We’ll soon be heading into 2023, a year that holds many exciting events to look forward to. Research funding from Formas, VR, EU and foundations such as Wallenberg and Kempe need to be turned into research that contributes to the development of society. We need to recruit new colleagues in research domains that need developing. Our students will learn and grow and discover exciting new issues thanks to our inspiring range of Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes. There is an increased demand for forestry education and our programmes are attracting more students. The work we’ve put into improving our programmes has paid off.
Next year, another cohort of students will leave SLU to supply Sweden and the world with forest skills. We continue to be world leaders in forest and ecology, making SLU alumni attractive in the labour market. SLU and the Faculty of Forest Sciences continue to be a preferred workplace for those who want to work with natural resources such as forests.
Commitment and reputation
Forests have an evocative power and interest a lot of people. This autumn in particular, there’s been a shift of focus in forestry issues. I’ve been keeping an eye on what’s happening internationally and what we can expect in the future. My brief conclusion is that nationally, focus will shift even more towards sustainable forest management, power generation and the development of biobased materials. However, at the EU level focus will remain on biodiversity, sustainability – and the development of biobased forest products. At the EU level, I also see a shift towards realising that forest products really can contribute to a European, green transition.
According to the Sifo Kantar reputation index, SLU’s reputation has dropped compared to 2021. Gladly, it also shows that the public still has high confidence in SLU. Analysing the SLU time series from 2012 to the present day, we see that we’ve continuously enjoyed a good reputation. A more in-depth analysis of the Sifo Kantar index shows that it’s not our media image that’s behind this year’s drop in reputation. However, a lot of Swedes still don’t know who we are. The 2021–2022 trend of diminished reputation is the same for basically all Swedish universities.
Meeting face to face
Our in-house lives at SLU are important. A big thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to our faculty days. What I’ve been trying to do with you during 2022 is encourage different groups to meet to discuss SLU and our mission. Heads of department and the faculty board have met regularly, and we have visited Skinnskatteberg, Grimsö, Uppsala, Umeå, Alnarp and several of the experimental forests. Our strength, having a presence in several places, requires an understanding of each other’s everyday working life. Face-to-face meetings are necessary for one SLU to become a reality. Our discussion forum ‘Let’s talk science’ has launched and expanded to more campuses. Come to the lectures, listen and discuss with your colleagues. To move forward, we need to ensure constructive debate. So, make sure you take part in the debate outside SLU as well and contribute your knowledge and your insights. This festive period, become an enlightening SLU ambassador!
Party and hard work
As ambassador, spread the word that 2023 is a jubilee year. The experimental forests and the National Forest Inventory will both celebrate 100 years. Keep an eye on the programme that will soon be published. Sweden will also take over as chair of the EU during the first semester, with a lot happening when it comes to forests. On 1–2 February, we’ll be hosting an international meeting and a workshop focusing on future forest monitoring in the EU. The IUFRO world congress is also getting closer. Most of the preparatory work will be done in 2023, and your help may be needed. I’m counting on you for a successful 2023!
Good luck, god jul and see you around.
Göran Ericsson, Dean