Julia Guenzel – MSc Agroforestry (Distance Learning)
Now works as: Regional Manager
Now works for: Spreewaldverein e.V. (LEADER local action group in South Brandenburg)
While working as a technical assistant for collaborative management in Cameroon, I got to work closely with local communities on various agricultural micro-projects. I had a BSc in ‘International Forest Ecosystem Management’ and an MSc in ‘Sustainable Development’, through which I was able to use my passion for nature conservation and the interaction of societies and nature for my profession already. However, through my previous work and especially the time in Cameroon I realised how diverse the benefits of trees for the daily life of human beings may really be. That’s when I decided that I wanted to specialize myself more in the field of agroforestry, which perfectly connects forestry and agriculture as a topic that concerns everyone every day.
Since I had a master degree already, which makes any financial support difficult if not even impossible, I was relieved to find the distance learning programmes of the Bangor University. Thanks to the staff I was even able to do the agroforestry course from distance, at that time it was only offered as a full-time programme. The university was super helpful and supportive in the administrational procedures and logistics for the modules, which were not always easy to manage from Africa.
Now back in Germany I am working with a small association on regional development in the Spreewald, a rural forest area in East Germany, with very specific and traditional land use systems. For now agroforestry is a rather small topic in Germany, but a few initiatives have been started to change this situation. With some other people I founded the German Association for Agroforestry (DeFAF) in June 2019, which aims at promoting agroforestry in the country as a sustainable land use system. The attention on the topic is growing and so is our new association. We have members and supporters from various sectors, ranging from the practical agriculture to sociology, the political level and the renewable energy sector, which shows once more how diverse the positive impacts of agroforestry is perceived. I think the agroforestry course in Bangor was the ideal door-opener for me to get closer to this sector and gave me a fantastic knowledge base.