune with have been neglected. The world has to a large extent now taken on a purely consumptive and beneficiation paradigm with regards to forests. This demand on forests from the rest of the globe puts forest management in light of not only managing forests in isolation but rather within a broader framework of the diverse environment that forestry now finds itself in. In South Africa the relevance of the theme cannot be more justified as even the socioeconomic conditions of the country are in transition. Asking this question in a country that is defined by the diversity in landscapes and people and a country that has for more than a century now managed introduced species plantations for the sake of fibre and timber production due to limited natural forests is indeed a feat for International Forestry Students.  As one of our University professors recently said ”you can’t afford to have such a diverse and organic group of international students for IFSS and not ask the good questions through your theme, the intellectual capital is just splendour to have in one space”.

Organised by five forestry-training universities in South Africa (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Stellenbosch University, Fort Cox Agriculture and Forestry Training Institute, University of Venda and University of Pretoria), the organisational capital for the event has momentum. The symposium will be a two week tour across five of the nine geographical provinces in South Africa. The route will follow a coastal passage, starting from afro temperate forests, through Albany thicket, to grassland then to savannah woodlands and all the while additionally exploring South Africa’s high yield, intensively managed plantation forests. For those that want to be in the African outback the IFSS is a chance to do that while enhancing your forestry education at the same time. Hikes, game drives and fire parties are some examples of what IFSS will offer.  A substantial part of the program will be academic and student paper and poster presentations are encouraged, In fact, the post-symposium programme will be an opportunity to attend a prestigious Southern African forestry Science Symposium with the chance of also presenting your work there. For those that would want to arrive a day or two earlier before the symposium, a pre- programme packed with adventure and adrenaline pumping activities is also on the cards.

Registration for IFSS 2017 has already opened and the first call will close on the 28th of February. Please go to for further details on registration and the symposium. Also follow the IFSS2017 Facebook page for frequent updates.

About the author: Tatenda Mapeta is a  PhD Forestry student at NMMU. Her work revolves around catchment hydrology-land use impacts.  She is also passionate about international forest education matters. She can be contacted on

Interview with Professor Dodik Ridho Nurrochmat about “The Role of Social Scientist to Improve The Livelihood of Forest Dependent People”

by Mahtuf Ikhsan (Text and Picture)

Professor Dodik Ridho Nurrochmat is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Forestry at Bogor Agricultural University (IPB), Indonesia. He specializes in Forest Policy and Economics, Public Policy, Political Economy, and Environmental Economics. He has a PhD in Forest Policy and Nature Conservation from Georg-August University of Göettingen. Professor Nurrochmat is also one of the founders of the IFSA LC IPB, which was established in 1991. He is currently director of Strategic Studies and Agriculture Policy Directorate at Bogor Agricultural University.

How long have you been involved in social research specifically on improving the livelihoods of forest dependent people ?

Actually, since I graduated from Faculty of Forestry, Bogor Agricultural University in 1994. I was active in some activities in social forestry and forestry programs including forestry enterprises in Jakarta, Jambi and some other areas. But as an academic and researcher, I started in 1996 when I returned to Bogor Agricultural University as a lecturer. I have been involved in social forestry and forest policy programs for more than 20 years.

What strategy do you use most in your social research to attract people to become more actively engaged with your work?

We have to start from the problem. We should not create the problem, but we should solve the problem. We must identify the problem and then find methods or manner to solve the problem. This is the key to research. Sometimes we find only the theme or topic of the research without identifying the problem. This is a very common failure in research. Many researchers fail because they make recommendations based on the wrong problem. So, even if the recommendation is good, it cannot solve the problem because it is not based on the true problem. We can get closer to determing the problem by completing a questionairre or in-depth interview with forest dependent people. This could include collecting data about the level of education, the level of income, and so on. This is a common research practice. After conducting your research, one can teach skills or provide funding for people to process and sell their agricultural and forest products.

What is a problem or challenge for social scientists when they conduct research regarding the livelihoods of forest dependent people ?

For researchers, identifying the problem is a big challenge. As a researcher, we have to find the actual problem. But, perhaps you mean obstacle within the field. With my background as a social researcher in forest policy, I would say that the biggest challenge is that policy is not linear. We cannot conclude that the scientific viewpoint is correct or that it will please the policy maker. It is a challenge to find agreement between science and policy. Science is not only for science. Science should influence the policy maker and the policy maker should hear  the voice of the scientist. But,  this is not easy because the nature of scientist is different than the nature of policy maker. If the information is true and used by the policy maker to formulate policy, then the product of regulation should also be beneficial. Therefore, our task as scientists is to find a means of influencing the policy-making process by promoting scientific-based research.

How can social scientists approach the different behaviors of forest dependent people ?

In my mind, there are two different pools of forest dependent people. First, there are those who are one hundred percent dependent on the forest. In this case, they manage the forest sustainably and the forests are maintained due to this reliance. In another pool, there are people who do not rely directly on the forest. In this situation, the forest is also saved and is not destroyed. However in Indonesia, the people are in between the pools. There are local communities in Indonesia that depend heavily on their forests, like the Baduy tribe.  In this  case, their forest is saved because they rely on the forest for their income; however, there are also people who wish to generate money from forest resources. They want to buy rice, meat, and chicken. They use the forest as a source of income and must be careful not to overexploit its resources. The people of Indonesia are between these two pools. As social researchers, we must find a means of addressing people’s needs and of providing access to necessary resources.

How can social scientists support the implementation of traditional rights for forest-dependent people?

There are many types of rights. There are property rights and rigths to use forest resources, for example. As a result, land reform does not necessarily exclusively mean land ownership certification; it may also include recognition of access to the forest and use of the forest. Therefore, providing people access and the ability to use the forest is one alternative to granting ownership. In the spirit of the national constitution, we must consider that we desire the highest benefit for the most people when it comes to forest use and livelihoods.

Can you provide any words of advice or motivation for the members of IFSA and other youth who are looking to engage further in forestry, policy, and other related fields? How can we look to shape forests for the future?

I think you can start simply. You can start with developing a green lifestyle and not just constructing the image of ecomindedness but truely engaging in green activity. I think this is an especially important practice for more people to consciously engage in especially youth! Youth can take the initiative to introduce green campaigns including supporting green products, paperless activity, self-discipline, anti-littering, and anti-pollution strategies. We must implement the three “R”s (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) as a strategy to begin “greening” our lifestyle. Youth can make sure to recycle paper or more effectively reuse paper. I think reuse is incredible! You can use paper again as a mask or take it as food package.

About the author: Mahtuf Ikhsan is a student in the Common First Year Program at Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia.


Interview with Dr. Deni Bown on her Work on Endangered Tree Species in Nigeria


Picture: (c) Deni Bown

By Paul Ademujimi Babatunde and Samuel Adeyanju

Deni Bown is a freelance writer, photographer, and consultant. She specializes in botany, gardening, herbs, trees and natural history; her work covers many different aspects of the plant world. Her first book, Ariods, was originally published in 1988 and was followed by two others: Alba: The book of White Flowers and Fine Herbs. She was BBC Wildlife Photographer prize winner in 1989. Currently, she is the head of the Forest Unit at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigeria.

What informed your decision of starting the project, why did you consider Nigeria and how were you able to convince your institution to fund this project being that the institution was established to research in tropical agriculture?

What happened was in 2009; Dr. John Peacock came to live with his wife who was the Head of Research in in the institution at that time. He is also scientist but he is a desert ecologist, he knows nothing about rainforest at all. When he came to the campus he thought wao! This is interesting; we should have a forest project here. You know, everybody now knows about forest because of deforestation so we are in a real big conservation era. But he does not know anything about forest management. Then, I was coming to live in Nigeria, so that’s how he met me and said you are the person we need since you know about trees, plants and forest, and I just came here to volunteer part time and I ended up been here full time. After two years, he left and handed it over to me. It wasn’t on the institution plan or strategy but now natural resource management is bigger on their agenda. I’m not involved in any mainstream research of the institution, we have station in every Africa country but really my work in the forest unit is confined here, so I’m still operating on the periphery with a burden. I’m just trying to do what I can on the campus based on what I’m allowed to do remembering this belongs to the government of Nigeria and Nigerian people. Everything we try to do here is to protect the forest because it is seriously threatened by poachers.

As the head of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) forest unit, can you highlight research studies that have been carried out by the forest unit?

My number one job is to protect this small piece of forest and other important trees on the campus. And to also make the campus community aware of the importance of preserving the trees and forest land. After two years when Dr. John Peacock left then I started managing and supervising the project. It was originally three year project, after he left, I had only one year left to manage the project theoretically but then I got funding for year four and five. It was from Leventis Foundation who funds a lot of agriculture and conservation projects in Nigeria. So, after five years they said we normally only fund project for three years and you’ve had two extra years but now you need to close the forest project and you need to submit new proposals and I did. So, I got funding for those. That’s what we are doing; one of the projects was to restore the arboretum as tree Heritage Park. When we were thinking of what trees to put in there, I became aware through contacts I got with my university colleagues that some trees are becoming hard to find.

It took me three years to get the project funded again. A donor called Mohammed Bin Zayad Species Conservation Fund, they only fund endangered species. The project started in November, 2015 and it will end March, 2017. So the first task I had to do is to come up with a list of endangered species for Nigeria. I then contacted colleagues in various institution and organizations. I told them it doesn’t have to be an official but what in their own estimation and judgment are trees that have been over exploited and hard to find. So I got emails from people sometimes even a list and started to put together my own list for this project.

We’ve also done reforestation and forest restoration within the forest here. We’ve also done reforestation on the degraded farmland and now we are restoring our arboretum and planting trees.

How do you get information on the newest endangered or rare species in Nigeria?  And how do you get information on the location of the remaining particular endangered species?

My colleagues who are botanist and foresters from universities give me information on newest endangered species. And we’d a workshop for this project, we’d Former Director of Cross River National Park, foresters, Ekiti State Tree Growers Association, we brought in many people from different levels and communication not just top officials, and a ranger from Okomu National Park who has been a forester right from the colonial era. I get a lot of information from a lot of people. We collect mainly in Omo-Shasha forest reserve, Okomu national park, Quens plot in Akure and any area around here. We go to Ogbomoso also.

What have been your findings?

We got a call on Cola nigerica. It is on critical status. We know there is more population in Omo-Shasha forest reserve but what is happening there is really serious at the moment, there’s more encroachment. The areas have been cleared. We have propagated it and fortunately it is not difficult to propagate, nobody has ever tried propagating it. Cola nigerica is going into extinction, we can’t allow that. Now, we have it in tree Heritage Park. Diospyros crassiflora, Mansonia altissima, Okoubaka aubrevillei and Pericopsis elata are on endangered status while others are on vulnerable status. We have over 50 species on our list and we have tried to propagate some of them. In the last six months, we’ve added two or three species including Senegal rosewood which 80 percent of the species have been exported to Asia.

How connected are you to indigenous researchers working on endangered tree species of Nigeria?

We have some PhD students who come along to our workshop but in terms of being involved with our research? Not really. I think the role of the forest unit is to raise awareness so that more people can start to work on this problem. Although we do need the scientific research but most of all what we seriously need urgently is people who are on ground. Now the emphasis here very much is for academic research and publication of papers but meanwhile our natural heritage is just been lost. We also need activists, environmentalists, we need people who will be hands-on and that’s what am trying to do. I’m trying to do both. I honestly don’t know how many PhD and Post Doc are working on tree species, from what I hear they may be interested in commercially important group such as Mahoganies which are possibly facing commercial extinction in Nigeria. But meanwhile, somebody has to do something on ground. So, we want to build capacity whether with national park, why don’t you have a nursery and encourage people? Why don’t we do some buffer zone reforestation? This has to be hands-on because we have minimum of three years for a research project, what is the amount of forest and trees you are losing in that time? You know your gain but the research needs to be done at the same time you have to balance that gain with what you are losing on ground. I see the loss on ground getting worse year by year. I see not only with my own eyes, I hear what is happening. Gambari Forest Reserve has gone. You look on the map, Gambari Forest Reserve with nice green space, it’s gone! Go there, it is finished! Sapogba Forest Reserve, you go there it is finished. There is nothing left.

What are the challenges you have encountered on this project and how have you been able to surmount them?

Clearing the arboretum is been a huge job. When you get invasive species like Caliandra, Leacena leucocephala, the damage they can do in forest environment is just frightening, they are so dominant over the indigenous species. So, the clearing is a massive and difficult job. Physically, it is quite hard work. We still have problems with poachers because they are very clever. They know where you are looking and where you are not looking. But it’s still very well protected forest.

What measures have you put in place to enhance the sustainability of the project?

That is a very good point. The management of the institution has assured me that what we are setting up now, both the tree heritage park and school forest for school kids (kids come from all over the country and they can camp and see forest for themselves), will be maintained and continued as campus assets which will be used by all people not only campus residents nor the institution’s staff. We have a lot of interest in that tree school and I have to tell you that we take groups into the forest, even visitors that come here. People are keen to go into the forest, the international visitors and also Nigerian people. We want to set up here where families and schools can come and camp or they can stay in the accommodation we have here if they don’t want our camping facility. And then we have things setup, they can go into the forest, learn a lot of things within a short time and they can enjoy the beauty of the environment, just have fun and some contact with nature, medicinal plants and all this useful things. I’ve had the imagination of what they can enjoy that is not something on the city or something on the screen, so real, what they can feel hands-on.

What is your expert advice to the Nigerian authorities and forestry stakeholders on the need to improve in their conservation efforts?

I think the number one thing is to realize how urgent it is, forest cover in Nigeria is down to four percent. We know from satellite, you can see it. There’s almost no area now you can go into that is not degraded, over exploited in one way or the other, either for bush meat or medicinal plant. People are going further and further because things are hard to find. Bush meat is now commercial rather than to support family and village. It is very urgent now with the downturn in the economy, more and more people are going into the forest to get almost everything. You can grow your yam, cassava but vegetable, medicinal plants, bush meat, everything comes from the forest. It is a very good system when your population is not too much, now there is population pressure and the resources are not enough. Most of these plants can be cultivated and if you save your forest reserve, you can restore it and then look at sustainable harvesting. How can we make this sustainable? How can we learn to grow these plants? How can we even set up plantation? How can we set up new forest? But of course, we need to scale up, do it on every community basis. What do you really value? You lose far more than you realize if you lose your forest, you are losing your culture, the beauty of a landscape, sustainability of your agriculture because of fertility, protection of watershed, your climate also changes and it’s getting worse. I think you need to realize the urgency of this. Yes, we need research but far more than a person doing research, you need a thousand people on ground doing something about it, starting to propagate, protect, replant. There is an army of people out there, just think of unemployed youths. We just need to realize the urgency and mobilize the people. You also need people with information; you need to give some directions. For example, in this community, what do we prioritize? What do we want most? And see if you can organize everything.

Ademujimi Babatunde Paul is from Ondo state, Nigeria. He is a recent graduate of Forestry and Wood Technology from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria. He is currently waiting to start his national youth service year and plans to pursue a career in forest genetics or GIS and other computer application to Forestry.

The Joint IUFRO-IFSA Task Force on Forest Education – Current and Future Activities


Picture, (c) Magdalena Lackner

by Katharina Albrich

Magdalena Lackner is one of the coordinators of the Joint IUFRO-IFSA Task Force on Forest Education. She is currently completing her Master’s in Forest Sciences at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna, Austria. Magdalena has been volunteering for IFSA in different positions over the past six years.

Please tell us a little bit how you got involved with IFSA and the Joint Task Force.

I became active in IFSA already at the beginning of my studies when we renewed our Local Committee at BOKU. I soon also started volunteering in IFSA internationally, first as Liaison Officer to IUFRO (International Union of Forest Research Organisations) and then as Head of the Commission for Forest Education. When I became involved in the topic, plans to collaborate with one of IFSA’s oldest partners, IUFRO, in the field of forestry education (FE) had already been discussed for several years. But due to the changes of office holders in IFSA, the discussions were always postponed. I was lucky enough to engage in the talks for a longer period of time and we finally decided last year to establish the Joint Task Force on Forest Education (JTF).

How is the Joint Task Force structured and what are its main tasks?

The work of the Task Force is divided into four work packages. One is a research project bringing together researchers and students from all over the world; another project was to establish an online tool on Forestry Education. A third work package focuses on providing training activities for IFSA students and last but not least, there is our aim to find a way to counterbalance students’ efforts outside university with university credits. The Task Force is co-headed by Sandra Rodríguez-Pineros, representing IUFRO, and me, representing IFSA.

Which activities of the Task Force are planned for the future and how can students get involved?        

One of our main projects was to establish a global online database on forestry programmes. Together with the Global Forest Information Service (, we developed an interactive tool. Students can search for different programmes online and can easily access information on study facilities. In the future, the platform should get even more interactive. We plan to create a space where students can publish early research outcomes such as bachelor or master theses and where educational events are highlighted. This tool will not only provide useful information but also increase students’ mobility.

Another project where IFSA students are currently involved and can get involved in the future is the global research project “Global Outlook on Forest Education” (GOFE). The main purpose of this project is to bring together researchers and students from all over the world to identify gaps and problems in the forestry sector. We were able to fund students to conduct their research in their home region. We hope to carry on with this project in the future.

Another opportunity for IFSA students are free training courses organized by the JTF during IUFRO and IFSA events. These opportunities can be seen as pilot projects, hopefully motivating other IUFRO office holders and IFSA officials to organize student trainings during the numerous IUFRO and IFSA events. The next training will be organized at the Northern African Regional meeting (NARM, May 2017 in Ghana) and the IUFRO 125th Anniversary conference (September 2017 in Germany).

The focus for the next year will also be on identifying case studies of universities giving credits for voluntary activities of the students. As we are working for a non-profit organization and receive no financial contribution for our hard work, we think counterbalancing the efforts with university credits could be a fair solution. There are few universities which are already implementing this system.
As you can see, there are quite some activities planned for the upcoming year and many opportunities for students to get involved! One of my main goals will be to find a successor for coordinating the work of the JTF. The term of the working group will end in September, but we would be interested in continuing the activities of the JTF.

In your opinion, what are the biggest current challenges in forestry education and what is needed to train foresters for the future?  

The biggest challenge for such a global project might be that we are facing very different problems within the different countries and regions. It’s difficult to narrow it down to just one or two major issues. Some regions are recording rising numbers of forestry students while facing budget cuts in the educational sector, other countries have problems with decreasing numbers of forestry students while having a stable budget. As Yemi Adeyeye highlighted in the last issue, of utmost importance is that forestry education does not get forgotten by policy makers! The world constantly changes and so should the educational sector.

About the author:
Katharina Albrich is a member of the IFSA LC at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna,  Austria where she is currently doing her PhD.