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Karl Pirker

Director of Forestry Training Centre Ort


1.1 Introduction

The famous landmark of Gmunden - the two castles of Ort, on the shore of Lake Traun - is closely linked with forestry.

As residence of the dynasty of Ort, it comprised the large forests in the western part of Gmunden, and was mentioned already in the early Middle Ages. Later it was used by the national forest administration. During the last century, however, both castles developed in different ways.

Up to the year 1890, the castle on the lake was owned by Archduke Johann Orth of the Habsburg-Tuscany line, and afterwards it was transformed into a rest home of the Franz Josef Youth Foundation.

In 1919, during the reorganization of the forest ranger training programme, it became a school, and finally a forestry training centre in 1942. Since the closing of the forestry college in 1969, the building has been dedicated to advanced forestry training. During the following years extensive construction activities have reflected the new situation. In 1986, construction works were finalized with the opening of a new wing which included a lecture-room, especially designed for training in forest techniques.

Today the institution, "Forestry Training Centre Ort", consists of a boarding school with 100 beds, a kitchen, several workshops and facilities for all necessary teaching activities.


According to Section 130 of the Forest Law of 1975, the main task of forestry training centres is to provide advanced training for people employed in forestry by organizing special meetings to train forest wardens employed in forest protection and to contribute to the training of skilled forest workers. Activities concentrate also on the testing of forest operation methods, technical equipment and machines and the dissemination of acquired knowledge.

By financing forestry training centres so as to achieve these goals, the government of Austria intends to promote forestry in order to maintain its high status. The aim is to impart know-how in forestry which other training centres do not offer.

Thus, every year after careful observation of the general technical development, a tailored work plan is drafted. The training activities offered to target groups within an increasingly rigid time schedule will have to compete with other organizers of similar events and thus demonstrate their practical value.

A teaching staff of 12 persons, composed of technicians, teachers, master craftsmen and visiting lecturers, should ensure success.

The statistics of the Forestry Training Centre Ort, reveal a degree of utilization of 100 percent during the last years. Approximately 3 500 persons have been trained. This figure shows how efficient and well-organized the course programme is. But the success of the last years should not be an end in itself but should also be a challenge to intensify further efforts.


While the University of Agriculture (Universität für Bodenkultur) covers forestry research on a scientific level, the Federal Forestry Research Station is engaged in investigations and tests on a professional basis and the dissemination of applicability of test results in actual forest practice.

The role of the Forestry Training Centre is that of a mediator between forest research and forest practice so as to include acquired knowledge into the course programme and to make it available to a larger public.

During the past years, cooperation with the University and the Federal Forestry Research Station has been extremely positive. Furthermore, the good relationships between forest industries and producers of forest machinery and equipment must be stressed. The introduction of new products and equipment during the training is one of the most important prerequisites for the transmission of knowledge and skills.


Special emphasis is put on forest operations and techniques. Much of the activities of the Centre is dedicated to this important issue. To achieve the best results it is important that forest operational methods be adapted to human aspects. This is the message which, in a target-oriented form, has to be brought to the attention of the hierarchy in the enterprises.

The forest worker will learn how to deal with operational problems, the district ranger how to organize the work.

At the management level, emphasis is placed on work planning. Despite the technical emphasis everyone will understand the overall problem.

The activities of the Forestry Training Centre are based on the concepts of REFA (Association for Work Studies and Management), to which it is possible to address also complex problems using a systematic approach. Close contacts with the German REFA-Expert panel on forestry support these efforts.

During recent years, collaborators of the FTC Ort were able to transmit their acquired knowledge through FPP manuals (FPP-Cooperation agreement between the Forestry Paper and Panel Industry), not only to course participants but also to a broader sector of the population. These manuals are used as teaching aids in many courses.

Test results are continually included in the courses as important data. Regularly, the Forestry Training Centre Ort not only tries to test innovations in-house but also checks results of other institutes concerning forestry machinery and methods. The teacher should have an objective opinion of the innovations, and his judgement should be included during the course.


It is often assumed by those not involved that the Forestry Training Centre is an institution for advanced training of forest personnel only. This is only partially true, as all teaching and advanced training take place in cooperation with training centres of the agricultural sector. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that the target group, "forest workers", presently amounts to only 18 percent, while that of forest managers and employees reaches 37 percent.

In comparing the amount of time participants spend in Ort, it might appear that forestry personnel stay five days longer than their superiors who stay only one-and-a-half days. This is due to different course targets, which are the determining factors.


Most of the training provided in Gmunden is aimed at forest workers interested in a certified skilled profession in forestry.

The Forestry Training Centre Ort contributes greatly in achieving this goal. Many of the examinations for skilled forestry personnel can be taken in Gmunden.

While there are practically no more vocational schools existing for forestry as there used to be, agricultural colleges enable forest owners in Upper Austria to receive forestry training in order to be admitted to take the examination. At their own request, those who have undergone a one-year training period will be permitted to take a special training course at the FTC Ort and to take the examination to qualify as a skilled forester. Since 1984 more than 100 persons per year have taken advantage of the training possibilities offered.

The six-week training course for forestry personnel who wish to become certified can only be passed in Gmunden.

Lately there has been an increasing interest for the training as master craftsmen. Above all, this opportunity becomes more and more attractive. Recently, as a result of this, an association of certified master craftsmen was founded in Ort.


Apart from specializing in the field of forest techniques, the Forestry Training Centre, together with renowned experts from European countries, tries to discuss all important issues. The scope therefore includes topics related to forest law and politics (such as legal problems in forestry or "Orter Forsttage"), organizational questions (such as aerial photograph interpretation or computer use in forestry), and forest ecology (forest protection and establishment of mixed stands).

These contents are covered by more extensive meetings or seminars, which are organized in cooperation with forest institutions such as the Forestry Association or the Association of Forest Estate Owners.

Especially in recent years a programme for advanced training of forest owners has been elaborated, since there is a strong demand.

In these courses the farm-forestry owners are informed about the most important innovations in forestry. He gets to know the whole system of selective thinning, beginning with forest techniques, silviculture and wood marketing. At the same time he has the possibility to control the maintenance of his tools and equipment, and also carry out any necessary servicing under qualified supervision and be present at the time of timber selling.

Another training concept deals with tree climbing-techniques. Together with the necessary monitoring of the forest condition and assuring the supply of forest seeds, a method has been developed in Ort which does not damage the tree and which has been added to the course programme.


The second field of activity provided in the Law is the testing of forest machines, technical equipment and working methods. Due to its qualified personnel and technical equipment the Centre is able to take on this important task. Through the use of modern data processors or through the use of video equipment, field trials can be documented and results proven.

Before a teaching method is accepted a problem-oriented search has to be made. The results must be checked with other institutes working in the same field. Only when findings correspond to the relevant legal framework, all security requirements have been fulfilled and the producer or the machine are adequate, then the teaching method is inserted into the course programme.


In 1873 Karl Gayer wrote in his book Forest Utilization, "Where there is a real forest population, and where they earn their living almost exclusively from forest exploitation, there are naturally good forest workers that need no training, and there is no difficulty in employing them".

Pondering this observation one realizes that the situation has changed considerably during the past 120 years. In order to meet the requirements of modern forestry, a solid vocational education is necessary together with further training.

Knowledge must be updated continually and adapted to changes in technology. More and more emphasis will be placed on theoretical-managerial tasks. In order to fulfil its function, the Forestry Training Centre has to accomplish an increasingly difficult task. The Centre must constantly divulge the most up-to-date information while at the same time provide the proper conditions for implementing new teaching methods. This means a target- oriented timing is required as well as increased activities.

The Forestry Training Centre of Ort strives to steadily update its curriculum by offering an increasing number of courses to serve Austrian forestry.

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