An overview of training needs’ assessment and stakeholder analysis

Urban forests represent an innovative solution, but there are still few specific training opportunity on this subject.

Uforest, the project co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Commission, was created to promote the development of new multidisciplinary training opportunities in urban forestry. Against this background, understanding the training needs of different stakeholders and the challenges faced by this sector represent a key starting point.

The “Uforest Training Needs’ Assessment and Stakeholder Analysis (TNA)” report provides an overview of the existing demand on training needs to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in urban forestry and Nature Based Solutions (NBS). The survey targeted university students, professional and citizens from different countries. It was translated in 8 languages, corresponding to the native languages of Uforest partners. In the end, about 246 valid questionnaires were filled out by respondents from 27 different nationalities.

What are the main knowledge gaps in urban forestry?

Most common knowledge gaps have been identified in relation to transversal concepts, such as socio-economy, urban design, and artificial intelligence. In addition, little familiarity was noted for marketing, socio-economics, urban design, environmental justice, emerging technologies and AI, governance and policy. Finally, the need emerged for more knowledge on urban food forests and related services.

What are the main training needs?

The results on training needs are in line with those on knowledge gaps. The TNA identified a high demand for developing skills related to economics – leadership and management, business modelling, financial planning, entrepreneurship – social context – cooperative leadership, societal impact, social business – and communication and information technologies – storytelling, cutting-edge technologies, marketing and communication strategies, and networking.

Key takeaways

  • The open ended question – on additional topics considered relevant in UF – offered interesting findings. In particular, these answers opened our eye on topics we hadn’t initially considered. Most of them included arts, urban forest pedagogy, permaculture, social impact, environmental law, and UF project management. This results confirm that urban forestry is an interdisciplinary field, situated between nature, art, culture, education, social inclusion, and technology.
  • There is wide spread agreement on the opportunities for innovation offered by urban forests. Most respondents recognize the environmental, economic, and cultural benefits urban forests can have on different social groups. In addition, more than half of respondent consider NBS a key topic for their professional career. 
  • However, while most were familiar with concepts such as NBS, ecosystem services, and green and resilient cities, more than half of respondents were not familiar with the concept of urban forestry. This underlines an important knowledge gap and the need for more training on the subject and related services. In particular, more training is needed on urban food forests and alternative forest management approaches.

Most of the findings in the report are in line with some Uforest expected outputs and impacts. In the near future, this survey will be used to design a specific training programme in urban forestry. The aim of the Uforest project is to promote, also through training, the development of new urban forestry initiatives.

The experts' point of view

While working on the TNA questionnaire, our team interviewed some of our partners. Questions concerned training needs in urban forestry, how to promote knowledge exchange, how to involve citizens in the decision-making process, and much more. Coming from different backgrounds, Uforest partners provided varied and inspiring answers.

Listen to the whole interview to find out more.

For the past 25 years, Cecil has studied, taught and advised on the role of trees and green space in our cities and towns. His particular interests include green space governance (including community involvement), people-nature relationships and cultural ecosystem services, and urban forestry and urban greening. In addition, Cecil’s research puts a strong emphasis on governance and policy aspects of urban forestry. At the moment, Cecil is a Director with the Nature-Based Solutions Institute and professor of urban forestry with the University of British Columbia. 

Joan has been professor of Ecology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona since 2006 and a researcher at CREAF since 1997. He has been responsible for over 80 scientific publications. Joan focuses his research on landscape ecology, particularly on the relationship of landscape structure and dynamics with species richness and composition, and on the application of these results in land planning.

This interview is in Catalan.

Nadina is an ecological engineer, technologist, and entrepreneur dedicated to working with urban ecologists and planners to apply today’s technology to better monitor — and reconnect people to — urban ecosystems. A framework she coined in her doctoral thesis called the #InternetofNature (IoN). Nadina is the co-founder of Green City Watch, where she and her team work to boost urban trees’ longevity.

Rik is Team Leader at the European Forest Institute, where he works at the Resilience Programme. At the moment, Rik is teaching Landscape Ecology at the Geography Department (Ghent University), and he has been active in the urban forestry science-policy-practice interface since 2000. His research focusses on integrating ecosystem services in decision-making and urban planning, mainly with a transdisciplinary lens.