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The real-world laboratory

"Knowledge Dialogue Northern Black Forest: The National Park Black Forest as catalyst for a regional transformation towards sustainability"[1]


What is at issue?

In January 2014, the National Park Black Forest was founded in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The establishment of the park raised high expectations towards a future sustainable development of the surrounding region Northern Black Forest.  However, how to use the opportunities a national park offers for regional transformation towards sustainability, and how to foster the ecological development of the National Park area successfully? These two questions are the project’s core questions. Thus, under the slogan “The National Park Black Forest as catalyst for a regional transformation towards sustainability”, the real-world laboratory “Knowledge Dialogue Northern Black Forest” analyses and evaluates the ecological, social and economic interrelations between the newly founded National Park and the surrounding region.


Who is behind the project?

Five research partners are working together in the WiNo-project: University of Freiburg, University of Applied Forest Sciences Rottenburg, Forest Research Institute (FVA) Baden-Württemberg, Oeko-Institut, and EVOCO GmbH. The administration of the Black Forest National Park and the Black Forest Nature Park Central/North are supporting the project as the two practice partners. WiNo is one of the real-world laboratories of Baden-Württemberg funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg.


What are the main project steps?

The project design contains three different phases:

1. Co-Design (pre-phase and project phase January – September 2015)

Compared to classical research projects, the WiNo project put great emphasis on the participatory co-design of the research agenda. The WiNo consortium spent approximately two years on the development of a coherent research design: In the project’s pre-phase, interviews with practitioners in the field helped to identify the most relevant research areas.  In a next step, six research teams from five institutions further specified their research ideas.

The co-design phase culminated in a one-day ‘knowledge dialogue’ event in the Black Forest region. During this event, researchers discussed their ideas with more than 70 regional practitioners and citizens. Subsequent to the event, the researchers revised their project drafts and submitted them to a Scientific Board consisting of independent scientists. The Scientific Board provided recommendations, including a ranking of sub-projects, to the WiNo Steering Board, which finally decided on the set of commissioned sub-projects and their level of funding.


2. Research in co-production (October 2015 – April 2017)

The topics addressed in WiNo are organised with seven subproject and range from silvicultural restauration measures to ‘speed up’ the development towards natural forests, management strategies to deal with bark beetles, synergies between the national park and ‘health tourism’, modes of sustainable mobility to the identification of local knowledge on questions related to the national park. In all subproject researchers cooperate with practitioners. Different financial instruments support the exchange between researchers, practitioners and regional stakeholders: Researchers and practitioners use grants to learn from other experiences by e.g. visiting other National Parks or temporary working in a partner institution. Students will be actively involved in research activities. To get in touch not only with organised stakeholders, the project started a new series of events in the region called ‘knowledge dialogue on-site’ ranging from excursions to evening talks and tastings.


3. Presentation and problem solution (Mai 2017 - December 2017)

In the third phase, science-practice working groups reflect the research results and elaborate problem solutions. In a final event named “SynPuls”, practitioners, regional stakeholders and researchers come together for synthesising the results and setting new impulses for problem solutions and new projects.


[1] German title: „Wissensdialog Nordschwarzwald – ein Reallabor-Projekt“ (WiNo)