#EFUF2016 Communications Team: A Story by Boris

It was the final session of the 19th European Forum on Urban Forestry in the Palatium hall of Ljubljana Castle, Slovenia. The participants were applauding while I was presenting the winners of the #EFUF2016 blog competition. Speaking on the big stage, my stomach felt a bit jittery – the sleep deprived nights that led up to the event finale and heavy coffee consumption were starting to leave an impact.

A few moments earlier I presented the current on-line and social media statistics of the EFUF 2016 social media coverage. During the 5 days of the Forum, over 1000 tweets were sent and delivered over 140.000 times to almost 25.000 different Twitter accounts. Over 5000 people were reached on Facebook and 600 people were informed daily through our mailing list. The live webcast of the opening and plenary session had over 700 live views. More importantly, our contributions were seen, read and recognized by the members of urban forestry communities from all over the world.

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#EFUF2016 Communications Team at Ljubljana Castle (top from left to right: Natalija, Magda, Špela, Anita, Ana, Janez, Boris; bottom: Saša, Urša; missing: Liza, Luka, Andrej, Boštjan, Robert).

After handing the certificate of recognition and microphone to Pieter Wieringa, author of the winning blog, I left the stage and sat down with happy and fulfilling thoughts racing through my mind. The first stop was Durban, South Africa. I remembered learning about the power and the art of social media reporting from my personal guru (although he hates to be called that), Peter Casier at the #Forests2015 Social Media Bootcamp. What an experience! Intense, draining and fulfilling at the same time. When it was over, I made a promise to myself that I will try to repeat it as soon as possible.

My thoughts then shifted to early October of the same year. I remembered presenting the concept of the #EFUF2016 communication activities to Andrej (head of the organizational committee) and getting a puzzled, yet optimistic go-ahead from him. I remembered the recruitment process – persuading co-workers, presentation at the university, mass-emails, etc.  It wasn’t easy because team members had to invest several hours of volunteer work per week in addition to their busy work and private schedules. In return, they were promised to learn how to use social media to their advantage.

In December 2015, the team was complete and the communication strategy was prepared. I remembered the tilted heads of the more experienced team members, while they were overlooking the blueprints of our ambitious strategy for the first time. To make sure that the strategy would be properly implemented, we had weekly meetings, where we learned the art of blogging and of using different tools to disseminate the blogs and other content. We planned, executed and adjusted.

When most preparations were done, we stopped meeting – the “infrastructure” was in place, the team was trained, and there were other priorities that needed addressing.

May 2016, while looking like a great month retrospectively, was at moments a personal hell. In one or another role (organizer, speaker, lecturer …), I took part in 3-4 communication and dissemination activities of our Slovenian Forestry Institute and the project I manage (LIFEGENMON) per week. Not being a total extrovert and sometimes still learning on the job, such an amount of organization, management and public speaking was very difficult to handle. The members of our team mostly come from our Institute, and while their enthusiasm and work ethic could never be questioned, the team spirit started to slowly dissipate in the second half of the month because of the (too) demanding workload.

Then came the last week of May 2016 – the week of the EFUF. We were all working on fumes then and I wasn’t sure about how the communications team would work in action. We met extensively on Monday and Tuesday, created a detailed plan with roles for each team member and did the final tweaks of the online infrastructure. Some of the points on our to-do list had to be abandoned because of lack of time. On Tuesday evening, after the preparations were complete (and all of the twitterfall screens set up :)), I was still uneasy and had my doubts, but I was confident that we did all that we could to prepare for the Forum.

On Wednesday, the opening day of the Forum, magic happened. The plan was seamlessly implemented while I stood and watched in awe. Tweets were flying, photos were uploaded nearly automatically, blogs were produced almost in real-time, and the online urban forestry community took notice. Over 1000 tweets were sent…

… and then my name was called. I wasn’t expecting to be called on stage again, but it started to light upon me just a little bit before it happened – when the words “communication” and “dissemination” were spoken. Cecil Konijnendijk van den Bosch and Clive Davies were presenting the Young European Urban Forester of the Year 2016 Award and I was selected as the runner-up. The path to the stage was blurry, and luckily I wasn’t offered to give a speech. Everybody was clapping and people were offering to shake my hand and patting me on the back but I couldn’t really respond because I was so shocked and confused.

One could argue that being a runner-up for such an award isn’t a big deal, and one could agree. But to me it really means a lot, not because of the diploma, but because of all of the sincere congratulations I’ve received and the recognition of the hard work the #EFUF2016 Communications team put in, often at the expense of their personal and family time.

Thank you!

Boris

Photos: Urban Ušeničnik (find more photos on Flickr)

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#EFUF2016 final twitter statistics and a Facebook comment (sources: keyhole.co, Facebook)

 

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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

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