Uncover the potential for 2050

25 jan 2024

At the Round Table discussion on 16th of January, Professor Sten B. Nilsson delivered a compelling keynote, highlighting the rapid structural changes driving Forest Sector Development. Covering issues from climate change to geopolitical tensions, he stressed the need for collective action to uncover the potential for positive change by 2050.


Nilsson emphasized the human-socio dimension of forest sector transformation, calling for a shift in mindsets as the first step. Foresight studies, he argued, must be interdisciplinary, combining science, political insight, and common sense. Forest sector organizations, public sector bodies, and science institutions should establish dedicated departments for political and geopolitical foresight studies to navigate diverse political cultures.


Transformative forces

Artificial Intelligence (AI) emerged as a transformative force. Nilsson cautioned against underestimating its short-term impact, foreseeing AI-driven changes in forest management, from real-time global forest pixel information to airborne machinery and precise greenhouse gas measurements.


Nano-cellulose and 3D-printing

The evolving demand for forest products, influenced by AI, urbanization, and sustainability awareness, is expected to lead to nano- and 3D-printed products dominating by 2050. These will be produced in autonomous factories, with cellulose-based carbon fibres playing a pivotal role.


Shifting dynamics

Global competition dynamics are shifting, with the global South dominating conventional forest product production. The Northern forest sector’s survival lies in innovation and advanced product development.


Reshaping the sector

Biotechnological advancements, including synthetic biology, additive manufacturing, and AI, are reshaping the forest sector. Education systems are transforming into incubator-style structures, fostering collaboration across disciplines.


Forest science

Effective communication of forest science is crucial. Nilsson advocated for a holistic storytelling approach, connecting emotionally with diverse audiences beyond traditional methods. Governance in 2050, according to Nilsson, necessitates more binding international agreements, EU forest policies, and tech-driven, decentralized governance prioritizing resilience and sustainability.


Holistic perspectives

In conclusion, Nilsson asserted that without a holistic view by 2050, the forest sector faces challenges. Holistic perspectives in science, analyses, policies, and management are vital for the sector’s competitiveness, resilience, and sustainability in the coming decades.


The Round Table discussion at KSLA on the 16th of January was hosted by IUFRO World Congress 2024 Secretariat and The International Think Tank for Forestry Issues, SIFI.

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