IUFRO World Congress 2014 closing ceremony and gala dinner

by Dr Casper Crous

And so we have come to the end of the 2014 IUFRO World Congress here in Salt Lake City, USA. Dr Jeff Garnas was the final FABI team member to deliver a research lecture. Jeff discussed the importance of having a good understanding of the population dynamics of invasive forest pests in space and time. This would provide more reliable pest management inferences.

To describe the congress in this text would probably amount to me being hyperbolic. But then, the sheer magnitude of quality talks and posters, the number of brilliant keynote plenary speakers, the 1000+ students present from across the globe, and the quality of the convention center facilities, sure makes it difficult not to appraise the IUFRO World Congress organizing committee in dramatic fashion.

This was one of the most academically intense yet gratifying congresses I have ever attended. I was particularly impressed with the focus on re-instilling the philosophical fundamentals of science into forest research and management. The only way we can convincingly argue for sustainable forest management is if people can be convinced that their future well-being and the forests they use are not mutually exclusive. And we know the only way to do this is with reliable evidence. That is the role of science and research, and is why it needs heightened attention globally. To me this was the central theme of the 2014 IUFRO World Congress. However, this congress was thematically diverse, so many delegates could have taken home a different message. Nonetheless, forest education, an increased knowledge base, remains the overarching ideal. This was a key message during newly elected IUFRO president Mike Wingfield's acceptance speech. Mike also emphasized that it is our responsibility to make sure me meet our future demands for forest products - across all hierarchies of product needs. With a leader like Mike, I can feel the forests are celebrating with us tonight. And so is Africa - the first IUFRO president from an African country. 

As the delegates at the gala dinner are politely sipping away at a beverage of their choice, the words of Dr Cecil Konijnendijk spoken earlier resonates: "Foresters are in the business of creating happiness". Happiness indeed, and life.

So I return to South Africa with somewhat of a "brain fry", but also with a knowing that being part of FABI puts one in a position to address the current issues concerning our valuable forest resources. In turn, this will help to reach the goals set by IUFRO regarding global sustainable forest management, thereby sustaining people.

It was also decided that the next World Congress will be in Curitiba, Brazil, in 2019.

See you back in South Africa.