Love the Forest – Sweden
“Love the Forest” (Älska Skog in Swedish) is a multi-stakeholder partnership project about the Swedish forests. The main activity is a contest for elementary schools where students can express their visions and ideas about the Swedish Forests and imagine how they see forest resource use in the future.
Tourism, recreation and spiritual values
Initial Pioneer Innovations
What is the innovation about?
Love the Forest is based on the working model “Young people speculate” where elementary school students meet the “Love the Forest” partners. During these meetings the students can express their visions and ideas about the Swedish Forests and showcase how they see forest resource use in the future. This way they have the opportunity to influence their surrounding environment and its future.
The main activity is a competition in which the classes develop a project idea around innovative and new uses of forest resources and the forest itself, which they then present to the different representatives from industry, academia and the public.
What makes this innovation a good example?
This innovation is a form of a communication and education project bringing together different Swedish forest stakeholders (forest industry, researchers, civil society and policy-makers) with one of the most important groups of society, namely schoolchildren. During the “Love the Forest” project, schoolchildren learn more about the present and future importance of forest ecosystems and the role of forests in society.
Furthermore, the partners of “Love the Forest” learn from the coming generation about their values and views associated with the Swedish forest.
Where is the case study innovation located?
The project “Love the Forest” started in 2016 as a joint initiative of the Universeum Science Centre in Gothenburg and a number of Swedish forest enterprises and forest associations. The competition is held in Gothenburg, with participating schools from a number of different districts. In 2018 we are working with 19 schools and have 475 schoolchildren. The competition’s partners have offices throughout Sweden.
Why was the innovation established?
The Swedish forest has played a key role in Sweden’s economy for centuries. The forest is our greatest natural resource and Sweden’s land area is for 70 percent covered by forests. It is essential for the Swedish economy that the forestry sector continues to drive the economy forward.
However, demand for forest products is changing and nowadays the Swedish forests face many different pressures. On one hand, the forest industry must supply timber that is used to produce sawn wood, pulp and paper, as well as the raw materials for energy production (wood pellets). On the other hand, forests are increasingly seen as providing a range of important non-provisioning ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity habitat, water regulation and space for recreation, hunting, indigenous Sami reindeer herding and tourism. Combining these multiple uses is a challenge and it means the Swedish forest sector must adapt to a new era and at the same time respect different values people hold and products and services supplied by the Swedish forests. A more sustainable use of the forests and forest resources is essential to achieve a more sustainable society.
Who is benefiting from the innovation?
The project “Love the forest” provides benefits from several perspectives. Firstly, the project represents an exciting new working method for teachers and students which enriches the students learning content and structure. Teachers have their own professional development and through “Love the Forest” they are also given the opportunity to work across the curriculum including different subjects (biology, social science), with a focus on the competition’s mission. The students may experience an increase in motivation to go to school, while the competition theme requires that students think creatively and develop new ideas that can be put into practice. After the 2017 contest 74% of students stated that they had increased knowledge about the forest and its role in the project, while 100% of the teachers would recommend the project to other teachers and students.
For the project’s partners the initiative will give other types of benefits, for instance in the form of new ideas and an understanding of what values young people hold in regard to the Swedish forests. Moreover, the project partners come into close contact with the young generation that will be an important stakeholder in the long-term run, either as consumer and beneficiaries of the Swedish forest, or potentially even in the form of new employees or forest managers. The partners are given the opportunity to describe their work, their mission and the importance of the forest in a different and more easily accessible way, that is by reaching out to the broad public (students, teachers and potentially even the families of the students). Through Sweden’s largest science centre, Universeum, a communication channel is established that plays an important role for future sustainable forest development.
Does the innovation need particular policies, stakeholder, or market conditions to work?
The contest requires a high level of commitment and resources from the partners who run the project together with Universeum. The forest companies and associations involved have to devote considerable time to word the competition in a way that reflects society’s challenges. Furthermore, a participatory approach is required to work with and understand the target audience, in this case schoolchildren and teachers.
Therefore, the collaboration with Universeum is an important element. As a science center Universeum knows how to use educational methodologies to convey knowledge, provide inspiration about a range of topics and spark creativity among the visitors and the target audience. The competition also requires teachers who are willing and have the time and opportunity to introduce new ways of working in the classrooms and to free up the resources needed for a successful outcome for the pupils.