Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Alfred Pitterle, associate professor of forestry at the University of Silviculture in Vienna, Austria, will speak on “The Significance of Our Forests — Examples from Around the World” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, in the auditorium of Lafayette’s Kirby Hall of Civil Rights.

Free and open to the public, the talk will emphasize the need to preserve the world’s forests and make use of them in the most effective way.

In May, Pitterle will lead a group of Lafayette students through the Alps in Austria and Italy to study water conservation and avalanche control during a special three-week Lafayette course called “Green Europe” taught by Javad Tavakoli, associate professor and head of chemical engineering, and Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures.

In the course students will discuss the recent environmental movement in Europe and study initiatives that European Union has taken towards the goal of sustainable Europe in the third millennium. They will focus on renewable energy sources and how European countries are incorporating them into their energy grids, examining the technical, social, and environmental benefits and drawbacks of these renewable alternatives.

Pitterle’s lecture is sponsored by Lafayette’s Environmental Studies program; Values and Science/Technology (VAST) program; departments of chemical engineering, of civil and environmental engineering, and foreign languages an literatures; and two student organizations, the German Club, and Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection (LEAP).

Pitterle specializes in sustainable forest management, soil and water conservation, and control of avalanches, rock falls, and erosion, as well as windbreak-shelterbelt management. He heads several international research projects in China, Vietnam, Mongolia, and Turkey.

“The contributions of forests in this world are underestimated,” says Pitterle. “They provide not only fresh air and tranquility to our over-stressed city dwellers, they are home to millions of animals and plant species. They provide pristine water. In alpine regions, forests protect the population from destructive avalanches and rock slides. Ancient forests produced the fertile soil for our farmland.”

According to Pitterle, the international deforestation rate is 17.4 million hectares per year. In developing countries, two billion people use fuel wood as their main source of energy, and 10 percent of the world population is suffering from water shortage due to clear-cutting. “The increase of wind speed after deforestation causes devastating erosion of fertile soil,” he notes. “Rivers become silted, plains flooded. Environmental engineers and scientists are attempting to reverse the trend.”

Pitterle has a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Agricultural Science, Vienna, Austria. He is deputy head of the Institute of Silviculture, and founder and director of the International Institute for Applied Science for the Research of Alpine Forests.

Categorized in: News and Features