DFG Graduiertenkolleg
"Sozio-Ökonomie der Waldnutzung in den Tropen und Subtropen"
Bei der Sitzung des Bewilligungsausschusses der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft wurde Anfang Oktober 1998 beschlossen, das Graduiertenkolleg "Sozio-Ökonomie der Waldnutzung in den Tropen und Subtropen" nicht drei weitere  Jahre zu finanzieren. Das Graduiertenkolleg befindet sich deshalb seit 1999 in der "Auslaufphase".  Die DoktorandInnen beenden ihre Doktorarbeiten innerhalb einer gleichnamigen Projektgruppe angesiedelt in der  Arbeitsgemeinschaft "Tropenwald" an der Forstfakultät der Universität Freiburg.


In 1995 the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Society, DFG) has approved a new graduate college on “Socio-Economics of Forest Use in the Tropics and Subtropics“. It is based at the Albert-Ludwigs-University in Freiburg and carried out in cooperation with the Technical University of Dresden, the University of Hohenheim, and the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute in Freiburg. The program was started in October 1995 and provides 12 PhD fellowships and one post-doctorate fellowship. In its first phase (1995 - 1998) the college has its focus on socio-economic implications of forest use in Thailand and Venezuela. Despite  funding by DFG stopped in 1998, the former PhD fellows of the graduate college went on with their research work within their project team.


DFG Graduate Colleges are long-term projects with a time frame of up to nine years. Aiming at the integration of research and training, they can be affiliated with one or several universities or research facilities. Their main objective is to enhance the opportunities of young scientists improving the standard of their PhD studies. The provision of an interdisciplinary frame and the possibility to place a research project in a larger context should be a point of inspiration for the participants. Working in a team together with other graduates, experienced scientists are to broaden the students' vision and promote academic discussion.


The research results of the graduate college are expected to provide a significant contribution to the knowledge on the dynamics of forest loss and destruction in tropical and subtropical regions. They shall also contribute to develop appropriate measures for preserving these forests utilizing them in a sustainable manner. The program will be concerned with the analysis of political, economic, social, and ethnic interrelations which, in connection with ecological research have become increasingly important, since the problems are caused by and have their impact on humans.
Scientifically sound information about the motives for dealing with ecosystems and implementing land use patterns will be necessary to obtain strategies for protection and sustainable utilization of tropical forests from local to international levels. The prerequesite for deriving such information in a broad and interactive scientific approach with a problem-oriented and interdisciplinary design as provided by this programme. The research objectives are only realistic by focusing on few crucial regions. The first stage of the programme (1995-1998), therefore, focuses exclusively on forest use in Thailand and Venezuela. Working in small teams, the participants have spent a period of twelve months in one of the two countries between September 1996 and October 1997. Seminars in the regions of the different research projects have deepened the collaboration with national scientists and institutions in the two countries. 



With Bangkok-based Chulalongkorn University as their main partner, the six PhD students in Thailand focus on different facets of "social" and "community forestry". 
The dynamics of forest and land-use systems will be dealt with from the household to the village and up to the national level, highlighting gender aspects, the role of indigenous people, participation in land-use planning and strategic decision making in national forestry policy.
In Venezuela there are two main areas of research during the first phase. One group is researching into the value and use of secondary (semi-)deciduous forests heavily influenced by agricultural activity in coastal Estado Sucre. 
The other group works in scarcely populated Estado Bolivar south of the Orinoco river. The dynamics of land use conflicts and their representation in regional planning, the forest use and political struggle of indigenous peoples and the politics of forest concessions are the topics in this region. The main partners in Venezuela are the Universidad Nacional Experimental de Guayana (UNEG), the Universidad de Los Andes (ULA) and the Centro de Estudios del Desarrollo (CENDES) of the Universidad Central de Venezuela


Like the research program, the study program put emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches. Courses were designed to offer opportunities for graduate students with various backgrounds to develop interdisciplinary skills regarding the sustainable utilization of natural resources. 
Seminars with external experts from academic institutions, development agencies and state institutions relevant to the topic helped to build a comprehensive approach.
Two workshops to finetune ongoing research and discuss first results were helt each in Thailand and in Venezuela. 



    In Thailand
  • Verena Brenner, human geographer, M.Sc.: "Utilisation of riverine forests at Mekong tributaries in North-Eastern Thailand"

  • Reiner Bürgin, anthropologist, M.A.: "Dynamics of forest and land-use systems of the Karen villages in Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Thailand"

  • Christl Keßler, sociologist, M.A.: "Social Organisation of Community Forestry in Thailand. Is there a woman behind every big tree?"

  • Rainer Schwarzmeier, agroeconomist, M.Sc.:"Socio-economic aspects of community forestry in Northeastern Thailand"

  • Rolf-Dieter Sprung, forester, M.Sc.: "Participatory resource management: the potential of Participatory Land-use Planning (PLP) in Thailand"

  • Oliver Pye, forester, M.Sc.: "Strategic groups in Thailand's forests"

    In Venezuela
  • Christoph Aicher, political scientist, M.A., forester M.Sc.: "Venezuelan forest policy: actors, interests and conflicts" 

  • Martina Grimmig, anthropologist, M.A.: "Forest use, conflicts and strategies of indigenous groups: the Kariña"

  • Martin Lux; economist, M.A., forester, M.Sc.: "Processing and marketing of forestry products for sustainable regional development in the Estado Sucre" 

  • Barbara Müller, human geographer, M.Sc.: "Deforestation dynamics and regional planning: actors and factors in colonization processes in Estado Bolivar"

  • Argelia Silva, biologist, M.A.: "Primary forests and secondary successions on agricultural land in Estado Sucre"

  • Alexis Valqui-Haase, agricultural scientist, M.Sc.: "The rationality of agricultural smallholders' use of the resource forest" 

    Coordinator until 1998: 
  • Eberhard Weber, social geographer, PhD



    Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute Freiburg
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Dieter Oberndörfer 
  • Dr. habil. Heribert Weiland

For FURTHER INFORMATION please contact

Project Team "Socio-Economics of Forest Use in the Tropics and Subtropics"
University of Freiburg,
c/o Dr. Michael Flitner, Institute of Forest Economics
D - 79085 Freiburg
Phone: +49-761-203 3688
Fax: +49-761-203 3690
email: gradwald@ruf.uni-freiburg.de

by Eberhard Weber Feb. 1999