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2015 - Present

The Future of Forest Work

“It does appear that most youngsters no longer want to live with/in the forests the way their parents did. However, we may be looking at the situation from the wrong angle, since there are youngsters who want to co-exist with the forests on their terms, rather than ours.

– N. Schwartz, Anthropologist, Petén, Guatemala.

Pilot Projects led the design of a new Co-creation Workshop methodology to engage rural young people in deep conversations about their future, their vision, goals and ideas for meaningful work: Forests are in crisis around the world, but it’s easy for us to ignore this - especially if we live in a big city. Despite the fact that more people live in cities than ever before, it is increasingly evident that everyone, even city dwellers, are “forest dependent“ via shared climate, water, food and biodiversity.

Meanwhile, the latest research on forest conservation suggests that people living and working in forests are key to protecting them from the many threats of deforestation, especially tropical forests.

But there is another problem on the horizon – faced with limited opportunities in forest communities, and seeming endless possibilities elsewhere, young people around the world are leaving forests for cities. The paths chosen by the young people living in or close to forests today will have an enormous impact on the future health of our planet. It is therefore critical that global culture supports and values forest stewardship, and the people who provide it. 

So, can we transform the challenge of deforestation and outmigration into an opportunity through creativity and meaningful work? What could happen if some of the world’s coolest jobs involved working with forests? What kind of opportunities - global networks, compensation, partnerships, education - could be created? Can we co-create solutions with young people that keep the world’s forests standing?

The Future of Forest Work aims to answer these questions through a global research and design process. We bring together the world's leading researchers and practitioners in community-based forest management and conservation. Together, we are working to generate novel strategies supporting the next generation of local forest workers, leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.

Youth visioning workshop participants in Uaxuctùn, Guatemala

As part of this international team, Pilot Projects Design Collective has led the design of a new methodology to engage young people in deep conversations about their future, their vision, goals and ideas for meaningful work. The Youth Visioning Workshops that have now been used in more than eight countries, helping local facilitators to listen, collect data and inspire young people with confidence that their work matters to the planet and to people all over the world. As data is collected in a global database we will be able to gain new insights into global trends, and refine ideas to support the work of these current and future pioneers. 

Further information and results of the Future of Forest Work and Communities project can be found at

The Future of Forest Work and Communities is a growing research and practice community with representatives from more than fifteen countries. If you would like to get involved, host a workshop in a community, or help fund this critical venture please contact Dr. Sarah Wilson at:

Articles from our Community of Practice:

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