New survey to assess state of forest education worldwide

15 July 2020, Rome - FAO, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) today launched a comprehensive survey on forest education across the world.

The survey is an ambitious effort to assess the state of forest education globally and at all levels of formal education -- from primary school through university and including technical and vocational training programmes.

“To maximise the contributions of forests and trees to sustainable development, we need well-trained forest managers and policy makers,” said Andrew Taber, leader of FAO’s social forestry team. “However, indications are that in many places forest education is insufficient, outdated and misaligned with the demands of the contemporary workplace.”

“The survey’s findings will inform efforts to improve forest education so that it can keep pace with changing societal needs and the increasing pressures on forest resources.”

The survey covers education related to forests, trees outside forests and other wooded land delivered through forestry and forest science programmes, as well as broader programmes such as natural resource management and environmental sciences.

With the support of several implementing partners at regional level, the survey will gather information on the scope of forest-related curricula, competencies gained by students, commonly employed teaching methods and the level of digital competence of both teachers and students. It will also investigate educational resource availability and graduates’ readiness for a more demanding workplace. 

Consisting of three questionnaires, the survey targets three groups of key stakeholders: a wide range of employers of forest graduates; teachers and administrators at all levels of education; and students currently enrolled in or recently graduated from forest-related programmes in universities, colleges and technical and vocational institutions.

Data from the survey will be used to prepare six regional assessment reports on the state of forest education and a global synthesis report that will explore strengths, limitations and opportunities to improve the delivery of forest-related curricula. These reports will be available in late 2020.

Project partners will work closely with the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA) and the joint IUFRO-IFSA Task Force on Forest Education to disseminate the survey, making use of their extensive global networks. 

“Strong links between forest education and research are fundamental as they will help ensure that sound science underpins forest management and policymaking and that education programmes produce strong corps of both forest researchers and practitioners”, said Alexander Buck, Executive Director of IUFRO.

The survey is one of several activities being undertaken by the Global Forest Education Project, financed by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The goal of the project is to catalyze, accelerate and enhance broad efforts in forest education at national and local levels around the world.

In addition to hosting an International Conference on Forest Education, the project will develop enhanced online resources for forest education. IUFRO is designing an online platform that will facilitate knowledge sharing, information dissemination and networking on forest education globally, and ITTO is preparing an online learning course on legal and sustainable supply chains of tropical wood and tropical forest products. 

“Digital technologies, including online learning tools, offer significant opportunities to complement traditional teaching approaches and thus improve forest education for a wide range of stakeholders,” said Sheam Satkuru, Director of Operations at ITTO.

The project is designed to prepare the foundation for a longer-term, multi-partner effort to improve forest education, envisaged as a Joint Initiative of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). The project will prepare a vision and strategy to improve forest education globally, including a strategic communication approach to enhance understanding of sustainable forest management and to raise the profile of forestry professions in educational curricula and among the public.

To access the forest education survey, please go to

For more information about the project, please visit or contact Andrew Taber at [email protected].

last updated:  Wednesday, July 15, 2020