Opening ceremony of the 2019-2020 academic year


Tuesday 1st October 2019
Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech - ULiège - Espace L.S. Senghor - Entrée 7
Avenue de la Faculté d'Agronomie, 11
5030 Gembloux
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Tuesday 1st October 2019


16h30 Welcome

17h00 Academic ceremony

  • Speech by Professor Frédéric Francis, Dean
  • Speech by the student representative of Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech
  • Inaugural lesson by Professor Jean-Louis Doucet "Palaver around the tree"

18h30 Reception

Access to the site

Parking Espace Senghor
Avenue de la Faculté d'Agronomie, 11 - Entrance 7
B-5030 Gembloux

Palaver around the tree

When you know that a tree is sensitive to pain and has a memory, that parents-trees live with their children, you can no longer cut them down without thinking or ravaging their environment by throwing bulldozers at the undergrowth.

- Excerpt from Peter Wohlleben's book, more than a million copies of which have been sold.

While this anthropomorphic approach is controversial in the scientific world, it has the merit of having revealed a new public interest in forest management and tree life.

The tree has always been a symbol of greatness, longevity and eternal vigour. A bridge between heaven and earth, matter and spirit, it has been glorified by poets and shamans since time immemorial. In the northern countries, some people are nostalgic for virgin forests where they would like to wander in peace and quiet. They perceive the tree as an intelligent being and advocate abandoning current forest management methods. Paradoxically, in the countries of the South, populations, in search of modernity, gather less and less under the palaver tree...

Should we now look at our furniture and books as sad corpses victims of our unbridled consumption? Should we give up using wood and bell the last so-called virgin forests?

In this inaugural lesson, Professor Jean-Louis Doucet will attempt to objectify the "secret life of trees" on the basis of the most recent research. He will also discuss the consequences of this new empathy towards forests by capitalizing on the experience acquired by Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech in terms of sustainable management of forest ecosystems.

Professor Jean-Louis Doucet

Jean-Louis Doucet is professor of tropical forestry at Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech - University of Liège. Very active in the southern countries of Africa, he also teaches in Gabon (at the USTM, Franceville) and in D.R. Congo (at ERAIFT, Kinshasa). He chairs Forest is life, a Research and Teaching Support Unit of TERRA, whose activities concern the functioning of forest ecosystems, their reactions to global changes and the sustainable valuation of wood and non forest timber products resources.

(Co-)author of more than one hundred scientific publications, Jean-Louis Doucet is specialized in the study of the ecology of tropical trees. He is more specifically interested in their population dynamics (regeneration, growth, reproduction) and the interactions between fauna and flora. His research is part of major international projects involving many scientific institutions and donors.

In his work, Jean-Louis Doucet has developed an original approach based on a partnership between the academic world, the private sector and the voluntary sector. He collaborates with forestry companies engaged in the sustainable management of more than three million hectares of African forests. He also translates his research activities into concrete development actions through the non-profit organization Nature +, which he chairs. In this way, he intends to place the results of its research, both fundamental and applied, at the very heart of decision-making processes to improve tropical forest management. It is with the same perspective that he is a director of ATIBT, the International Technical Association for Tropical Timber, based in Paris, which brings together stakeholders in the timber sector involved in responsible management.

Eager to share his experiences with his students, he now organizes most of his teaching in the very heart of the forests of Central Africa. Students from the North and the South meet for several weeks and compare their points of view by experiencing the realities on the ground. Finally, as a photography lover, he likes to share his passion for tropical forests with his most beautiful pictures.

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