The independent “Forest Inventory Office” (FIO) residing in the castle Brandýs nad Labem was instituted almost 90 years ago by the contemporaneous government. Thus the history of today‘s Forest Management Institute started. Step by step the institute´s role was changed according to its needs as well as its name. Its function was to serve constantly to the development of forest management in compliance with the founder´s decision, which was at that time the Ministry of Agriculture (MA) and to provide information about forest ecosystems in our republic.
Forest Inventory Office activity was bound up with rich tradition of forest management (FM) reaching up to the half of the 18th century on our territory. Original maps looking more like pictures and descriptions of forest complexes with management originally for the whole rotation period developed gradually to forest management plans (FMP) serving to forest owners for a purposeful and balanced forest management of their forests. Bigger forest owners proved that the majority of them had their forest property managed already during the 19th century although the duty to have FMPs for forests over 50 ha came by the law after 1928. Small inventory offices occurred mainly by aristocratic and church estates. But no state-owned inventory office was existing after foundation of Czechoslovakia on its territory. Up to the time few forests in the ownership of state had been managed by a state inventory office in Vienna. Requisition of former Austro-
Hungarian state forests, imperial family forests and land reform resulted in growth of national land as well as forests. The land reform took place during the years 1919–1938 and its objective was to divide large private land. Therefore urgent need arose to solve forest management on forest properties of the young Czech Republic. This need was solved by the government in 1935 creating the FIO so that it created groundwork of the present-day FMI.
Up to 1938 the FIO managed 390 thousand hectares of forest land according to the law of 1928. Annexation of borderland by Nazis reduced the area of managed land to one third. The FIO changed its name to Management Institute of Forests of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. During the time of the Protectorate the geodetic service was founded and the site mapping started according to the methodology of professor Krauss, predecessor of later forest typology. During the last years of the World War II the forest management was practiced according to very modern regulations valid since 1944 which were elaborated as by miracle, only by Czech experts without influence of the occupiers. These rules brought a new biological
concept of FMI as well as series of new progressive ideas especially from the point of view of ecological approach to the forest management. Other European countries involved it into their legal regulations later on. Thanks to so called Totaleinsatz – forced labour, only a few FMP were prepared by the end of war because of shortage of forest experts.
This time signified recovery within the scope of original boundaries and returning to the name of FIO. Thanks to the “Beneš decrees“ the area of state forests enlarged to 1 700 thousand hectares and together with the received forest estates also their management services were accepted. Specialized departments for management, photogrammetry, forest site survey, geodesy or cartography were found within newly named „Technical Institute of State Forests“ in Brandýs. Management work was decentralized and departments of Forest Management were established by regional state forest directorate as germs of future FMI branches. Land area increased to 2 150 thousand hectares. The first years after the war signified apart from the own management activity an especially work connected with confiscation of forest and agricultural land. The systematical elaboration of FMPs began after passing a Decree of the Ministry of Agriculture on forest inventory in 1948.
The period after 1948 signified departure of many qualified experts to industrial and agricultural production. Unfortunately it was not for the last time in our modern history. The state land area still increased. Private management practice and forest associations were liquidated in 1951. The Forest-technical head office in Brandýs became thus the only institution in the country entitled to elaborate FMPs with exception of military forests and some communal forests. The area of forests managed from Brandýs increased to 2 340 thousand hectares. Regional activity of particular branches gradually united with the division of regions. The whole forestry sector came under the administration of newly founded Ministry of Forests and Wood Processing Industry in 1951.
According to the example of the Soviet Union the institute in Brandýs changed its name for Lesprojekt, in Slovakia for Lesprojekta. Other personnel changes took place, directors from working class acceded to office and some of them remained in service to 80s. At the same time the first forest inventory after the war took place. According to the decree of 1948 a new forest inventory was realized till the year 1950, which had no analogy in the world because it was giving the general overview about forest conditions, silvicultural tasks and regulation of forest exploitation of all state forests. IBM punch-card computers were used for this task for the first time. They began to work out also tabular parts of FMP. At that time Lesprojekt carried
out also projects of forest roads and wood yards. Problems of Lesprojekt as an economic organization caused the foundation of a budget organization, Forest Management Institute, coming under the administration of the Ministry of Agriculture after the abolishing of the Ministry of Forestry. During
this year the second cycle of forest management started where the proper mensuration was preceded by one year of specialized surveys, typological, historical, transportation etc. This period is characterized by the creation of two typological systems – system Zlatnik used especially in the Carpathian Mountains and so called system Mezera-Mraz-Samek used in Hercynian forests. Uniform typological system of FMI appeared
afterwards during the 60s. Forest cooperatives were abolished in the year 1958 and the area of state forests (out of military forests) achieved 2 574 thousand hectares. During this year the institute was involved abroad in studies regarding the use of forest resources in Mongolia. Coincidentally this year, after 57 years, the institute is returning to Mongolia encouraged by the Czech Development Agency. The integration with the
Slovakian institute in Zvolen occurs in the year 1961. In the year 1967 the institute came under new Ministry of Forest and Water Management (MFWM). A new division of an independent national institute occurs together with creation of the Czech and Slovak federation.
During normalization after 1968 new party purges occurred and many experts lost their status or had to leave the institute. On the other hand the institute accepted many experts from high positions of the state forests so that it maintained them in the field of activity and additionally raised its qualification and gained new knowledge of forestry practices. In the seventies many foreign projects began especially in the field of forest inventory where the institute applied its knowledge to help the developing countries in bilateral cooperation or in projects of United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), especially for countries of tropical Africa and south-east Asia. Since seventies fair copies of management books and table surveys started to be printed as computer outputs. The year 1978 is an important year for the FMI development. At that time MFWM issued a decree no. 13 on forest categories, forestry methods and forest management planning where management sets of stands are introduced for the first time. In 1979 a new forest law returned the name Lesprojekt to the institute with a supplement „Institute of engineering activity“. The institute processed forest inventory for the ministry with 10 years periods. Due to long-term unsatisfactory conditions of the Brandys castle, in 1987, the institute started building the first of two interconnected buildings of the new headquarters on an island between Brandýs and Stará Boleslav. The Brandýs headquarters begins to develop new technology, computer programs for planimetry of stand groups followed consecutively for forest maps creation through digital way – the base for forest geographic system “Topol” comes into being. In addition to modern mainframe computer a Hewlett-Packard small table PCs Olivetti concurs together with other different experiments from Slušovice Agricultural Cooperative. For these computers the FMI branch in České Budějovice begins to develop a program for data processing. During „perestrojka“ the institute obtains back the name Forest management institute. But it did not help to the dying system.
Elections of directors after the revolution in 1990 brought new names to leadership on some branches, MFWM terminated and the institute was directed by a newly founded Ministry of Environment. Since 1992 the institute, in cooperation with newly founded enterprise Forests of the Czech Republic, was involved in gradual restitutions of forest estates to the original owners, natural persons, communities, municipalities and/or forest cooperatives. In 1994 the second building is constructed and the FMI headquarters moves definitely from the castle to the island. The castle descends to the town Brandýs nad Labem, which restores it and installs exhibitions for visitors. The castle is regarded as one of high account which wrote history of
our nation and was among other things a summer residence of the emperor Rudolf II. In 1997 the preparation of FMPs comes to private domain according to the new Act 1995, chapter 289 Coll. on Forests, effective as of 1 January 1996. Methodology and technological procedures are then incorporated into standard computer programs, as regards both data processing and map outputs. The programs work in the standard of Ministry of Agriculture. Survey research, i.e. Regional Plans of Forest Development (RPFD), is incorporated to new works, remaining under FMI.
Since January 1, 2001 FMI becomes an organizational part of state and is in compliance with the Act mentioned above. On the basis of the government decree 193/2000 FMI is in chargé of preparation of the first cycle of the National Forest Inventory. It is the first entirely objective survey of forest ecosystems in the Czech Republic, which contains independent information for the state forest policy. Regional FMI branches have strictly regional activity. The FMI competence propagates and its activity broadens as the Research Institute of Forest and Game Management changed for public research institution and the Czech Republic entered the European Union.