For the fifth time, students from the Tropical and International Forestry (TIF) Master’s programme at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen head off to a partner country to develop a forest management plan. This year’s trip to the Cuc Phuong National Park is the first time, however, that the programme visits Vietnam. Before embarking on their four weeks of research, TIF students met with Anke Stahl, the new director of the DAAD Regional Office in Hanoi.
The Section for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture and Forestry at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, seat of the TIF programme, used its contacts with partners at the Xuan Mai University of Forestry to initiate the programme’s premiere research project in Vietnam. These contacts include several alumni from the Göttingen and Dresden/Tharandt Forestry departments who now teach at the Xuan Mai University.
The forest management project, which is an established element of the TIF curriculum, was organized by the students themselves. As Julia Böhning points out, the third-semester project is one main draws of the programme. She is one of 20 students enrolled in the programme representing ten different countries – Ethiopia, Bolivia, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Networking in Hanoi
Before embarking on the “Forest Conservation and Buffer Zone Management in the Tropical Lowland Forest of Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam” project, the international students were invited to the DAAD Regional Office in Hanoi for a workshop and networking event titled “Developing of a Forest Region”. The students had the unique opportunity of discussing issues of forest development with their advisors from Göttingen, faculty members from the partner Xuan Mai University, TIF alumni, experts from other Vietnamese universities as well as representatives from the GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit).
The students presented their project to the scientific community as part of the workshop. They also received helpful suggestions for their project from experienced scientists as well as from experts from the areas of public administration and forest management. The guests were impressed by both the research project’s interdisciplinary breadth as well as the students’ project presentation.
Interviewing the local population
This trip was special as it marked the first time that a group students from a DAAD-funded postgraduate course had come to Vietnam to conduct their four-week research project. As discussions revealed, the project dovetailed on several points with the GIZ management plans for forestry and timber in the area, providing ample opportunity to explore them in greater depth. Since the students plan to survey the local population as part of their forestry project, they were grateful for the tips they received from the Vietnamese forestry experts about best interview practices.
New dimensions of exchange
“The project gave a new meaning to exchange within network building, one of the driving forces behind the Millennium Express,” says Anke Stahl, Director of the DAAD Regional Office in Hanoi. “This time we have exchange happening outside of German that is interdisciplinary and taking place among international students from Göttingen and colleagues from Xuan Mai University, alumni and experts in the field– all of whom showed great enthusiasm and support for the project.“
The students now head into the Cuc Phuong National Park well armed with the suggestions and ideas from their German and Vietnamese advisors as well as from their new contacts made in Hanoi. Their motivation level is high. The management plan will be completed and evaluated in the spring of 2014. Workshop participants expressed a very clear interest in hearing more about the project.
DAAD Regional Office Hanoi
Dai Co Viet
Trung Tam Viet Duc
Dai Hoc Bach Khoa
Hanoi / Vietnam
Prof. Dr. Ralph Mitlöhner
Tropical Silviculture and Forest Ecology
37077 Göttingen / Germany