How were our forests created?

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History of Forestry

History of forestry is the story of the forest, man and society in Hungary the story began with the formation of forests, just like anywhere else. Forests of the Carpathian Basin have been formed gradually in the last 12-10 thousand years, parallel to the warming of the climate following the late Würm-period of the ice-age that iced Northern and Central-Europe in the Quaternary age of the Earth. According to reconstruction of botanists and natural geographic scientists 5 thousand years ago the majority of the Carpathian Basin was covered with forests.

However, primarily due to climatic reasons, in the central part of the Basin in the Lowland the forest land area was not coherent. Vegetation of the Lowland was characterized as forest steppe. It was an enormous herbaceous steppe, decorated with smaller and larger broadleaved groves. There were many watery areas as well moors, bogs, lakes, springs, brooks and flood plain areas by the rivers.
Man discovers the Basin
The innermost parts of the Basin were suitable for sustainable food production and thus for permanent dwelling, and as a result, the ancient times had an overall effect on natural land. 25% of the natural vegetation is estimated to be lost, and this primarily meantwoods.
Middle Ages in Hungary
Considerable lifestyle and political changes had even greater impacts on forests. Lands and waters not forming parts of tribes property were added to the Treasury. The protection, rnanagement and utilization had to be organized for these areas. This is why in the first two centuries of the kingdom royal forest, game and water protectorates and stewardships have been set up. At the beginning of the middle ages forest use and utilization meant unorganised selection. Trees of required sizes, qualities and species, and of course firewood were selected and felled (fór construction, carving, charcoal burning, etc.), while forest regene-ration was left to nature.
Harder burden on the biosphere was interventions to gain cultural areas, mainly agricultural lands, by forest depletion or drainage. Middle Ages are remembered for forest depletion throughout Europe, and in Hungary as well. The ideál of the age was a man cutting forests and cultivating raw areas. A new institution system was set up to deplete forests: „Schulthheiss" comprised organizations of planters who cleared forests by the roots for agri-culture. Hungarian village names still carry the meaning of forest burnings.
Beside the „Schulthheiss" there was another forest clearing organization, mainly comprising immigrant shepherds from Dalmatian and Lower-Danubian areas, who cut forests primarily to gain pastures (mainly in Transylvania).
Words and expressions of ancient Hungarian and Slavic origin spread at that time with the meaning of forest cutting and pastures.
In the later periods of the Middle Ages the demographic growth, the increasing amount of constructions stemming from urbanization and castle building, the developraent of mining and metallurgy required an ever increasing amount of wood. This demand could not be satisfíed by unorganised selection. Forests were cut in larger, adjacent areas. The regeneration of clear-cut forests was left to nature, and in the majority of cases this meant root sucker or stump sprout regeneration.
Modern Ages
Modern Ages came to Hungary together with the Turks and a 150-year long devastating war. The construction of military buildings, attacks and defeats, retaliations and robberies, the movement of large armies to and fro, the desolation of settlements and lands brought serious ecological damages. In the middle areas of the country, where forests were few originally, became desolate as not only the people but the majority of woody vegetation perished. The natural, social and economic results of this devastation prevail even today. The Uplands that was saved for the kingdom was valued by the central powers as well, mainly because instead of the once large royal territories it was the rich precious metal mines that delivered the primary income for the Treasury. The gold and silver from the mines of Körmöc and Selmec became an invaluable factor for the Empire and was also noted as a European economic and political factor. The operational intensity of the mines and the production of furnaces based on the metal mined here had to be increased by all means. This required an enormous amount of pit-prop and charcoal. (Also, the ever increasing volume of black gunpowder production consumed large amounts of charcoal.) Due to the increasing wood consumption the Uplands covered with forests experienced a lack of wood around the mines and in the surroundings of larger cities. However, precious metal mining could not be endangered. The Court took measures to protect forests of the mines to provide continuous wood supply. The most famous of these is the forest regulation issued by King Miksa in 1565 that contained detailed forest management instructions.
Development in the 18th century
Following the victory over the Turks the 18 th century brought social reorganization, reconstruction, economic boost and cultural development for Hungary. However, it came together with the further exploitation of the already decreasednatural resources, especially forests. By the middle of the century it was clear that multilateral and strict measures must be taken in order to control forest cutting and regulate forest management. The principle of
today's "sustainable management" originates from this 250-year-old initiative.
The embodiment of enlightened absolutism, Queen Mary Therese issued, among others, two decrees tó satisfy historic needs:
The mining officer school founded in 1735 in Selmecbánya (Bergschule or Bergscola) was promoted in 1770 to an Academy with three departments. In her statement of approval concerning the curriculum she emphasized the importance of taking special care for the cultivation of forests.
The other decree of the Queen was the Forest Regulation of the Hungarian Kingdom, issued on 22 December, 1769 that was printed and spread in the country in 1770 under
the title of "Regulation of cultivation and maintenance of trees and forests".
Development in theory, ruinous exploitation in practice Following the great revolution   of the French enlightenment and the fírst industrial revolution of Western-Europe the sprouts of a large-scale social, economic and civil reformation started to boom in
Hungary as well. From the viewpoint of forestry it meant that forests as raw material and energy sources were valued more and more and thus became marketing objects. This required more profound professional knowledge of the members of the market.
Therefore a number of vocational schools were opened at the turn of the 18 th  19 th century (Liptóújvár, Kismarton, Keszthely and then Nagyszeben). The University of Pest also offered courses in forestry. The major and most lasting measure was the foundation of the Forstinstitut (Forest Institute) in 1808 in Selmecbánya, the independent educational institution of forest management.
The most important forest economy result of the civil revolution of 1848 was that following the annulment of bondages the feudal forests were privatised from the large estates and corporations of joint forest owners were established. It was a longprocess.
Civil transformation in forestry could only start following the Reconciliation in 1867. The centre of this movement was a social organisation, the National Forestry Association founded in 1866.
The most important way of channelling information was the Journal launched in 1862 and taken over by the Association in 1873, under the title of "Journal of Forestry". Both institutions are active ever since.
The rnost important factors of the development after 1867 are the following: The Parliament passed the first civil forest law in 1879 (Act XXXI) that intended to protect forests from profiteering exploitation and commanded the implementation of forest management plans (the implementation took place from 1880). Between 1883 and 1892 the primary state forestry education system was established (Ásotthalma, Temesvár, Vadászerdő, Liptóújvár, Görgényszentimre). Literature of forestry was written in Hungarian (it mainly used to be German), ín 1897 In Selmecbánya the Royal Hungarian Forestry Experimental Station was founded to develop the profession of forestry (it is operating today under the name of Forest Research Institute, with a centre in Budapest). While a rapid and spectacular development was seen in the intellectual sphere, the everyday forest management practices were declining. The remaining Hungarian forests were submitted to the system of market economy: and money took science and technology into the forests (like forest railways).
Large-scale clear cuttings were only followed by a small volume of professional regeneration and maintenance.  The broadleaved areas of today's Hungary slowly degenerated. Noble oaks and beeches were pushed back by mixed  (hornbeam, Turkey  oak, common ash), and in feudal forests North-American acacia stands. The majority of high forests sprouted. Bara lands developed in susceptible areas and hillsides with shallowsoil.
Yet due to the altogether the 25-27% forest cover, forestry and wood industry based on the wood products were considered a promising, developing and prospective national asset of the historic Hungary.
Between the two world wars
The promising start was cut short by the peace conditions closing the First World War on 4 th June 1920, signed in Trianon. As a result, forestry suffered even more than other sectors. 84,1% of the forest land area was lost, and the loss comprised the economically and environmentally most valuable forests, frequented by tourists. It also took the College of Selmec, three of the experimental sites, the majority of the experimental areas, a large number of state forest estates, and a lot more. Most of the trained personnel also stayed in the reallocated areas.
Hungary that was once covered with forests became the 4lh poorest country in Europe with regards to trees and forests, where the forest land area did not reach 12%.
The national leadership of the profession headed by Károly Kaán forest engineer, the leader of state forestry immediately developed the new forest policy adapted to the fundamentally changed conditions. The new policy had two clear and simple principles: 1. To protect the remaining forests, improve their structure, and take efforts to reconstruct their natural condition. 2. By every possibly way to enlarge forest land areas, primarily in the treeless Great Lowlands (for humán ecological aspectsaswell).
The realization of the policy was greatly hindered by the misery of years after the war and the Great Depression of 1929-1933. And then the Second World War came. The years between the two world wars saw the passing of the second up-to-date civil forest law, which was the first Hungarian environmental law (Act IV of 1935). Also, the 2 th Forest World Congress was organised in Hungary in 1936 (so far only 12 forest world congresses have been organised, so this early time was a major acknowledgement for Hungarian forestry).
Years after the 2 th World War
The Trans-Danubian region was still hearing gunfire when in March 1945 the Temporary National Government in Debrecen passed a decree that primarily and deeply affected forests and forestry. It was the Decree (600/1945 M.E., passed as a law in the same year) about the system of the annulment of large landownership and the distribution of land among the labourers of the land.
Those who were involved shed many tears for this "historic earthquake" as lands larger than 100 cadastral hectare were nationalized and those between 10-100 cadastral hectare were organised under community ownership.
The result from the viewpoint of forestry was that an enormous size of state-owned forest land area was generated. Ever since it is state ownership and the presence of economic organization based on this proprietary system prevail with regards to forests. Nationalization was later followed by a smaller but also historic change. ín 1959-60 agriculture was collec-tivised in large volumes, which meant the end of private and joint ownership of forests. The other ownership category beside state ownership thus was the production cooperative form.
The military economy of the war, the movement of the front, the reconstruction of the country and the redevelopment of economy further exploited forests. The extraordinary conditions were normalised by the beginning of the Fifties. In order to balance the country's export-import balance, foreign exchange control and tó decrease the import of wood and wood products, an ever-larger scale of forest plantation was launched, and has been continued ever since, with changing intensity, depending on the state budget.
Due to these plantations the forest land area of the country started to grow (finally, after long centuries), and by the Millennium the 11,8% rate of 1945 grew to 19,2%. The number of tree plantations also increased to create better living spaces and improve ecologic features.
Yet forest policy did not become production oriented, but instead it set multiple goals ahead. The declared and the practically performed triple function of forests was the following: production, defence and public welfare.
Institutions of state forest regulation also developed considerably in these decades. By the beginning of the Seventies a management plan was compiled for every forest of the country, and based on that a creditable national forest inventory could have been taken.
The other sectors of the infrastructure supporting forestry and wood production also developed, just like vocational training and scientific research. The Faculty of Forestry in Sopron, first from 1934 a Faculty of the Technical University, then that of the University of Agriculture, and finally from 1952 an independent Forestry College was also enlarged in 1962 by a new faculty and operated as the University of Forestry and Timber Industry with an expanded organisation and curricula. In the 1950's the vocational training was launched, and secondary schools were established in Sopron, Szeged and later in Mátrafüred.
The fifty-year-old experimental site was reorganised in 1949 within the frames of the reorganisation of scientifíc institutions and it continued its multilateral job under the name of Forest Research Institute, centred in Budapest, with an enlarged staff and the establishment of countrywide research sites. At the same time the Wood Production Research Institute was also established, and in 1949 the Forest Committee of the National Academy of Sciences was founded (during the reorganization of the Academy), and the committee has been operating ever since.
When speaking about the forest law we must mention that since the beginning of the 1970s environment protection was separated more and more from forestry, and started to develop considerably, and in 1976 the first independent Hungarian environment protection law was passed in the Parliament. The rapid and large-scale development mentioned here was characteristic of the state sector of forest management. On the level of the Cooperatives the rate of development was smaller. Attention here was mostly focused on the motorizing of wood cutting and the establishment of simple wood production.
The "golden age" of forestry was terminated by the economic reform attempt (new mcchanism) launched in 1968. The reform was intended to increase the competitiveness of the socialist system. It involved the implementation of certain markét economy elements, primarily boosting profit orientation and the related corporate and individual profíteering.
This orientation hardly suits the economic nature of forest management. Due to this, together with the signs of liquidity crisis of the Eighties, the previous dynamism of development slowed down.
Following the change of the regime
The changes of 1989-90 just like many times before in history evoked multiple changes in Hungarian forestry, primarily in ownership.
The originally private forests that were not nationalized but organized into cooperative property have been reassigned to private property. Also, approx. 200 acres of state-owned forests were privatised at places where the land asset could not satisfy privatisation demands. State forests (almost 60% of the total forest land area) became the property of the State Asset Directorate.
In the case of private forests owners could chose from many organisational set-ups for the   obligatorily collective continuation of forest management (in case of multiple owners). It should be mentioned here that the Act XLIX of 1994 gave way to the possible, not obligatory but voluntary formation of corporations of joint forest owners.
Changes in proprietorship of forests evoked many problems in many places forest management was hardly, if at all, initiated.
The Association of Private Forest Owners and Forest Managers was founded as a body representing interests and the operations directed ön solving problems were started, the preliminary results of which are already traceable.
Following the political changes, the productivity of the national economy was set back for years, and sometimes serious balance problems arise in the central budget as well. This affects forestry also: due tó the narrowing of resources the volume of afforestation decreased. By today this volume reached the level preceding the political changes. The majority of afforestation initiatives are financed by private capital.
The changes of social and political relations and the soaring of the ideal of environment protection required the reconsideration of forest policy and the modifícation of legal control according to the new circumstances.
The Parliament thus passed the new Act on forests adapted to the new era (Act LIV of 1996 on Forests and the Protection of Forests). At the same time Act LIII on the protection of the environment was passed, parallel to Act LV on the protection of games and hunting. This sequence indicates that the latter two are closely connected to the Act on Forests (and through this to forestry and forest management), but also points out the legal and administrational independence of the other two areas from forestry.
The changed circumstances necessitated the renewal and modernisation of magisterial control and state supervision of forests and forest management. This was summarised in the Decree No. 37/1996, issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, on establishing the State Forest Service.
These crucial professional acts were passed under the auspices of the Accession to the EU, by continuously harmonising the legal systems of the Union and Hungary. On 1 May 2004 Hungary became the rightful member of the Union. This historic step opened a new chapter in the history of the country (new laws, new opportunities, etc.). What this scene will be about, we cannot foresee. One thing, however, is for sure: the history of Hungarian forestry will go on.



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