The International Union of Forest Research Organizations
; , ) is a non-profit, non-governmental international network of forest scientists, headquartered in Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...
The IUFRO unites more than 15,000 scientists in almost 700 Member Organizations in over 110 countries. Scientists cooperate in IUFRO on a voluntary basis.
It promotes global cooperation in forest-related research and enhances the understanding of the ecological, economic and social aspects of forests and trees. It disseminates scientific knowledge to stakeholders and decision-makers and contributes to forest policy and on-the-ground forest management. IUFRO’s vision is of science-based sustainable management of the world’s forest resources for economic, environmental and social benefits.
The IUFRO has defined three major strategic goals for the period from 2006 to 2010:
- to strengthen research for the benefit of forests and people;
- to expand strategic partnerships and cooperation; and
- to strengthen communication and links within the scientific community and with students as well as with policy makers and society at large.
IUFRO generates knowledge on research needs and priorities of scientists, policy-makers, practitioners and stakeholders; provides access to and disseminates scientific knowledge to policy-makers, practitioners and stakeholders; and assists scientists and institutions to strengthen their research capacity. All activities are based on volunteer collaboration among scientists.
Congresses and Conferences
Every five years IUFRO organizes a World Congress with about 2000 participants. The latest was in Brisbane, Australia in 2005 and the next one will be in Seoul, Korea in 2010. In between, there are some 70 regional conferences and meetings organized by the individual IUFRO research units (i.e. Divisions, Research Groups and Working Parties, Task Forces, Special Programmes, Projects and Chapters) every year all over the world.
IUFRO in International Processes
Many joint activities and partnership agreements occur with national governments, regional and global organizations and NGOs. For example, IUFRO is a Scientific Union Member of ICSU, the International Council for Science, a member of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), and an observer organization in the MCPFE process (Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe). It has established Memoranda of Understanding with IUCN (World Conservation Union), for instance, with WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organization
The International Tropical Timber Organization is an intergovernmental organization that promoted conservation of tropical forest resources and their sustainable management, use and trade.-Organization:...
), or IFSA (International Forestry Students' Association
International Forestry Students’ Association or IFSA is a non-political, not for profit organisation of tertiary-level forestry students around the world....
Dissemination of Scientific Information
IUFRO disseminates knowledge via its website iufro.org, the expertise of its officeholders, and a range of publications such as IUFRO News and Noticias de IUFRO, calendar of events, information leaflets, annual reports, Occasional Papers, IUFRO World Series, IUFRO Research Series, and conference proceedings.
Global Forest Information Service
The Global Forest Information Service is a collaborative effort of forestry institutions aiming to maximize the value of all forest information resources and providers worldwide through the sharing of forest-related information through a single gateway....
GFIS is an internet gateway that allows sharing of forest-related information through a single entry point. These resources are freely searchable online and provide direct access to the original information. All information made available through GFIS is supplied by partner institutions from around the world that host forest information. Today GFIS is an initiative of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF).
Special Programme for Developing Countries (IUFRO-SPDC)
IUFRO-SPDC was established by IUFRO in 1983. In order to enhance the ability of research institutions to generate and deliver scientific information and advisory services on forest and trees and their sustainable utilisation IUFRO-SPDC implements the following programme components: training of scientists; collaborative research networking, scientist assistance programme.
In February 1995, IUFRO started a pilot project on forest terminology called SilvaVoc. Its objectives are: to provide bibliographical and consultation services about forest terminologies and terminological activities; to contribute to the harmonization and integration of existing and future terminological data; to make compiled and improved data available in electronic form through computer networks; to produce special glossaries for specific target groups in an appropriate medium of publication.
Special Project on World Forests, Society and Environment (WFSE)
In the phase 2002-2005 IUFRO-WFSE focused on identifying, monitoring and critically analysing changing paradigms in the forests-society-environment interface, especially as to changes in governance, livelihoods and poverty alleviation, environmental services and plantations. The project continues following the established mission and strategies from 2006-2010.
IUFRO administration is broken down into: a Congress; International Council; Board and Committees; Management Committee; Advisory Council; President and the Vice-Presidents; Executive Director; Finance Officer.
The structure of the Union comprises the following IUFRO Units: Divisions; Research Groups and Working Parties; Task Forces, Special Programmes (IUFRO-SPDC), and Projects (IUFRO-WFSE, SilvaVoc).
Divisions and Task Forces
The main function of Divisions is to support researchers in collaborative work and provide an organizational link among Research Groups and their associated Working Parties and also between these Groups and the IUFRO Board. Currently there are eight permanent Divisions: (Division 1 – Silviculture; Division 2 – Physiology and Genetics; Division 3 – Forest Operations Engineering and Management; Division 4 – Forest Assessment, Modelling and Management; Division 5 – Forest Products; Division 6 – Social, Economic, Information and Policy Sciences; Division 7 – Forest Health; Division 8 – Forest Environment) sub-divided into Research Groups and Working Parties.
The aim of Task Forces is to strengthen IUFRO activities in specific areas. They contribute to international processes and activities and are established for a limited period of time. Currently, IUFRO Task Forces are dealing with the following topics: Traditional Forest Knowledge; Communicating Forest Science; Illegal Logging and FLEGT; Improving the Lives of People in Forests; Forest Science-Policy Interface; Forests and Water Interactions; Forests and Carbon Sequestration; Forests and Genetically Modified Trees; Endangered Species and Nature Conservation; Forests and Human Health.
IUFRO was founded as the “International Union of Forest Experiment Stations” in 1892 by three members: the Association of German Forest Experiment Stations, and the experiment stations of Austria and Switzerland. After World War I, the number of members increased considerably as universities, forestry education centers and other forestry institutions not only from Europe but also from other continents joined. The name of IUFRO was changed to “International Union of Forestry Research Organizations”. World War II interrupted the activities of the Union. Until the 1970s IUFRO grew rapidly with many of the new members coming from developing countries. From the 1980s onwards, IUFRO has been increasingly addressing forest-related social, economic, and ecological problems of global importance. In 2000 the name of IUFRO was changed to “International Union of Forest Research Organizations.”
More recently this organization has stated that forests are under increasing degrees of stress as a result of climate change. Forests could release vast amounts of carbon if temperatures rise 2.5C (4.5F) above pre-industrial levels. Compiled by 35 leading forestry scientists, the report provides what is described as the first global assessment of the ability of forests to adapt to climate change.