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Report on the Erasmus Forestry Network Meeting at the Rottenburg University of Applied Forest Sciences (HFR) from 8 to 9 March 2023

Veröffentlicht am: 04. April 2023

Gruppenfoto vor dem Torbogen der Hochschule Rottenburg

Once a year, staff and heads of the International Offices of European universities with forestry courses meet for the Erasmus Forestry Network Meeting. The network was founded in Finland in 1993 and this year marked its 30th anniversary. The main initiator at that time was John Christison from the University of the Islands and Highlands in Inverness, who was also Chairman throughout until his retirement in January 2022. Previous meetings have taken place - sometimes several times - in Finland, France, Scotland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Norway, Belgium, Greece, Latvia, Sweden and Germany. Taking this birthday meeting as an occasion, a video clip is to be created with the active participation of the Digi-Team of the HFR, which will soon be completed and published on this channel.

The aim of these meetings was and is to get to know each other, to report on new developments and study programmes at the universities, to maintain databases with information and contacts and to visit the forests around the universities in the course of small excursions - in short, to network - rounded off by a cultural and regional culinary programme.

This intensive exchange primarily benefits the respective students, who can be advised in a very targeted manner and who can make very good use of these contacts for study stays and internships abroad. But cooperation in research projects and mobility of the mid-level faculty are also promoted.

On the occasion of Prof. Stefan Ruge's retirement at the end of the summer semester 2023, this year's meeting took place in Rottenburg on 8 and 9 March. Ruge was head of the International Office of the HFR from 2002 to 2023. 15 representatives from the Czech Republic, Finland, Scotland, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Germany and, on the excursion day, a guest from Canada took part. Further guests were connected online.

The first day of the meetings traditionally takes place indoors. In the Welcome Speech, Rector Prof. Dr. Bastian Kaiser described the development of the HFR from an internal university with only one degree programme and around 300 students to an external university with eight degree programmes and around 1,100 students. This was associated with a considerable structural expansion and preservation of independence. He described the importance and rapid development of research at the HFR and the associated resources.

In his opening speech, the current chairman, Prof. Stefan Ruge, explained the history of the network, its importance for all participating universities, students, teachers and staff, and what has been achieved so far. He acknowledged the merits of the actors, especially John Christison.

Afterwards, all participants presented their universities, study programmes and international activities.

David Sís from Mendel University in Brno presented the Erasmus Forestry Network project KA 220, which aims to promote mobility in higher education. The aim is to create an online platform for 41 universities in the forestry and related fields, on which the English-language courses offered by the networked universities will be displayed. The aim is to facilitate much more intensive cooperation between forestry universities in Europe than has been possible to date.

In the subsequent election, David Sís was also elected as the new Chairman of the network for the next few years. Madrid was agreed as the next meeting venue on 10 and 11 April 2024.

On the second day, Prof. Dr. Sebastian Hein led an excursion in the municipal forest of Rottenburg on the topic of "Growing Oak for High Value Timber". He went into the history of use, locations, the cycle of regeneration, young stand maintenance, thinning, stock maintenance, harvesting, regeneration, nature conservation and species conservation. One focus was on protection against browsing by game through intensive hunting, decomposable growth covers and horde gates. The oak logs up to 250 years old for the value timber auction in April could be marvelled at on the full oak value timber yard. An intensive discussion was held.

In the afternoon, there was an interesting guided tour of Rottenburg in English.