INovative and Educational INformation for the Sustainable FOREST Management by Smallholders is an international strategic partnership for forest education. Funding was submitted to the Erasmus+ program, the main financial mechanism of the European Commission for Education.
FOREST-IN stemmed from the need to create a common ground to unite the various forestry agents from Portugal, Spain and France, countries that, in general, face similar forest issues. In these countries, the predominance of private forest property with very small areas and mostly under the management of owners without technical training, leads to the proliferation of practices that sometimes threaten forest integrity and productivity, while hindering overall ecosystem services. It is then urgent to promote good practices and forestry education.
The project will feature workshops and international technical visits, tutorials and a mobile app aimed at helping the decision making process for sustainable forest management. All embedded in a concerted strategy involving the forestry community and the general public. The pedagogical techniques will be innovative and customized to the target audience, based on a horizontal and participatory learning model.
The consortium is composed of an "elite squad" amongst the forestry sphere. The University of Aveiro are the coordinators and shall provide scientific contents and guidance in various areas (forest, biodiversity, sustainability and communication). Other partners are Unimadeiras (Portugal), the Asociación Forestal de Galicia (Spain) and the Association Forêt Modèle de Provence (France) that integrate a vast network of forest owners and technicians and have regular and direct contact with major decision makers and economic groups within the forest sector. In total, these partners manage over 26 000 hectares of certified forest that will serve as laboratory and "cross-border classroom" for good forestry practices. The Cesefor Foundation (Spain) will provide expertise on digital communication and will develop the IT tools for management and forestry education. The consortium is completed with PEFC™ and FSC®, the largest global forest certification systems that in this project will work together, uniting efforts, goals and audiences. PEFC™ and FSC® ’s high standards and credibility establish a forest protection mechanism at a global level, but relying on local action, to ensure that the social, environmental and economic benefits of forests are available for the benefit of all.
The team brings together practitioners and researchers with extensive experience in forest management and biodiversity, as well as in education and communication, who will work together for the next three years.