On 4 November 2013, the Third Forestry College Deans Meeting in the Asia-Pacific Region was held in the Rotorua Energy Events Center, New Zealand, gathering about 14 deans and chancellors from 13 regional economies. Facing the emerging challenges of forestry and education development, the deans and professors this time dwelled on the meeting theme of “Evolving methods of curriculum delivery in post-secondary forest education” and reached on principle a concrete action plan for advancing the Forestry College Deans’ Meeting Mechanism in the Asia-Pacific Region (the Mechanism). As the third gathering of deans under the Mechanism, this meeting was organized by APFNet, co-organized by FAO, Beijing Forestry University of China, University of British Columbia of Canada, and supported by University Putra Malaysia, Melbourne University of Australia and University of Philippines Los Banos, and it was one of the pre-session events of the 25th session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission of FAO.
Mr. Qu Guilin, Executive Director of APFNet, briefly addressed the opening and mentioned pragmatic actions have been implemented under the Mechanism, which reflects the “action-oriented” principle APFNet always follows. Now facing an enabling environment, the Mechanism will move further, with APFNet continuous support, potential support from other entities and synergy of all the forestry colleges. Ms. Mette Lochy Wikie, Deputy Director, Forest Assessment, Management and Conservation Division of FAO, addressed the opening. She conveyed the regards from Mr. Briales, Assistant Director General of FAO, and introduced FAO’s commitment in promoting forestry education and said FAO would continue to support APFNet’s effort in this aspect. Professor Luo Youqing, Vice President of Beijing Forestry University, then reviewed the progress of the Mechanism and pointed out 2013 is the fruitful year for the Mechanism.
The meeting was divided into four sessions, which enabled the deans and other participants to have a better understanding towards the new trends of forestry education in the first two sessions; and in the latter two sessions, they witnessed the launch of the first project under the Mechanism and explored the work plan for 2014 and the priorities of the Mechanism in the long run. Deans and professors made keynote presentations on “Advanced forestry education: new methodology” and presented case studies on “innovative sustainable forest management education”. In the third session, the project of Innovative Sustainable Forest Management Education in the Asia-Pacific Region under the Mechanism was officially launched via signing the project agreement between APFNet and Beijing Forestry University, the Coordination Office of the Mechanism. Professor John Innes, Dean of the Forestry Faculty of UBC, introduced the project, which has a total fund of about USD 770,000, covering 11 forestry schools in the region. It aims to develop six classic on-line forestry courses to be incorporated into the curriculum of regional forestry colleges and open to students, set up the online forum for interaction between faculty and students, and convene international workshops to extend the experiences to promote the innovation and reform of the forestry education in the Asia-Pacific region. At the last session, deans discussed over the work plan 2014 and blueprint of the Mechanism and provided practical comments and suggestions.
Professor Liu Yong from Beijing Forestry University concluded the meeting by facilitating the brainstorming on the theme and arrangement of the next meeting. According to the duration of the project, in about two years, the next deans’ meeting will have more concrete results, which, if to be held at the sidelines of APFC, will bring more fruits. Many delegates from forestry agencies of different economies who came to the APFC also attended the meeting and participated in the discussion attentively.
The Forestry College Deans’ Meeting Mechanism in the Asia-Pacific Region was proposed by APFNet, Beijing Forestry University and University of British Columbia in the first meeting held in July 2010, and was strongly supported by APFNet. Its second meeting was held during the second Asia-Pacific Forestry Week in Beijing in November 2011, when the Mechanism was officially set up to include 11 forestry colleges in the region and a coordination office was established in Beijing Forestry University to promote forestry education development in the Asia-Pacific Region.