THE HISTORY OF THE SPbSFTU
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:
- 1820–1840 (A. D. Nellinger, K. A. Ton, I. F. Lukini)
- 1880–1890 (R. A. Peschke, E. I. Gilbert)
- 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.