April, the month of hope

Last changed: 26 April 2023

Photosynthesis builds new life. Forests grow. It’s getting warmer. The days are getting longer, and lighter. Everything is getting greener, and this injects new energy into everything we do. During the last few months, I have visited several SLU sites and I have been met with a positive drive and interest in SLU issues, forest issues in particular. Let’s make use of this energy. It’s springtime for forests!

New times require new approaches to forest research. When you read this, the faculty board has received the report from the working group on the sustainable forestry of the future. This group, led by me, has taken a broad look at skills provision linked to the generational shift at several senior positions in forestry and related subject fields. Below is a summary of our analysis and why we need to invest in and focus on this.

One priority focus area for SLU according to the 2021–2025 strategy is our next step for sustainable development. The justification for this focus is that through our high-quality education, research and environmental monitoring and assessment, SLU can take up more space as a university and make a difference in the transition to a sustainable society. Our specific knowledge of conservation and sustainable use of natural resources such as forests means we can, in cooperation with others, drive the transition needed to attain the Agenda 2030 sustainable development goals.

Forests and their resources play a very important role in the transition to a sustainable society based on a circular, biobased economy as well as environmental and social sustainability. This is why the field of forestry research is growing; more ecosystem services are in demand, individual research domains are deepening and transdisciplinary methods are needed to study many of the questions of interest to society.

All in all, external factors decide the framework and the direction for how we work with skills provision for the sustainable forestry of the future. As a national sectoral university, SLU plays a central role in the forestry arena and the challenges involved in the development of various sustainable forestry systems. In this context, a forestry system is how the maintenance of forest stands is structured through limited measures at different times that lead to the fulfilment of long-time objectives. During this project, it has become clear that many forces interact to influence the development of future forestry, and this means there is a great need for research. Climate change means that the current forestry systems will need to adapt. Changing societal objectives lead to a demand for more varied forestry methods and more varied use of tree species. The generational shift taking place among senior researchers at our faculty, combined with the need for doctoral students and younger researchers, means that we need to focus resources on the forestry subject and related subject fields. Together, we will take on the challenge that is the sustainable forestry of the future.

Göran Ericsson, dean, Faculty of Forest Sciences