Mobilising forest research and expertise

The beginnings of a research programme at EFI were established in 1993. Groups of international experts were invited to prepare the background material needed, and were asked to analyse the current issues in their area of responsibility. The brainstorming teams had to evaluate the information available and propose a role for EFI – including specific research projects, topics for scientific summer courses and cooperation with other institutions. Most importantly, they had to come up with a funding strategy for their proposals!

Forest resources brainstorming team

Forest policy brainstorming team

Forest ecology brainstorming team

Forest resources brainstorming team: Jeremy Wall, Kullervo Kuusela, Niels Elers Koch and Giovanni Preto, with Pentti Hyttinen and Risto Päivinen

Forest policy brainstorming team: Birger Solberg, Ilpo Tikkanen, Peter Gluck

Forest ecology and environment brainstorming team: Melvin Cannell, Frits Mohren, Seppo Kellomäki, Timo Karjalainen


The three areas chosen were forest resources, forest policy, and forest ecology and environment. For the first few years, five research and development priority areas were defined: forest sustainability; forestry and possible climate change; structural changes in markets for forest products and services; policy analysis; and forest sector information services and research methodology.

Twenty years later, the main research areas include some of the same elements. There are two research programmes coordinated at the headquarters in Joensuu ( Sustainability and climate change; Forest for society), and a cross-cutting programme, Foresight and policy support. Research is carried out in flexible teams, making use of EFI’s own research staff (whether located centrally or in Regional Offices) and involving close collaboration with Associate Members. In 2012, for example, EFI was a coordinator or partner in 57 research projects, together with 73 Associate Member organisations.

"One of the main challenges for the Board in devising the research priorities and programme of EFI has always been to identify those topics which could most benefit from cooperation between European countries and, having done so, to create projects that would attract national institutions to contribute to them. It has put great emphasis on the need to avoid duplication with other institutions and, given its limited resources, to its role as coordinator."
Tim Peck, Chair of the Board 1993-1998 

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