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19 December 2012

Green light for further forest research

Mistra’s Board has decided on a further investment of SEK 56 million in the Future Forests research programme. Following extensive criticism by an international review group in spring 2012, the plan for the next four years has been revised. There is, for example, more emphasis on biodiversity and economic aspects, and the environmental movement will have a clearer voice in the programme.

Research in Future Forests focuses on how the Swedish forest industry can develop and simultaneously take biodiversity, water resources and recreation into account. The challenge is to maximise the capacity of forest resources to meet these multiple needs.

In June this year, Mistra’s Board reprimanded Future Forests and decided to withhold immediate approval for a continuation of the programme, which has been under way since 2009. An international review panel had been critical on several points. One criticism was that themes like biodiversity and economic aspects were insufficiently visible in the programme plans for the forthcoming programme period. Another charge was that the programme had not involved shareholders in the environmental sector enough.

‘It was quite harsh criticism. The plan for work to be done over the next four-year period wasn’t adequately thought out,’ says Thomas Nilsson, the Mistra programme manager.

Approval for new programme plan

Since then, the programme plan has been radically revised. According to Nilsson, the plan that has now been approved by the review panel and Mistra’s Board is an entirely new one.

‘Overall, it looks good — considerably better than in the spring. The programme plan has been examined by the same international group that reviewed the previous version,’ Nilsson adds.

The second phase of the programme is being funded with SEK 56 million from Mistra. This is a little less than half the total programme budget. The remaining funds will be provided by participating universities and the forest industry.

Text: Thomas Heldmark, Vetenskapsjournalisterna

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