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Interview : Lucie Pelous, coordinator of the International Day of Forests

Vue en contre-plongée des arbres feuillus dans une forêt

The International Day of Forests highlights the importance of trees in our environment every year. This is celebrated every year on March 21 throughout the world. An educational component open to all has also been put in place. We wanted to know more! Lucie Pelous, coordinator of the International Day of Forests, answered our questions.

1. What led you to join the Teragir team that organizes the International Day of Forests?

I joined the Teragir association after obtaining my Master 2, as a logical and obvious extension of my studies, specialized in sustainable development at Kedge Business School in Marseille.

Teragir leads a set of ambitious action programs in favor of sustainable development. This is what attracted me in the first place and what I continue to invest myself in every day in my missions.

In 2014, I participated in the development of the International Day of Forests (IDF) program as a project officer and in 2016 I became the national coordinator.

2. What role does the “International Forest Day” play in the forestry industry?

The International Day of Forests (IWD) was proclaimed on March 21 of each year by the United Nations (UN) to celebrate forests.
In France, the association Teragir has made a large program of activities that takes place throughout the territory, in metropolitan France and overseas, on the occasion of March 21.

The forestry and wood industry is invited to join this dynamic by organizing and carrying out projects in order to make its reality and its stakes better known.

The aim of IWD in France is to raise awareness among the general public and to help them (re)discover the French forest, its many facets and its major challenges, as well as the strong link between forests and sustainable development.
These include, for example, the reconciliation of the three functions of the forest, its sustainable management and the fight against climate change. We speak of multifunctionality: the forest having environmental functions (hosting biodiversity, air and water filtration, temperature regulation, etc.), social functions (hosting the public, source of well-being, influence on the collective imagination, etc.) and finally economic functions (wood production, job creation, innovation, etc.).
Sustainable forest management allows the preservation of the numerous ecosystem services provided by the forest and is therefore a key issue in the context of climate change; the forest is both a resource and a solution.

Finally, we are working with many players in the industry on the deployment and animation of the IWD.
As part of the educational component of the operation, entitled The Forest Invited to School and intended for the school world, we offer endowments, in partnership with the French Forest Nurseries, the National Forest Office (ONF) and the National Center of Forest Property (CNPF).

3. What difficulties do you encounter on a daily basis in the exercise of your mission?

The complexity that we encounter lies in the multiplicity of actors and uses of the forest that may, at first glance, be considered contradictory or antagonistic. We are working to make people understand that these multiple uses are not in competition with each other but can be complementary and connected.

4. What successes can you look forward to?

We are delighted with the growing interest in IWD and the Forest at School educational component. Each year, the number of projects organized and the number of participants they bring together continues to grow.
This year, more than 1,000 events were held on March 21, and during the 2019-2020 school year, nearly 18,000 students participated in The Forest Invites to School, corresponding to 600 classes. The team is also very satisfied with the numerous testimonies of the project leaders and organizers who attest to the benefits of the operation for the participants, both the general public and students. “After discovering the forest environment, the students’ outlook and behavior change. And this is something that they can pass on to adults as well, to their parents and relatives,” says Elisabeth Guichard, nature coordinator at the ONF.

5. Who can become an organizer? How do you do it?

Many organizations can be organizers!

Associations, local authorities, schools and companies (especially forestry and wood industry professionals) can organize events and activities open to all for the week of celebration of March 21: forest outings, visits and open houses, conferences and debates, screenings, exhibitions, the choice is wide!

For La Forêt s’invite à l’École, communities or associations can carry out a project for a beneficiary school. Schools can also organize their project directly.

The IWD and its two components are a great opportunity to bring together the actors of a same territory around the same dynamics and a great common theme: the forest.

The team provides organizers with numerous educational materials and resources to help them design, implement and run their event: activity sheets, communication kits, key data on the forest, etc.
As part of the educational component of The Forest at School, we offer tree seedlings to organizers to enable them to organize educational plantings, forest outings and educational booklets for their students.

The Organizer space on our website allows you to access the resource library and the registration file:

A big thank you to Lucie Pelous for answering our questions!

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