Mountain forestry meets social science

More than production: forests, livelihoods and social significance for mountain people

News from Forest Research: April 2008

Ben Nevis and surrounding forestForest Research social scientist Anna Lawrence gave a keynote presentation at a recent international conference in Vienna on ‘Mountain Forests in a Changing World’. Organised by the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), the conference highlighted the significance of mountain ecosystems as responsive indicators of climate change.

Anna’s talk, entitled ‘More than production: forests, livelihoods and social significance for mountain people’, considered adaptive and collaborative approaches to forestry, which are especially important in the mountain context. One of only two keynote speeches focusing on social aspects of mountain forestry, it was based on Anna’s previous work on case studies in Nepal, Bhutan, Philippines and Romania.

Anna explains:

“In mountain forestry, the close relationship between people and forests requires attention to cultural and institutional aspects, and the processes by which forestry knowledge develops.”

The final lively plenary session discussed the need for forestry education to be more broad-based, for forestry students to recognise good quality social science and to be more aware of the value of different forms of knowledge.

Anna commented:

“There are many interesting studies of mountain forest use being carried out, but there is more scope for increasing the links between social science and forestry practice and policy. We also need to consider the role of cultural meanings in contributing to forest management.”

The event was funded by a number of global organisations, including the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), the Mountain Partnership, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

For more information about FR’s social science research, contact Anna Lawrence.


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This and other news stories can be found in the April 2008 issue of FR Eye, our online newsletter.