International Day of Forests on 21 March

Conflicts of interest over the forest of the future

With the International Day of Forests on 21 March, the United Nations draws attention to the value of forests and to the worldwide loss of this important habitat. The effects of climate change are also taking their toll on Germany’s forests. The pressure to adapt is great and time is pressing. But discussions about the “right” landscaping and use of forests bring up many conflicts. In spite of this, how can different interest groups work together to find sustainable solutions for the forest of the future? This question is addressed by the research project “Conflicts over the Forest of the Future” led by ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

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Heat, drought, pests – in many regions of Germany forests are severely damaged. There is an increasingly urgent need for comprehensive forest conversion so that the various services of their ecosystems can be preserved: The forest provides a habitat for flora and fauna, recreational space for people and wood as a renewable raw material. It forms an important reservoir for groundwater and has a significant function for climate regulation and biodiversity. “Intact forests are crucial in the race against climate change,” says ISOE researcher Deike Lüdtke. “For them to remain intact, a sustainable use of forests must be ensured. But there is a large variety of views and there are also great uncertainties about how the forest of the future should be used and shaped.” 

In a three-year research project, a team led by Deike Lüdtke and Michael Kreß-Ludwig is investigating the current conflict situation of forest landscaping. First of all, this requires a comprehensive analysis of the conflict potential with the help of local case studies where the following questions will be dealt with How do different actors – for example from forestry and nature conservation – look at the question of what forests need in order to withstand climate change? In the debates about the future of the forest, for example, the type and manner of management are at stake and need to tackle the following topics: Which tree species are available, to what extent should reforestation take place? And then questions about the designation of protected areas or the implementation of fire protection are also discussed. The viewpoints and objectives of the actors involved are examined and seen from their respective perspectives.

Recognizing and solving conflicts: knowledge and method transfer

“Our goal is to identify the issues, views and dynamics that lead to conflicts and, in a next step, to constructively accompany the sometimes very difficult discussions between forestry, nature conservation and climate protection,” says ISOE researcher Kreß-Ludwig. In order to facilitate  a dialogue of mutual understanding between the different interest groups, various communication approaches are being pursued within the project and as part of case studies formats are tested that contribute to de-escalation. 

Transformation researcher Michael Kreß-Ludwig and land use expert Deike Lüdtke believe that their goal will be achieved if the actors involved are able to recognize, classify and de-escalate emerging conflicts in advance with the help of the knowledge and method transfer. “The path to effective solutions for sustainable forest management necessarily requires constructive, results-oriented dialogue,” says Lüdtke. The research project “Conflicts over the Forest of the Future – analysis and cooperative processing of forest-related negotiation processes in the context of climate change” is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) within the framework of the funding programme “Renewable Resources” based on a resolution of the German Bundestag. 

More about the project  

Scientific contact:

Dr. Deike Lüdtke
Tel. +49 69 707 6919-28

Dr. Michael Kreß-Ludwig
Tel. +49 69 707 6919-62  

Press contact:

Melanie Neugart
Tel. +49 69 707 6919-51