From October 2020 to October 2021, Switzerland was Chair of the European Integrate Network, with Christoph Dürr representing Switzerland in his role as a Chairmen. With his broad experience in international negotiations, his constant inputs and his dedication to the Networks’ objectives, Christoph significantly contributed to keeping the Network members engaged during this difficult year. In our interview, we amongst others reflect upon his experiences as Chairman, how Switzerland benefitted from this Chairmanship and what wishes he has for the future of the Network.
Christoph, Switzerland was Integrate Chair from 2020 to 2021 – what was your most interesting learning experience?
I was really astonished about the great achievements in the last years of this rather informal group of experts from different forest backgrounds on policy, science and practice and how much the countries expressed their interest in continuing the work. It was also a surprise for me that also – without meeting physically – the inspiration and willingness for the thematic exchange and cooperation could be maintained during the entire chairmanship. For me personally, I appreciated the excellent support and service provided by the Secretariat of the Network, as well as the constructive collaboration in the Integrate Steering Committee.
How did Switzerland benefit from chairing the Network?
Within Switzerland, integration of nature conservation objectives into forest management is a standard procedure in many of our working procedures. But chairing the European Integrated Network has given a great opportunity for Switzerland: On one side to reflect on our own integrative work when listening to the experiences of other countries and regions. On the other side, especially with the exchange on the tree-days-conference in Neuchâtel, we could also show proudly to other countries and to the EU Commission that the integrated forest management approach has a long tradition in Switzerland.
There were three special highlights for us – the launching of the publication “How to balance forestry and biodiversity conservation. A view across Europe” to which Switzerland has substantially contributed. The second has been the thematic input of the Integrate Network to the EU Forest Strategy and the third has been the organization of the physical conference “European forests in 2080” in Neuchâtel in October 2021.
If you could make a wish: what would you wish for the future of integrative forest management and the work of the Integrate Network?
The strength of the Network are the robust links between policy, science and the practical work with the marteloscopes. So I wish that these three levels always are addressed together to guarantee maximum impact at European but also at national levels. I also wish that countries – like currently Spain – are willing to chair the Network for a certain period, so that the diverse approaches within Europe can be carefully studied and discussed, in order to strengthen integrated forest management approaches in all regions and at all levels.
Featured image: Christoph Dürr (photo: Andreas Riegling)