07 June 2023
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Ph.D (Ec) Svetlana Tereshchenko
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The need for pro­fes­sion­al knowl­edge about the Russ­ian forests became acute­ly felt dur­ing the reign of Peter the Great. In the Russ­ian Empire, for­est edu­ca­tion emerged in response to a prac­ti­cal need to devel­op ship­build­ing, min­ing, and build­ing con­struc­tion; all of these required large amounts of high-qual­i­ty wood. Accord­ing to Peter the Great’s plan, Rus­sia was to become a mar­itime power.

At the turn of the 18th-19th centuries

Rus­sia entered the era of the indus­tri­al rev­o­lu­tion. The for­est indus­try had a spe­cial role in mod­ern­iza­tion of the Russ­ian econ­o­my. A major reform of forestry was about to hap­pen, because the for­est indus­try was in need­ed of sci­en­tif­ic knowledge.

19 May 1803

The Russ­ian for­est edu­ca­tion start­ed by Emper­or Alexan­der I estab­lish­ing Prac­ti­cal Forestry School in Tsarskoye Selo. Lat­er, the School was trans­formed into St. Peters­burg For­est Prac­ti­cal Insti­tute. The grad­u­ates had exten­sive knowl­edge about the nature and life of for­est – a com­plex ecosys­tem in which many sub­sys­tems coex­ist in a com­plex inter­ac­tion with humans – from flo­ra and fau­na to fun­gi and soils. The edu­ca­tion at St. Peters­burg For­est Prac­ti­cal Insti­tute was based on the Ger­man forestry school. The Insti­tute became the first uni­ver­si­ty of a new kind.


The park of St. Peters­burg For­est Prac­ti­cal Insti­tute was laid out in 1927. It became one of the first botan­i­cal gar­dens in Rus­sia and the first park cre­at­ed for edu­ca­tion­al pur­pos­es. Today, the park is a spe­cial­ly pro­tect­ed nat­ur­al area of fed­er­al sig­nif­i­cance and the pride of the Uni­ver­si­ty. This is not only a mag­nif­i­cent exam­ple of land­scape archi­tec­ture, but also a train­ing base for students.

The St. Peters­burg State For­est Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty is not only the old­est for­est uni­ver­si­ty in Rus­sia, but also the cus­to­di­an of his­tor­i­cal and cul­tur­al mon­u­ments that were built on its ter­ri­to­ry dur­ing the 19th and 20th cen­turies. In the 19th and the ear­ly 20th cen­turies, archi­tec­ture retained the high­est nation­al and social sta­tus assigned to it by Peter the Great. The posi­tion of an archi­tect was manda­to­ry at all uni­ver­si­ties, large enter­pris­es, and gov­ern­ment struc­tures of dif­fer­ent levels.

There are three stages of the devel­op­ment of the land­scape and archi­tec­tur­al com­plex of the St Peters­burg State For­est Tech­ni­cal University:

  1. 1820–1840 (A. D. Nellinger, K. A. Ton, I. F. Lukini)
  2. 1880–1890 (R. A. Peschke, E. I. Gilbert)
  3. 1900s (A. I. Diet­rich, I. A. Galnbek)


The park of the Uni­ver­si­ty is a spe­cial­ly pro­tect­ed nat­ur­al area. The ter­ri­to­ry of the park is a fed­er­al prop­er­ty, the own­er­ship of which had been per­ma­nent­ly trans­ferred to the Uni­ver­si­ty. Both the park and the objects of cul­tur­al her­itage locat­ed in it are under super­vi­sion of the Com­mit­tee on Con­trol, Use and Pro­tec­tion of Cul­tur­al Her­itage of St Petersburg.


On the ini­tia­tive of the Min­is­ter of Finance E.F. Kankrin, the Lisi­no for­est man­age­ment unit with an area of 28,000 hectares was hand­ed over to St. Peters­burg Prac­ti­cal For­est Institute.

Dur­ing the years 1840–1900

A muse­um com­plex of St Peters­burg Prac­ti­cal For­est Insti­tute was cre­at­ed, includ­ing the Geo­log­i­cal and Soil Muse­um, A. A. Silantiev Muse­um of Ver­te­brate Zool­o­gy and Hunt­ing, M.N. Rim­sky-Kor­sakov Muse­um of For­est Ento­mol­o­gy, and G.F. Moro­zov Muse­um of Forestry. Grad­u­ates of the Insti­tute were required to have exten­sive knowl­edge about the nature and life of for­est – a com­plex ecosys­tem in which many sub­sys­tems exist in a com­plex inter­ac­tion with humans – from flo­ra and fau­na to soils and fun­gi. By the 215th anniver­sary of the St Peters­burg State For­est Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty (2018), the first part of The His­tor­i­cal and Cog­ni­tive Muse­um named after D.N. Kaig­orodov was opened.


In the year of the cen­te­nary of St Peters­burg Prac­ti­cal For­est Insti­tute, it was grant­ed the Impe­r­i­al sta­tus by Emper­or Nicholas II. The Impe­r­i­al sta­tus sig­ni­fied recog­ni­tion of the nation-wide impor­tance of the insti­tu­tion. In the 20th cen­tu­ry, the Insti­tute was ren­o­vat­ed. By 1903, the entire com­plex of the Insti­tute was mod­ern­ized: cen­tral steam-water heat­ing, elec­tric light­ing and arti­fi­cial ven­ti­la­tion were installed, the build­ings of the 1820s-1840s were care­ful­ly restored, and new build­ings were built.


A “Tem­po­rary Reg­u­la­tion” was adopt­ed, accord­ing to which Pet­ro­grad For­est Insti­tute was qual­i­fied as a high­er spe­cial edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tion with the task of devel­op­ing and dis­sem­i­nat­ing forestry knowl­edge in Rus­sia. In 1924, it was renamed as Leningrad For­est Institute.


Leningrad For­est Insti­tute was trans­formed into Leningrad For­est Tech­ni­cal Acad­e­my by the Res­o­lu­tion of the 2nd ses­sion of All-Russ­ian Cen­tral Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee of The Russ­ian Sovi­et Fed­er­a­tive Social­ist Repub­lic on Novem­ber 28, 1929. Thus, with­out los­ing its his­tor­i­cal role of a guardian of the Russ­ian for­est, the insti­tu­tion had become a lead­ing engi­neer­ing uni­ver­si­ty for spe­cial­ists of the for­est complex.

In the years of the world war

The St. Peters­burg For­est Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty has a unique mil­i­tary his­to­ry. In the first months of the WW II, 1,000 stu­dents and employ­ees were draft­ed into the Red Army, and 400 joined the Pop­u­lar Mili­tia. In 11 work­shops of the Uni­ver­si­ty cre­at­ed on the basis of depart­ments and lab­o­ra­to­ries, 27 types of mil­i­tary and civil­ian prod­ucts were man­u­fac­tured. The sec­ond largest build­ing of the Uni­ver­si­ty housed a hospital.

Dur­ing the Leningrad Block­ade, uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sors made sev­er­al dis­cov­er­ies impor­tant both for the war front and civil­ians: cel­lu­lose from wood waste was pro­posed as a struc­tur­al addi­tive to bread, and recipes for soap from wood waste, as well as for chlo­ro­form, an anal­gesic that was used in oper­a­tions, were cre­at­ed; there was a work­shop for the pro­duc­tion of food cel­lu­lose and yeast pro­tein. In the wartime, these inven­tions saved hun­dreds of human lives. A hos­pi­tal was locat­ed on the ter­ri­to­ry of the university.

The park of the Uni­ver­si­ty was an impor­tant part of the Leningrad’s inter­nal defense sys­tem. Dur­ing the years of the block­ade, the main build­ing and three wings housed the Air Force Head­quar­ters of the Red Ban­ner Baltic Fleet, the Air Defense Head­quar­ters of the KBF. In the under­ground bunkers of the park, the reserve head­quar­ters of the Leningrad Front were created.


The Syk­tyvkar Train­ing and Advi­so­ry cen­ter of the All-Union Cor­re­spon­dence For­est Tech­ni­cal Insti­tute was cre­at­ed. Over time it grew into one of the best branch­es in the Russ­ian sys­tem of high­er edu­ca­tion. Today it is known as the Syk­tyvkar For­est Insti­tute, a branch of the St Peters­burg State For­est Tech­ni­cal University.


For­est Tech­ni­cal Acad­e­my was renamed as the Fed­er­al State Bud­getary Edu­ca­tion­al Insti­tu­tion of High­er Edu­ca­tion “The St. Peters­burg State For­est Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty named after S.M. Kirov” (SPbGLTU).


The St. Peters­burg State For­est Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty has been and still is a lead­ing research cen­ter. It is a mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary poly­tech­nic uni­ver­si­ty, the old­est and the fore­most high­er for­est edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tion in the coun­try, which is ready to pro­vide all branch­es of the for­est com­plex with qual­i­fied per­son­nel. Such influ­ence is large­ly due to research and edu­ca­tion­al activ­i­ties of promi­nent sci­en­tists thought the his­to­ry of the University.