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Expectations towards EFINORD : survey of forest research organisations in Northern Europe

Brukas, Vilis; Mustonen, Mika


With only two full-time positions, EFINORD currently is the smallest regional office of the European Forest Institute, while the scope of potential engagements is wide. Thus EFINORD needs to clearly prioritise activities, at the same time doing its best to meet the expectations of the partner organisations, i.e. universities and institutes dealing with forest research in Northern Europe. Clarifying the expectations, this report presents the results from the survey conducted in December 2012 - January 2013. The survey was filled by 19 out of 27 contacted organisations, corresponding the 70% response rate. The rate among the Nordic and Baltic organisations, i.e. setting aside Russia, Poland, Germany, UK and Ireland, was 81%.
Key findings:

  • The distribution of responding organisations and their perception of the degree of international forest research cooperation confirm a stronger regional collaborative tradition within Nordic-Baltic countries compared with EFINORD “fringe countries”.
  • Respondents see networking as the most important EFINORD activity that refers to “arranging network meetings and mobilising forest research networks with partners”.
  • Many partners also allocate high priority to fund raising at strategic level (i.e. advocacy for funding to forest research) and project level (assisting networks in application work).
  • The lowest average score was assigned to “direct research activity by the EFINORD staff”, though the scoring differs a lot among respondents.
  • A possible interpretation of these results can be that most partners do not wish EFINORD to become yet another research organisation, but to complement the current organisations by becoming a hub for consolidating international projects and promoting research networking and advocating forest research in relevant fora.
  • Almost unanimously, the partner organisations are willing to consider in kind contribution to EFINORD, by allocating staff internally to work with EFINORD projects. The efficiency of this approach is however doubted by some respondents. In order to function well, such set-up requires a tight teamwork within well-defined collaborative projects.
  • The questionnaire did not provide direct progress in finding core partners to directly contribute to funding the staff at the regional office. The need to complement the funding base of EFINORD to at least reach the critical mass equivalent to three full-time staff members remains a critical issue.

Respondents also provide a number of interesting proposals for profiling the role of EFINORD such as: (i) Visiting member organizations and arranging workshops, to discuss mutual priorities, to spread information on European research calls, etc.; (ii) Initiating collaboration between the major national research programmes, such as ‘Future Forests’ in Sweden and ‘Forests and Silviculture in the Future’ in Finland; and (iii) creating a Nordic-Baltic joint research training platform in forest sciences. Such ideas deserve further discussion between EFINORD and partner organisations on multilateral and bilateral basis. The survey has provided valuable information about partners’ expectations, and expectedly increased awareness about ongoing EFINORD activities.

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Utgivare: EFINORD, Nothern European Regional Office of the European Forest Institute