In­no­va­tion must be of ben­e­fit to all

Australian Forests and Timber - - IN THE NEWS -

IN­NO­VA­TION IN forestry needs to en­sure that it ben­e­fits hu­mankind, and we need to ad­dress un­in­tended con­se­quences. That was the opin­ion ex­pressed by Ben Gun­neberg, CEO of PEFC In­ter­na­tional, dur­ing the14th World Forestry Congress in Dur­ban, South Africa. “In­no­va­tion may of­fer sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits in im­prov­ing the ef­fi­ciency of plan­ta­tions, but it is im­por­tant to as­sess in how far this in­no­va­tion helps us pro­mot­ing and pro­tect­ing nat­u­ral forests, and more im­por­tantly, helps us ad­dress the driv­ers to de­for­esta­tion,” Gun­neberg said, re­spond­ing to a keynote speech about ‘for­est biotech­nol­ogy for sus­tain­able in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of for­est land use’ at the dia­logue about “Grow­ing bet­ter trees for the needs of hu­mankind”. “If in­creased plan­ta­tion ef­fi­ciency de­val­ues nat­u­ral forests and neg­a­tively im­pacts on peo­ple who rely on sus­tain­able for­est man­age­ment for their liveli­hoods, what have we gained?” Gun­neberg cau­tioned. “What is the im­pact of biotech­nol­ogy on com­mu­ni­ty­for­est own­ers, what is its im­pact on our abil­ity to utilise our for­est re­sources not only for the en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits that they of­fer, but also for their po­ten­tial to lift peo­ple out of poverty? “If biotech­nol­ogy does not help us ad­dress the driv­ers for de­for­esta­tion, is there a risk of un­in­tended con­se­quences down the road, po­ten­tially lead­ing to in­creased de­for­esta­tion as less pro­duc­tive forests with de­creas­ing fi­nan­cial re­turns get con­verted to more prof­itable al­ter­na­tive land uses?” Gun­neberg stressed the need to con­sider biotech­nol­ogy in a holis­tic man­ner, and in­crease in­no­va­tion in all ar­eas: Can we fur­ther im­prove the man­age­ment of the work­ing forests that we have and ob­tain more re­sources from them in a sus­tain­able man­ner? In how far can agro-forestry and trees out­side forests bet­ter con­trib­ute to re­source sup­ply and as­sist in cre­at­ing sus­tain­able liveli­hoods? Can we use the for­est re­sources that we have more ef­fi­ciently, not only in terms of wood fi­bre, but also in terms of non-wood for­est prod­ucts (NWFP)? Can we re­duce our con­sump­tion as a so­ci­ety as a whole? “At its core, sus­tain­able for­est man­age­ment is about sus­tain­able liveli­hoods. In­no­va­tion must demon­strate that it con­trib­utes to all three pil­lars of sus­tain­abil­ity and stands the test of time.”

■ Ben Gun­neberg, CEO of PEFC In­ter­na­tional.

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