Round Table: Charting the Future of Forests

Jan 17, 2024

Regional stakeholders have now begun contributing to the IUFRO Stockholm Statement and ministerial panel at the Congress this summer. A wide variety of selected regional stakeholders gave their input on the future role of forests in societal development.
“This was an exciting start of what is to become the legacy of the 26th IUFRO World Congress”, said Fredrik Ingemarson, Chair of the Congress Organizing Committee.

The round table discussions provided a unique platform for stakeholders from the Nordic and Baltic countries to give regional input to the Stockholm statement, which will be compiled and presented at the Congress’s closure on June 29th 2024. The statement aspires to encapsulate the collective foresight on the future role of forests in societal development towards 2050. The input will also serve the Nordic and Baltic Ministerial Panel, scheduled during the Congress’s opening on 24 June,

Keynotes delivered challenged participants to envision the future, addressing challenges posed by population growth, climate change, and globalization. The intent was to broaden perspectives in alignment with the values of the next generation.

“While forests are essential in addressing many challenges, it is crucial to acknowledge that they cannot solve all problems. We believe a structural change is inevitable, and we must leverage our competence to add value to high-quality forest products”, says Professor Sten Nilsson who held a keynote at the round table.

Future shift in services await

Aiming to form the Nordic and Baltic contribution to the Stockholm Statement, the round table gathered a select group of experts, decision-makers and stakeholders, ensuring a cross-sectoral representation. Stakeholders included the forestry industry, NGOs, forest owners’ associations, and governmental agencies, totalling a diverse group of about 60 people.

The discussions scrutinized the role of forest services, products, and systems in the context of societal development towards 2050, with all contributions considered equally valuable.

“We will depend more and more on forests for resources, diversifying beyond timber, pulp, and paper. New services will emerge, encompassing wood for textiles, fibre plastics, and batteries. Forests, once prominent for bioenergy, are witnessing a shift towards alternative energy solutions. As demands on forests intensify, large-scale timber harvesting will diminish, eventually replacing many products and services sourced from the fossil industry”, says Manu Jose Mattan, Director of Regulatory Affairs at IKEA.

Regional input for further discussion

The IUFRO World Congress Secretariat will compile the Nordic and Baltic contribution, with a draft of the Round Table results set for circulation among participants by the end of February. A revised version will be presented at a seminar in March 2024, seeking feedback from a broader regional audience.

The outcome of the Round Table discussions will be submitted to the IUFRO President and the Nordic and Baltic governmental bodies. Serving as a vital input to the Nordic and Baltic Ministerial Panel, scheduled during the Congress’s opening on 24 June, these results will contribute to the global discourse on sustainable forest management.