There are ongoing policy deliberations regarding forests at both an EU and pan-European level, e.g. a new forestry strategy, and the Forest Europe negotiations on legally binding instruments for forests. These procedures require timely, research-based information, but also new tools to define the common targets and the European added value for forests. In order to enable the forest-based sector to maximize its potential and thereby provide a response to the grand challenges, capacities to tackle possible futures need to be built beyond the extrapolation of past trends and developments. With this aim, a COST Strategic Workshop series is carried out in between 2010 and 2011 with the two-fold goal: First, to produce futures information based on expert workshops and internet surveys and, second, to connect foresight experts and practitioners in the forest sector and other relevant fields.
On the 13th of September, the COST Strategic Workshop on the theme “Foresight on Future Demand for Forest-based Products and Services” was held in Sekocin Stary near Warsaw with the objective to give floor for foresight activities and their results, and raise awareness on foresight in and for the forest-based sector. The two sessions, during which a series of results have been presented and examples of foresight exercises with relevance to the future of the forest sector introduced, were followed by a panel discussion on foresight, which brought together the comments and perspectives from invited foresight experts. In the framework of this panel discussion, the European Foresight Platform (EFP) was presented. The discussion of the past experiences of foresight, mainly in the forest sector, which preceded the panel discussion as well as the presentation of a new COST action proposal under the theme “Improved Foresight for the Forest Sector”, provided an ideal framework to discuss the lessons learnt from the community building, mapping and other activities of the EFP.
The purpose of the panel, and the open floor discussion following it, was to provide ideas and views for the future foresight work, such as the planned COST action. The ideas and insights could be related to e.g. important topics that should be covered, suggestions for methods and approaches that would be helpful to use, views how the future foresight work can be made more relevant for policy makers, industry, and other stakeholders.
The EFP participation in this workshop was highly welcomed by the organisers of the event and provided an excellent opportunity to call attention to the lack of correspondents involved in European forest-related foresight initiatives as part of the EFP network. In this regard valuable networking took place which will hopefully translate into an active participation of participants in the network of EFP correspondents involved in the production of foresight briefs on forest-related foresight initiatives.