SoINNOVember was closely linked to Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas (= SIMRA) with a special focus on forest-based ventures. In this European project we found not only an inspiring research concept, but also great examples for Social Innovation all over Europe including the promotion and research on NWFP business opportunities. We learned that there’s more to being a forester than just caring about wood. We will now strive to be non-wood-foresters as well! 😉

Our programme started at the Austrian Forest Research Center (BFW), where we learned about Green Care FOREST. Green Care FOREST is their platform for therapy or treatment programmes aiming to improve the well-being of people through the forest. Smallholders and family businesses are the main target group as it provides a diversification opportunity for them.

At BFW our beloved IFSA member Barbara Öllerer also announced the upcoming conference on “Forests in Women’s Hands” that she’s currently occupied with. It is coordinated by BFW and organizing partners include Forstfrauen, IUFRO and IFSA.

Head on over to to learn more!

The next stop was the HQ of Renewable Energies Austria (EEÖ). ⚡🍃🌬️🌊☀️ We learned about the benefits and added value renewable energy can bring, especially if it’s produced and consumed within the same region. What was most interesting for us was to hear how these energy providing systems could be integrated in forest-based ventures. Forestry can provide biomass for heating and electricity or sites for infrastructure as wind power plants and small hydropower plants.

Then we made our way to Styria – Fast Pichl, where we learned about projects, research and courses of the Forest Education Center, e.g. Chainsaw Courses, Teambuilding, Survival Camps and Forest Pedagogy. We tasted Sparassis crispa and Cantharellus cibarius and learned about Styrian NWFP and how to make fire 🔥😊

The LEADER-region Holzwelt Murau was our main stop on Saturday. We were incredibly lucky to see golden larch in snow and heard a lot about how Murau promotes larch in the whole region and why it is difficult (regeneration!) but also very important (protective forests, stand stability and money).

After that we visited the innovative businessman Holzbau Hansmann who successfully built wooden houses in the region and developed a new full-wood cradle-to-cradle building technique (which has also been patented!). Our last stop was the ( luckily warm !) biomass heating plant Lachtal, which provides heating for the whole region through the use of local biomass.

On Sunday we went to the Styrian Federal Forests, where we were shown around by the local forest director and Julian Burger, the former RR for Northern Europe from LC Eberswalde. We learnt about the forest and wildlife management in the National Park Gesäuse and about creating local value by selling the game meat and game meat specialities called Xeis Wild to the public. One of their main goals is to make game meat accessible to everyone interested because it is a healthy local option for meat consumption and also delicious.

Overall, it was another fabulous trip on forestry and merged wonderfully with all we had learned before. The group was incredible with lovely IFSA-people from 14 countries.

We look forward to another great IFSA year ahead ! Cheers !