Meet the Dare to Explore! trainees – Opeyemi

Hi IFSA world!
My name is Opeyemi Adeyemi, a Nigerian. I recently completed my doctoral degree in Forest Science (socio-ecological systems) at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. I have a master’s degree in Sustainable Environmental Management from the University of Greenwich, United Kingdom. Prior to that, I earned my bachelor’s degree from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria. Aside from academics, I have also gained practical experience through consultancy work, fellowships, internship with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Union of Forestry Research Organization (IUFRO). In my leisure, I love to take a stroll or watch football (I support Liverpool FC – we’ll never walk alone 😊).

Why did you apply for the DTE traineeship program and how did you hear about it?

I applied for the DTE traineeship program because I believe it will be an amazing practical learning opportunity for me and it will provide networking opportunities that will further prepare me to become a well-rounded forest scientist at an international level. I heard about the DTE traineeship through LinkedIn.

Give a little outlook on your specific placement: What is the topic? What are your expectations? What are you most excited about?

I am working in the Green Jobs Project (Specifically, on the “Changes in forest-related employment”) at the European Forest Institute (working remotely). The project provides analytical insights on trends at the interface between forest-related employment and forest-related tertiary education. I am assisting in conducting a Delphi study on the changes in employment and their drivers as well as green jobs and their implication on forest-related employment, with experts from five focus countries (Brazil, China, Finland, Germany, and United States). I am excited mostly about the opportunity to develop additional skills through conducting exploratory expert interviews and exposure to qualitative analysis.

What is your relationship with IFSA?

My relationship with IFSA started about ten years ago when I served as a member of the IFSA FUTA LC executive board in 2010/2011. I was also a member of the forest education commission in 2012/2013. I have attended both NARM and SARM and I have also participated as a delegate on several occasions, including the UNFF Major Group expert meeting in Thailand in 2019.

What is your relationship to forests and what is your favorite tree?

I love Agriculture, and I would have studied Agriculture but during college, my geography teacher mentioned that “Forest is the mother of Agriculture”. So, I decided to go for the mother 😊, though I wanted to study something related to food science/nutrition. I fell so much in love with the forestry programme (especially the field trip modules) during my bachelor’s degree and I have never regretted the decision to pursue forestry. My favorite tree is Delonix regia. I love the legume tree because of its flamboyant flowers.

What do you see currently as the biggest challenge for forests/forestry/the forest sector?

In my opinion, people’s image/perception of forestry is very outdated. Many people don’t know that forestry has gone beyond the traditional activities of planting and managing trees. Forestry now encompasses diverse important global topics, including nature and biodiversity conservation, climate change, green jobs, sustainability, bioeconomy etc. This limited knowledge of what forestry is about is affecting potential students to apply for the programme, and those that did apply are not passionate and motivated to give their best, especially in the Global South.