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Multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and training in forestry and forest research

Innes, J.L.
Forestry chronicle 2005 v.81 no.3 pp. 324-329
methodology, forestry, training (people), research, professional education, perceptions (cognitive)
The nature of forestry is changing rapidly, with the social component becoming as or even more important than the traditional biophysical components. The role of participatory approaches to forestry has increased dramatically, and meeting the needs of people is now seen as a primary function of forestry. Increasingly, those needs are being defined through bottom-up approaches, rather than by governments or corporations. Foresters and forest scientists are poorly equipped to deal with this change, which is necessitating a much broader knowledge than has previously been required. At the undergraduate level, forestry programs are failing to teach the skills necessary for successful participation in this new form of forestry. At the graduate and post-graduate levels, young scientists are particularly disadvantaged, as the conservative nature of the academic system can actually work against attempts to be more interdisciplinary and more relevant. Scientists who are genuinely interdisciplinary may have difficulties finding employment, and current academic reward systems do not cope well with individual contributions to team efforts. The problem extends to the forestry profession, with many professional foresters being ill-equipped for their new roles, while at the same time they and/or their employers remain reluctant to enter into any form of re-training.