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Potential of social innovation in focus at international forest research conference

Forest near Ballater (c) James Hutton Institute
"Social innovation entails new practices targeting new products, services, models and social relationships and collaborations, as well as new fields of activity"

The potential offered by social innovation to improve the livelihoods of remote forest-dependent communities will be at the centre of discussions during a special session of the 125th Anniversary Congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO), to be held in Freiburg, Germany, from the 18th to the 22nd September.

Coordinated by Professor Maria Nijnik, a principal scientist at our Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences group, the session will focus on common challenges faced by these communities such as lack of infrastructure, housing, transport links and aging populations as well as global issues including climate change, sustainability and energy and food security.

“Social innovation entails new practices targeting new products, services, models and social relationships and collaborations, as well as new fields of activity. It is usually described as focusing attention on ideas and solutions that create social value, as well as the processes through which they are generated,” Prof Nijnik, IUFRO Office Holder and organiser/chair of the session explained.

Mariana Melnykovych, joint Ukrainian National Forestry University and James Hutton Institute PhD student, will co-chair the session. “Forests provide a long list of benefits to people and are vital to communities. Sustainable use of forest ecosystem services can provide a substantial contribution to the wellbeing of those communities,” she added.

The IUFRO session in September will address questions of how to integrate local and indigenous knowledge in forestry-related decision-making processes; green energy options for forest-dependent communities; how to assess forest policy options through an improved understanding of the attitudes prevailing in forest-dependent communities, building resilience and capacities for sustainability, and how to integrate forest ecosystem services into climate change adaptation plans.

So far more than 21 abstracts from all around the world have been received for the social innovation session, a fact which underlines the importance of the topic.

IUFRO is the only worldwide organization devoted to forest research and related sciences. Its members are research institutions, universities, and individual scientists as well as decision-making authorities and other stakeholders with a focus on forests and trees. Established in 1892, it has grown to unite more than 15,000 scientists in more than 120 countries.

The organisation 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.

About 2,000 scientists from 89 countries are expected to attend the congress, and the social innovation session will be one of 172 covering a wide array of topics dealing with various aspects of forest research.

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Printed from /news/potential-social-innovation-focus-international-forest-research-conference on 09/12/23 06:30:46 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.