XIV World Forest Congress 2015

World Forestry Congress ‘must leave lasting legacy’

10 June 2015, Rome – The need for the XIV World Forestry Congress (WFC) to involve and inspire young people and to leave a lasting legacy were the main themes at a WFC information event on the sidelines of FAO’s governing Conference meeting in Rome.

Educating the general public about the importance of forests is a high priority, said XIV WFC Secretary-General Trevor Abrahams, who added that it was a “proud moment for South Africa” to be hosting the first WFC on African soil since the Congress’s inception in 1926.

XIV WFC Associate Secretary-General Tiina Vahanen underlined that the Congress, which takes place 7-9 September 2015 in Durban, will be the biggest forestry event of this decade.

“It’s going to be an exciting Congress and we have a very special focus on youth because we want to hear their voice and how they can contribute to the future of forests and forestry,” Vahanen said.

She stressed that the theme of the Congress, ‘Forests and People: Investing in a Sustainable Future’, is not just about investing in goods and assets, but about investing in the enabling environment, forestry policy, and human capital through knowledge and education.

Eduardo Rojas-Briales, FAO Assistant Director-General, Forestry, said the Congress “must leave a legacy” that should include a vision for forests and forestry for 2050, but also a consensus on how forests can be seen as part of the solution for development, navigating a path between conservation and industrial logging.

Edith Vries, Director-General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa, also highlighted the need for the Congress to leave a tangible legacy including a greater awareness of the importance of forests to our livelihoods and our planet.

Vries said the current lack of awareness was visible in the number of people choosing forestry as a career path.

“How can you convince an energetic, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed youngster to take a career in forests? We need to package it, and we need to grow the next generation of scientist, foresters and researchers.

“After all, our job is to leave this planet in a better state than when we found it,” she said.

Earlier in the week, General Bheki Cele, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa, spoke about the Congress during a reception by the FAO Director-General. Cele encouraged wide participation in Durban, highlighting the important role of the WFC in the context of sustainable development.

The 39th Session of the FAO Conference was attended by representatives from 194 countries including more than 130 ministers.

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Photos: FAO/Roberto Cenciarelli

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