The history of forestry research in the Czech Republic dates back to the 16th century, but it was not until the end of the 19th century when the first research institutions started to be founded.
Nevertheless, the very beginning of forestry research is connected with the period of the first systematic efforts for controlled management in forests in the 18th century. The then forest managers engaged in the first forest management plans and forest protection. In their activities we can see the roots of the future organized research. In the 19th century European forestry was generally flourishing and the Czech forestry belonged to the most progressive. The first forestry research institute that embraced also Czech lands was The Emperor and Royal Forest Research Directory situated at Mariabrunn near Vienna starting in 1875. Furthermore, formation of Czech research station in Forestry School in Písek in 1912 is also worth mentioning.
New development of Czech forestry and its research began after the formation of the independent Czechoslovak Republic. The former scheme of forestry research disintegrated and after World War I a lot of new research institutions came into being, such as Institute for Forest Protection in 1921, the Biochemical Institute in 1922, the Institute for Forest Management and Institute for Silviculture in 1923 and so forth. All forestry research institutions were funded by the Ministry of Agriculture. In 1929 they joined the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO).
The disintegration of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 fatally affected also the organization and activity of forestry research management. After the separation of Slovakia in 1940, the Institute for Harvesting Technology was founded. Research activity in Czech Lands dropped to the minimum. However, thanks to successful preservation of equipment and documentary material during this difficult period of time, activities in forestry field could be revived shortly after last days of World War II.
The organization of forest research principally changed after the restoration of independence. Forest research was subordinated to the independent department within the Ministry of Agriculture and technical forestry schools passed to the Ministry of Education. The former research stations were closed in 1946 and at the same time three forest research institutes were established in Prague: Institute of Forest Dendrology and Geobotanics, Institute for Game Management and Institute for Forest Constructing, Transport, Amelioration and Torrent Control. Thus, the newly promoted conception headed for centralization.
Between 1949 and 1950 the Ministry of Agriculture carried out some great organization changes as a consequence of substantial political transformations of society. In 1951 all forestry research institutes were merged into one departmental Research Institute for Forest Production in Prague that had a branch in Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia. Alongside to that, the national enterprise Czechoslovak Forests and Farms established five branch research institutes. One of them was Institute for Silviculture, Seed and Nursery Management at Opočno and Game Management Research Institute at Zbraslav.
On 1 September 1951, the Ministry of Forests and Wood-processing Industry was founded, therefore forestry research passed under this new authority. On 1 April 1952 three separate forestry research institutes arose: Forestry Research Institute at Zbraslav-Strnady, Research Institute for Mechanization of Forest Industry at Oravský Podzámok (Slovakia), and Game Management and Forestry Zoology Research Institute at Zbraslav.
The Czechoslovak Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) was established in 1953 and it was directly subordinated to the minister of agriculture. All agricultural research institutes were subsumed under his heading. On 1 April 1955, Game Management and Forest Zoology Research Institute was incorporated under the administration of CAAS as Forest and Game Management Research Institute (FGMRI). Ministry of Forests and Wood-processing Industry was abolished in 1956 and research returned under the administration of Ministry of Agriculture.
Forestry and Game Management Research Institute was founded on 1 January 1959. At that time, FGMRI had ten departments: Environmental Research, Forest Tree Species Biology, Forest Establishment and Silviculture (at Opočno), Forest Protection, Forest Techniques (at Křtiny near Brno), Forest Economics, Game Biology, Game Breeding, Research Library, Control.
The text was partially extracted from the book “80 let lesnického výzkumu v českých zemích – 80 years of forestry research in Czech lands”. Jíloviště-Strnady, FGMRI 2001. 72 pp. – ISBN 80-86461-16-5