Futures and Visions - Forest 2100: Long-term perspectives of forest and land use, development dynamics, normative attitude and governance
Forests grow slowly. Many of the trees that are planted today will not be ready to cut down and use by 2100. The strategic direction and decisions of today will have a noticeable impact upon forests and land use in the future. Therefore, systematic preparations for the world of tomorrow are important.
Against this backdrop, a series of questions must be considered: What type of future do we want in regard to our forests and land use? Which contemporary developments –social, economic, ecological, technical, and political – will influence the future of our forests? How can decisions of today be made so that future generations will have the necessary room to maneuver to meet their needs?
We are responsible for the future. The project “Forest Futures 2100” will, therefore, investigate future developments – not only the expected, but also the possible and the desirable. The project faces considerable challenges in looking into the future. Who would have thought about climate change one hundred years ago? At that time, who would have thought about global markets, wood certification, or the destruction of the rain forests? The future of forests and land use is in the hands of society. In order to pursue such decision-making in a responsible way, we have to enter into broad discourse. “Forest Futures 2100” will make a contribution to this discourse.
The goal of this project is to inspire the debate surrounding forests and land use with a time horizon to 2100. Therefore, the project is expected to:
This project will not produce prognoses of how the state of the forests will be in 2100. The more factors influencing forests and the longer the timeline being considered, the less sure one can be in drawing conclusions about the future. This requires special thought about potential future paths. At the end of this process, alternative images of the future, as well as options for taking action, will be produced. These options must then be debated and selected upon their desirability and their accessibility.
This cross-cutting project is part of the funding area “Sustainable Forest Management” of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It takes up available research results and combines them with consideration for the future.
The interdisciplinary project time consists of scientists from a variety of subject areas: forestry, environmental management and ethics, business management, regional studies, and social sciences. Furthermore, the team includes futures researchers and practitioners from forest management and the lumber industry. The team will research the development and the influence that salient future-oriented topic areas– such as globalization, climate change, demographic change, resource consumption, social and cultural transition, labor, regional issues, and innovation – have on future forest and land use. Specifically, there will be a range of short, medium, and long-term perspectives oriented toward 2020, 2050, and 2100.
Work Plan and Deliverables:
Of particular importance is the discourse phase of this project. The scenarios and policy recommendations will be discussed in public conferences that will include actors from all three sectors, as well as experts from relevant scientific fields.
The future of forests and land use will be decided by many different material and civil factors and trends. These factors could influence, strengthen, or outweigh one another. In order to deal appropriately with this complexity, appropriate methods are needed. The expertise of different disciplines must be applied so that evaluation occurs from various perspectives. Scenarios are a proven methodology in futures research. Their methodical strength lies in the integration of complex expertise, in the structuring of imaginable futures, as well as creative analysis. It does all of this without omitting contradictions or conflicts. Scenarios deliver alternative images of the future that are ready to be discussed.
As a communications instrument, scenarios encourage debate concerning relevant trends, approaching challenges, interactions between various factors of influence, potential threats, and (different) goals of civil society, government, and private industry.
Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW)
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