FLORES: helping people to realize sustainable futures
Vanclay, JK, Muetzelfeldt, R, Haggith, M & Bousquet, F 2000, 'FLORES: helping people to realize sustainable futures', in B Krishnapillay, E Soepadmo, NL Arshad, A Wong, S Appanah, SW Chick, N Manokaran, HL Tong & KK Choon (eds), Proceedings of Forests and society: the role of research: XXI IUFRO World Congress, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 7-12 August, Malaysian XXI IUFRO World Congress Organising Committee, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, pp. 723-729.
People usually know how they want their situation to change to secure a better future – but they do not always know how to change their situation. Initiatives intended to secure a better future do not always work as intended, and may have unintended side effects. Computer models can help advocates explore consequences of proposed initiatives, so they can make informed selections of alternatives, secure in the knowledge that consequences have been thoroughly investigated. By encouraging people to explore scenarios, models empower people to be more innovative and less dependent on technocrats. New software solves technical limitations, but the real issue is not software, but rather the provision of a supportive framework within which people can express and experiment with ideas. FLORES, the Forest Land Oriented Resource Envisioning System, provides such a framework to stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers, practitioners and clients. A recent prototype demonstrated the feasibility of FLORES. However, FLORES is not about software; it is about providing the means to explore the consequences of alternative scenarios. Ultimately, FLORES is not a physical package, but a user group and the interactions they have amongst themselves, and with the people involved in policy-making. Fostering this emerging network through workshops and technical support will enhance FLORES by offering a better understanding of the concept, and by allowing more people, especially those from developing countries, to influence the development of FLORES and the issues that can be explored within it.