Collaborative Partnership on Forests

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Forest education: Building capacity and knowledge for sustainable forests

The Collaborative Partnership on Forests recognizes that forest education is key to building the knowledge, skills and shared values that underpin sustainable forest management. There is growing evidence, however, that forest education in many places around the world is not sufficiently preparing forest practitioners and professionals to address the evolving needs and growing challenges facing the forest sector. This was reinforced by a recent global survey, coupled with regional assessments, of the status and needs for forest education that was undertaken by the Global Forest Education Project.

Without improvements in forest education, global society will not be able to maximize the contributions of forests and trees to the Sustainable Development Goals, and other forest-related goals and targets. This will limit the forest sector’s ability to support sustainable livelihoods and landscapes, to address climate change and the biodiversity crises, and to contribute to post-pandemic rebuilding. Such improvements are also vitally important to overcome the growing disconnect between people, nature, and forests.

This Joint Initiative envisions global improvement in the knowledge and skills for managing forests and trees. It aims to catalyse action, generate awareness and support, and foster partnerships to sustain robust, holistic and inclusive forest-related education and knowledge-sharing systems. The scope of the JI includes actions to strengthen formal forest education in primary schools through university programmes, continuing education and field training through extension and farmer field schools, and the sharing and use of traditional and indigenous knowledge.

The Joint Initiative is led by FAO, ITTO, IUFRO and CIFOR-ICRAF and is supported by the Secretariats of UNFF and UNFCCC. A broad coalition of forest education stakeholders, including other CPF members and external partners from the international community, local and regional organizations, the education community and the private sector will be convened to implement this programme.

The Initiative was launched at the International Conference on Forest Education, which was held virtually from 22-24 June 2021. It will take action to rejuvenate forest education through:

  • Further developing and launching the online platform Forestra, which will facilitate global access to information resources for forest education and networking to benefit all relevant forest stakeholders and actors;
  • establishing mechanisms to strengthen forest-related knowledge and skills taught in vocational and university training and education programmes, as well as in forest and farm extension programmes in alignment with workplace needs;
  • increasing integration of traditional and indigenous forest-related knowledge into forest education and training systems, at all levels, and strengthening its links with the scientific knowledge-base;
  • establishing a Global Partnership in Forest Education for all stakeholders to facilitate dialogue, coordination, and joint action, and to create links with other like-minded initiatives, including UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development for 2031 agenda; 
  • implementing a global communications campaign to increase appreciation of forest education, knowledge, and careers, including attracting more young people to forest-related degree programmes, professions, and work more generally.