Diversification, new technologies to lead the way to green jobs in forest sector

About 30 per cent of all people employed in forestry in Europe are 49 years of age or older, a greying statistic which poses significant threat to the future of forestry. Attracting younger generations to the future of “green jobs” in the forest sector is a challenge, but technological innovation may offer solutions, according to the State of Europe’s Forests 2015 report.

“Globalisation, digitalisation, changing requirements of society, and changing labour markets influence the forest sector,” Gabriela Matečná, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic, said. “If the forest sector wants to stay economically viable and maintain its role in society, it cannot ignore these trends. It is becoming evident that diversification and new technologies will be dominating a future forest sector.”

She was speaking at the opening of an international workshop in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, organised jointly by Forest Europe, UNECE and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Slovakia currently co-chairs the Forest Europe process.

The Minister also highlighted the need to adapt forestry education and training in Europe to provide future forest workers, forest managers and forest owners with new technical skills as well as communication, conflict management and entrepreneurship skills.

Social aspects such as job stability, remuneration, working conditions, informal work, gender equality as well as problems with outsourcing or possible involvement of migrant work in the sector also came under discussion.

Nearly 70 participants from 18 European countries – representing the UN system, the European Commission, government and non-government actors attended.

Promoting the development of green jobs, identifying new skills that will be needed by the European forest sector, and supporting sustainable development and the transition to a green economy were also important workshop themes.

Diarmuid McAree, deputy leader of the UNECE/FAO/ILO Team of Specialists on Green Jobs in the Forest Sector, concluded, “The potential for green job creation linked to the production of energy from renewable sources, energy efficiency, waste and water management, air quality improvement, restoring and preserving biodiversity, providing green spaces and infrastructure for eco-tourism, and developing green infrastructure is significant.”