New Assistant Director for Policy Support appointed

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Dr Helga Pülzl has been appointed as Assistant Director for Policy Support at the European Forest Institute. Dr Pülzl will start her 5-year term on 1 September 2021.


Helga has a PhD and Masters’ degree in political science from the University of Vienna and is currently a senior scientist at the Institute of Forest, Environment and Natural Resource Policy at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Austria. She was previously assistant professor for comparative political science at the University of Salzburg, Austria and Erwin Schrödinger Fellow at Rutgers University, USA. Helga has been involved in numerous international forest policy research projects and published widely, and has also been a key person in developing EFI’s Forest Policy Research Network

Her main field of interest is in European and international forest governance, policy change as well as forest-related bioeconomy research, including sustainability impact assessment and sustainability indicators development. Helga is also coordinator of IUFRO’s working party 9.05.01 on bioeconomy policy. She has provided expertise to international organisations (e.g. UNECE, FAO, Forest Europe) as well as to the European Commission (e.g. DG AGRI, DG Grow, Eurostat) and national ministries (e.g. Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism) and taken part in numerous regional and international meetings (for example Expert Level Meetings of the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe since 2000, and United Nations Forum on Forests since 2002). In 2020 she was nominated as one of 5 persons for Austrian of the Year in the ‘Climate initiative’ category by the newspaper Die Presse for her work in the Vienna Climate Games project.

The Assistant Director for Policy Support coordinates EFI’s Policy Support Facility, which works with European decision-makers, stakeholders, policy institutions and EFI's member organisations to bring science-based knowledge to the policy arena. This includes EFI’s high-level discussion forum, ThinkForest, which offers a space for dynamic science-policy dialogue on pan-European forest and bioeconomy issues and is chaired by Janez Potočnik, former EU Commissioner for both Science and Research, and Environment. 

EFI Director Marc Palahí said: “First, I would like to thank Lauri Hetemäki for his extraordinary job as Assistant Director since the EFI Policy Support Facility was established. Lauri has placed EFI as “the honest broker” for European forests. I wish Lauri the best in his Professorship at the University of Helsinki and I am sure that he will still contribute to future EFI studies.

 “I am very happy that Helga Pülzl will be our next Assistant Director for Policy Support. Helga has a deep understanding of the European forest-related policy environment as well as international experience in working at the science-policy interface. Her passion, enthusiasm and creativity are also important for EFI.”

Further information: EFI Director, Marc Palahí, firstname.lastname @