Ulrich Mergner personally took over the Pro Silva Hungariae award

Fotó: Csóka Gy.

In 2020, Dr. István Nagy, Hungarian Minister of Agriculture, on the occasion of World Forestry Day on March 21, awarded the Pro Silva Hungariae Award to forest engineer Ulrich Mergner, head of the Forestry Unit Ebrach of the Bavarian State Forestry, for his activities for the development of Hungarian forestry.

This is the highest forestry professional award granted by the Ministry of Agriculture, and Mr. Ulrich Mergner is the first foreigner to receive this award. However, due to the restrictions of the COVID epidemic, he could only take over the award personally on October 4, 2022, at the joint event of the Hungarian Forestry Association and Pro Silva Hungaria.

The focus of Ulrich Mergner's professional activity for the past 15 years has been the Ebrachi Forestry of the Bavarian State Forestry, where, before his retirement on April 30, 2021, he contributed to the development of close-to-nature forestry by integrating nature conservation aspects. In addition to public interest, self-sustaining and value-creating forest management, this also largely satisfies nature conservation requirements, and also includes the development of practical methods necessary for this (Trittsteinkonzept - stepping stone concept).

In 2018, the book entitled "Stepping stone concept - forest management that integrates nature conservation - protects the diversity of forest species" ("Das Trittsteinkonzept – Naturschutz-integrative Waldbewirtschaftung schützt die Vielfalt der Waldarten") was published, which presents the practical results and procedures of the above endeavor. Since then, the second edition of the book has been published, which is also available in Hungarian.

Ulrich Mergner's official forestry career of more than 45 years ended in May 2021. In 1975, he began studying forestry at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. After holding various positions in the then state forest administration, from 1997 he was responsible for the training of future foresters at the Forestry School Lohr. In 2001, he took over the management of the  Forestry Unit Lohr, then in 2005 he became the head of the Forestry Unit Ebrach of the Bavarian State Forestry. During his studies, a series of stays abroad related to forests, as well as several study trips that took him to Iran and Ukraine, show that thinking outside the boundaries was important to him. He participated in more than 70 research projects at Ebrachi Forestry alone. The biennial scientific symposium dates back to his initiative.

Even after his official retirement, Ulrich Mergner will remain in the world of forests and wants to actively participate in the development of forest management. In the future, he intends to devote himself to projects that prioritize the public welfare role of forests. He is particularly pleased that “the stepping stone concept" has become a demonstration project throughout Europe and is mentioned in many international publications as a best practice in integrative forestry. In the future, Ulrich Mergner would like to see the forest from a slightly different perspective, but with no less future-shaping intensive care.

Since 2007, Ulrich Mergner has been organizing the study tours of Hungarian foresters in Bavaria. On these study trips, the Hungarian foresters learn about the methods, experiences and results of German evergreen forest management, which goes back several decades, with the help of German foresters with the most professional experience.

At these events - as well as during lectures held at the University of Sopron - approximately 700 Hungarian foresters learned about continuous cover forest management. He introduced the practice and methods of nature conservation integrated into forest management, as well as its importance. Ulrich Mergner's name has already been permanently associated with the emerging Hungarian continuous cover forest management, nature protection integrated into forest management.

We congratulate Mr. Ulrich Mergner and wish him good health for his future work for forests!

Pro Silva Hungaria

Ulrich Mergner a Pro Silva területen
Ulrich Mergner (center) at the Hungarian Pro Silva Demonstration Area "Mexikó-puszta"