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.
What topic did you share to the audience?
Sherry: I brought forward the issue of gender and forestry in Uganda. My presentation was called “Forest use and management in Uganda: A gender-based perspective”.
Pragyan: I gave an overview of the Nepalese community forestry program. I wanted to provide an introduction of the community-based forest management model which has been adapted to different countries since its inception in the 1970s.
What kind of challenges did you face in talking about forestry-related subject to a general audience?
Sherry: For some time, I slipped into speaking forestry terminologies and abbreviations like
“NTFPs” or “CIFOR” of which the audience were not familiar with.
Pragyan: The presentation in itself was a challenge for me. After I came to know that the audience wouldn’t be forest and environmental professionals, I was a bit puzzled on how and what to present. I decided that just having pictures from my time in Nepal would serve to portray the content. I embraced a visual approach and tried to take the audience to Nepal (with the help of some wonderful pictures).
Gabriela, how would you describe the experience of being a moderator?
Being a moderator is a different experience, it’s not being a panelist or an audience, it’s more like being in the middle. On the one hand a moderator, I would say, should not speak more than 10%, and on the other hand he or she should make sure that all the panelists participate in the same proportion, and if this is not enough, s/he should also count on the audience to participate.
In addition, it is very important to be aware of the time, know how to cut off and also pay close attention to what each one says. It is like being on several tasks at once. It can be a challenge but, in the end, a rewarding experience. My impression was that the discussion was lively. I was left with the impression that time passed very quickly and that we could have continued longer. Until the last moment we had questions, the moment to cut off was when dinner was ready!
What did you find interesting about the panel discussion?
Sherry: The interactive exchange of viewpoints with other panelists and the audience engagement. We received many questions from the audience.
Pragyan: The diversity in terms of expertise was noteworthy. We had vast experiences and the discussion round after the presentations were engaging. It was welcome change for me personally, presenting to a general audience. The content didn’t have to be very technical and I believe I succeed in giving a proper overview of the CF programme.
Gabriela: In the Political Art Days we had the “4 fabulous”: Pragyan, Sherry, Nicolás and André. All were experts on their topic, all from different perspectives and parts of the world. Since we want to conserve and manage the world’s forests, we must think about their function and the many services these ecosystems provide us regardless of their political boundaries. What I found interesting? The topic of the discussion of course! Forests from a global perspective – a very broad topic that is complex for one person to handle, but that is also the purpose of the panel discussion, that the audience is exposed to several people or points of view in the same session. But I also liked the active participation of the audience until the last moment. The “Political Art Days” was great, I’m glad I had the opportunity to participate in this event from another part of the scenario. Not only for the panelists, but for the audience, the organizers, the place and of course the dinner, with new flavors and ingredients from the nearby Dresden Heath, creatively prepared by the cooking collective “Omaragou”.