The new BMBF-project WoodCluster, under the lead of Prof. Dr. Jürgen Pretzsch for Tropical Forestry at the Institute of International Forestry and Forestry Products, was launched in the second week of February. The opening was a kick-off meeting held in one of the partner institutions, the Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources in Ethiopia. Wondo Genet means paradise and the name stands for the beauty and rich flora and fauna around the forestry college. It is a habitat but also a refuge for different animals (e.g. birds and monkeys) in a surrounding that is threatened by deforestation through humans for their daily needs.
This reflects the problems and dynamics that the WoodCluster project is focusing on. It aims to narrow the East African (Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda) wood supply gap by elaborating sustainable solutions over the coming four years until beginning 2021. The WoodCluster project works along two modules: research and education/training. The research part covers three wood levels: national bio-economy, wood value chains, and farm wood production. Doctoral and MSc research studies, multi-stakeholder workshops and monitoring activities are employ to deal with these topics profoundly. Participative and innovative tools, like the Socio-economic Field Laboratories and the Participative Innovation Platforms, are applied to include stakeholders from all levels in concept, implementation, and monitoring of activities. These tools were designed and tested in previous projects of the institute (INCA, CHAINS). The teaching aims to improve education with newly elaborated postgraduate courses on bio economy that are implemented in all partner universities. Additionally, training courses shall drive a capacity building through knowledge exchange between academics, decision makers and practitioners.
The workshop team in Ethiopia consisted of representatives from our institute at TU Dresden and from the project partner universities – Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania, Makerere University in Uganda, and Wondo Genet College in Ethiopia. The workshop was fruitful in jointly preparing a road map project implementation and outcomes, and strengthening the project team. Small excursions supplemented it to explore the surrounding, i.e. bird watching early morning in the forests of the Wondo Genet College.
The WoodCluster project at TU Dresden is part of the program Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions with Sub-Saharan Africa: Measures for Research and Integrated postgraduate training and continuing training. It is funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research and managed by two project management agencies DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) and DLR (German Aerospace Center). The project runs from 2017 to early 2021 and has a volume of 800.000 Euro.