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FOREST-IN : INovative and Educational INformation for the Sustainable FOREST Management by Smallholders
Start date: Sep 1, 2016, End date: Aug 31, 2019 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Sustainable development has become a global concern in the last decades. European citizens have been raised aware of global environmental issues, but have not been engaged in actively contributing to solutions through stepwise local actions. In particular, forest smallholders are not aware of their potential as active citizens and their role in the sustainability desired by modern societies. And in fact, altogether, due to the European deeply rooted forestry traditions, they could be a major force in promoting sustainability concepts in society.FOREST-IN aims at the promotion of sustainable forest management practices through the delivery of novel learning approaches embedded in a holistic, participative and horizontal pedagogical process targeted at the thousands of adult citizens that own or manage forests across Europe, but lack specific competences or guidance for performing that task properly.The project includes a set of high-quality intellectual outputs that will assist and empower smallholders, but also professional forestry technicians in the decision-making regarding forest management. Material outputs thus include a state-of-the-art research report, interactive IT technologies, dissemination and training packages, tutorials for independent forest assessments and retrospective layman and technical reports.In general, forest-awareness projects function in a top-down approach, which is not engaging to most of adults, principally in the case of not highly trained audiences, such as smallholders. Thus FOREST-IN will present an innovative pedagogical process fully based on participatory and shared tutoring and transferring of knowledge. Such approach will contemplate conceptual but also hands-on and field analysis, piloting and validation of outputs and methods, also capacitating participants with critical thinking and wide literacy skills.A training methodology involving both smallholders and technicians will be implemented, stressing the concept that conscious environmental commitments (i.e. sustainable forest management) are key to address social and economic issues, allowing better conditions for all.FOREST-IN is therefore a transectorial project that brings together 7 partners from 4 countries, each with different experiences and perceptions:University of Aveiro (PT) is a leading university with expertise in different fields of knowledge. The project team is largely experienced in science communication, public engagement and sustainability issues.Asociación Forestal de Galicia (SP), Association Forêt Modèle de Provence (FR) and Unimadeiras (PT) integrate a large network of forest smallholders and technicians, and work with relevant stakeholders in the fields of forestry, sustainability, environment, and also major economic groups. They are all experienced in face-to-face communication to smallholders and stakeholders, namely in the context of fomenting SFM.PEFC and FSC are the largest forest certification systems worldwide. Their credible standards seek to transform the way forests are managed globally – and locally - to ensure that all can enjoy the environmental, social and economic benefits that forests offer.CESEFOR is a Foundation specialized in communicating the importance of forests, and are fully experienced in developing efficient communication strategies, namely including top IT technologies.As a result of multiplier events, trainings and a strong IT-based dissemination strategy, the project foresees the engagement of an audience much wider than the “forestry universe”. Stakeholders and further local/regional partners of each participating organization will also be engaged with the project's goals, fostering its outreach and replication. Ultimately, the general public will be naturally invited to participate, get involved, and share the project’s philosophy.The notion that environment, education and economy, and thus overall human and social well being, are all integrated and share the same roots is the central impact that FOREST-IN project aims at achieving at all levels: local, regional, national and international level. To do so, we will engage a strong driving force for social behaviour changes and perception: adult active citizens, but also local communities and stakeholders. The project is aligned with the European’s growth strategy, focusing on inclusion, education and intelligence to promote the necessary shift towards sustainability. Ultimately, direct and indirect participants will gain key competences to embrace sustainability and align their individual expectations with nature conservation, economy and education. As the issues the consortium is trying to address are global, the cumulative impact of FOREST-IN will help creating a more generalized will to shift Europe and its communities towards true sustainability, empowering citizens and local actors with the needed skills to do so.
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