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The current issue of Arbor Vitae, IUCN’s Forest Conservation Program newsletter, focuses on communicating forest values beyond the usual circle of experts and policy makers. The sound of chainsaws and dramatic images of clearcut land do a good job of stressing the need for conservation among the general public but do little to spread an understanding of forests as a sustainable resource, or to inspire people to restore degraded land.
Laurie Bennett, one of the newsletter's contributors, argues that positive messages are more effective than scare tactics to engage the public and win popular endorsement for change.
“The Love message trumps the Loss message for grabbing the public’s attention. Inspiring people towards opportunity is a more powerful driver for action than scaring them away from the consequences.”
In the same newsletter, Mita Sen of the UNFF Secretariat emphasizes the need to challenge the idea that “the only way to sustain the world’s forests is by protecting them from people.”
“Until there is wider recognition that conservation and sustainable development are not just ‘worthy chores’ that come a distant second to the business of economic development or even carbon sequestration, but are about realizing the full potential of an important asset, sustainable forest management will not take its rightful place in planning for our green economies.”
This view is echoed by the organizers of a conference on “the art and joy of wood” planned for October 2011 in India. The idea is to cast wood not as a mere commodity, or the product of a vanishing hinterland, but as the precious “key to a sustainable future.”
The objectives of the conference are “to examine how wood use can make a greater contribution to sustainable development; and to examine how wood producers and users can benefit from increased prosperity and the growing demands for more sustainable consumption and lifestyles.”