Why FONASO – Københavns Universitet



Growing demand for researchers and staff
The existing need for highly qualified researchers and staff working within the field of sustainable forest and nature management is huge and rapidly growing; see, e.g., the EU Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform and the EU Forest Research Agenda. This is true for both tropical and temperate regions, though the trends driving the demand are different.

First, in the tropics and subtropics, management complexity is increasing while, at the same time, macro trends indicate an emerging will to find financial resources for improved and sustainable forest management both issues generate demand for qualified tropical forestry researchers and top level managers. Consider the two factors in turn. Management complexity is increasing due to the recognition that multitudinous stakeholders and their, often conflicting, interests, have to be considered and integrated into management solutions. It is widely acknowledged that forest resources are crucial to a huge number of poor people (e.g. between one and two billion people depend on wood-based fuel, and non-wood forest products and services are crucial to the livelihood of more than one billion poor people mainly in rural areas) while also harbouring a high degree of biodiversity, the maintenance of which may be important to many citizens. Macro trends that are driving the demand for highly qualified researchers and staff in the tropics are: post-Kyoto negotiations on the carbon sequestering effects of tropical forests (with tropical deforestation accounting for 16-30% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions) that appear set to provide new and additional funding for sustainable forest management through REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) financing mechanisms; the increased recognition that degraded lands and forests need to be rehabilitated, e.g. as seen through the rapid recent decentralisation of forest use rights in many countries and the creation of institutional frameworks for forest restoration; and the increasing international will to deal with key forest policy issues such as illegal logging.

Second, in Europe and other temperate regions, the role of forests to society is becoming more and more diversified. In some areas, emphasis is still almost solely on timber, but in general wood fuels, non-wood products and ecological and recreational services have become very important. A major trend is that the management of forests must be seen in an integrated landscape context. This is due, in particular, to the close eco-system inter-actions between forests and nature areas like meadows, wetlands, mountain habitats and riverbanks, which are often found in connection with forest areas. In Europe, economic return from forestry has declined in recent years, and private forest owners and public forest administrators are struggling to develop new products and services that can be marketed, but this is a difficult venture. 

Millennium Goals - sustainable management of natural resources and forests
It should also be noted that the EU has been a key stakeholder in the definition and international recognition of the Millennium Goals, among which is sustainable management of natural resources, inclusive of forests. Important are also the Renewed EU Sustainable Development Strategy (two identified key challenges are Conservation and management of natural resources and Global poverty and sustainable development), the EU Forest Action Plan and the Strategy of Lisbons environmental pillar and establishment of the European Research Area. The EU Commission has acceded to major international declarations, recommendations, treaties or conventions of immediate relevance to forest management, e.g. the Convention on Biological Diversity, and has strongly supported the promotion of forest management through its programmes, e.g. Natura 2000. And, finally, the EU and EU member countries annually spend billions of euros on contributing to development of sustainable tropical forestry and fighting against illegal logging and corruption (see the FLEGT and ENA-FLEG initiatives). The present programme will contribute to establish the future human resources required to ensure that forest and nature management, in Europe and elsewhere, will contribute to EUs priorities and goals.

The FONASO Programme will thus provide a solid foundation from which to recruit researchers, teachers and top level managers to tackle the issues, and utilise the opportunities, outlined above.