By Julie Mollins
BOGOR, Indonesia (CIFOR) — For Professor Hosny El-Lakany, protecting the world’s forests has been a lifelong mission. His many scientific achievements include his environmental work on breeding resilient trees that can supply firewood and shelter in arid countries and publishing more than 110 papers.
Currently, adjunct professor and director of the international program in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada, and a professor emeritus at the University of Alexandria in Egypt, he helps students understand such critical issues as deforestation, land degradation, climate change, governance, poverty reduction, conservation, trade and investment.
After receiving a master’s degree in forestry at Alexandria University and a doctorate at UBC, his work included conducting research and teaching. Eventually he became head of the forestry department at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
El-Lakany, who is also the chairman of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) board of trustees, will speak at the upcoming Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta about post-secondary forestry education and research during a session hosted by the ASEAN-Korea Forest Cooperation (AFoCo) partnership.
AFoCo aims to develop potential for green growth through regional training and academic activities that raise public awareness about forest restoration and sustainable forestry.
He shared his views during a brief chat:
Q: What do you hope to achieve by attending the Forests Asia Summit?
A: I expect to highlight the importance of upgrading forestry graduates to cater for the new demands on the sector globally, but with particular emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.
Q: How do you define new challenges and demand for forestry in the future?
A: Forestry is an integral component of the landscape and must play its role accordingly.
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing forestry education? Is it funding, teacher quality, student access or affordability?
A: It’s a combination of all these issues and especially their interdependencies.
Q: What can be done to ensure that challenges to forestry education are met?
A: New interdisciplinary education policy planning and implementation, and responding to global challenges facing the sector now and in the foreseeable future.
Q: What can a proper forestry education system deliver?
A: A forester who is primarily a “global citizen” — well-trained to respond to evolving challenges and willing to collaborate with professionals and policy makers dealing with complimentary sectors such as agriculture, energy and environmental protection.
Q: Are you speaking globally or on a national or regional level?
A: I’m speaking globally with emphasis on the links from global to local.