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The Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape (BFW), the former Federal Forest Research Centre (FBVA), was founded in 1874 by the Emperor Franz Joseph as the Imperial and Royal Forestry Experiment Directorate. Deforestation as a consequence of large-scale clear-cutting for the mining industry resulted in the creation of a number of Forest Research Institutes in Austria and in other European countries in the seventies of the 19th century. From 1887 to 1957, the former Forestry Secondary School at Mariabrunn, Vienna was the first headquarter of todays BFW.

Forestry and Forest Products Research and Natural Hazards

In the first decades after the foundation of the centre, research concentrated especially on dendrometry, forest growth and yield research, wood technology and biology as well as forest meteorology and torrent and avalanche control. Much emphasis was already placed on provenance and seed research including methods for natural and artificial regeneration. Many experimental plots with various wood species were established. Some still exist until today. In addition, the manifold possibilities of forest utilisation and especially tapping increased in importance. Other important areas of interest were forest protection issues such as forest pest, tree diseases and control methods as well as the negative effects of the so-called smoke gases (today air pollutants). Already at the beginning of the 20th century the Federal Forest Research Centre dealt with forest techniques and questions pertaining to operational methods from an ergonomic point of view.

Valorisation through Forest Inventory and Damage Research

The history of the Federal Forest Research Centre is one of continuing uncertainty. Again and again its existence was threatened by financial problems. The creation of a Forest Inventory branch gave new impetus to the activities of the research centre in the mid-fifties of the 20th century. The so-called "Waldsterben" (forest die-back) was a great challenge for forest research at the beginning of the eighties. Forest damage research became a topic of increased public interest.

Wider Scope of Activities

Since 1957 the headquarters of BFW have been located at Vienna/Schönbrunn. In 1962 the institute was renamed into Federal Forest Research Centre Vienna. The Amendment to the Forest Act of 1 June of 2002 brought about important changes and a new name: Federal Forest Office and Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape.
The Amendment has led to a widening of the scope of scientific activities. In the future, forest and natural hazard research should be conducted in the context of landscape sciences taking into account also socio-economic questions. Also the Unit of Agricultural Soil was transfered to the Department of Forest Ecology and Soil. Additionally, research and training is linked together more closely by incorporating the two former independent Federal Training Centres Ort and Ossiach.
From 2005 onwards, statutory tasks have been fulfilled by the Federal Forest Office (execution of the Federal Forest Act on  Reproductive Material and the Federal Act on  Plant Protection), research, monitoring and knowledge transfer have been conducted by the Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape.

Find out more about BFWs history in the chronicle (available in german only).

Lackner, C.; Khorchidi, M.

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Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape
Austria, 1131 Vienna, Seckendorff-Gudent-Weg 8 | Tel.: +43 1 878 38-0,
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