Sailors and Captains – Behind the Scenes of EFUF 2016

The success of events largely depends on people working behind the scenes. The spirit of meetings is created by participants, but the stage for final performance is put together by the organizational team. When these combine into perfection, an event becomes an evergreen – one that every participant will nostalgically remember for years to come.

It was a last day of EFUF 2016. I was drinking coffee and discussing why people in the organizational team were unusually calm and non-stressed during the whole conference. Someone said: “We are growing up.” Perhaps, but it seems to me that it is something more to this phenomenon of calm and assertive organizers.

The EFUF 2016 ship was navigated by excellent captains with the help of the best crew. During the voyage even the largest glaciers were no match for the Titanic that has successfully arrived to the port.

But what is the difference between the captain who sunk the ship or brought it back half-wrecked with a crew that’s hardly breathing and the good captain who is celebrating with their crew after peaceful landing?

A good captain has vision and is again and again embarking on a mission to pursue his dreams. he has clarity and values that serve him as a compass in times of rough sea and in darkest nights. He understands that journey takes time, so he carefully plans every step of the way. He is a dreamer and also an executor of his dreams. The good captain boards the ship first and is last to leave. He is the inspiration, mentor and teacher, who inspires and trusts his crew. He steps in front when ship drifts away from the planned route, but only to steer it back on the right path and calm down the anxious sailors.

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9 roles of great leadership.

I believe that within ourselves we are all hiding a sailor who wants to follow a good captain because he has the power to awake some of our best qualities. And that within ourselves we all have a good captain who is pursuing perfection of ever elusive horizon of life. To recognize good captains and then to trust and follow them is a priceless ability, which enables learning and gaining experience in the safety of their guidance. It is a great gift to have the chance to awaken the good captain within us and by this strengthen our confidence and desire for changes. In the EFUF 2016 team, each of us was a sailor working with the crew for the ship and a good captain in the most critical moments.

The members of the organizational crew of EFUF 2016 are sincerely grateful for all your compliments and good thoughts. And without you, the passengers, our voyage would have no meaning. Thank you all for boarding the EFUF 2016 ship.

Authors: Saša Vochl, Boris Rantaša, Slovenian Forestry Institute

Photo: Tanmay Vora, QAspire.com

Back in Celje After 10 Years – EFUF 2016 Day Two Recap

After a decade EFUF returned to the city of Celje for a brief visit! Find out what we’ve been up to on the second conference day in our latest blog post.

Attendees of the EFUF 2016 were warmly welcomed in Celje, “the city of counts and princesses”, by the mayor Bojan Šrot. He has expressed his honour and pride in that, since first hosting EFUF in 2005, Celje has become a role model for urban forestry in Slovenia. He has been aware of the potential that developing the brand “Urban forest of Celje (Mestni gozd Celje)” can offer the city and its residents and has been strongly supportive of the efforts of Slovenia Forest Service towards establishing it. Damjan Oražem, director of Slovenia Forest Service, continued that in their unceasing endeavors they have gathered years of valuable experience that can now be passed on to other Slovenian cities.

Thursday, June 2, 2016: Conference Day 2
EFUF 2016 in Celje (Photos: Urban Ušeničnik)

The second day of EFUF 2016 was characterized by lectures and discussions on the potential and ability of urban forests and green infrastructure in making cities and their parts more attractive and visible. This common thread was established at the very beginning by keynote speakers Robert Hostnik and Alan Simson. They expressed that branding urban forests is a long process involving a lot of cooperation, a risk that should be taken, as the rewards are bountiful and worth every effort. Their lectures were followed by many constructive presentations, offering a lot of applicable solutions and practical tools (such as lighting and different assessment tools) for making cities and their forests more visible and visited, which can highlight the many services they provide and attract further investments.

It is worth remembering that “cities are like magnets – they can attract or repel”. Magnetic cities look and feel better, attract people and investments. And urban forestry has much to contribute to making our cities more ‘magnetic’, as it has the knowledge to make the urban environment a quality green environment. To achieve anything worthwhile communication and networking are essential – using any means possible to connect with authorities, stakeholders and people, and forming networks, partnerships and events to share knowledge, information and experience.

After the indoor part of the Forum’s second day we went to stretch our legs a bit and paid a visit to the Urban forest of Celje and its lovely tree house – the trip was full of surprises, delicacies, good mood and… vinegar free 🙂 We shall remember our visit to Celje as a very instructive (at times even challenging) experience and fun all the same – a real treat for all of our senses!

Authors: Anita Mašek, Špela Planinšek and Saša Vochl; Slovenian Forestry Institute

How Important are Forest Genetics for Urban Forests? – A Report from the LIFEGENMON Parallel Session

The LIFE LIFEGENMON is an European project for the development of a forest genetic monitoring system. Selected monitoring sites for European beech and Silver fir are located in Germany, Greece and Slovenia. The project staff presented their relevant practical experiences and findings to participants of 19th European Forum on Urban Forestry in a parallel session at the Ljubljana Castle on June 1st 2016.

The first speaker was the project coordinator, Prof. Dr. Hojka Kraigher from the Slovenian Forestry Institute. She opened the session of EFUF 2016 with a brief theoretical explanation of forest genetics and concluded the presentation of the LIFEGENMON project. She explained that genetic diversity level is the basis for all higher levels of biodiversity (species, ecosystem) and that forest genetic resources are threatened by several factors, the most important of which is climate change. She also highlighted the work of the European Forest Genetic Resources Programme (EUFORGEN).

Prof. Dr. Hojka Kraigher: “Genetic diversity is the basic level of all biodiversity (species, ecosystem).”

The second presentation was more specific – Domen Finžgar (Slovenian Forestry Institute) gave a very interesting lecture about the use of UAV (drones) in forestry. He is a part of the multidisciplinary team that developed the prototype of LUCANUS, a remotely controlled drone for collecting samples in tree canopies and stated that: “Drone sampling is not science-fiction, but possible fiction. It is an unique, cost-effective, precise and safe tool.” This contribution will certainly aid to remote data sensing techniques.

Dr. Marjana Westergren discussed the importance of forest genetics for (peri)-urban woodlands and emphasized that if we want urban forest to thrive and be resilient, we have to use our knowledge of forest genetics. That means that we need to ensure sufficient gene flow in urban forests by collecting diverse seed for sowing and planting. Genetic monitoring might be especially important in (peri)-urban forests as an early warning system of changes that are about to happen at the ecosystem level.

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Dr. Marjana Westergren: “If we want urban forest to thrive and be resilient, we have to use our knowledge of forest genetics!”

To close the session, Dr. Evangelia Avramidou from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) presented how trees, growing in polluted metropolitan areas of Thessaloniki, showed different phenotypic response to urban environment stresses. She stated that forest genetic monitoring is crucial for future forest ecosystem protection and is invaluable tool for sustainable forest management.

To a casual observer, the LIFEGENMON project might not have much in common with urban forestry. But after a closer look, the existing knowledge and research in the field of forest genetics can really help us understand how trees, exposed to an array of abiotic and biotic stresses in (fragmented) forest ecosystems in urbanized areas, can adapt, be more resilient and survive in the future.

Authors: Janez Kermavnar, Boris Rantaša

EFUF 2016: Day One Recap

The exciting first day of the European Forum on urban forestry 2016 is behind us! We have gathered today’s highlights for you in our new blog post.

More than 80 researchers and experts in urban forestry and green infrastructure from all over the world gathered today in Ljubljana at the venue of Ljubljana Castle to attend EFUF 2016, organized by Slovenian Forestry Institute, Slovenia Forest Service, the City of Ljubljana and the City of Celje.

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First day of EFUF 2016. Photos: Urban Ušeničnik

“How to build cities that support life?” was the opening question of the EFUF 2016. Today the spotlight was on building the hosting city of Ljubljana, the European Green Capital of 2016. The city’s representatives presented efforts and achievements in environmental protection that could keep the city of Ljubljana green, healthy and beautiful; now and in the future.

The introduction was followed by keynote speakers: Cecil Konijendijk van den Bosch, Clive Davies, Tara Zupancic, Simone Borelli and Natalie Gulsrud. They touched the subject of the past and future development of urban forestry. Once urban forests were mostly parts of a city with an aesthetic value for the city residents, but today their numerous ecosystem services are gaining more and more recognition. Higher levels of governance and management can play an active role in green infrastructure development, using different means to encourage city municipalities to build greener and more sustainable cities. If urban forestry was once only a Western concern it is not anymore; it has turned global and is growing strong in the developing countries. Prominent speakers also defined the term ‘resilience‘, the main theme of this year’s EFUF, and together with valuable contribution from GREEN SURGE and LIFEGENMON projects presented different aspects of resilience: from governance and management to public health and biodiversity.

As we are recognizing the many benefits of urban forests and green infrastructure, we realize they might be the solution to many of our ‘urban’ problems. In the words of one of the speakers –“The green pill is all around us” – and there has never been a better time to invest in urban forests than now.

EFUF 2016 continues tomorrow, moving to the second venue in the city of Celje. You will hear more from us soon, so stay tuned!

Author: Anita Mašek, Slovenian Forestry Institute

EFUF 2016 Live – Tune In Now!

The European Forum on Urban Forestry 2016 will be broadcasted over the internet to ensure that anyone can participate. Here’s how to tune in:

Social media:

IMPORTANT: Please don’t forget to use our official hashtag – #EFUF2016  – when creating tweets or facebook posts about the Forum.

E-mail:

Webcast:

Watch the webcast on this link (Embedded below – the webcast begins 1.6.2016 at 9:00 CET).

For more information on the programme and the conference, please visit the EFUF 2016 official website.

#EFUF2016 Blog Competition Winner

We are happy to announce the winner of the #EFUF2016 blog competition – it is Pieter Wieringa! Pieter’s contribution stood out for its originality, content and relevance. It represents an unique approach and analysis of most of the main themes that will be discussed at the forthcoming EFUF 2016 conference. We feel Pieter Wieringa’s contribution will make a significant impact in raising awareness and opening discussion about the importance of urban forest conservation, in his own country and beyond.

We would also like to congratulate Naomi Zürcher and John Gallagher, the finalists of the blog competition, for their highly commendable entries!

The winner wins a free full EFUF 2016 conference package, while the finalists will be rewarded with a free Saturday excursion. All three authors also get an opportunity to present the story behind their post at the EFUF 2016 conference, either by oral presentation or by a poster.

The #EFUF2016 blog competition received many diverse and fantastic blogs addressing the challenges of urban forestry. We would like to deeply thank you all for participating and we hope you will be joining us in Ljubljana!

Be sure not to miss our next blog post on the #EFUF2016 blog – we will present the authors of the best blog posts in more detail!

The Winner

“Nature Takes Over: Unexpected Green Change in Ploiesti, Romania” – Pieter Wieringa

Urban forestry in Romania is in its infancy. There are no present discussions taking a more holistic view at urban green spaces in Ploiesti. Based on field research and existing information I was able to create the above map and gather data. (Pieter Wieringa)

Read the whole post

The Finalists

“Resilience” – Naomi Zürcher

Now that most of us are living in cities, we’ve decided we want to put these Forest trees back into our urban landscapes, not the way they were before, not the way they have evolved to exist, but according to our needs and our designs. (Naomi Zürcher)

Read the whole post

“It’s a walk in the park” A green solution to lower air and noise pollution” – John Gallager

Have you ever thought about the route you take to work? Could you take a better route? What is a better route? I ask myself these questions when I make my commute to work every morning.(John Gallagher)

Read the whole post

Photo credit: Paxon Woelber

#EFUF2016 Blog Competition Ends Today!

But not everything is decided yet! There is still chance to change the current score – want to know how? Find out below!

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Competition overview

Researchers, students and fellows participated in the #EFUF2016 blog competition, covering themes of this year’s Forum on Urban Forestry: resilience, health & well-being, governance & management and promotion. The competition was held from March 1st to May 3rd 2016.

We have published 12 competing blog posts from 12 different authors. The blog posts have reached more than 2800 readers from 90 different countries all over the world.

Winner selection process

The #EFUF2016 editorial board is going to review the top 10 blog posts (according to the blog competition rules) and declare the winner of #EFUF2016 blog competition on May 10th. The posts will be assessed by how much feedback they’ve generated from the readers and by the #EFUF2016 editorial board.

Special announcement: you can collect additional likes and shares of your blog until Sunday, May 8th!

The prizes

The author of the best blog post will receive a free full EFUF2016 conference package, including the Saturday excursion. Second best two blog posts will be awarded with a free Saturday excursion. But that’s not all! Authors of the best three blog posts will have the opportunity to present the story behind their post at the conference either by oral presentation or by a poster.

The competition is over, what now?

The #EFUF2016 blog competition is over, but this doesn’t mean our blog will go quiet! There is still so much to say about urban forests! That’s why you can still send us your thoughts on EFUF 2016 themes and it will be our greatest pleasure to share them.

You’ll hear more from us on May 10th when we announce the winner of the #EFUF2016 blog competition! Stay tuned!

Photo credit: NOGRAN s.r.o.

EFUF 2016 Saturday Excursion: The Škocjan Caves Park

The Saturday excursion is finally revealed! While attending EFUF 2016, we will explore the mysterious world of the Škocjan Caves Regional Park – above and below the ground.

The Škocjan Caves Regional Park is like an open-air museum, well known for its ethnological, karstological, geological and archaeological monuments, as well as for its natural and cultural heritage. The park is rich with unique natural site features (caves, collapse dolines and underground stream) and with great diversity of flora and fauna.

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Škocjan Caves Park – above ground

The park’s cave system with its underground river Reka represents the most important natural phenomenon of the Karst region and one of the largest underground canyons in the world. Its colourful underground world is adorned with giant stalactites, water rapids and beautiful lakes. Due to its exceptional significance, Škocjan Caves Regional Park has been on UNESCO’s list of natural and cultural world heritage sites since 1986 and is also part of the Natura 2000 network.

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Škocjan Caves Park – below ground

We will take a guided walk through the Škocjan Caves Park, enjoy the unspoiled nature and learn all about the park: how it operates, how it enables the residents to benefit from it and how it is supported by research activities. We will also get acquainted with the brand development and tourist activity of the park.

Here are some more teaser photos of the breathtaking Škocjan Caves Park.

Written by Anita Mašek, Slovenian Forestry Institute

Photos: Škocjan Caves Park Photo Archive

#EFUF2016 blog competition rules

Each competition entry will be an individual blog post on #EFUF2016 blog. The winners will be determined in two steps:

Step 1:

The first selection of the top ten posts will be based on the appreciation of your blog post by the online public. The top 10 posts are going to be picked based on:

  • How many comments each blog post gets (We encourage quality “dialogue” and exchange of views);
  • How many likes you blog post gets (you can only “Like” a post if you have a wordpress.com account)
  • How many “Facebook shares” the post gets (How many people clicked on the “FB” button below the post);
  • How many “LinkedIn shares” the post gets;
  • How many times your blogpost was viewed (WordPress.com statistics).

The “First selection score” (FSC) will be calculated with the formula:

FSC = (5 * #Comments) + (2* #Likes) + (#FB) + (#LinkedIn) + (0,5 * #Views)

#LinkedIn and #FB represent shares (as visible on the buttons below the blog posts). We reserve the right to change the formula in case of extremely high view numbers. We reserve the right to disqualify blog posts on the grounds of serious suspicion of cheating/hacking.

Step 2:

The blog posts are going to be evaluated by the #EFUF2016 editorial board. The editorial board consists of scientists and experts in the fields of Urban Forestry, other Life Sciences and Communications. They will, individually, score each blog entry based on the theme or initiative you presented (originality, impact, sustainability…) and the way you presented the title theme in a blogpost. The individual judges’ scores will be combined to make the final score.

The editorial board will give another 50% of final score on the top 10 posts (final selection).

***International women’s day opportunity: All blog posts issued from March 8 till March 15th written by women will receive a 10% increase to the final score of their blogs!***

#EFUF2016 editorial board: Dr. Andrej Verlič, Dr. Urša Vilhar, M.Sc. Špela Planinšek, Saša Vochl, Boris Rantaša, Anita Mašek

The final grade consists 50% of online public selection and 50% of editorial board score.

A warm invitation to the European Forum on Urban Forestry 2016

The Slovenian Forestry Institute, the City of Ljubljana (European Green Capital 2016) and the Slovenia Forest Service are hosting the 19th European Forum on Urban Forestry conference with the lead theme “Urban forests for resilient cities”. The Forum will take place in Ljubljana and Celje, Slovenia, from May 31 to June 4 2016.

The European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF) is an annual event that started 19 years ago. It provides a meeting place for practitioners, scientists and educators involved with the planning, design and management of urban forests – from woodlands to urban parks and street trees. Participants come from across Europe, as well as from other parts of the world – this year, scientists from North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and others are registered to participate.

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Dr. Andrej Verlič, Head of EFUF2016 Organising Committee

Each Forum takes a general and a few specific themes where urban forestry can contribute and discuss. This year’s themes are the resilience of cities, public health and well-being, governance and management of urban forest and trees, and how they could bring the city to a spotlight – the promotion of a city. The first edition of the EFUF was held in Wuppertal, Germany, in 1998. The cities that hosted Forum are Aarhus, Budapest, Durham, Trondheim, Arnhem, Stockholm, Celje, Florence, Gelsenkirchen, Hämeenlinna, Arnhem, Tulln, Glasgow, Leipzig, Milano, Lausanne and Brussels.

The 2016 EFUF will be held in the City of Ljubljana and in the City of Celje. In Celje they are going to demonstrate the development of their local urban forestry since first hosting EFUF in 2005! You are going to enjoy the venue of Ljubljana Castle, an eminent location on top of the forested hill in the centre of the city, visit the city forests, parks and other green infrastructure and get to know some of the brilliant nature-based solutions that brought Ljubljana the title of European Green Capital for 2016. In Celje, you will visit their city forests, learn about the development of the brand Mestni gozd Celje (Town forest Celje) and see the most enchanting forest tree house in Slovenia. There’s more – you will take a boat cruise on Ljubljanica river from the very center of the City and visit some magnificent regional parks in Slovenia on the Saturday excursion. Which ones? Stay tuned – it’s still a secret 😉

We know that there are many interesting things happening in cities and around them all over the world and many new scientific evidence has been collected during the last decade. We want to bring those in the spotlight – at the conference or on this EFUF 2016 blog. Why not take advantage of both opportunities and share your achievements, ideas, solutions or examples?

On behalf of the Organising Committee, I warmly invite you to join EFUF 2016 in every possible way – on Facebook, on Twitter, write and comment on the #EFUF2016 blog and present your paper at the conference in Ljubljana!

Dr. Andrej Verlič, Slovenian Forestry Institute

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A view from Ljubljana Castle. Photo: Mark Doliner