Research and innovation in sustainable forestry: lessons learnt to inform the policy making community


From an already rich experience of cooperation between scientists and policy makers in the framework of international research institutions such as the International union of forest research organizations (IUFRO), the Center for international forest research (CIFOR) and the European Forest Institute (EFI), as well as through the promotion and development of EU research projects and programs, some lessons can be drawn considering the possible role of scientists at the science-policy interface. Today, on the example of the global change - and especially the climatic changes that policy makers are demanding about-, most of the researches to be carried out have to answer social questions the solutions of which require the support of science. This is especially the case in the forestry field, which is characterized by the particularly long term of cycles and the great number of stakeholders interested in. Whilst decision making processes are complex systems, science is not the only source of knowledge useful for taking decisions, so that in a democratic context, research results have to be confronted to other lessons learnt (for instance from technical expertise, or from traditional knowledge) in order to get accountability in terms of instrumentation. In scientific terms, it should certainly lead to multi-disciplinary approaches of the multifunctionality of forest and related techniques to be implemented. But this does not mean that research activities have to be assessed only against their instrumentality. However, research and public decision-making are very contrasting spheres, where the principles and professional types of behavior are basically different. This situation calls for a need for a clear separation of the respective roles. In addition, all scientific developments should not be driven from practical needs of decision-makers, since theoretical questions may indirectly build up the future reality. 


Forest research; forest policy; decision-making; science/policy interface.

Full Text:




CAB International. Reynolds K.M. et al. (Eds.), 2007: Sustainable forestry: from monitoring and modelling to knowledge management and policy science. Wallingford/Cambridge, 527 p.

Read especially the introductory paper:

- Shannon M., Buttoud G., Paivinen R., Science is endogenous to sustainable forestry; implications for scientists and policy-makers, pp. 1-13.

and also:

- Johnson K.N., Will linking science to policy lead to sustainable forestry?pp. 14-34.

- Kouplevatskaya I., Participation as a new mode of governance? Scientists and policy-makers linked in a double spiral, pp. 35-55.

- Pregernig M., Science-policy consultation as a boundary spanning, pp. 129-144.

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