What is your relationship with IFSA?
Currently, I am an active member and Alumni Officer of the LC Freising. In the last years, I have participated as a delegate in events in Germany and Brazil. I am very happy for the chances the IFSA network provides to get together and share a common passion with other tree enthusiasts from around the world, which I think is a good base to discuss future challenges and alternative perspectives.
What is your relationship to forests and what is your favorite tree?
The scenery of my childhood included spending lots of time with my family in rural areas, with forests and alpine pastures around. My connection to forests grew over time, especially during the time working in Costa Rica, where I supported the conceptual elaboration of nature-based tourism activities linked to reforestation. Today, I enjoy being in remote forest areas as much as exploring urban pocket parks and botanical gardens. Hard to name a favourite tree, at the moment, I would go with pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) – probably because this species accompanies many memories of my childhood, but also because of its historical importance and ecological functions. For example, in a forest area close to where I grew up, around 50 so-called “Metusaleh oaks”, rooting there for about 250 – 300 years, provide a habitat for 238 xylobiont beetle species with almost a third of those on the Red List – you should come visit once travel regulations allow!
What do you see currently as the biggest challenge for forests/forestry/the forest sector?
One of the challenges I see is to find the right balance between planting new trees and preserving and maintaining old-grown trees, especially in urban environments with increasing competition for space. Understanding and measuring the significant impact of ecosystem services provided by mature trees should not be information limited to foresters and urban green space planners. I believe involving communities and providing engaging opportunities to learn about ecosystem services provided by mature trees is key to activating and influencing future decision-makers and to start including the preservation of old-grown trees earlier in planning processes.