2018 Conference

The 24th Annual ISTF Conference took place February 1-3, 2018 at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (New Haven, CT, USA). 

Attending to Socio-ecological Complexity in Tropical Forest Landscapes

Tropical forest landscapes are complex systems shaped by interacting ecological, social, and multi-dimensional processes. Complexity includes the dynamic ecologies, socio-political regimes, and diverse stakeholder perspectives that converge within any given tropical forest locale. While many who live and work in tropical forest landscapes have acknowledged the need to move away from siloed management, challenges persist for addressing the socio-ecological complexity of forest landscapes. The 2018 International Society of Tropical Foresters Conference will bring together practitioners, academics, and forest users to explore the thought, experiences, and methods used for attending to the complexity of tropical forest landscapes.

Through speakers, discussion groups, and workshops, we will investigate three aspects of complexity: ecological complexity, socio-political complexity, and the complexity of scale. While conventional forestry that relies on prescriptive management often reduces ecological complexity to simplistic models, there is a need to embrace the dynamic nature of tropical forests in management and forest use. This is especially true with the rapidly changing conditions for forest and forest-based peoples brought about by climate change. Furthermore, social and political systems often determine who uses forests and how they use them. But without a clear understanding of the nuances of socio-politics—such as governance, cultural norms, and property rights—and incorporation of local ecological knowledge forest management and conservation initiatives will fail over time. Lastly, the scope of global environmental initiatives, funding, and economic markets often encourages ‘scaling up’ projects. But to be successful, forest initiatives must attend to context-specific intricacies. Therefore, considerations of scale should include options for grounded solutions and new ways of integrating the complexity of location and context when scaling up. 

Attending to socio-ecological complexity means adopting new frameworks that capture the range of drivers, stakeholders and knowledges in tropical forest management. Examples include systems theory, landscape approaches, and resiliency theory, among others. During the conference we will explore some of these frameworks and learn from their practical application.

Join us in New Haven, Connecticut for the 2018 ISTF Conference to share tools, worldviews, challenges and best practices in understanding socio-ecological complexity in your tropical forest landscape.

Please send any questions you may have to the ISTF Organizers at istf@yale.edu

Register Here