In 2023, LANDPATHS researchers ran a series of three workshops in Voxnadalen Biosphere Reserve. The aim was to bring a wide range of stakeholders together to talk about their future visions of multifunctional forest landscapes. Sara Holmgren (SLU) and Max Whitman (Uppsala University) tell us more.
Before the workshop series, we had two hopes. Firstly, we wanted to facilitate meaningful discussions about the forest landscape and its future. Secondly, we wanted to have exploratory conversations that would lead to concrete ideas that participants would be willing and able to develop further. By creating a conversational space grounded in respect and curiosity for different perspectives, we laid a solid foundation for both social learning and innovation-promoting processes.
The collaboration between LANDPATHS and the biosphere reserve provides us with a unique opportunity to explore how global challenges related to land use can be addressed locally in a way that benefits biodiversity, builds resilience against climate change, and contributes to social and economic development.
The hope is to take the insights generated through all the conversations and weave them into one or more focused projects that can be implemented locally. Themes that participants have returned to include quality timber production and its value chains, alternative forms of biodiversity-promoting measures, and collaborative planning across property boundaries. These themes have many aspects, but there is potential for many positive synergies among them.
Here are some reflections from some of the participants about their own experiences from the process:
“There have been interesting questions where actors from different areas within forestry can share their views on the forest as a resource, sustainability, and local collaboration. Most importantly for us is that the meetings between people spark creativity and new ways of thinking, which we intend to implement in parts of our own operations, along with the hope for new constellations and collaborations.”Filip Hedberg, Top Branch Sweden / Björnsafari i Hälsingland
“Participating has given me ample opportunities to meet people with different perspectives on forestry, climate, and biodiversity. I believe it has provided me with new knowledge and, above all, new paths to consensus and understanding.”Sven HILLERT, försämlingspräst Alfta-Ovanåker
Sara and Max, in tandem with other LANDPATHS researchers in the forest landscapes and future imaginaries projects, will now analyse all of the insights shared at the workshops, before undertaking the next stage of the research.
The UNESCO Voxnadalen Biosphere Reserve spans an area of 342,00 ha in Hälsingland and Dalarna. Read more at voxnadalen.org. This article is a summary of ‘På Landsvägar vi möts’, written by Hanna Alfredssom in the magazine ‘Det händer I Biosfärområde Voxnadalen – Information om Biosfärområde Voxnadalen 2023’, p.14.