Fenner Forestry professor awarded honorary doctorate from the University of Freiburg in Germany

17 July 2019

Fenner School professor Dr Peter Kanowski is one of the most renowned researchers worldwide in the field of international forest governance. For the past three years Peter has been teaching at the University of Freiburg in Germany for one month every summer - and just recently was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Freiburg Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources.

Peter says he was completely surprised by the accolade when he first learned of it back in April.

“To be recognised by one’s peers is the most significant form of recognition in academic life, and so I’m greatly honoured professionally and touched personally,” he said.

“From my perspective, the award recognises the value of collaboration, not just for me individually, but also institutionally between the ANU Fenner School and the Univeristy of Freiburg’s Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources.”

The Faculty said Peter is an inspiring and charismatic leader in their explanation of its decision, commending his expertise and his qualities as a teacher, advisor, and mentor – and impressed with his approach to scientific and sociopolitical issues related to forests.

Peter was first involved with the University of Freiburg in 2014. He had just returned to ANU from his time working as the Deputy Director General at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), when Fenner staff alumnus Prof Juergen Bauhus invited him to convene a new module on International Forest Governance in the newly established International Forestry stream of their Masters program.

“At the time they were appointing a new Chair of Forest & Environmental Policy – Daniela Kleinschmit was the appointee, and she joined the Faculty just as the first module was offered in 2015,” he said. “We found that we worked well together, and have been co-convening ever since. Fortunately the International Forestry modules are taught in English!”

So what does he think are some of the most pressing issues at the moment in the management of forests?

Peter says it’s a “long list” that was the subject of his acceptance address.

“The focus of my collaboration with Uni Freiburg is international forest governance, and there the world desperately needs agreement on actions that will curb forest loss and degradation, mitigate and facilitate adaptation to climate change, and strengthen the flow of livelihood benefits and ecosystem services from forests.

“I suggested a set of principles we might take from (often bitter) experience in international forest governance to date to foster more effective outcomes in the future. As I see it, contrary to some of the disruptive flavour of contemporary politics, we need more rather than less international governance to address the shared environmental challenges we face.”