Sussex Sustainability Research Programme

International Day of Forests debate

Future Forests: use them or fence them in?

SSRP organised its 4th sustainability debate to mark the International Day of Forests.

Forests are a major repository of nature, home to 92% of the earth’s biomass and 80% of its terrestrial biodiversity. Forests regulate the major biogeochemical cycles as well as climate. They also play a profound cultural role in society.

On the other hand, society also places big demands on forests for food, fuel, timber, shelter, amongst others. The consequence is often forest degradation or destruction: only about 65% of pre-agricultural forest cover remains, and only 16% of current forested land is protected.

So what should be our policy and attitude towards forests? Should we continue to use them to enhance our wellbeing, or fence them in to conserve their natural value? These were just some of the questions discussed at the event.

Date: 21st March, 2019, 4pm.

Location: Chowen Lecture Theatre, Medical School, University of Sussex.


Helen Dancer, Lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex in the fields of the anthropology of law, human-forest relationships, land rights and justice.

Dougal Driver, Chief Executive of Grown in Britain, Vice Chairman of the Society for the Environment and Director of Woodland Enterprises Ltd. Dougal is working to drive strategic change in forestry and develop a wood culture throughout Britain.

James Fairhead, Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex, with distinct interests in anthropogenic landscapes and indigenous agro-ecological knowledge.

Mika Peck, Senior Lecturer in Evolution, Behaviour and Environment at the University of Sussex, dedicating his work to the conservation biology of tropical rainforests.

SSRP Future Forests gallery