TU Dresden - Tropical Forestry Blog

WoodCluster and PhytoWood Projects under COVID-19: Challenged to be flexible and focused

Interacting with local stakeholders in WoodCluster Field School in Ethiopia 2019 – which cannot take place in the pandemic (©WoodCluster)

Uncertainty is what most people probably feel currently in their private and professional life worldwide. It also characterizes our current work in the WoodCluster and PhytoWood-Synergies projects. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the project flow from one day to the other. After being still confident to postpone activities for a few weeks or a few months earlier this year, it became clear that most activities on the ground in 2020 had to be cancelled. These included research fieldwork from PhD candidates and MSc students, workshops with local stakeholders as well as educational excursions with students.

Bringing people together from different countries and gathering local stakeholders for group discussion are some of our core activities. These cannot be conducted in the near future as borders are partially closed, international flights reduced, and infection risk during travels prevailing. Official restrictions and reservations of the local people in the partner countries need to be respected as well.

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Discussing “Global Perspectives on Forests” at the Political Art Days Festival in Dresden

Panel discussion on “Global Perspectives on Forests” (left-right: Gabriela, Sherry, André, Pragyan, Nicolás) (©A. Mou)

October 1st 2020 was an exceptional day for the institute. First of all, we transitioned from the 27-year leadership of Prof. Jürgen Pretzsch to Prof. Lukas Gießen. Our institute also changed its name to: “Chair of Tropical and International Forestry”. Second of all, we manifested one of our institute’s core philosophies – collective action – for the Political Art Days Festival in Dresden organized by CAMBIO e.V.. Our current students, alumni, current and former staff members attended the opening of the Political Art Days festival with a panel discussion about “Global Perspectives on Forests”.

The panel discussion was moderated by Gabriela Huidobro (current staff member and member of the alumni initiative BluoVerda e.V.), and was enriched by current students like Sherry Kyamagero and Pragyan Raj Pokhrel, alumnus Nicolás Mesia, and former staff member Dr. André Lindner (current director of School of Civil and Environmental Engineering of TU Dresden). In the following, our current students and Gabriela described their experiences being panelists and moderator, respectively.  

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A pilot project on Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration in Uganda

The project leader and some of the FMNR Champions during field work (©Bonny Jjemba)

I’m called Jjemba Bonny, an alumnus of MSc Tropical Forestry from Uganda. I completed my studies in 2019 and my research project was done on Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) in Mubende District, Uganda. FMNR is a simple land restoration technique that involves regeneration and management of trees from living stumps, roots or naturally growing seedlings on a farm. During my research, I found out that a large percentage of farmers were unaware about the technique. This encouraged me to design a project that will address the above challenge. After reading through the guidelines of the Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation, I discovered that my project meets their criteria. I began my application process during the COVID-19 lockdown period in April 2020 and submitted it in late June 2020. The application was reviewed by the Rufford Foundation in a period of 3 months from July to September, 2020, and I’m delighted to inform you that it was successful.

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27 years of Prof. Pretzsch and internationalization to Tharandt

Prof. Pretzsch in the Andes landscape ©IIFFP

On October 5th we gathered in a small group to commemorate the 27 years of leadership of Professor Pretzsch at the institute. Members of the team, his doctoral students and his wife wanted to wish him the best for this new stage of his life as senior professor. Complemented by a small buffet with delicacies from various countries, we had a toast to celebrate his unrivaled legacy and dedication in the tropical forestry field. Even Prof. Pretzsch prepared a cake with organic apples from his orchard, which he used to prepare in his students days and was a sought-after one among his peers.

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Excursion to the “Urban Gardens” as the beginning of the module “Urban Forestry in the Tropics”

Group of students and members of Höhenluft I ©G. Huidobro

The Book “Urban Tree Management: For the Sustainable Development of Green Cities” mentions about the name Höhenluft I, which is one over 370 allotment garden complexes in Dresden. This allotment gardens are not only famous for its variable benefits over time, but also contains several interesting stories of history in Dresden city. Over the period from the beginning to present, this allotment gardens witnessed the time of the German Empire until 1918, the darkest time in the story of Germany from 1933 to 1989, but they also witnessed an important day for German people, the day of the reunification on October 3, 1990.

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Second round of the Workshop “Project Monitoring and Reporting: Introduction to Geographic Methods using Open-Source Software”

Due the high demand of the first round of the online workshop “Project Monitoring and Reporting: Introduction to Geographic Methods using Open-Source Software”. The Institute of International Forestry and Forest Products of the TU Dresden in collaboration with BluoVerda Deutschland e.V. and Weltweit e.V. -DAAD funded-,  are pleased to invite you to apply to a second round.

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