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NFZ.forestnet: 10 years of collaboration on forestry research in the heart of Europe

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26.09.2016  |  News


NFZ.forestnet, the research and higher education network focussing on forestry and forest-related products, is celebrating 10 years of collaboration. Drawing on their positive cooperation, the seven partner institutions in France, Germany and Switzerland renewed their framework agreement at the University of Freiburg on 2 September 2016.


Created in 2006, NFZ.forestnet currently comprises seven institutions in three historical capitals of forest research in Europe: the University of Freiburg and the Forest Research Institute of Baden-Württemberg (FVA) in Freiburg, the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (Inra), AgroParisTech and the University of Lorraine in Nancy, the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). NFZ.forestnet aims to promote exchanges and European and international cooperation between researchers, teachers and students at these institutions. In the words of the WSL's Professor Andreas Rigling: "The secret behind NFZ's success lies in a joint commitment and strong will to make its unique network a model of collaboration, especially against the present backdrop of restrictive budgets".

International research and a strong regional focus

The challenges posed by climate change make international cooperation essential, not just for timber production, but also for maintaining many other ecosystem services, such as protecting people and infrastructures against natural hazards, conserving biodiversity and preserving water quality. "Collaborating in international research projects while keeping a regional focus is exactly what the NFZ does best", says Professor Marc Hanewinkel from the University of Freiburg. The latest of many examples of collaboration are the research projects "Black Secret" (on truffles) and "Interdrought" (on drought) backed by INRA, WSL and the Laboratory of Excellence for Advanced Research on the Biology of Tree and Forest Ecosystems (LabEx ARBRE) consortium.

A retrospective in 16 video clips

Involving around 250 researchers and having run 14 summer schools attended by close to 200 students, "the NFZ network will have a prominent role to play in research and innovation in forestry and forest-related products over the coming years", argues Thierry Caquet, Head of Inra's Forest, Grassland and Freshwater Ecology Department.

Twenty of these researchers and students have been filmed as they looked back on the benefits they gained from NFZ research activities and its summer schools. The 16 short video clips resulting from these interviews are available on YouTube.

Forests for future generations

To mark the close of this jubilee year, high-school students from Germany, Switzerland and French will conduct video conference interviews with NFZ scientists on the future of Central European forests. This special debate will take place on 28 November and be broadcast on the websites of the NFZ's partner institutions. 

Next year, the institutions belonging to the network will start helping to organise and host the international congress celebrating 125 years of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). This landmark event will take place in Freiburg in September 2017 and include various satellite events in France and Switzerland.