Saturday, 23 February 2008

Great Forest Scientist Passes Away

We have learned that Dr. Walter Bitterlich passed away earlier this month. As many foresters may know, Dr. Bitterlich invented the method of Basal Area Sampling (Winkelzählprobe) as well as many instruments for this method, especially the “Spiegel-Relaskop” known since the fifties of the last century and still state-of-the-art in forest inventory. From 1967 until 1978 he was Head of the Institute for Growth and Yield at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, BOKU, in Vienna. Until a few years ago he had always been actively developing new instruments for forest measurements, like the “Visiermesswinkel” (now Bitterlich Treemeter) and refining his theory. (photo: Bitterlich in the center)
Walter Bitterlich has received many awards from Austria and forestry associations all over the world. There are many of his friends and colleagues who think of him as the most genial and best known forester in the world.
Short introduction of Bitterlich:
“Son of the late Ernst and Maria Wachtel Bitterlich, Walter Bitterlich was born 19 February 1908 in Reutte, Tirol, Austria. He married Ilse Hauptmann, with whom he has four children: Gerhard, Helga, Herwig, and Sigrid.
“He went to school in Innsbruck and Salzburg, and studied forestry at the Hochschule für Bodenkultur at Vienna. A forester in the Austrian Federal Forest (ÖFB) and Reichsforste from 1935 to 1941, Dr. Bitterlich served in the German army in Russia and Normandy. He resumed his career as a forester in 1949, where he remained until 1966. In this time he published the method of Angle-Count Sampling or Point Sampling, a method revolutionizing forest mensuration techniques. The first ideas to this method are documented in his diary as early as 1931.
“Since 1950 he has worked closely with FOB, now Relaskop-Technik, Salzburg/Austria, in the industrial development of many of his patents, resulting for example in the instruments Spiegel-Relaskop and Tele-Relaskop, now in worldwide use for forestry measurements, especially inventory.
“In 1966 Dr. Bitterlich became professor at the University of Agriculture, BOKU, at Vienna. After his retirement in 1978, he continued his scientific work which resulted as well in many forestry publications, e.g. “The Relascope Idea” (1984) as in the development of new forestry instruments, e.g. the multiple use instrument Bitterlich Sector Fork.” Dr. Bitterlich has been recipient of many awards in Austria and Germany and is an honorary member of the Society of American Foresters.
Dr. Bitterlich would have been 100 years old on Feb. 19th. We will miss you Walter and thank you for your contributions to the forestry community. We foresters would always be indebted to you for your great contribution to improve the methods and techniques of forest inventory.
May your soul rest in peace and consolation to bereaved family and foresters.

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