Agroecology 3 min

Ecological transition and forest-wood systems: creation of the Franco-Canadian research network FORWARD

PRESS RELEASE - INRAE, Bordeaux Sciences Agro, the University of Bordeaux, the FCBA technological institute, and their three Canadian counterparts from the Université Laval, the Canadian Forest Service (part of Natural Resources Canada) and FPINNOVATIONS in Canada launched the FORWARD (FORest, Wood, mArket anD society) International Research Network (2RI) at the beginning of July for a period of five years. In view of the challenges facing the wood industry, a strategic field on both sides of the Atlantic, the seven Franco-Canadian academic partners are committed to combining their skills and expertise in order to jointly address the many environmental, economic and societal issues.

Published on 06 July 2022

illustration Ecological transition and forest-wood systems: creation of the Franco-Canadian research network FORWARD
© INRAE - Yves Bernardi

Widely used for many purposes and services, forests are both sentinels of climate change and a solution to mitigate its effects. In view of the extent of global change and the specific nature of the forest-wood system, defined as "all forest ecosystems, their services and the production and industrial values chains "[1], it is necessary not only to anticipate society's long-term needs, but also the capacity of species and ecosystems to develop in a changing environment.

By creating this international network, the Franco-Canadian partners have formalised their partnership already initiated around the actions of the forestry/wood agreement (Entente Aquitaine-Québec Forêt Bois 2013-2017), while adding a new scope in terms of range, scientific topics and action levers.

The scientific priorities of FORWARD:  Adaptation - Mitigation - Acceptance

Adaptation: In order to cope with extreme climatic events or biological invasions, but also to improve the resilience of forest-wood systems, it is necessary to analyse the multiple risks to which they are subjected and to analyse the different components of their vulnerability.

Mitigation: The forest sector can make an important contribution to GHG mitigation and the fight against global change through:

- Forest management that increases CO2 sequestration and storage in forests and wood products;

- the use of wood products as a substitute for other, GHG-intensive products.

Among the targeted research fields of the 2RI are therefore forest bioeconomy and in particular bioenergy, value chains, wood construction and forest-wood dualities.

Acceptance: The uncertainty about how to respond to global changes and the transformation of the relationships between society and forest-wood systems, with multiple and sometimes contradictory expectations, raise many social and political challenges.

In line with this priority, the research fields targeted by the 2RI are those of forest governance and conflicts management, science-society dialogue and territorial innovations and experimentations set up to promote the adaptation and sustainability of the forest socio-ecological systems.

Three ambitions, three forms of collaboration

 The network pursues three ambitions:

  • A comparative approach to the two territories
  • A cross-sectional approach to the forest-wood system
  • A combination of natural and human sciences

Three forms of collaboration: research, teaching and knowledge transfer.

  • Increase scientific cooperation and collaboration between France and Quebec in the fields of forestry and wood, through the organisation of seminars, colloquia and joint responses to calls for projects.
  • Develop links between research and higher education by consolidating joint training (double-degree) and mobility, but also by increasing the appeal of the forest-wood sector to students.
  • Optimise the transfer of knowledge on the forest –wood system to companies and territories by supporting innovations and contributing to science-society dialogues through the development of multi-actor approaches and the sharing of experiences between France and Canada.

[1] French national plan for research & innovation 2025

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