The XXV Congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) took place in Curitiba, Brazil, from September 29 to October 5, 2019. Representatives from the Brazilian Model Forests Mosaico Sertão Veredas Peruaçu, Hileia Baiana, Mata Atlântica, and Caçador, as well as the Costa Rican Reventazón Model Forest, and the Secretariat of the Latin-American Model Forest Network participated in the event, along with more than 2,500 people from 90 countries.
Through their participation in plenaries, technical sessions, parallel events and poster sessions, representatives of these Latin American Model Forests were able to disseminate the concept of Model Forest and share their experiences and lessons learned regarding “Forest Research and Cooperation for Sustainable Development ,” the theme of the event.
Lessons learned from territorial management platforms: the case of Latin American Model Forests
Because the concept of Model Forests has been now present in the region for two decades, research was undertaken to identify lessons learned from these territorial management processes. The main results, gathered through interviews, document reviews and field visits, were presented during a technical session. Key lessons learned included the need to involve local governments and academic institutions in managing these platforms; the desirability of a greater leadership role from local organizations; the importance of staff and a minimum of physical and financial resources; the threat to the continuity of the process posed by changes in government policies; the advantages of participatory strategic plans, and the importance of social leadership, partner commitment and territorial identity. The presenters highlighted that establishing action-based strategic alliances increases governance sustainability, as well.
Model Forests: territories in search of gender equity and equality
In 2017, the Latin-American Model Forest Network (RLABM) developed a proposal for a gender equity and equality strategy adapted to the Model Forest context, created under a participatory methodology that involved the RLABM management team, organizations, allies and representatives from Model Forests. The proposal was validated in the Pichanaki Model Forest, in Peru, and presented at the 2017 annual meeting of the RLABM board. The process of developing such a strategy was described at a technical session. It is expected that this strategy will contribute to institutionalize or mainstream the gender approach within the RLABM and at each Model Forest, so that the needs, interests and experiences of both women and men become an integral part of policy, program and project design, execution, monitoring and evaluation.
Improving worldwide scientific and social landscape research through Model Forests
This presentation reviewed the fundamentals of sustainable forest management, such as balancing economic and environmental objectives, the concept of landscape management, and the role of science, technology, and public participation in decision making. To examine the practical implications of these concepts, researchers reviewed more than 600 publications referencing model forests to assess their benefits and contributions to integrated natural resource management, knowledge sharing, and strengthening of local governance.
RLABM strategic planning for 2018-2022
Lastly, the 2018-2022 RLABM strategic planning process was presented in a poster session. This participatory exercise identified three types of strategic goals: for Model Forests, for the management team, and for partner institutions, where the main thematic axes are to implement best conservation and production practices, achieve gender equity and equality, and improve internal and external communication.
Another noteworthy RLABM contribution to the XXV IUFRO World Congress was made by Joberto Freitas, National Representative of the Model Forests of Brazil, who acted as Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the IUFRO World Congress 2019.