Networking at all levels was both the goal and the content of the conference. And one thing can be said in advance - we have succeeded in all fields of the forestry and timber sector, over generations and across national borders.
Before the hard part of the conference started, there was a sociable warm-up: The conference participants who had already arrived met on the evening before the conference on the Bräuwiese at Traunsee for a get-together, seeing each other again, but also getting to know each other before it got down to business on the first day of the conference.
The basis for the networking was the common and yet country-specific different role that women play in forestry - and even more important: the one that they can/could play! What does it take and what is the benefit? This is how you could briefly summarize what was worked on during both conference mornings. How can women realize their chances in forestry and what does that mean for them as well as for forestry as a whole?
Day 1: Women in Forestry in focus – What we have, who we are: Solutions and success stories
After the welcome by Florian Hader, head of the WALDCAMPUS Austria, Nike Krajnc, project manager of Fem4Forest from the Slovenian forest institute and Dagmar Karisch-Gierer, employee of FAST Pichl in the project and chairwoman of the Forstfrauen, the moderator team Hermine Hackl, forest ambassador and founding member of the Forstfrauen, and Maximilian Handlos, employee of the Styrian Forest Association and longtime "Forstfrau", accompanied the conference perfectly.
The opening lecture by Sabine Pelzmann-Knafl, management consultant from Graz, focused on the leadership role of women. She highlighted the aspects in which women act differently (“Think crisis – think female”) and how organizations change when the composition of teams and management levels changes. A "tipping point" from which forestry in most countries is still a long way away...
Kathrin Böhling from LWF Bayern presented selected facts from the Fem4Forest status report. It is noticeable, for example, that in other, especially former socialist countries, there are significantly more women in management positions than in Austria or Bavaria - both countries in which the (private) forest plays an economically and ecologically relevant role.
The visibility of women is one of the most important issues when it comes to getting women interested in forestry. The talk with role models emphasized what is important in everyday life as a woman in forestry. Angelika Morgenroth from Germany, Marija Jakopin from Slovenia and Franz Hohenberg from Austria (yes, men can also be role models when it comes to women - in this case for other men!) put it in a nutshell: It's about standing up for yourself, to bring additional aspects into the management of the forests and to work together on problem-oriented solutions.
Since it is not only sufficient to hang opportunities like carrots in front of one's nose, but also to be able to seize the carrots, concrete measures were developed in the Fem4Forest project. Heidi Gaube, nowa employee in Graz, presented a comprehensive training and mentoring program for women, which is being tested and further developed as part of the project in various countries, but also transnationally. Dagmar Karisch-Gierer presented other activities such as forest walks for women and events to raise awareness.
A touching point of the conference was the contribution of Lesya Loyko from FORZA in Ukraine. She described how, even under the terrible prevailing conditions, women continue to work for the forest directly and indirectly affected by the war and try to keep their activity going as best as possible and at the same time to support their compatriots.
The last lecture of the day showed that the topic "Forestry and women" has received a wide international audience: Iza Pigan from Poland works in the internationally funded project "Equal chances in Forestry" to improve the participation of women in Polish forestry.
The success of the first morning: Women are already making a valuable contribution to forestry, but there is still more, much more to do. Important: It only works together! And that doesn't just mean the networking of women with each other, but also the cooperation of everyone in the forestry and timber industry, regardless of gender.
After the intensive exchange in the impressive ballroom of the WALDCAMPUS Austria, fresh air was announced. In glorious weather, we went to the beautiful Almtal to the forestry enterprise of the Kremsmünster Abbey, which - a rarity in Austria - is managed by a young woman: Birgit Stöhr, also a private forest owner, has recently been forest manager in the more than 10,000 ha enterprise. At two points on the excursion, she and an employee explained the different things that come together at Lake: European protected areas, decommissioning, protective requirements that create new problems, gentle but intensive tourism - and forestry.
The first day of the conference ended with a festive dinner on the other side of the Traunsee. In addition to showing the first Stihl-Forstfrauen-film and the Forstfrauen-fashion show, there was a crowning highlight of the day for dessert: the International umbrella organization for women in forestry was presented by the initiators Nike Krajnc, Iza Pigan, Ragnhildur Freysteinsdóttir, Maren Ammer, Lesya Loyko and Dagmar Karisch-Gierer.
Day 2: Successful ways into the future: What we need
Angry gossips claim that forestry wouldn't be quite as sluggish if it a) had more women and b) thought outside the box more often. Whatever one may think of this statement, it was not encouraged at the Conference. As on the previous day, the view was widened at the beginning. In two keynote speeches, Eveline Breitwieser-Wunderl from Porsche Holding GmbH in Salzburg and Victoria Rammer, University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria - Campus Hagenberg, explained how women shape the future, with reference to the sustainability goals of the United Nations, but also what it takes at different levels to advance gender equality. Although it was not concealed how big the gap between what has already been achieved and the goals very often still is, nor that the path is usually a rocky one, both presentations were carried by optimism and provided the optimal start for the rest of the day. The dry conclusion of Eveline Breitwieser-Wunderl "Such is life - sometimes hard" can be seen with a wink as additional motivation for forest women.
A lively discussion followed with the two speakers, touching on almost every area that can even affect women in forestry - so shaken up the ideal ground for the following working groups. Before we got to work, there was a little “jump start”: Nike Krajnc gave an insight into the results of the Fem4Forest survey, how forest owners and women employees in forestry assess their situation and what measures and support they would like to see. And Dagmar Karisch-Gierer presented the results of working groups at the International Forest Women's Conference, which took place online in 2021.
With these impulses, the participants were sent to six working groups (education, youth, international cooperation, research & development, visibility, forest owners) under the motto "Growth for the Future" with the task of developing three concrete measures for the respective area. The result? To put it bluntly, one could say that everyone who works in the field of "Women and Forestry" need not worry about future fields of activity, the formulated measures are so extensive and complex!
With these wonderful results and a brief summary, the International Conference 2022 came to a conclusion in terms of content, in order to finally say goodbye to the participants with an excursion to the Laakirchen Papermaking Museum.
What remains of...
- 74 participants and speakers
- 12 nations: Bosnia-Herzegowina, Germany, Iceland, Croatia, Austria, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, Slovenia, Spain, Czech republic, Ukraine
- 11 lectures
- 6 working groups
- 3 films
- 2 discussions and
- 2 excursions?
A tremendous impulse full
encouragement, cooperation, committment, know-how, energy and joy in doing!