KAAD-Seminar "Tropical Forests: On the Conflict between Traditional Development Strategies and Ecological Imperatives"

|   Seminare

Besides diverse presentations from some KAAD scholars, Prof Dr Tillmann Buttschardt and Dr Elba Tyanif Rico Rodríguez presented the importance, function and value of forests.

From 27 February to 2 March 2023, a seminar took place in cooperation with the Akademie Franz Hitze Haus in Münster, where 25 KAAD scholarship holders and one scholarship holder from the Cusanuswerk discussed the importance of tropical forests for future life on earth under the leadership of Dr Thomas Krüggeler. It quickly became clear that the protection of forests, life with them and their economic use can only succeed in the long term if people manage to overcome the still dominant understanding of "man and nature" and transform it into a "man in nature". This also means that the Western natural sciences in particular must be prepared to further question the duality of scientific knowledge and other knowledge systems and to include indigenous, traditional and local knowledge in their analyses.

The two main speakers, Prof Dr Tillmann Buttschardt (Chair of Applied Landscape Ecology and Ecological Planning at the University of Münster) and Dr Elba Tyanif Rico Rodríguez (Colombian geographer and visiting researcher at Bielefeld University) agreed on this point. In his lecture "Mother Earth's Treasury under Pressure - Significance, Value and Functions of (Tropical) Forests", Tillmann Buttschardt argued more from the macro level and very effectively transformed the term "treasure" into "treesure" when necessary. He succeeded in highlighting the complexity of the topic by presenting the importance of forests, their value and functions using examples from different parts of the world, as stated in the title. In doing so, he emphasised the enormous pressure that tropical forests are subject to (economic exploitation through deforestation, mining, etc.) and worked, among other things, with revealing data from the Bonn-based UN Organisation Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

With her presentation "Caring for the Forest from the Territory. Examples of Interdependencies in Peasant Livelihoods from Colombia and Mexico", Elba Rico moved to the micro level and focused on two regions in Colombia and Mexico as examples. Her central concern was to present the forest as part of a geographical space in which people (especially indigenous smallholders) operate socially and economically. Their interaction with the forest is based on an understanding of nature that includes respect for the forest. At the same time, Elba Rico is far from romanticising the relationships between people and forests in geographical space - she very much addresses the pressure that urban areas within the defined territory exert on forests and the conflicts that arise between supra-regional state institutions and local and regional actors.

Important contributions also came from participants of the seminar. Neema Robert Kinabo and Koggani Dickson Koggani, for example, very impressively outlined the practice and problems of forest management in Tanzania and specifically addressed various aspects that Tillmann Buttschardt had previously described in general terms. Carolina Hormaza brought a historical perspective to the seminar by analysing the role of German geographers who were more or less directly involved in opening up large forest areas in Latin America for economic use and settlement projects between 1930 and 1970.

For the participants, the event, which focused on "caring for the common home" in the sense of the papal encyclical Laudato si', was also a preparation for the theme of the KAAD Annual Academy 2023.

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